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Steve Jobs Highest Paid Bay Area Executive in 2003, Study Says

Steve Jobs Highest Paid Bay Area Executive in 2003, Study Says

by , 6:45 PM EST, December 28th, 2004

Steve Jobs' compensation package for 2003 is once again making headlines. According to a report by the San Francisco Chronicle, Equilar, a San Francisco-based firm offering consulting and analysis of corporate governance, has published a study of executive compensation in the Bay Area. At the head of that list was Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple, who received a stock grant of 5 million restricted shares in exchange for 27.5 million underwater options he had garnered over the previous several years.

Equilar puts the value on those shares at the time of the granting at approximately US$74.5 million, making the iCEO top dog in the Bay Area for 2003.

AAPL closed at $64.18 today, making those shares worth $320.9 million.

Mr. Jobs' compensation for 2003 has continually attracted the spotlight of those interested in covering what many see as modern excess in CEO compensation. David Lewin, a professor at the Anderson School of Management at UCLA, told the Chronicle that nationwide, CEOs earn about 500 times what rank and file workers make, some 10 times the gap of 35 years ago.

It's that gap that has many shareholder activists and others agitating for reform in corporate governance. Apple's board has specifically come under fire as not being tough enough, criticism that led to some changes at Apple in recent years.

The full picture

Many people have held up Mr. Jobs as the poster child for such corporate governance excess based on his stock grant, though the full picture is slightly different. While Mr. Jobs did receive that massive grant, and he also was given a jet worth some $84 million, this is the only compensation Mr. Jobs has received from Apple since returning to the helm of the company in 1997.

In addition, Mr. Jobs' grant vests over three years, meaning that they do not become fully his until March of 2006. That moves his total compensation for 10 years of service to Apple to approximately $158.8 million, or $15.9 million per year.

That's still enough to qualify him as one of the highest paid executives in the country, though it would place him much farther down the list of any single year than singling out 2003 would indicate. Most of the coverage this issue has received has neglected to consider all of these factors.

The other four of the top five highest paid Bay Area executives in 2003, according to Equilar, were Cisco Systems CEO John Chambers ($47.7 million), eBay CEO Meg Whitman ($42.6 million), Intuit CEO Stephen Bennett ($29.9 million) and former PeopleSoft CEO Craig Conway ($26.9 million).

Genentech and eBay both had five executives in the top 100, while Gilead Sciences, Oracle, PeopleSoft and Veritas Software each had four of its executive team in the top 100.

There is additional information in the full story at the Chronicle, including a close look at Steve Jobs' friend and confidante Larry Ellison. Mr. Ellison did not make the 2003 list as he received zero compensation, but did earn more than $10 million in 2004.

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