Google CEO Sundar Pichai Is the Most Expensive Tech CEO to Keep Around

Pichai will receive $2 million in base pay as CEO of Alphabet—a pretty steep raise in comparison to his predecessor Larry Page's salary.

In his first year as Google chief, Pichai earned a base salary of $652,500. LLUIS GENE/AFP/Getty Images

From employee walkouts to congressional grilling, Google (GOOGL) CEO Sundar Pichai has faced his fair share of adversity in 2019 as the public face of one of the world’s largest tech companies. But on a personal level, the Indian-American executive has had a great year, scoring not only a title bump, but also a giant pay raise.

Earlier this month, Pichai was appointed as CEO of Google’s parent company, Alphabet (GOOGL), in addition to his existing responsibilities at Google. In that role, Pichai will receive $2 million in annual base salary starting next year, a company filing last Friday revealed.

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Although $2 million is within the range of what CEOs of comparable tech companies make these days (Per Equilar, CEOs of the largest U.S. companies made a median $1.2 million in 2018), Pichai’s Alphabet compensation package is an infinite jump from what his predecessor, Google cofounder Larry Page, earned in the same role: $1.

It was a common practice among tech entrepreneurs in Page’s time to pay themselves a nominal salary and store most of their fortune in company stock to show their commitment to shareholders. Other notable CEOs who earn a $1 base salary include Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Twitter’s Jack Dorsey and Oracle’s Larry Ellison.

As CEO of Alphabet, Pichai will oversee about 30 specialized tech subsidiaries in addition to Google, including self-driving unit Waymo and AI lab DeepMind.

Also starting 2020, Pichai will receive a hefty $240 million in performance-based stock awards over the next three years, the largest award package Google has granted any executive.

Pichai, a materials engineer educated in both India and the U.S., joined Google in 2004 as a member of its management team. He climbed corporate ranks all the way to CEO in 2015. In his first year as Google chief, Pichai earned a base salary of $652,500. His total compensation skyrocketed the following year when Google approved a $199 million stock award package for him, the largest in the company’s history at the time.

In addition to net paycheck, Google also spends generously to keep its CEO safe. Last year, Google recorded a $1.2 million expense under an account called “CEO personal security allowance,” which covered Pichai’s day-to-day security costs, use of company private jets and so on.

The security allowance in 2018 was almost twice the cost of the previous year due to a security upgrade in response to a violent shooting at YouTube (a Google subsidiary) headquarters in April 2018.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai Is the Most Expensive Tech CEO to Keep Around