The CEO of SpaceX and Tesla, Elon Musk, came out on top of Fortune’s new list of the most well-paid CEOs on the Fortune 500. Musk “realized” almost $23.5 billion in 2021 when he exercised some Tesla stock options he was given in 2018 as part of a multiyear “moonshot” grant. According to the new study of how Fortune 500 CEOs are paid, that was by far the biggest bonus they got in 2021. Find the 5 highest-paid CEOs in the world.
After Musk, the 10 highest-paid Fortune 500 CEOs of 2021 will all be tech and biotech CEOs, such as the heads of Apple, Netflix, Microsoft, and Google. Here is the full list.
The CEO gets paid a lot more than the average worker. The Economic Policy Institute (EPI), which has been keeping track of this number for decades, says that the average CEO of a big company made 351 times as much as the average worker in 2020. This is up from a 21-to-1 ratio in 1965.
List of Top 5 Highest Paid CEOs in The World
1. Elon Musk, Tesla: $23.5 billion
Musk, the founder and CEO of SpaceX and Tesla, “realised” almost $23.5 billion in compensation in 2021 by using some Tesla stock options he was given in 2018.
This year, Tesla was number 65 on the Fortune 500 list. The company had a great year in 2021. It made $53.8 billion in sales, which was a 71 percent increase from 2020, and it grew a lot in key European and Chinese markets. In 2021, Tesla delivered 936,000 cars, which is an increase of 87 percent. With a 14 percent market share, this puts the company at the top of the global EV industry.
2. Tim Cook, Apple: $770,500,000,000
Since 2011, Cook has been the CEO of Apple Inc. In 2021 alone, he made $770,500,000, most of it from a 10-year grant of shares worth $1.7 billion. But Apple’s stock market performance under Cook may make up for his huge salary: the tech company’s market value has gone up by $2.2 trillion while he has been in charge.
The Fortune 500 list has Apple at number 3. The global chip shortage caused problems for the company, but they were able to start making their own equipment. Apple made a huge $95 billion in profits at the end of the year, which was more than any other U.S. company.
3. Jensen Huang, NVIDIA, $561 billion
Huang is one of the people who started the software company NVIDIA. NVIDIA is best known for its Shield gaming consoles and advances in AI.
On this year’s Fortune 500, the company came in at number 134. Revenue surged 61.4 percent.
A spokesperson said that during the last fiscal year, Huang “realised about $507 million from expiring options that had been given in 2011 and 2012.” This is because the price of the company’s shares has increased by about 60 times over the past ten years.
4. Reed Hastings, Netflix: $453,500,000,000
Hastings helped start the streaming giant and is now its CEO and chairman. Under his leadership, Netflix went from being a DVD-by-mail service to a big player in online streaming.
Netflix was number 115 on the Fortune 500 list, and its sales went up by 18.8 percent. After losing customers because of the pandemic, the company has recently cut costs. Streaming services are also becoming more of a threat to Netflix.
A company representative disagreed with Fortune’s analysis of Hastings’ real pay and would only repeat the total amount of his “granted” pay for 2021: “According to our proxy statement, he was paid $40.8 million in 2021, which included $650,000 in cash and $39.7 million in stock options.”
5. Leonard Schleifer, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals: $452.9 billion
Schleifer is the co-founder and CEO of Regeneron, a biopharmaceutical company that makes medicines to treat asthma, cancer, chronic pain, and more.
On this year’s Fortune 500, the company came in at number 231. In 2021, the company’s REGEN-COV antibody treatment for preventing and treating COVID-19 was a big part of why sales went up by 89.1%.
Fortune’s analysis showed that most of Schleifer’s actual pay came from the exercise of long-held options that were about to expire in ten years. A spokesperson for Regeneron said, “Regeneron’s compensation philosophy has always emphasized long-term incentives in the form of stock options and other equity-based awards, as we believe this aligns employee interests with the usually long-term nature of drug development.”
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