What is Terry Semel’s Net Worth and Salary?
Terry Semel is an American corporate executive who has a net worth of $300 million. Terry Semel served as the chairman and CEO of the web services provider Yahoo! from 2001 to 2007. Before that, he spent 24 years in various executive positions at Warner Bros., including as co-chairman and co-CEO with Robert A. Daly. Among his other business activities, Semel offered to buy Google, but was rejected, and also went through failed negotiations to buy Facebook.
Semel spent 24 years at Warner Bros., where he served as chairman and co-chief executive officer. As CEO, Semel’s salary peaked at $1 million annually, but his total compensation often exceeded that amount due to bonuses and stock options. In 2001, his total compensation reached $32.5 million.
To entice him to leave Warner Bros, Yahoo! offered Semel $110 million in stock options as an initial compensation plan. He was subsequently granted options to purchase additional Yahoo! stock. From this grant Semel netted $450 million between 2003 and 2006. His stock-purchase strategy, however, caused Yahoo!’s value to nosedive.
Early Life and Education
Terry Semel was born on February 24, 1943 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City to Jewish parents Mildred and Ben. His mother was an executive at a bus company, while his father designed women’s coats. He is the middle child between two sisters. Semel was raised in the Bay Terrace neighborhood of Queens. For his higher education, he attended Long Island University Brooklyn, from which he earned his Bachelor of Science degree in accounting.
Semel first worked at Warner Bros. as a trainee in 1965. Later, from 1970 to 1972, he was the domestic sales manager for Cinema Center Films, the theatrical film production company of CBS. After CBS shuttered the company, Semel moved to Disney, where he was in charge of theatrical distribution. He returned to Warner Bros. in 1975 as president of distribution. At the end of the decade, Semel became an executive vice president of studio operations. After president Frank Wells announced that he was taking a less active role in Warner Bros. in 1981, Semel became the company’s new president and COO. In 1994, he took on the roles of co-chairman and co-CEO with Robert A. Daly. The next year, the men also became co-chairmen and co-CEOs of Warner Music Group. Semel and Daly both resigned from Warner Bros. in the summer of 1999.
In 2001, Semel was granted stock options valued at over $110 million as a bonus to join the web services provider Yahoo! He became the company’s chairman and CEO, positions he held until mid-2007. Prior to his exit, Semel’s annual salary was reduced to one dollar. Following his resignation, he handed over the reins of CEO to Yahoo! co-founder Jerry Yang, while Susan Decker became the new president. During his leadership at Yahoo!, Semel was involved in the controversial decision to allow the company to hand over previously confidential information to the Chinese government. He also offered to purchase Google, as Yahoo! was the biggest licensor of the company’s search technology. However, Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin were reluctant to sell. Although Semel agreed to their initial $1 billion asking price, the two upped the number to $3 billion and demurred. Semel was also involved in failed negotiations to take over Facebook from Mark Zuckerberg.
Among his other activities, Semel serves as co-chair of the board of trustees of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
Honors and Awards
Semel has earned some significant honors for his business career. In 1995, he received the Golden Plate Award from the American Academy of Achievement. A decade later, Semel earned the UCLA Medal, the highest honor from the university. He is also the namesake of UCLA’s Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior. Elsewhere, Semel received the Legend in Leadership Award from the Yale School of Management’s Chief Executive Leadership Institute.
In 1966, Semel married Maryann Soloway. The couple had a son named Eric before divorcing in 1974. Semel went on to marry Jane Bovingdon in 1977; they have three daughters named Courtenay, Lily, and Kate.
Semel has Alzheimer’s disease, and in 2016 moved into a nursing facility to receive care.