Who’s the highest-paid CEO in tech? If you said “Elon Musk,” you’d be right—but some of the other names (and companies) on the list of best-compensated chief executives might surprise you.
A new analysis by Bloomberg suggests that the CEOs of cybersecurity, cryptocurrency, and self-driving startups make more than even their professional colleagues at tech giants such as Microsoft, Google, and Oracle. For example, Robert Scaringe, CEO at Rivian Automotive, pulled down more than $2.2 billion in stock, bonuses, and salary last year—which placed him well ahead of Apple CEO Tim Cook, who earned a comparatively measly $853 million.
Here’s a chart adapted from Bloomberg’s compensation data. It’s worth noting that some of these companies pushed back against Bloomberg’s analysis; in a statement, a spokesperson for C3.ai described the $343 million attributed to CEO Tom Siebel as “absolute nonsense.” Keep that in mind as you scan this list:
Embark Technology (an autonomous vehicle company specializing in trucking) and SentinelOne (A.I.-powered cybersecurity) likewise disputed Bloomberg’s numbers. It’s also important to note that the outsized compensation for these CEOs is largely based on stock—and the valuations for many of these companies have plunged in recent months. For example, Coinbase’s stock price has fallen from roughly $250 per share at the beginning of January to $74 by mid-August (after hitting as low as $51 in mid-June), and the company has unleashed layoffs in the face of a new “crypto winter.”
According to the most recent Dice Salary Report, the average tech salary increased 6.9 percent between 2020 and 2021, hitting $104,566. Compensation can climb much higher for technologists with in-demand specializations such as artificial intelligence (A.I.) and machine learning; at tech giants such as Google, Meta and Apple, senior engineers and managers can earn $1.5 million or more.