10 CEOs Earn ‘Only’ $1 a Year

CEO.com assembled a list of 10 “big-time CEOs” who earn a base salary of just $1 a year. At a time when most CEOs are notorious for enormous pay packages (on average $10.5 million, according to Forbes), these 10 have opted for something less lofty. They do have one thing in common: all are entrepreneurial with all but one—Eddie Lampert—having founded a business. Yes, Virginia, founder-entrepreneurs do think differently than manager-CEOs.

CEO.com assembled a list of 10 “big-time CEOs” who earn a base salary of just $1 a year. Chrysler CEO Lee Iacocca is credited with pioneering the $1 a year salary. In 1978, he made a statement with his salary slash the reverberated throughout the country. Sure, there were ulterior motives; Iacocca wasn’t exactly hurting financially, but small pay can equal big success. With a CEO’s near-future earnings primarily tied to performance, the concession is meant to be a grand gesture of confidence that everything possible will be done to grow the company.

None of these ten CEOs are hurting in the wallet. Many still make millions in bonuses, stock options and other perks. Whether they’ve done it for years like Google CEO Larry Page or during company crisis like Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman, CEO.com identified these CEOs that currently earn just one buck a year for their executive duties.

1. Larry Ellison, Co-Founder and CEO of Oracle

Since 2009, Larry Ellison’s salary has amounted to just $1 a year. But, don’t feel too bad for the guy—he’s also the fifth richest person in the world with a net worth of $43 billion. Last year, Ellison raked in a package valued at $96 million, mostly from perks, stock options and performance cash bonuses.

2. Richard Fairbank, Co-Founder and CEO of Capital One

Richard Fairbank has worked for a base salary of $0 since 1997, but he did earn $15 million in stock and options last year, along with a deferred bonus of $2.19 million (his first cash compensation in 15 years).

3. Jeffrey Katzenberg, CEO of DreamWorks Animation

In 2009, Jeffrey Katzenberg renewed his $1 salary to run through 2013, reduced his usual $1 million short term-incentive compensation to zero while gaining 900,000 shares of stock. Apparently, he was banking on some major company success to boost stock values. In 2011, Katzenberg earned $4 million in stock awards. A few months ago, Katzenberg also secured a deal to stay on as CEO through 2017, with more eligibility for equity incentives and cash bonuses.

4. Richard Kinder, Founder and CEO of Kinder Morgan

With no salary and no bonus, Richard Kindler’s compensation for 2012 still came to a whopping $60.94 million in stock gains. The ex-executive from Enron has a net worth of $9.8 billion and currently ranks as America’s fourth highest-paid chief executive.

5. Edward Lampert, CEO of Sears

A regulatory document filed yesterday revealed Edward Lampert would join the club of CEOs earning a salary of $1. At the end of the year, however, the billionaire will most likely be handsomely rewarded with a bonus of up to $2 million and up to $4.5 million.


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