10 Highest Paid CEOs in Tech

It’s no secret that the tech industry is a lucrative one – if you can find yourself in the right job at the right company. For these 10 Chief Executives, it’s profitable beyond a doubt, with each earning in excess of $20 million dollars a year. Heading up companies that span from social networking to telecoms, here are 10 of the highest paid CEOs in the technology field.

Larry Ellison, Oracle

Larry Ellison has salt and pepper hair, a perfectly groomed beard and a penchant for black turtleneck sweaters (if ever there was a uniform for tech CEOs, the black turtleneck would have to be it.) The 70 year old co-founder and CEO of Oracle Corporation doesn’t just have his own sense of style, though: he also holds the title of the third-richest man in America and the fifth-richest person in the whole world, according to Forbes Magazine, with an estimated fortune of $52 billion.

In 2013, Ellison took home a staggering $78.4 million, snagging the number one spot on the list of highest paid tech CEOs. Ellison’s compensation was mostly equity based, with $76.9 million in options and $1.5 million in perks to make up for his token salary of $1. Ellison reportedly declined a $1.2 million performance-based cash bonus (he received a small $1,126 in other bonuses). Though down on the $96.2 million he made the year before, Ellison’s compensation package was still impressive – to put it lightly.

All of that money must go somewhere, and Ellison doesn’t bother to shun the billionaire cliches, buying up on exotic cars, military jets, luxury homes and major stakes in sporting events. He even owns 98% of Lanai, Hawaii’s sixth-largest island. Deserved? Certainly, if you consider that Ellison was a college drop-out who founded Oracle Corporation in 1977 with two partners and a reported investment of a mere $2,000. Talk about coming a long way.

While currently in top spot, Ellison won’t be sticking around on the richest CEO list: in September he announced he was stepping down as CEO of Oracle, though he will remain executive chairman and CTO.

Don Mattrick, Zynga

Before taking over the reigns as CEO at Zynga, Don Mattrick spent six years at Microsoft – three of them as the president of the company’s Interactive Entertainment Business. He was responsible for managing a team that grew Microsoft’s Xbox 360 base to more than 75 million consoles – an increase of a whopping 700 percent – so it’s no wonder social gaming company Zynga were keen to get him on board. Mattrick’s background in gaming and entertainment helped him net a lucrative package of $57.8 million for his very first year on the job. Of that, $481,409 was his salary, $5.96 million was paid out in handsome bonuses, $38 million in stock and $13.32 million in options.

Zynga is no small fry. The company’s 2013 revenue was $873.26 million, and it employs over 2,000 staff. The Zynga platform boasts 240 million active monthly users. Still, the drive to get Mattrick involved was no doubt tied to the financial health of the company, which had been in decline. It’s too early to tell whether Mattrick will succeed in turning it around: results posted from third quarter of this year showed that active monthly users had dropped and revenue was down 13 percent year-over-year, while the company posted a net loss of $57 million. Share prices have largely mirrored the decline. Still, there have been some upswings in particular areas, and it’s early days for Don Mattrick to prove his worth as the second highest paid CEO in tech.

Don Mattrick Don Mattrick (Right)

Jeff Weiner, LinkedIn

Jeff Weiner runs a company that helps people network, find jobs and move up the career ladder; and with a 4,075% increase in compensation between 2012 and 2013, he certainly knows a thing or two about the topic. After building up some valuable experience at Yahoo! and Warner Bros., Weiner landed a position at LinkedIn in December 2008, now serving as the social network’s Chief Executive Officer. Seemingly all his business experience and smarts have come in handy at the company: his pay packet skyrocketed up to a handsome $49.1 million in 2013. In 2012 he took home just $1.2 million. Weiner’s package breaks down to a $583,750 wage, $1.1 million in bonuses, $4,664 in various perks, $18.7 million in stocks and $28.7 million in options.

LinkedIn’s financial health last year helps account for how it can afford – and why it desires – to reward Weiner so lucratively. The company’s stock gained 89 percent in 2013, while revenue climbed 57 percent to $1.53 billion from $972.3 million.

