Tech's $20 million CEOs

Tech's $20 million CEOs

Eyebrow-raising executive compensation shows no signs of abating, and Network World's analysis of CEO pay finds the tech/telco industry is no exception.

The average CEO pay for companies in the S&P 500 Index climbed to $12.9 million in 2011, according to AFL-CIO, a federation of labor organizations. That's a 13.9% increase and follows a 22.8% jump in CEO pay in 2010. By comparison, the average pay for workers climbed to $34,053 in 2011, an increase of 2.8%.

Within the tech/telco industry, 20 of the 50 CEO pay packages we examined are worth more than $12.9 million. Of those, 12 CEOs' pay exceeded $20 million when all the compensation elements -- including salary, bonuses, stocks, options and perks -- are added up. Just two of the packages amounted to less than $1 million.

(You can find all the details in our slideshow, which compares each CEO's pay to the company's revenue/profit performance. We've also put together a sortable table below of the 50 tech execs' pay packages, for an easy comparison of elements such as salary, bonus and equity awards.)

At the low end of the CEO pay scale are Google's Larry Page and Aruba Networks' Dominic Orr. Page received a $1 salary in 2011, declining any bonuses and equity awards. Orr's modest compensation, valued at $933,429, included a $400,000 salary, equity awards worth $525,001, and $8,428 in perks.

At the top of our tally is Apple CEO Tim Cook, whose 2011 pay is valued at a whopping $378 million. Granted, most of it won't wind up in Cook's bank account anytime soon. The bulk of his compensation is a $376 million "promotion and retention award" consisting of 1 million restricted stock units (RSU). Half of the stock units are scheduled to vest five years after the date Cook assumed the CEO role, and half after 10 years, as long as Cook stays employed at Apple.

Oracle's Larry Ellison, who has been the highest paid tech chief on our list each year since Network World started tracking CEO compensation, received the second-largest pay package. His $77.6 million windfall consisted of a $1 salary, $13.3 million bonus, option awards valued at $62.7 million, and perks worth $1.5 million.

Three of the 12 CEOs who made $20 million or more are no longer with their companies: Former Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg ($26.5 million), who retired last August; former HP CEO Leo Apotheker ($30.4 million), who lasted less than a year on the job; and retired IBM chief Sam Palmisano ($31.8 million), who turned over the CEO reins to Ginni Rometty in January. 

The other seven tech/telco CEOs who made more than $20 million in 2011 are:'s Marc Benioff ($20.8 million), Qualcomm's Paul Jacobs ($21.7 million), AT&T's Randall Stephenson ($22 million), Verizon's Lowell McAdam ($23.1 million), Comcast's Brian Roberts ($26.9 million), Motorola Solutions' Greg Brown ($29.3 million), and Motorola Mobility's Sanjay Jha ($47.1 million).

Common to each of the $20+ million pay packages is the predominance of incentive-based compensation, meaning pay that's tied to company performance. That's a trend compensation consultancy Steven Hall & Partners has been tracking for some time and continues to see in its research.

The firm recently analyzed CEO pay at 100 companies with revenues of at least $1 billion and found that long-term incentive compensation comprised 55% of total compensation, while bonuses represented 25% and base salaries just 20% of total compensation.

"These early results suggest that companies continue to place great importance on their long term results and aligning the interests of their CEOs with those of shareholders," said Nora McCord, managing director of Steven Hall & Partners, in a statement. "The value ultimately realized by the CEO is dependent on stock price appreciation and the achievement of certain performance hurdles over the next few years."

Read more about data center in Network World's Data Center section.

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