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How you can tell a female CEO is in trouble...

You can tell a female CEO is in trouble when Vanity Fair publishes an unflattering photo of her.

Marissa Mayer, the woman who seemed to have everything, just got something she never wanted -- an ethical scandal. Yahoo recently disclosed that a half a billion user accounts have been hacked. What did Mayer know and when did she know it?

Lawyers are no doubt wading through several feet of representations and warranties to assess the impact on the Yahoo-Verizon deal of this recent disclosure.

Data breaches can put managers between a rock and a hard place; they have a legal duty to disclose but risk further harm where disclosure happens before countermeasures have been put in place. Added to this difficulty are the scrutiny of M&A due-diligence and accompanying the representations & warranties that must be given.

The general lesson is the heightened ethical risk surrounding end-game scenarios, such as the sale of a company, as well as the fickleness of public opinion.

Let's hope for a happy ending for everyone except the hackers.

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