CEO paychecks: Winners and losers

Our analysis of 49 tech CEO pay packages shows Apple's Tim Cook taking the biggest hit, Michael Dell getting one of the biggest bumps


The U.S. tech industry has fared well amid the fiscal doom and gloom, and its economic fortitude is reflected in the jumbo pay packages of some tech CEOs.

The median pay for CEOs at the largest tech companies was $10.6 million in 2012, according to Network World’s analysis of 49 compensation packages. The highest paid CEO in our tally is Oracle’s Larry Ellison, who regained the top spot with a $96.2 million package. The bulk of Ellison’s 2012 compensation -- which is worth $18 million more than he made in 2011 -- was in the form of equity awards valued at $90.7 million.

[CEO PAY: Cash, stock awards, perks add up to big pay packages]

Other big earners include:

* James Crowe, former Level 3 CEO. In his last full year as CEO, Crowe received a $40.7 million pay package -- more than triple the $11.3 million compensation he earned in 2011. His 2012 pay included a $1.2 million salary, $2.1 million bonus, and equity awards valued at $37.1 million.

* Marissa Mayer, who netted a $36.6 million pay package in her first year at the helm of Yahoo. Mayer collected a $454,862 salary, $1.1 million bonus, and equity awards valued at $35 million.

* Comcast CEO Brian Roberts, whose $29.1 million package included the biggest salary ($2.8 million) and largest cash bonus ($9 million) among the pay packages Network World studied. Roberts’ total compensation also included equity awards valued at $9.6 million and $7.7 million in perks and other compensation.

At the other end of the pay spectrum are tech chiefs like Larry Page, who took home only $1. The Google co-founder and CEO reduced his salary to $1 in 2005, and he continues to forgo bonuses and decline new equity awards. (With a net worth of $23 billion, according to Forbes, Page hardly needs the cash.)

Other sub-$2 million CEOs include:

* Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, whose $1.3 million compensation included a $685,000 salary and a $620,000 bonus (which is less than half of the $1.37 million bonus for which he was eligible).

* Kevin Kennedy, who pulled off a $209 million profit swing for Avaya in 2012 but nonetheless took a 66% pay cut. Kennedy’s $1.3 million package included a $1.25 million salary, plus perks valued at $78,648.

* CEO Jeff Bezos, whose $1.7 million pay package included his $81,840 salary plus personal security-related perks worth $1.6 million.

* Oscar Rodriguez, who saw his pay package slashed 42% to $1.8 million even though Extreme Networks more than quadrupled its profits in 2012. Rodriguez earned a $550,000 salary, equity awards valued at $1.3 million, and perks worth $21,044.

Up and Down Pay

Among 46 CEOs who held the position a year earlier, 21 got raises, 23 earned less pay, and 2 netted exactly the same compensation.

The biggest pay swing went to Apple CEO Tim Cook, whose pay was valued at a whopping $378 million in 2011 and comparatively trivial $4.2 million in 2012. Apple granted Cook a $376 million “promotion and retention award” in 2011, but there was no such stock award last year.

Among those who made gains, 11 tech CEOs got raises of 20% or more, including Michael Dell, who saw his compensation nearly quadrupled to $16.1 million in 2012, up from $4.3 million in 2011. Dell’s pay package included stock and option awards valued at $11.8 million, a $986,601 salary and $3.3 million bonus. A year earlier, Dell’s CEO didn’t receive any equity awards.

A big increase in equity awards also lifted compensation for Aruba Networks CEO Dominic Orr, who earned $8.9 million in 2012 compared to $933,429 in 2011.

Thorsten Heins, who was promoted to BlackBerry CEO last year, netted a five-fold pay increase in 2012. His $10.2 million compensation package (up from $1.9 million in 2011) included a $670,222 salary and equity awards valued at $9.5 million.

While nothing can compare to Cook’s spectacular pay cut, other tech CEOs also experienced multi-million dollar declines.

Motorola Solutions CEO Greg Brown saw his package decline 65% to $10.3 million in 2012 from $29.3 million in the prior year. In his first full year as AMD CEO, Rory Read saw his compensation halved to $7.3 million, down from $15.6 million in 2011. At Verizon, total compensation for CEO Lowell McAdam was slashed by 39% to $14 million in 2012, down from $23.1 million a year earlier.

Cash Counts

Cash compensation represents a fraction of CEO pay. Across all industries, the median base salary for CEOs was $1.15 million, which is up just 1.3% compared to 2011, according to The Wall Street Journal/Hay Group 2012 CEO Compensation Study. Annual incentive payments (performance-based cash bonuses) were flat at $2.1 million. Taken together, overall median cash compensation was flat at $3.2 million, concludes the Hay Group study.

Specific to tech, Network World observed smaller cash payouts. Among the 49 packages examined, the median salary was $932,615 and the median bonus amount was $1.5 million.

As mentioned, Comcast’s Roberts landed the biggest salary ($2.8 million) and largest cash bonus ($9 million) among the tech CEOs studied.

After Roberts, the top cash bonus recipients were: John Coyne, former CEO of Western Digital ($6.8 million); Glenn Britt, CEO of Time Warner Cable ($6.6 million); Randall Stephenson, CEO of AT&T ($6.1 million); William Brown, CEO of Harris ($5.3 million); and Paul Otellini, former Intel CEO ($5.2 million).

Six tech CEOs didn’t receive any cash bonus: Google’s Page, Amazon’s Bezos, Aruba’s Orr, Extreme’s Rodriquez, BlackBerry’s Heins and Avaya’s Kennedy.

At the small end of the salary spectrum, three CEOs landed in the $1 salary club: Google’s Page, Oracle’s Ellison, and HP CEO Meg Whitman. The gesture had little impact on Ellison’s total compensation, valued at $96.1 million. Whitman earned a pay package worth $15.4 million, despite forfeiting a salary.

High-Flyer Perks

CEO perks are on the decline across all industries. In the Hay Group Study, nearly every perquisite declined in prevalence, with one notable exception: personal use of company aircraft. Not only was it the most prevalent perk, but also it was the only perk to remain flat year-over-year at 65%. The perk most eliminated was tax gross-ups on perquisites, which fell in prevalence from 26% to 13%.

Within tech, personal use of the corporate aircraft remained a fairly popular perk in 2012. Some of the biggest beneficiaries are: Time Warner Cable’s Britt ($402,622 for personal aircraft usage); Comcast CEO Brian Roberts ($349,683); IBM CEO Ginny Rometty ($304,376); Level 3’s Crowe ($287,323); and Paul Jacobs, CEO of Qualcomm ($286,882).

Perquisites weren’t part of the plan for any of these tech CEOs, whose pay extras were minimal to nonexistent: Google’s Page ($0); Paul Sagan of Akamai ($0); Aruba’s Orr ($0); Jerry Kennelly of Riverbed ($576); John McAdam of F5 ($600); and Tom Georgens of NetApp ($750).

Among the offbeat perks received by tech CEOs are these quirky extras:

* Brocade paid for an electric car charging station for CEO Michael Klayko, who retired in early 2013.

* IBM paid $1 million to renovate and staff an office for retired CEO Sam Palmisano.

* Motorola Solutions made a $1.5 million donation to Rutgers University to name an endowed chair in honor of its CEO, Greg Brown.

Ann Bednarz covers IT careers, outsourcing and Internet culture for Network World. Follow Ann on Twitter at @annbednarz and reach her via email at

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Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.