When Google CEO Sundar Pichai took over Alphabet, his compensation jumped to more than a quarter-billion dollars
Stock grants push Pichai’s executive compensation for 2019 to more than $280 million, topping the $200 million he received in 2016
When Sundar Pichai was named the chief executive of Alphabet Inc.’s main division, Google, he received compensation of nearly $200 million, most of it in vesting stock awards.
Google’s parent company disclosed Friday afternoon that Pichai’s total compensation for 2019 topped $280 million thanks to stock awards tied to his promotion to chief executive of the entire company. According to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Pichai’s base salary was raised from $650,000 to $2 million along with the promotion, and he was awarded two stock packages that vest over time — valued roughly at a combined $150 million — and another that is valued at about $120 million and pays out based on how Alphabet’s stock performs in comparison with the S&P 100.
That would easily be the highest annual executive compensation tracked by Equilar in recent years, except for one large exception in 2018. Tesla Inc.
CEO Elon Musk’s compensation that year was valued at about $2.3 billion, thanks to a stock grant that was entirely based on future performance. The value of stock awards is counted in a lump sum when they are awarded, instead of as the shares vest or are granted in other ways.
Other than that exception, top annual compensation for chief executives of large companies has been lower than $200 million in recent years, including in 2016, when Pichai would have been the highest paid chief executive if he was seen as such — Equilar’s study instead included Larry Page, who was CEO of Alphabet at the time. In 2017, Broadcom Inc.
CEO Hock Tan had the highest compensation package at $103.2 million; in 2016, when Pichai was paid $199.7 million, the highest paid CEO in Equilar’s survey was Thomas Rutledge of Charter Communications Inc.
, at $98 million.
Beginning last year, companies must annually disclose the median salary of all of their workers, as well as the ratio of that pay to the compensation of the chief executive. Alphabet disclosed a relatively high median salary of $258,708 on Friday, but Pichai’s compensation package was still more than 1,000 times higher, a ratio of 1,085-to-1.
According to analysis from the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute, the average CEO in the 350 top businesses in the U.S. averaged compensation of $17.2 million in 2018, up 1,008% since 1978 and 278 times the average salary of workers. According to the Institute for Policy Studies, it would take a worker 1,000 years to equal the compensation of one year for a CEO at one of the 50 public companies with the widest pay gaps.
Alphabet promoted Pichai in December, after co-founders Page and Sergey Brin stepped away from day-to-day management of the company more than 20 years after launching the search giant in a Silicon Valley garage. Pichai has been with the company since 2004, and helped to develop the popular Chrome web browser while moving up the management ranks.
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Alphabet disclosed a package of $240 million after Pichai was promoted, but that total was higher in Friday’s filing due to performance-based grants, which were valued at $90 million in the earlier filing but came in at more than $120 million Friday based on the Monte Carlo method of valuation. If Pichai hits the top end of the performance scale, he stands to make more than $187 million on those shares, according to the filing.
Alphabet declined to comment beyond the filing Friday afternoon.