CEOs like Google's Sundar Pichai and Microsoft's Satya Nadella are among the most overpaid CEOs, according to a new report

CEOs like Google's Sundar Pichai and Microsoft's Satya Nadella are among the most overpaid CEOs, according to a new report
Google CEO Sundar Pichai speaks during a developers conference.REUTERS/Stephen Lam
  • As You Sow has released its seventh annual report detailing the 100 most overpaid CEOs.
  • The top 30 CEOs on the list includes Alphabet's Sundar Pichai and Microsoft's Satya Nadella.
  • Nine companies have made the list every year, including Walt Disney, Goldman Sachs, and IBM.

CEOs like Alphabet's Sundar Pichai and Microsoft's Satya Nadella are among the top 100 most overpaid CEOs, according to a new report from As You Sow.

It's no secret that CEOs of S&P 500 companies make good money. However, As You Sow's list doesn't rank by the size of a CEO's salary. Instead, the corporate responsibility non-profit uses different metrics to identify whether or not a CEO is being overpaid.

To do this, the study took three main factors into account: the amount of extra dollars a CEO receives based on past company performance and pay, the number of shareholders who voted against a CEO's pay package, and the ratio comparing the executive's compensation to the company's median employee pay. The latter was weighed less heavily.
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Coincidentally, the highest salary on the list happens to belong to the most overpaid CEO: Alphabet's Sundar Pichai, who receives a pay of $280,621,552, according to the report. To compare, the median pay of Alphabet workers sits at $258,708, which is a CEO to worker pay ratio of 1,085 to one.

Pichai is being paid an excess of $266,698,263, according to As You Sow.

Another tech giant, Microsoft, also made the list in 24th place. Satya Nadella, the head of Microsoft, earns $42,910,215. According to the study, Nadella is being paid an excess of $27,896,691.
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The median pay of Microsoft's employees is $172,512, which is a CEO to worker pay ratio of 249 to one.

Several social media companies are seen as giants in Silicon Valley, but only one was included in the report: Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's CEO, in 73rd place. Zuckerberg has a pay of $23,415,973, which, according to the study, contains an excess of $9,479,977. To compare, the median employee pay at Facebook is $247,883. This amounts to a CEO to worker pay ratio of 94 to one, lower than both Microsoft and Alphabet's.
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However, the list wasn't just dominated by tech leaders. Bob Iger, the former CEO of the Walt Disney Company, Lachlan Murdoch of Fox Corporation, and Miguel Patricio of the Kraft Heinz Company were all listed among the top 30 most overpaid CEOs.

And according to the study, companies that have consistently graced the list are performing worse than those that have never been mentioned. As You Sow has published this report annually since 2015, and nine CEOs have made the list every year, amounting to a total pay of $2 billion. However, these nine businesses have seen a lower annualized shareholder return compared to S&P 500 companies that have never made the overpaid CEO list.

These nine companies include: Discovery, Walt Disney, Comcast, AT&T, Goldman Sachs, IBM, McKesson, Ralph Lauren, and Regeneron.
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This consistent overpaying of CEOs can signal several concerns, specifically "poor accountability, weak governance, and lack of concern for shareholder interests," the study notes.

However, this overcompensation issue may soon be changing as more shareholders are beginning to vote against these hefty CEO paychecks, according to Rosanna Landis Weaver, the report's author.

"We might be going into a spring where we see higher votes against pay, particularly at companies that try to insulate their executive compensation from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic," Weaver told Insider.
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These were the top 30 most overpaid CEOs, according to As You Sow's new report:

30. Norwegian Cruise Line - Frank Del Rio

Pay: $17,808,364

Excess: $6,617,002
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Median worker pay: $16,925

29. Walgreens Boots Alliance - Stefano Pessina

Pay: $19,156,202 Excess: $7,266,357
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Median worker pay: $34,074

28. HCA Healthcare - Samuel Hazen

Pay: $26,788,251

Excess: $14,094,249
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Median worker pay: $56,012

