These 10 CEOs Earn $1 A Year


DATE: March 22, 2013

Big-time CEOs are notorious for enormous pay packages (on average $10.5 million, according to Forbes), but some chief executives opt for something less lofty—a base salary of just $1 or less a year.

Pioneered by Chrysler CEO Lee Iacocca in 1978, the salary slash is all about making a statement. Sure, there may be ulterior motives, but small pay can equal big success. With a CEO’s near-future earnings primarily tied to performance, the concession is meant to be a grand gesture of confidence that everything possible will be done to grow the company.

Still, these CEOs’ wallets aren’t exactly hurting. Many still make millions in bonuses, stock options and other perks. Whether they’ve done it for years like Google CEO Larry Page or during company crisis like Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman, these nine CEOs currently earn just one buck a year for their executive duties.

Larry Ellison, Co-Founder and CEO of Oracle

Larry Ellison Since 2009, Larry Ellison’s salary has amounted to just $1 a year. But, don’t feel too bad for the guy—he’s also the fifth richest person in the world with a net worth of $43 billion.Last year, Ellison raked in a package valued at $96 million, mostly from perks, stock options and performance cash bonuses.

Richard Fairbank, Co-Founder and CEO of Capital One

fairbank Richard Fairbank has worked for a base salary of $0 since 1997, but he did earn $15 million in stock and options last year, along with a deferred bonus of $2.19 million (his first cash compensation in 15 years).

Jeffrey Katzenberg, CEO of DreamWorks Animation

katzenberg In 2009, Jeffrey Katzenberg renewed his $1 salary to run through 2013, reduced his usual $1 million short term-incentive compensation to zero while gaining 900,000 shares of stock. Apparently, he was banking on some major company success to boost stock values.In 2011, Katzenberg earned $4 million in stock awards. A few months ago, Katzenberg also secured a deal to stay on as CEO through 2017, with more eligibility for equity incentives and cash bonuses.

Richard Kinder, Founder and CEO of Kinder Morgan

kinder With no salary and no bonus, Richard Kindler’s compensation for 2012 still came to a whopping $60.94 million in stock gains.The ex-executive from Enron has a net worth of $9.8 billion and currently ranks as America’s fourth highest-paid chief executive.

Edward Lampert, CEO of Sears

lampert A regulatory document filed yesterday revealed Edward Lampert would join the club of CEOs earning a salary of $1. At the end of the year, however, the billionaire will most likely be handsomely rewarded with a bonus of up to $2 million and up to $4.5 million.

John Mackey, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Whole Foods Market

mackey In a 2006 letter to employees, John Mackey announced he would slash his pay to $1, sell his stock portfolio to charity and set up a $100,000 emergency fund for staff facing personal problems.  He wrote: “I am now 53 years old and I have reached a place in my life where I no longer want to work for money, but simply for the joy of the work itself and to better answer the call to service that I feel so clearly in my own heart.”Last year, Mackey earned $680 million in stock gains but no bonuses.

Larry Page, Co-Founder and CEO of Google

Larry Page Last year, Larry Page earned absolutely nothing from his CEO salary at Google—except, for that $1, of course. His fortune from Google stock, however, ranks him as the 20th richest person in the world with a net worth of $23 billion.Interestingly, Google co-founder Sergey Brin and current Chairman/former CEO Eric Schmidt have at some point joined the dollar-a-year club. They are both billionaires as well.

Jeremy Stoppelman, Co-Founder and CEO of Yelp

stoppelman Just last month, Jeremy Stoppelman announced he would slash his salary base to $1 for 2013. But the PayPal founder and entrepreneur is already worth a couple million dollars, and he has been granted company shares that should be worth $2 million in two years if Yelp stock manages to stay stable.

Meg Whitman, CEO of Hewlett-Packard

whitman For her second consecutive year, Meg Whitman will earn a simple $1 salary, but yes, she’ll also take home a hefty bonus or two. The majority of her pay is instead tied to the company’s performance via stock awards and options. This pay package last year was somewhere in the neighborhood of $15 million.Also, she’s already worth $1.9 billion.

Mark Zuckerberg, Co-Founder and CEO of Facebook

zuckerberg Starting in 2013, Mark Zuckerberg’s salary will be reduced down to $1 a year. As one of the youngest billionaires ever (his net worth is $13.3 billion), he seems to be doing just fine.