The era of baby-faced dot-commers has definitely passed, but someone forgot to tell these guys. The CEOs of GSI Commerce, FragranceNet and eUniverse are the highest-paid chiefs in their age group, according to a report by Hoover’s. They’ve all just turned 30.
What makes their stories unusual is that such young CEOs are still running their companies at all, given the uncertain future of today’s dot-coms and the general trend to replace young founders with seasoned managers. All three declined to be interviewed.
Topping the salary list is Michael Rubin, who brought in $325,000 last year as found-er and chief of GSI Commerce, a King of Prussia, Pa.-based company that runs online sales for sporting goods chains. He also received stock options worth $14.4 million that vest over the next three years.
Brad Greenspan earned $273,125 in cash and bonuses as chairman and CEO of Los Angeles-based eUniverse, which operates entertainment Web sites. Moreover, all but four of his 10-member management team are 30 or younger, making COO Adam Goldenberg, 21, and the president and director, Brett Brewer, 30, among the highest-paid young executives in the country.
Jason Apfel earned $250,000 in the fiscal year ending March 2002 running FragranceNet, an online discount fragrance store in Hauppauge, N.Y. That was twice as much as his father Dennis, 56, made as the company’s chairman, CFO and secretary.
Their salaries are modest compared with pay at major public companies, not to mention the IPO lucre amassed by dot-com darlings like Stephan Paternot, 28, the chic co-creator of TheGlobe.com, and Joe Park, the 30-year-old cofounder of Kozmo.com, both of whom have dropped off the radar along with their companies.
“Technology still tends to favor the young,” says one executive recruiter, noting cynically that small boards and insider directors also favor young founders.
But young though Rubin, Greenspan and Apfel are, in some ways they’re dinosaurs. Most Internet royalty have cashed in or burned out. Paternot, for example, is now producing an independent film about a doughnut artist. Park, the would-be king of on-demand delivery, lugs books to class at Harvard Business School.
In one respect, these three are very much with the times: They are all paid in cash, not options.