Tech’s Top CEOs Pulled Down Insane Pay Last Year

How much did the biggest CEOs in tech earn last year?

You already know the answer: A lot. But Money magazine was kind enough to crunch some data from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and produce some hard numbers.

At the top of the list: Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, who pulled down a tad above $36 million. Some $35 million of that came from stock option awards, and a “mere” $700,000 from his base salary. 

Next was Marc Benioff, co-CEO of Salesforce, who earned $28.3 million. Coming in third was Satya Nadella of Microsoft, with $25.8 million, followed by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg with $22.5 million. As with Hastings, these take-home salaries are a combination of base pay, stock options, cash bonuses, and other incentives. 

Keith Block, the co-CEO of Salesforce, made $16.9 million, putting him in fifth—and ahead of Apple CEO Tim Cook, who earned $15.6 million; while those stats are a far cry from what Hastings and Benioff earned, neither man is in imminent danger of starvation.  

As Money points out, calculating true CEO compensation is often a tricky business. For instance, even though leaders such as Alphabet’s Larry Page take only a few dollars in regular annual salary, and aren’t necessarily issued new stock awards every year, they’re still living the high life off investments and other streams of income; however, those payments aren’t registered in the same way as salary or stock grants, making them hard for journalists to track.

Nonetheless, it’s clear that tech’s CEOs make exponentially more than their employees. Last month, a study by the Associated Press found that CEOs at S&P 500 companies made a median salary of $12 million last year—again, including not only base pay, but also stock grants and “other compensation.” 

“Pay for typical workers at these companies isn’t rising nearly as quickly,” the Associated Press added. “The median increase was 3 [percent] last year, less than half the growth for the top bosses. Median means half were larger, and half were smaller.”

Meanwhile, tech professional salaries have stagnated: According to the 2019 Dice Salary Survey, the average tech pro pulls down $93,244—some $84 less than it was in 2015. But while that’s certainly a good average salary for many regions, it’s nowhere close to what the heads of tech companies are making. If you’re recruiting for senior C-suite executives (such as CFO, CTO, etc., in addition to CEO), be prepared to pay a pretty penny, even if you’re not doing it for one of tech’s biggest firms.