Moral Low Ground


Google CEO Sundar Pichai Awarded $199 Million in Company Stock

Google CEO Sundar Pichai (Photo: Maurizio Pesce/Flickr Creative Commons)

Google CEO Sundar Pichai (Photo: Maurizio Pesce/Flickr Creative Commons)

Google CEO Sundar Pichai has been awarded $199 million worth of restricted company stock, making him one of the highest-paid executives of a publicly traded US company.

Bloomberg reports a company SEC filing indicates that Pichai, 43, received 273,328 Class C shares last week that will vest in quarterly increments through 2019 if he remains at Google. It is the largest award ever reported for a Google employee and Pichai’s first since being appointed to head the search unit of the technology giant following its reorganization into the holding company Alphabet last year.

USA Today reports Pichai’s total stake in Google amounts to around $650 million—a previous stock award granted prior to his promotion to chief executive vests in 2018 and is now worth about $250 million.

Pichai has been with Google since 2004, first building the now defunct Google toolbar, then running the Chrome browser unit before being named the company’s product chief, CNNMoney reports.

Alphabet also awarded $42.8 million in restricted shares to cloud business chief Diane Greene and equity worth some $38.3 million to chief financial officer Ruth Porat.

Google typically hands out equity awards to its executives every two years, a practice the company believes “encourages executives to take a long-term view of the business” in the ever-competitive technology sector. The entire tech world took notice last year when Twitter poached Google chief business officer Omid Kordestani and appointed him executive chairman, and other similar cases ensure companies will continue to one-up each other on executive compensation in order to retain top talent.

In the United States, the average CEO earns 204 times more than the median company employee. Based on 2014 figures, the company with the highest ratio of CEO to median worker pay is Discovery Communications. CEO David M. Zaslav earned $156 million in 2014 while median worker pay, based on Glassdoor salary reports, was $80,000—a ratio of 1,951. Determining this ratio can be difficult in the case of tech companies, where CEOs often receive little or no official salaries but are instead compensated with massive quantities of stock or equity. Alphabet CEO Larry Page, for example, reported a salary of $1 in 2014.

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