Exorbitant salaries for chief executives and founders of mega corporations are a widely accepted facet of modern corporate culture. For these bigwigs, annual paydays of millions and millions of dollars are quite normal.
But then there are some leaders who make just $1 in salary each year despite heading entities of ginormous magnitude. In times when efforts to increase minimum wage are gaining momentum, it's astonishing to see rich, resourceful people taking home just a dollar as salary each year for services rendered.
Let's take a look at these individuals who leave (or have left) millions on the table for no apparent reason before discussing the real motive behind their generosity.
In January 2013, Facebook reduced its CEO Mark Zuckerberg's base salary to $1 per year on his own request. He had earned $770,000 in salary and bonuses the previous year.
Just this year, Google doled out $124 million in salaries and bonuses to four of its top executives. In contrast, its co-founder Sergey Brin made just $1.
Google's other co-founder, Larry Page, also earns a salary of $1. He and Brin have been on the same pay scale since 2005.
Brin and Page even convinced their CEO-turned-chairman Eric Schmidt to relinquish his right to actual salary and be content with a dollar.
Oracle Corporation CEO Larry Ellison has long been one of the highest-paid CEOs of any public company in the world. In 2012, he made $96 million and followed it up with another $77 million the next year. However, in 2010, his company's shareholders had successfully used their power to limit his salary to $1 for a year.
When Meg Whitman became the new CEO of Hewlett-Packard in 2011, her salary was set at $1 per year. In case of her failing to achieve her financial targets, she'd have received a severance pay of just $1.5. She did hit those targets and was given a pay raise of 150 million percent two years later. She now makes $1.5 million per year.
Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk has pumped hundreds of millions of dollars of his own money into his innovative startup ventures. The salary he receives from his companies for his services stands at a mere $1.
Hollywood legend Arnold Schwarzenegger was a millionaire long before he made it big on the big screen. Since money was never a problem for the Terminator star; he refused to accept a $175,000 salary which he was entitled to as the governor of California.
The late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs was arguably the inspiration behind an entire brigade of tech entrepreneurs accepting $1 salaries. He pioneered this trend in Silicon Valley in 2003. What sets him apart from the rest is that unlike others, Jobs didn't take any alternative form of compensation (stock options, bonus, etc).
While some of these gestures are genuine, others were taken with a view to gaining financial advantages in the bigger picture. In some cases, stock growth and capital gains are a much more lucrative option than drawing a million dollar salary. The $1 salary is not only beneficial from a taxation point of view, but also makes a great impression on potential shareholders and investors.