Does It Pay to Be's CEO?

It doesn't pay as well as beingApple's (NAS: AAPL) CEO, but (NAS: AMZN) CEO Jeff Bezos is doing just fine.

According to recent SEC filings, the iconic e-tailer's founder and CEO took home a modest base salary of $81,840 last year, which is the same amount of bacon he's brought home for the past three years. But in addition to that, he received $1.6 million in "all other compensation," which primary consists of security costs for Bezos at business facilities and for business travel.

Bezos also received no extra compensation as a board director, got no additional stock awards, and also has no outstanding unvested equity awards. In the grand scheme of things, that's a fairly modest pay package for the CEO of an $85 billion tech company.

What else does Bezos have, though? Nearly 88 million shares of Amazon, or 19.5% of the entire company. Based on last Friday's closing price of around $188, we're talking about a $16.6 billion position.

Like I said: Bezos is doing just fine.

Founders and co-founders are typically willing to take home less in cash and stock compensation because they usually already have a sizable stake in the companies they started. On top of that, they have something else invested that's invaluable: pride.

For example, Whole Foods Market (NAS: WFM) co-founder and CEO John Mackey earned a base salary of just $1 last year, for a total pay package of just $78,451. Mackey doesn't own a large percentage of his company, though. He beneficially owns about 1.1 million shares -- less than 1%.

Charles Schwab's (NAS: SCHW) namesake founder and chairman beneficially owns roughly 199 million shares of that company, or a 15.6% stake. His pay package last year totaled $4.5 million, while CEO Walt Bettinger took home $10.1 million.

That adds some context to Apple CEO Tim Cook's 2011 pay package of $378 million, although the bulk of that amount was related to the 1 million restricted stock units, or RSUs, he received upon Steve Jobs' resignation. Not including those golden handcuffs (which are now valued near $600 million), Cook took home cash compensation of $1.8 million. Cook has a total of 1.36 million unvested RSUs.

With an estimated total net worth of $18.4 billion and the bulk of that from his Amazon shares, Bezos can say his interests are squarely in line with shareholders'.

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

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