If you’re one of the growing number of Americans concerned about wealth inequality, you may want to avert your eyes.
Shareholder advocacy group As You Sow’s annual report of the 100 Most Overpaid CEOs has just been released and, as usual, the salaries of the top CEOs are staggering. Topping this year’s list are Oracle’s co-CEOs Safra A. Catz and Mark Hurd who made a whopping $82,065,708. While that’s not the highest price tag, As You Sow determined they were the most over-compensated CEOs through a complex methodology that you can read here, if you’re into that sort of thing.
The highest-paid CEO is Alphabet’s Sundar Pinchai ,who makes more in one year than most of us will make in two lifetimes. He earns $199 million a year, and while Alphabet and Google are profit machines, the report considers him to be overcompensated because, frankly, no one needs to make $199 million a year. Others on the list were Activision’s CEO Robert A. Kotick who rakes in $33,065,560 a year, Charter Communications CEO Thomas M. Rutledge with annual pay of $98,515,727, and Wynn Resorts CEO Stephen Wynn who earns $28,156,985, but arguably deserves nothing. One company that doesn’t have to worry about overpaying its CEO next year is Exxon Mobil. While Rex Tillerson was paid $27 million last year, he’s now the U.S. Secretary of State.
The list isn’t just pointing and gawking, though. Since As You Sow represents shareholders, the group has a vested interest in determining whether CEOs actually deserve the hefty paychecks. Turns out, they probably don’t. Last year the group identified 10 companies who had the most overpaid CEOs and found that in aggregate they “underperformed the S&P 500 index by an incredible 10.5 percentage points” and lost shareholder value. That trend appears to continue this year with companies with allegedly overpaid CEOs underperforming the S&P 500 index by “an embarrassing 15.6 percentage points.” The group wants answers from the boards who “rubberstamp” sky-high compensation packages—and some boards are starting to pay attention.