Google employees have a reputation for high compensation (and great in-office perks, at least when those offices are open). But however much they make, it’s almost certainly a fraction of what Sundar Pichai, CEO of both Google and Alphabet (Google’s holding company), pulls down in a typical year.
Financial analytics firm S&P Global recently crunched the numbers and figured out that Pichai earned $280.6 million in 2019. For those keeping score at home, that’s 1,085 times the median Google employee salary of $258,708. Keep in mind that Pichai makes a mere $2 million in actual annual salary; the bulk of his pay package comes from equity valued at $276.6 million.
Late last year, The Verge analyzed Pichai’s long-term salary numbers and found that he’d earned nearly $1 billion in stock grants over the past ten years. That puts him in the same tech-executive tier as Apple CEO Tim Cook, whose estimated net worth just passed $1 billion thanks to a heaping pile of Apple stock as part of his overall compensation.
If you’re interested in joining Google as a software engineer or developer, you’ll have a long way to go to land Pichai-sized compensation, but you’ll still be paid well, especially in relation to other big tech firms. Google offers a very competitive combination of bonus, salary, and stock to even the newest employees, according to crowdsourced data from levels.fyi:
Then you have senior engineering compensation at Google and other firms, which is likewise high; however, these crowdsourced numbers don’t take into account what a technologist can earn if they specialize in a sought-after category. For example, those who work with machine-learning and artificial intelligence (A.I.) in the context of key projects, such as Google’s self-driving car project, can easily earn millions (just not Pichai-level millions).
Other tech firms have similarly outsized ratios between CEO and median employee pay. At IBM, it’s 354x, with former CEO Ginni Rometty pulling down $20.2 million in 2019, versus a median employee salary of $56,896. Intel, meanwhile, paid its CEO $66.9 million in 2019, versus its $96,300 median employee salary—a very healthy multiple of 208x.
Are CEOs worth such a massive multiple? It’s the sort of pay that companies find easy to justify when they’re large and doing well—and difficult when the stock starts to fall.