How Alphabet's Sundar Pichai's $226m salary stacks against other Big Tech chiefs

He maintained a base salary of $2m, nearly $6m in other compensation and around $218m in stock grants in 2022

The 2022 compensation for Sundar Pichai, chief executive of Alphabet, represents a sharp increase on 2021. Bloomberg
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Sundar Pichai, the chief executive of Google's parent company Alphabet, received a huge increase in his salary in 2022, making him one the highest-paid corporate leaders while there were layoffs in one of the world's biggest technology companies.

Mr Pichai, who was appointed by the California-based company in late 2019, received a base salary of $2 million, nearly $6 million in other pay and around $218 million in stock grants last year, according to a company filing to the US Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday.

The 2022 compensation for the 50-year-old executive represents a sharp boost from 2021, when he received $6.3 million. Mr Pichai maintained his base salary for the past three years.

The “other compensation” included nearly $5.94 million for his personal security.

His pay is also miles ahead of the compensation of Alphabet's other executives last year: chief financial officer Ruth Porat and chief legal officer Kent Walker both received nearly $24.5 million, while senior vice presidents Prabhakar Raghavan and Philipp Schindler both took more than $37 million. Their stock awards are given on an annual basis.

The revelation of Mr Pichai's compensation package comes after Alphabet earlier this year announced that it was laying off 12,000 of its nearly 190,000 employees, which is about 6 per cent of the total workforce, after a review across its product areas and functions, amid a wave of layoffs across the technology industry.

“I take full responsibility for the decisions that led us here,” Mr Pichai said at the time in an email to employees seen by The National.

“We have undertaken a rigorous review across product areas and functions to ensure that our people and roles are aligned with our highest priorities as a company. The roles we are eliminating reflect the outcome of that review. They cut across Alphabet, product areas, functions, levels and regions.”

This month, Google also said it was cutting costs by reducing employees’ incentives and perks — such as free snacks, shuttle services and fitness sessions — to meet its savings target, even as it seeks to boost investment in technologies such as generative artificial intelligence.

Mr Pichai's pay is significantly higher than his peers at Silicon Valley, where some of the biggest and most influential technology companies are based.

Tim Cook, the chief executive of Apple, received a $99.4 million salary in 2022. While he maintained a base salary of $3 million, most of his compensation came from stock grants, amounting to $83 million. He also received $12 million in non-equity pay and a further $1.4 million in other compensation.

However, he took a 40 per cent pay cut in 2023, based on investor guidance and at his request, and will receive compensation of $49 million this year, the iPhone maker said in a regulatory filing to the US Securities and Exchange Commission in January. That is also further down from the $853 million he earned in 2021.

Andy Jassy, the chief executive of Amazon, saw his 2022 pay plunge to $1.3 million from $212 million in the previous year — a more than 99 per cent pay cut — as the world's largest e-commerce marketplace grapples with a slowdown in sales. The reason? He was not granted any new stock.

His 2021 award was “intended to represent most of his compensation for the coming years”, the company said in a regulatory filing this month. It also meant that he earned less than Amazon founder and current chairman Jeff Bezos, who received $1.6 million last year.

However, Mr Jassy has vested stock worth $31.9 million that is considered part of his compensation. And he also has two million shares in Amazon, which are worth $214 million as of Friday's closing price.

Mark Zuckerberg, the chief executive of Facebook parent Meta Platforms, continued to receive a base salary of $1 in 2022, as he did in the previous two years, and, again, he did not receive any raise, stock awards or bonuses.

However, his total pay rose to $27.11 million, as his “all other compensation” climbed because of his increasing use of private jets and beefed-up security for himself and his family, which amounted to $24.82 million.

Satya Nadella, the chief executive of Microsoft, received $55 million in compensation in 2022, a 10 per cent increase over what he received the previous year. Of that amount 96 per cent was performance-based, compared to 71 per cent a year ago, according to the company's proxy filing in November.

Mr Nadella, who became chief executive in 2014, maintained a base salary of $2.5 million, but his stock grants in 2022 rose about 28 per cent to $42.27 million, from $33 million the previous year. He also received other compensation.

Performance stock awards “are designed to encourage our executives to achieve rigorous goals in key performance metrics to drive long-term performance and value creation”, Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft said.

Updated: April 22, 2023, 1:24 PM