Microsoft's Recruiting Gold: We'll Buy Your House At Pre-Crash Prices So You Can Move To Redmond

steveballmer clapping tbi

The SEC just published Microsoft’s proxy for 2009. MarketWatch has been beaming us emails with some fun facts, like Steve Ballmer’s salary: $1.28 million in 2009.

But this one’s more interesting: Microsoft spent $4.1 million to relocate Stephen Elop, the former Juniper Networks COO who joined Microsoft to run its Business Division.

Whoa, $4.1 million to move? It gets better.

Not only did Elop get travel expenses and temporary housing, but Microsoft bought his house at pre-crash pricing.

Where can we sign up?!

As part of our executive relocation program, in fiscal year 2009 Mr. Elop received assistance with relocation expenses, including travel, shipping household goods, and temporary housing.

As part of the arrangements negotiated to induce Mr. Elop to accept an employment offer and reflecting the specific circumstances of his hiring, he also received assistance with the sale of his prior home. We agreed to purchase his former home at a price equal to the average of three independent appraisals because he was unable to sell the home within a mutually agreed time. We also agreed with Mr. Elop that if the appraisal resulted in a loss on the sale of his prior home, we would pay him the difference between his home purchase price (adjusted for improvements) over the appraised value.

Because of the precipitous decline in the California housing market during this period, the price at which the house ultimately sold was significantly below Mr. Elop’s purchase price adjusted for improvements. SEC rules require that we include as fiscal year 2009 compensation this difference, along with other transaction costs. We also agreed to provide Mr. Elop with a tax gross up on amounts from this transaction that are considered taxable income.

Similarly, in order to allow Messrs. Liddell and Turner to use the equity in their former homes to purchase new homes in the Redmond area after they were hired, we agreed to purchase their former homes at a price equal to the average of three independent appraisals. Because they were unable to sell the homes within a mutually agreed time, we resold these homes at our expense. As with Mr. Elop, we included as compensation to Messrs. Liddell and Turner all expenses we incurred in fiscal year 2007 and fiscal year 2008 in connection with the sale of these homes, including any difference between the price at which we purchased the homes based on appraised value and the price at which we sold them.

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