What Tech’s Biggest CEOs Earn

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How much do tech CEOs make?

The amount can vary. A lot. And it’s not tied to company performance: as a new report from the Associated Press and Equilar makes clear, chief executives at some of the country’s biggest and fastest-growing tech firms earn a fraction of what their colleagues at smaller (and even dying) companies take home every year.

But when it comes to tech executives, salary doesn’t present the full compensation picture. For example, although Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg only takes home $1 in salary per year (and $5 million in security and private jet expenses), he owns tens of billions of dollars in company equity.

Google CEO Larry Page and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos fall into a similar category: relatively low salaries paired with enormous equity. As a company, Amazon has a longstanding habit of paying executives less money than at other large firms, while making them whole with large amounts of vested stock; the theory is that people work harder when their compensation is tied to company performance.

While it’s unsurprising that CEO compensation is high at companies performing well—Apple’s Tim Cook pulled down $10.3 million last year, according to the data—the payouts for chief executives at troubled firms are liable to raise a few eyebrows. For example, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer earned $36 million in 2015, even though her company faces an existential crisis after years of falling behind Google, Facebook, and other rivals.

By comparison, the average technology salary in the U.S. hit $96,370 in 2015, a year-over-year increase of 7.7 percent. Bonuses and contract rates also rose, according to data from Dice. Those numbers don’t include stock and other equity, which may vest over a lengthy period. High-ranking tech pros at startups, for instance, may work for a comparatively tiny salary, in the hopes of scoring millions when their company is acquired or goes public.

If you’re in a situation where equity is on the table as a means of compensation, check out our negotiation tips.

Image Credit: Dooder/Shutterstock.com

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