Google CEO Sundar Pichai got a big raise last year, making him one of the highest-paid ceos in the United States, according to a report on the morning of May 4, Beijing time. Last week, Alphabet, Google's parent company, announced it had been authorized to proceed with a $70 billion share buyback program. But at the same time, Alphabet has been aggressively cutting costs, including 12,000 jobs, in response to slowing revenue growth.
The moves have raised eyebrows among Google employees. In the weeks since Mr. Pichai's salary was announced, there has been a lot of discussion on Google's internal platforms about Mr. Pichai accepting a raise even as the company slashed costs. Some employees were also critical of the share buyback, which has matched the size of the 2022 round.
Mr. Pichai received $226 million in total compensation last year, according to Securities and Exchange Commission filings, most of which came from $218 million in stock incentives. Pichai's total package also includes nearly $6 million for personal security services and $2 million in base compensation. By comparison, Pichai's total compensation package for 2021 is $6.3 million, including $2 million in base pay and $4.3 million in other compensation, but no stock incentive.
Some Googlers compared Pichai's pay to that of other tech executives. In January, Apple's chief executive, Tim Cook, announced that his pay would be cut by more than 40 percent from his target total compensation for 2022. At about the same time, Yuan Zheng, Zoom's chief executive, announced a 98 per cent pay cut and a cut in bonuses after the company cut 1,300 jobs. Jeff Lawson, Twilio's chief executive, said he would take a pay cut at a time when the company was cutting its workforce by 17 percent.
More than a dozen discussions appeared on Google's internal discussion boards, many of them with hundreds of likes, the messages showed. One post that received more than 1,200 likes referred to Ruth Porat, Alphabet's chief financial officer. Last month, in a rare all-company email, she wrote that Alphabet was pushing ahead with cuts to employee services "that will last for many years", ranging from employee laptops to gym fees and cafe meals.
"Pelat's cost cutting applies to all employees except our hardworking vice presidents and CEO," the message read.
Google has not yet responded to a request for comment.
This isn't the first time Pichai has come under fire for his recent decisions. In January, Pichai said he took "full responsibility" for the circumstances that led to company-wide layoffs. Later, at the company's all-hands meeting, employees asked Pichai why executives would get a raise if he took responsibility. Pichai replied that senior vice presidents were "accepting a significant reduction in their bonuses" and that he would forgo his bonus.
"Sundar accepted $226 million while laying off 12,000 workers, cutting benefits, destroying morale and culture," read the text on another popular image. The text on the other side reads: "Some of you may not survive, but it's a sacrifice I'm willing to make."
Pichai's money-related issues date back to late last year. "We shouldn't always equate fun with money," he told a company-wide conference at the time. At the time, he responded to questions from employees about why the company was eliminating certain employee benefits, but deflected questions about executive pay cuts.
Alphabet's $70bn share buyback programme has also frustrated employees, suggesting the company has more than enough cash to cover the costs of running the business and investing. "$70bn share buyback shows that we have more respect for outside shareholders than we do for Google employees," read one post that received more than 700 likes.
Responsible Editor: Zheng Zhuo
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