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That contract entitles her to severance payments that could be two to three times her annual salary and bonus, along with stock incentives she received during her tenure. Bartz received a $2.2 million bonus to supplement her $1 million salary last year.

Yahoo has now replaced three CEOs in a little over four years. During that time, Yahoo has lost ground in the Internet ad race to online search leader Google Inc. and Facebook even though its website remains among the world’s most popular.

Known for her no-nonsense leadership and sometimes gruff language, Bartz arrived at Yahoo as a respected Silicon Valley executive who had won praise for turning around business software maker Autodesk Inc. But she had no previous experience in Internet advertising, the main way Yahoo makes money.

That hole in her resume immediately raised questions whether she was qualified for the job, and those doubts only escalated as Yahoo’s revenue continued to sag.

At first, Bartz blamed bad timing; she started the job during some of the bleakest months of the Great Recession. Later, she would say that she inherited such as mess from her two predecessors, Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang and former movie studio boss Terry Semel, and that it would take time to get Yahoo back on the right track.

At one point, she even compared her challenge to those that faced Steve Jobs when he returned to Apple Inc. as CEO in 1997.

Unlike Jobs, Bartz never was able to articulate a strategy to win over investors.

“She focused on plugging holes in the ship instead of turning it around,” said Gartner Inc. analyst Ray Valdes.

The disappointing performance was reflected in Yahoo’s stock price, which closed Tuesday at $12.91. That’s 81 cents, or 7 percent, higher than where Yahoo shares stood when Bartz was hired as CEO. During the same period, Google’s stock price has risen by more than $200, or 66 percent, and the technology-driven Nasdaq composite index has climbed by 60 percent. A group of investors led by Goldman Sachs Group concluded privately held Facebook is worth $50 billion in an appraisal done earlier this year. That’s triple Yahoo’s current market value.

Bartz never hit any of the price targets that the board set for her when she was hired. That means none of the 5 million stock options that she received upon signing her contract had vested by the time she was ushered out the door.

Investors seemed happy to see Bartz go. On Wednesday, the Sunnyvale-based company’s stock rose 61 cents, or 4.7 percent, to $13.52.

Although Bartz’s exit as CEO came suddenly, her departure isn’t a shock. The pressure to replace her grew earlier this year after Bartz acknowledged Yahoo’s search partnership with Microsoft wasn’t producing as much revenue as the companies anticipated.

Then, in May, Yahoo stunned investors by disclosing that Alibaba had spun off an online payment service in a move that threatened to diminish the value of Yahoo’s investment in the Chinese company.

Alipay in July agreed to a complex settlement that could eventually be worth more than $1 billion to Yahoo, but there were too many uncertainties in the deal to placate shareholders.

Bostock had steadfastly stood behind Bartz whenever she was attacked by investors or analysts. In a Tuesday statement, Bostock thanked Bartz for “her service to Yahoo during a critical time of transition in the company’s history” without providing an explanation for why the board decided to replace her.

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