While not everyone at LinkedIn has the privilege of Weiner-sized compensation, the company’s employees are, for the most part, fairly well off: LinkedIn also comes in on the list of highest paying companies in America based on median salaries.


Marc Benioff, Salesforce

A $31.3 million pay packet isn’t one to sneeze at. That’s how much Marc Benioff –  founder, chairman and CEO of Salesforce – took home in 2013. The sizeable income puts him in the list of highest earning tech CEOs, and the 50 year old California native also maintains an impressive estimated net wealth of $3.5 billion. Benioff’s compensation last year consisted of $27.6 million in options, $784,088 in perks, and $1.68 million in bonuses, all on top of a neat $1.2 million salary.

Benioff launched salesforce.com in March 1999. Back then, software wasn’t known for being a “social enterprise”, a concept Salesforce would pioneer and later trademark. Salesforce’s Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software had a hand in changing the way businesses deal with customer data and sales relationships, introducing software as a “service” rather than standalone installation. Alongside its proprietary cloud-based software, the company has also expanded into other social networking commercial applications via various acquisitions. In 2012, Forbes magazine ranked Salesforce the most innovative company in America.

Benioff himself has been credited with being innovative in the field of philanthropy. He pioneered the 1/1/1 philanthropic model, in which a company contributes 1 percent each of its profits, equity and employee hours back to the community it serves. In 2010, the publication Barron’s named Benioff and his wife, Lynne, among the Top 25 Most Effective Philanthropists.

Marc Benioff

Tony Aquila, Solera Holdings

Unless you’re in the business of auto insurance, you might not know of Solera Holdings – but that doesn’t mean the company is insignificant. In fact, Solera claims to be the number one global provider of software and services for the automobile claims processing industry, and their products support everything from recycling and salvage to repairs, glass replacement and medical claims. The company’s CEO, Tony Aquila, has acted as President and CEO since its formation in April 2005, and the 49 year old now takes home a handsome pay packet for his leadership efforts. Last year his compensation consisted of a $780,000 salary, $1.24 million bonus, $101,250 worth of perks, $1.36 million in stocks and $26.4 million in options. His total package for 2013: a cool $29.9 million.

If you wonder at how a simple provider of software for the auto insurance industry can afford to pay out such attractive sums, consider Solera Holdings’ customer base: the company counts among its customers more than 4,000 automobile insurance companies, as well as 60,500 collision repair facilities, 12,500 independent assessors, 44,500 service and repair facilities and 43,500 automotive recyclers, auto dealers and others. The auto industry is big business, and someone has to provide services to manage all that data. Texas-based Solera does it, and Aquila – as CEO – gets to reap the rewards.

Tony Aquila

John Legere, T-Mobile

How many people can claim to get $29.2 million in their first year on the job? Probably not many, but then John Legere is not your average Joe. Legere cut his teeth in the telecommunications industry by working at New England Telephone before spending almost 20 years at AT&T. Legere then took up several top posts across global computer company Dell, then spent a decade as CEO of Global Crossing. All this experience has paid off for the Massachusetts native, who was appointed as the new CEO for T-Mobile US in September 2012 – with a lucrative contract on offer from the get-go.

In 2013 Legere took home a $1.25 million salary. But that wasn’t all: he was awarded handsome stock-based compensation to the value of $22.5 million. Rounding out his package was a sweet $5.35 million bonus and $137,325 in assorted perks. As well as hitting high numbers in the income stakes, Legere also packs a sizeable social media following, with 815,000 followers keeping up with his frequent, accessible and convivial tweets.

