Social media CEO salaries compared

Freshly-listed Twitter has investors excited – but no one is more excited than Twitter’s CEO who’s adding over US$11 million in stock awards to his annual haul.

Since listing last Thursday (7 November), Twitter’s stock hit a frenzied peak of US$50.09 – almost double its set listing price of $26. Since then, however, the stock has dropped to US$41.65, giving the company a market cap of $23.617 billion.

According to Reuters, the drop comes as investors mark “the beginning of nerve-racking journey of whether Twitter can deliver on the huge expectations.”

But while investors continue to gamble with the hottest property on the New York Stock Exchange, Twitter’s CEO will be smiling all the way to the bank, as his company’s share value pads his wealth.

In an S-1 filing – which lists a company’s basic business and financial information when registering securities with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) – freshly-listed social network, Twitter revealed how much its chief executive, Dick Costolo, received in compensation as of December 2012.

According to the filing, while Twitter’s CEO received a relatively small base salary of US$200,000, his stock awards totalled more than US$11 million, taking his total pay for the year to US$11.5 million.

Mentioned in a footnote in the filing, as of August 2013, Costolo’s base annual salary has been reduced to $14,000.

Social tech companies CEO salaries 2012 (US$)

CEO Company
Base Salary
Bonuses Stock Awards
Total Compensation
Mark Zuckerberg Facebook 503,000 266,000 2,270,000,000 2,370,000,000
Marissa Mayer Yahoo 454,862 1,120,000 35,000,000 36,574,862
Dick Costolo Twitter 200,000 11,305,740 11,505,740
Jeff Wiener LinkedIn 535,000 640,400 1,175,400
Larry Page Google 1 1
Sergey Brin Google 1 1

While it may seem like Google runners Larry Page (CEO) and Sergey Brin (chairman) are getting shafted in the compensation arena, the executives took it upon themselves, when Google listed, to earn no more than US$1 a year for their work running the company.

The move, known as the one-dollar salary, is adopted by executives in large businesses as a gesture, and those who choose to do so often receive compensation through bonuses or stock options.

In South Africa, Naspers boss, Koos Bekker is an example of such a compensation scheme – having not drawn a salary from the media and Internet company since 2008, instead choosing to amass shares worth close to R16 billion.

In the case of the Google duo, both Page an Brin are worth well over US$20 billion (US$24.9 billion and US$24.4 billion, respectively, according to Forbes) based on their stock values in Google.

Since listing in 2013, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg has also joined the “one-dollar businessmen” club; though his total compensation from 2012 – including a base salary of US$503,000, a bonus of US$266,000 and an unprecedented stock option of US$2.37 billion – was one of the highest the tech sector had ever seen.

Yahoo’s CEO, Marissa Mayer, also raked in a large bounty for her work in 2012 – totaling close to US$36.6 million for her first year of work in the position. Under Mayer, Yahoo spent a rather large US$1.1 billion buying out micro-blogging site, Tumblr.

Contrasting the social tech heavy-weights, however, LinkedIn CEO, Jeff Weiner, pulled the smallest amount – US$1.175 million – for a company which pulls in a proportionally larger amount of revenue compared to its competitors.

Average Revenue Per User for Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn

Company Users Revenue (first 6 months of 2013)
LinkedIn 238 million $668.4 million $2.89
Facebook 1,200 million $3,271.0 million $2.72
Twitter 218 million $253 million $1.15

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Social media CEO salaries compared