Who Are the Top-Paid CEOs?
CEO pay is a lightning rod issue. Many praise a high-performing executive while others cannot fathom the salary levels. The debate will certainly continue, but just who are the top-paid CEOs in the United States?
The top-paid CEOs aren’t necessarily the ones at the helm of the largest companies. CEO pay depends on a lot of things, and sometimes negotiating leverage and timing play an outsized role in determining the agreed-upon compensation. For example, Apple CEO Tim Cook was out-gained by CEOs at companies like Pinterest, Hertz, and Peloton. In fact, of the 10 highest-paid CEOs in 2022, only 4 ran companies listed in the S&P 500, the largest publicly traded companies in the United States.
Topping the list in 2022 was Stephen Schwarzman. Mr. Schwarzman heads Blackstone, the private-equity behemoth, and netted an overall package of $253 million. Next up was Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Alphabet, the parent company of Google. Mr. Puchai took home $226 million, besting tech peers at Oracle and Apple. The overwhelming majority of CEO pay is restricted stock or options. As such, the value of said pay fluctuates greatly. There are also a host of performance targets with corresponding values as well as bonuses depending on the time served.
Stephen Scherr of Hertz came in number 3 with a total pay of $182 million. Previously he was the Chief Financial Officer at Goldman Sachs Group and accepted the Hertz position in February 2022. This was a rough patch for Mr. Scherr as Hertz had recently emerged from bankruptcy-court protection. So far this year, however, Hertz shares are up 20%.
Following Hertz is the CEO of Peloton, Barry McCarthy. He too began his tenure at Peloton in February 2022 and nearly all of his 2022 pay package ($168 million) was in stock options. Peloton went through a painful 2022 with the company’s value dropping by 79%.
Another member of the Top 10 club is Bill Ready of Pinterest. Of his pay package of $123 million, roughly $101 million was in stock options and $21.5 million in restricted stock. By December 2022, Ready’s stock and option awards had increased to $153.6 million.
While the company names to this point are all recognizable, CS Disco certainly is not. A 10-year-old company selling online services to law firms, this Austin, Texas-based firm is by far the smallest company in the top 10. Their CEO, Kiwi Camara, is a co-founder and took home $500,000 in salary in 2022. But it was his stock options, valued at $109 million, that placed him with the likes of Blackstone, Alphabet, and Hertz.