Yahoo boss Marissa Mayer fires number two Henrique de Castro

Decision comes just 15 months after she poached him from rival Google

Yahoo boss Marissa Mayer has fired her second-in-command Henrique de Castro, just 15 months after she persuaded him to follow her to the tech giant from rival Google.

The company confirmed the news in a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, in a brief statement saying the chief operating officer had departed effective from today.

Mr De Castro will leave with all the severance benefits detailed in his contract – thought to amount to around $40 million.

That is in spite of the stark drop in revenues Yahoo has experienced in recent years – and the fact that Ms Mayer explicitly pointed to the asset of Mr De Castro’s internet advertising expertise when he was hired.

While the company did not give a reason for firing the Lisbon-born executive, an internal memo acquired by the tech news website Re/code sheds a little more light on what Ms Mayer calls “a difficult decision”.

She explained to employees: “The beginning of a new year always provides time for reflection. As we enter 2014, I couldn’t be more proud of what Yahoo accomplished in 2013 or more optimistic about what we’ll accomplish in 2014.

“During my own reflection, I made the difficult decision that our COO, Henrique de Castro, should leave the company. I appreciate Henrique’s contributions and wish him the best in his future endeavors.”

Ms Mayer said the leadership structure of the company would be reorganised – suggesting that there would be no direct replacement for Mr De Castro.

She added: “Overall, I am confident that the leadership team, our direction, and these changes will enable even more successful execution. Thank you for your patience and understanding as we work through these changes.”

Despite improving online traffic, Ms Mayer and her team have continued to struggle to revive Yahoo’s flagging sales, which dropped between 5 per cent and 7 per cent in each of the first three quarters of 2013.