Elon Musk's 2021 Pay Package Dwarfed Fortune 500 CEO Salaries, But There's A Larger Problem

Zinger Key Points
  • Elon Musk's 2021 compensation was worth $23.5B - Fortune
  • Tim Cook,  Jensen Huang distant second and third on the list
  • Gap between CEOs and average workers staggering and the gulf is growing

Tesla Inc's TSLA Elon Musk is reportedly the highest-paid Fortune 500 CEO in the United States. Apple Inc AAPL Nvidia Corp NVDA, and Netflix Inc NFLX chief executives are some of the others who also feature in the list

Musk Leads By A Big Margin

Musk, who also heads SpaceX, was the most compensated Fortune 500 CEO, according to a Fortune report. His 2021 compensation was worth $23.5 billion. He scored the biggest CEO payday last year after exercising Tesla stock options.

The options were granted in his 2018 pay package and came in the form of 20.3 million stock option awards divided into 12 tranches of 1.69 million shares each. 

See Also: How To Buy Tesla (TSLA) Stock

Tim Cook: A Distant Runner-Up

Musk’s compensation puts him far ahead of the next closest contender on the list, Apple's Tim Cook, who reportedly made $770.5 million last year. Most of his compensation was a part of a 10-year grant of shares which were worth $1.5 billion.

Cook took home $14.7 million in 2020, his pay package swelled six-fold in 2021. His base salary in both years remained $3 million. 

As Apple’s valuation touched the $2 trillion mark, Cook turned a billionaire. Cook’s ownership of Apple has been incremental unlike founder-entrepreneurs like Musk and Meta Platforms Inc FB CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

Jensen Huang Took Home $507M

Jensen Huang, CEO Of Nvidia, took home $507 million from expiring options granted in 2011 and 2012, according to Fortune, which cited an Nvidia spokesperson. In the period since the options were granted, Nvidia’s share price rose 60 fold.

Top Bosses From Tech, Biotech Most Paid

Reed Hastings, the co-founder and CEO of Netflix took home $453.5 million, according to Fortune, which added that the figure was disputed. by a company spokesperson who put Hastings' total 2021 granted compensation at $40.8 million. 

Other notables on the list of highly paid CEOs included Leonard Schleifer of Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc REGN whose compensation in 2021 was $452.9 million and Marc Benioff of Salesforce Inc CRM who garnered $439.4 million in the same year. 

Satya Nadella of Microsoft Corp MSFT collected $309.4 million, while Robert A. Kotick of Activision Blizzard ATVI scooped up $296.7 million. 

Average Employee Dwarfed, Outearned

The average big company CEO earned 351 times more than the average worker on a realized basis in 2020, according to data from the Economic Policy Institute, first noted on Fortune.

CEOs at the top 350 firms were paid $24.2 million on average, according to the institute. Between 1978 and 2020, CEO pay rose 1,322%, more than the 817% S&P 500 growth registered in the same period.

The disparity between pay between average workers and CEOs has only worsened. While in 2020 it was 351-to-1, it was 307-to-1 in 2019, and only 21-to-1 in 1965, according to the Institute.

Read Next: Apple CEO Tim Cook Donates $100,000 To His High School's Band; Director Says 'We Are Speechless'


Posted In: NewsTechMediaelectric vehiclesElon MuskEVsFortune 500SpaceXTim Cook