27. Netflix - Reed Hastings

Pay: $38,577,129

Excess: $23,649,474
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Median worker pay: $202,931

26. AT&T - Randall Stephenson

Pay: $32,032,925

Excess: $19,313,311
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Median worker pay: $98,630

25. McKesson - John Hammergren

Pay: $17,400,207 Excess: $5,240,500
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Median worker pay: $38,026

24. Microsoft - Satya Nadella

Pay: $42,910,215

Excess: $27,896,691
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Median worker pay: $172,512

23. Linde - Stephen Angel

Pay: $66,149,325

Excess: $52,644,326
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Median worker pay: $40,601

22. Coty - Pierre Laubies

Laubies was replaced halfway through 2020, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Pay: $16,211,992
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Excess: $5,574,670

Median worker pay: $43,242

21. Mylan - Heather Bresch

Pay: $18,509,260
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Excess: $7,524,895

Median worker pay: $43,367

20. Qualcomm - Steven Mollenkopf

Pay: $23,065,052
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Excess: $9,744,629

Median worker pay: $90,259

19. Marathon Petroleum - Gary Heminger

Heminger retired from the company in April 2020.
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Pay: $24,129,164

Excess: $11,768,410

Median worker pay: $27,507
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18. General Electric - H. Lawrence Culp Jr.

Pay: $24,553,788

Excess: $13,339,908 Median worker pay: $50,471
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17. Centene - Michael Neidorff

Pay: $26,438,425

Excess: $13,257,871

Median worker pay: $68,987
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16. Activision Blizzard - Robert Kotick

Pay: $30,122,896

Excess: $15,867,848

Median worker pay: $94,308
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15. Fiserv - Jeffrey Yabuki

Yabuki stepped as CEO mid-2020, Marketwatch reported.

Pay: $27,601,026

Excess: $13,842,124
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Median worker pay: $65,254

14. Comcast - Brian Roberts

Pay: $36,370,183 Excess: $23,330,783
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Median worker pay: $78,869

13. Fidelity National Information Services - Gary Norcross

Pay: $27,658,117

Excess: $13,926,647
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Median worker pay: $59,235

12. T-Mobile - John Legere

Legere stepped down as T-Mobile's CEO at the end of April 2020.

Pay: $27,756,690
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Excess: $13,798,277

Median worker pay: $62,195

11. Advanced Micro Devices - Lisa Su

Pay: $58,534,288
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Excess: $40,542,122

Median worker pay: $96,874

10. Fox Corporation - Lachlan Murdoch

Pay: $42,111,103
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Excess: $28,735,479

Median worker pay: not provided

9. Las Vegas Sands Corporation - Sheldon Gary Adelson

Adelson died this year and was replaced by Robert Goldstein as CEO.
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Pay: $24,680,118

Excess: $11,976,674

Median worker pay: $42,228
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8. Universal Health Services - Alan Miller

Pay: $24,473,240

Excess: $12,397,998

Median worker pay: $38,931
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7. Intel - Robert Swan

Swan was replaced by Pat Gelsinger as CEO of Intel this month.

Pay: $66,935,100 Excess: $53,244,455
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Median worker pay: $96,300

6. The Kraft Heinz Company - Miguel Patricio

Pay: $43,297,480

Excess: $31,390,609
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Median worker pay: $42,689

5. The Walt Disney Company - Bob Iger

Iger stepped down as CEO of the Walt Disney Company in February 2020.

Pay: $47,517,762
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Excess: $34,885,856

Median worker pay: $52,184

4. Howmet Aerospace - John Plant

Pay: $51,712,578
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Excess: $39,321,473

Median worker pay: $55,497

3. CVS Health - Larry Merlo

Merlo retired from his CEO post this month.
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Pay: $36,451,749

Excess: $24,311,079

Median worker pay: $46,140
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2. Discovery - David Zaslav

Pay: $45,843,912

Excess: $33,823,935

Median worker pay: $79,343
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1. Alphabet - Sundar Pichai

Pay: $280,621,552

Excess: $266,698,263

Median worker pay: $258,708
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