- Recent reporting from Business Insider’s Andy Kiersz shows that Tesla CEO Elon Musk earned $US0 through CEO compensation last year, but still got ‘paid’ over $US2.3 billion.
- We took a look at other executives who earn less than $US1 a year, though many continue to earn millions in stock awards or cash bonuses through the companies they lead.
- Visit BusinessInsider.com for more stories.
While many executives are criticised for their excessive pay, some CEOs have been able to skirt around the issue by choosing to forgo a lofty salary and opting instead for a paycheck of around $US1 a year, or less.
Of course, this isn’t to say these executives are living off the dollar menu.
The CEOs on this list are still worth millions, if not billions – but while some merely pay lip service to the $US1 salary club by taking home hefty compensation in the form of company stock awards and bonuses, others forgo adding to their wealth in this way entirely.
Recent reporting from Business Insider’s Andy Kiersz explains how complicated CEO pay has become. Kiersz reported the findings from The New York Times ranking of the highest paid CEOs, which listed Elon Musk’s extraordinary $US2.3 billion pay package. Kiersz also reported that Tesla reached out to Business Insider disputing the claim, stating its chief executive earned $US0.
In a Q&A on Facebook in 2015, founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg said, “I’ve made enough money. At this point, I’m just focused on making sure I do the most possible good with what I have.” Zuckerberg chooses to take home a $US1 salary and declines stock awards and bonuses; Fellow social media giant Jack Dorsey follows a similar rule.
Keeping reading for a look at some CEOs and other executives that belong to the $US1 (or less) salary club:
Larry Page and Sergey Brin
According to Google’s annual filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Brin and Page, the company’s cofounders asked that their base salaries each be reduced to $US1 per year in 2004.
Since then, Google’s compensation committee has offered them market-competitive salaries annually, which they continue to decline.
While they also forgo cash bonuses based on their individual and company performance and do not hold any stock options, Google stock units, or other contingent stock rights, Page is currently worth an estimated $34.9 billion and Brin is worth an estimated $US34.3 billion.
This year, Twitter’s filing revealed that the social media company’s CEO received a salary of just $US1.40. This is of little financial consequence to Dorsey, whose current estimated net worth comes in around $US5.4 billion.
Previously, Dorsey received no compensation at all. The most recent filing reads: “”As a testament to his commitment to and belief in Twitter’s long-term value creation potential, our CEO, Jack Dorsey, declined all compensation and benefits for 2015, 2016 and 2017, and in 2018 he declined all compensation and benefits other than a salary of $US1.40.”
In April, Business Insider’s Shona Gosh reported, “The $US1.40 figure may be symbolic too, given Twitter’s origin as a service for posting updates of 140 characters, now extended to 280 characters.”
As in previous years, Oracle reported to the SEC that Ellison, now executive chairman and CTO, took home a salary of $US1 in 2018. According to the most recent filing, Ellison has upheld this tradition since 2011.
Meanwhile, co-CEOs Safra Catz and Mark Hurd each took home a $US950,000 salary last year in addition to other compensation. Their salary has not increased since they took over in September 2014.
The most recent report confirms the same rule: “The base salary for Elon Musk, our Chief Executive Officer, continues to reflect the current minimum wage requirements under applicable California law, and Mr. Musk still does not accept this salary.”
While the filing notes that Musk does not accept the salary, Business Insider’s Andy Kiersz reported The New Times’ finding of Musk’s $US2.3 billion compensation, which Tesla Motors disputed.
“A recent report in The New York Times indicated that Elon Musk made $US2.3 billion in 2018 as CEO of Tesla, but the situation is more complicated,” said Kiersz. “Unless the electric-car maker achieves some truly stunning goals, Musk may not personally benefit from the massive award.”
According to the Washington Post, Facebook’s CEO joined the $US1 salary club in 2013.
He also forwent receiving any additional bonus compensation, though – largely due to his control of Facebook’s stock – his estimated net worth is currently valued at almost $US74 billion.
For years the Yahoo cofounder and “Chief Yahoo” has earned a salary of $US1, and according to this past year’s SEC filing – after returning to the board in 2014 – he continues to receive no additional compensation. He also does not participate in any of the equity incentive programsYahoo provides to other executive officers. Still, his estimated net worth comes in around $US4.7 billion.
Yelp reported to the SEC that its CEO has decreased his base salary over the years from $US300,000 in 2012, to $US37,501 in 2013, to $US1 in 2014. Stoppelman continues to earn just $US1 annually today.
This year’s annual stockholders’ meeting stated, “For the sixth consecutive year, our Chief Executive Officer elected to receive a nominal base salary of $US1.00 per year as a testament to his commitment to and confidence in our business and its long-term value creation potential.”
Despite this meager salary, Stoppelman received over $US5 million in option awards, along with received over $US48,000 in other compensation last year. Most of the latter went to paying his executive assistant.
According to the company’s SEC filing, in 2007, the Whole Foods co-CEO reduced his salary to $US1 and elected to forgo any future bonus and stock option awards and other compensation. In 2018, Mackey continues to earn his single-dollar salary.
When Lampert took over as Sears’ CEO in 2013, he took a salary of $US1, the company’s SEC filing reports, which he continued to take until he transitioned to the chairman position. He also continues to forgo bonuses, non-equity incentive plans, and most other compensation offered to Sears executives.
Lambert isn’t struggling to get by, though. With an estimated net worth of over $US1 billion, Lampert received over $US4 million in stock awards last year. Mr. Lampert is entitled to receive monthly awards of Sears Holdings common stock.
Business Insider’s Mary Hanbury previously covered Sears’ downfall. Hanbury reported that Lampert saved the 126-year-old company from liquidation after winning court approval to purchase the department store, though he was also blamed for its demise. Sears had filed for bankruptcy last October.
Capital One’s founder and CEO hasn’t received a salary in over 20 years now. But his annual compensation last year, according to the company’s annual SEC filing, totaled well over $US16 million.
Among other things, the most recent filing revealed approval of Fairbank’s $US6.2 million bonus, which included a deferred cash bonus of around $US3.7 million and other awards. Additional pay elements included almost $US80,000 for the personal use of a driver who also provided personal security.
Taking over for Richard Kinder in June as Kinder Morgan’s CEO, Steven Kean continued Kinder’s tradition of taking a $US1 salary, the company’s SEC filing notes. He also declines to receive an annual bonus, non-equity incentive compensation, and stock awards.
In addition, the filing states that Kean reimburses the company for health care premiums “paid on his behalf.”
In 2009, Hayne, Urban Outfitters’ president and CEO, requested that his base salary be set at $US1 a year, the company’s SEC filing notes. A portion of his estimated $US1 billion net worth usually comes from his performance bonus; however, this past year Hayne did not receive a bonus, as the company did not meet its goals for revenue or profitability.
According to 2017 SEC filing, Spiegel is still receiving quarterly installments of his stock until 2020.
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