Yahoo tried to “cheat” and “humiliate” the founder of a company it bought by firing him at a bar weeks before his first retention bonus was due, a US court has been told.
According to the New York Post, Michael Katz sold his company, Interclick, to Yahoo for $270 million.
Katz claims he was promised several annual payments of $1.35 million, as well as other compensation, when his advertising company was acquired by Yahoo in December 2011.
He continued to run the Interclick business after the acquisition. The firm helped companies target online ads to consumers.
Katz served under several CEOs during his one year and the interim CEO Ross Levinsohn praised him as a “great visionary” but strangely he did not see his sacking coming.
He thinks that he was due a retention bonus in three annual installments of $1.35 million, beginning in January 2013 and ending with a $450,000 payment in January 2016.
Yahoo’s head of human resources summoned Katz to a bar for what he believed was a pressing work matter on a Sunday evening in December “while he was at home observing the second night of Hannukah”.
Katz was then told that he was being terminated “effective almost immediately” – weeks before he was to be paid the first of the retention bonuses.
The complaint said that the rushed termination clearly was structured and timed as an attempt to deprive him of the compensation he was promised during the merger negotiations, the court was told.