Paul Ricci, Nuance Communications

You may not have heard of Nuance Communications, but odds are you’re familiar with Siri – the (artificially) intelligent assistant that lives within Apple’s iOS operating system. Nuance developed the voice recognition technology from which Siri was born, and helped to bring the now well-known AI to life. Aside from that claim to fame, Nuance develops products in related areas including telephone call steering systems, medical transcription software, those oft-frustrating automated telephone directory services, optical character recognition software, and desktop imaging software. In his role as chairman and CEO, Paul Ricci earned a sizeable $29.2 million in 2013, with a breakdown including an $800,000 salary, $300,000 bonus, $226,829 in perks and $27.9 million in options. Though the company has overall flourished since Ricci took over in September 2000, his growing pay packet has at times become a point of contention for shareholders. As the highest paid Chief Executive of any Massachusetts public company, Ricci has raked in $87 million in total compensation for the past three years – and share values haven’t exactly reflected his mounting fortune. In the same period, Nuance shares lost 16 percent of their value, leading some to question if his pay packet is justified.

Marissa Mayer, Yahoo!

At long last a female executive finds her way onto the list of high-flying tech CEOs in the form of Yahoo!’s Marissa Mayer. After 13 years at Google, Mayer joined Yahoo! in 2012, going on to make $24.9 million in her first full year on the job. A $1 million salary was complimented by $1.7 million in bonuses, $73,863 in assorted perks, $8.3 million in stock and $13.84 million in options. The 39 year old mother of one has landed herself on numerous lists for her gender as well as her business acumen, including being named number 18 on Forbes’ 2014 list of “Power Women”, a list she’s been steadily rising up the ranks of for the past three years running.

Reviews on Mayer’s performance are mixed. Since Mayer took over at Yahoo!’s stock price has tripled, though some say the rise is more due to the recent success of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba – of which Yahoo! owns a large stake – than of Mayer’s business decisions. After a public offering, Alibaba’s worth shot up from $30 billion to over $200 billion, buoying Yahoo! share prices in the process.

Marissa Mayer

John Chambers, Cisco Systems

65 year old John Chambers started his career in tech at the tender age of 27. That was the ’70s, and he was working in sales at IBM. From there he moved to Wang Laboratories where he served as Vice President of U.S. Operations for four years, before moving on to Cisco in 1991. More than 20 years later, he’s still at the company, and under his guiding hand it’s shown consistent growth – climbing from $70 million in annual revenue to its current figure of around $46 billion. Headquartered in San Jose, California, Cisco Systems is a leading designer and manufacturer of networking equipment.

Last year, as Cisco’s CEO and Chairman of the Board, Chambers earned a sizeable sum of $21 million. Though not the most overblown pay packet, it was an 80 percent increase on the previous year. His 2013 package consisted of a $1.1 million salary, $4.7 million bonus, $11,769 in various perks and $15.2 million in stocks.

Stephen Kaufer, TripAdvisor

In the year 2000, Stephen Kaufer co-founded TripAdvisor, which went on to become the biggest travel site in the world. You’ve probably come across it, whether intentionally or not: search for a restaurant, hotel or tourist attraction on the web, and there’s a good chance a page of TripAdvisor reviews will show up in the results. TripAdvisor has become the travel site to win at, and businesses try hard at scoring top marks from review-giving patrons. The site boasts over 60 million members and over 170 million reviews, and went public under Kaufer’s direction in December, 2011. Shares closed at $29 on the first day of trading, and now sell for around $70-80.

If TripAdvisor still sounds a little insignificant to be paying out mega bucks to its top executives, consider that it’s no longer a company in possession of a single website. As well as its original and best known property (TripAdvisor.com), the TripAdvisor Media Group owns 24 other travel brands including BookingBuddy, FlipKey, Independent Traveler, SeatGuru, SmarterTravel, Tingo, TravelPod, and VirtualTourist.

TripAdvisor’s revenue was listed as being $944.7 million in 2013, so it’s no wonder Kaufer – who holds the rank of CEO – was entitled to a decent cut of it. Kaufer last year received a half million dollar salary, $450,000 bonus, $10,101 in various perks and $38 million in options. That’s a total package of $39 million. And Kaufer’s is another salary that’s increased in leaps and bounds rather than increments: his 2013 pay was 510 percent up on the year before.