Does It Pay to Be Apple's CEO?


Running the largest tech company in the world sure has its perks.

While Apple (NAS: AAPL) co-founder Steve Jobs famously worked for just $1 per year, some may have assumed he was simply getting compensated in restricted stock and options. That actually wasn't the case for Jobs, who had no additional equity grants for many years. His most recent transaction before his death was back in August 2007, just two months after the original iPhone's debut.

Jobs exercised options to purchase 120,000 shares of Apple at the drool-worthy price of $5.75 per share, and he did so only a day before they expired, so it was merely exercising an existing holding instead of getting additional compensation. That brought his position up to a cool 5,546,451 shares to his name, so I wouldn't be too worried that he didn't get more equity in the coming years. Besides, he also got to fly the world in a private Gulfstream jet that Apple bought for him to use.

At current prices near $418, the position is worth over $2.3 billion alone. Don't forget that the other, larger chunk of his wealth was from his 138 million shares of Disney. With Disney shares near $40, add another $5.5 billion to the count.

As Jobs handed over the CEO badge to longtime lieutenant Tim Cook, how is Cook's compensation faring?

A recent Wall Street Journal report mentions a handful of tech execs set to receive lofty paydays via the vesting of restricted stock in the next few months, with Cook leading the way.

By the end of March, once the shares are freed and he's able to call them his own, he's looking at a $96.2 million payday based on Dec. 30 closing prices. The shares include units he was given for his performance while Jobs was on medical leave. Oh, and don't forget the million restricted shares he was given upon officially becoming CEO. Half of those will vest in August 2016, with the remaining half in August 2021. Get comfortable, Mr. Cook; you'll be here a while.

Also included in the WSJ list is Google (NAS: GOOG) Chairman Eric Schmidt. He has parts of two different awards vesting this quarter, but his holdings are valued at "only" $16.4 million. Next up is eBay (NAS: EBAY) CEO John Donahoe, with roughly $10.5 million coming his way. SuccessFactors (NAS: SFSF) CEO Lars Dalgaard is about to receive $5 million, partially because his company is being acquired by German software giant SAP. No. 5 on the list is Autodesk (NAS: ADSK) CEO Carl Bass, with $3.9 million vesting in the coming months.

Topping the list and leading by nearly sixfold, Cook is doing just fine.

Apple and Google top the list just as they're topping the mobile revolution. With iOS and Android leading the mobile revolution, some winners are hard to see -- because they're buried inside the gadgets. The proliferation of mobile gadgets is going to be breathtaking, and a handful of companies stand to rake in the profits as consumers snap up each year's latest and greatest models. We've just released a new special free report on 3 Hidden Winners of the iPhone, iPad, and Android Revolution. In it, you'll find three companies that supply crucial components that virtually every mobile device relies on. Check it out now -- it's free.

At the time thisarticle was published Fool contributorEvan Niuowns shares of Apple and Walt Disney, but he holds no other position in any company mentioned. Check out hisholdings and a short bio. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple, Autodesk, and Google.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended buying shares of Apple, Walt Disney, Google, and eBay, creating a bull call spread position in Apple, and writing puts in eBay. Try any of our Foolish newsletter servicesfree for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe thatconsidering a diverse range of insightsmakes us better investors. The Motley Fool has adisclosure policy.

Copyright © 1995 - 2012 The Motley Fool, LLC. All rights reserved. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.