Google’s Eric Schmidt Gets a $100 Million Payoff

Eric Schmidt

Google’s ex-CEO Eric Schmidt has just been awarded a $100 million golden thank-you for his time in Google’s big chair. He’ll retain around of 10% of the company’s voting rights too.

In a regulatory filing today Google’s revealed it’s awarding $100 million of equity as a thank-you to ex-CEO Eric Schmidt, as he steps aside from the role to let Google co-founder Larry Page to take over. The stock and options will be awarded February 2nd, and vest over four years.

As of the end of 2010, Schmidt already held a significant number of shares in Google, and had already arranged to sell some of them (over 500,000 individual Class-A shares) as part of a pre-arranged trade–something he has to do to obviate worries about insider trading. The move would leave him with 9.1% of Google’s shareholder voting rights.

With the new award, Google’s recognizing the sterling work Schmidt put in at first to build the Google brand, as well as instantly adding to Schmidt’s personal fortune. But we’re confused: Curiously, at Google’s current share price of around $600, the new reward is about 165,000 ordinary shares–actually much less than he already owns, and is planning to sell. So is this award a move to potentially help usher Schmidt into the sweet embrace of retirement, safely remote from controlling Google’s day-to-day operations? (and given the seeming loss of direction of the company would Google pull such a trick?), or is it a subtle attempt to keep him sweet, should Google need to call on his expertise?

Maybe Eric would like to peruse our guidelines on good ways to spend exactly the amount of cash Google’s just given him.

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[Image: Flickr user World Economic Forum]KE