For the first time ever, the 10 highest-paid chief executives in the US received more than $100m in compensation last year, and two took home billion-dollar paychecks, according to a leading annual survey of executive pay.
Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's co-founder, was America's highest-paid boss in 2012, according to GMI Ratings annual poll of executive compensation, released on Tuesday. Zuckerberg's total compensation topped $2.27bn – more than $6m a day. His base salary was $503,205 but the vast majority of his enormous pay package came from exercising 60m Facebook share options when the company went public last year.
Richard Kinder, the CEO and chairman of energy firm Kinder Morgan, had a base salary of just $1 in 2012 and received no other bonuses. But he made $1.1bn selling restricted stock. The payout follows a nearly $60m profit from stock in 2011.
Half of the top 10 are company founders. The rest are appointed executives. The no 3 slot really belongs to Gregory Maffei, who appears twice in the list as CEO of Liberty Media and Liberty Interactive. He reaped a combined $391m from the two posts.
All told, the top 10 CEOs in this year's poll took home over $4.7bn between them, and for the first time ever, none earned less than $100m. "I have never seen anything like that," said Greg Ruel, GMI's senior research consultant and author of the report. "Usually we have a few CEOs at the $100m-plus level but never the entire top 10."