The Highest Paid Tech CEOs Of 2016

by Sohini Bagchi    Dec 26, 2016

Given that the IT industry includes some of the largest and most successful companies in the world, it is no surprise that its executives would be some of the highest paid in the world. But, while some tech CEOs, including Facebook CEO and fouder Mark Zuckerberg and Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, have opted to receive a $1 annual salary, others take home heavy pay packages. Most of the compensation packages come with stock options and can vary widely depending on the value of the company’s stock.


As we draw the curtains on 2016, CXOtoday brings to you a compilation of some of the highest-paid CEOs in technology industry based on various news and reports published over the last 12 months.

- Mark Hurd and Safra Catz, Oracle [Over $53 million]

Larry Ellison often topped the charts of the highest paid tech CEOs. Now his successors – who made $53 million last year – share the distinction of the highest paid tech CEO. Hurd is the former Chairman, Chief Executive Officer, and President of Hewlett-Packard. As Oracle’s co-CEO, he received a 41% raise in 2015, driving the value of his pay package to $53.2 million. Nearly all of Hurd’s compensation came in the form of stock and option awards valued at $52.3 million.

Catz is an Israeli-born American, who joined Oracle Corporation in 1999. She is credited for having driven Oracle’s efforts to acquire software rival PeopleSoft in a $10.3 billion takeover in 2005. Like her co-CEO, Catz received a $53.2 million pay package – up 41% from $37.7 million in the previous year – that consists nearly entirely of stock and option awards (with the exception of a $950,000 salary and miscellaneous perks.)

- Marissa Mayer, Yahoo [$36 million]

Marissa Mayer  took on the challenging job of turning Yahoo around in 2012 after she stepped down from Google. Mayer crossed several bumpy roads, and she gradually tried making a number of moves to transform the company in its own pace. Despite early indications of a turnaround at Yahoo, Mayer’s elevation opened up her personality and management style to increased scrutiny. Meanwhile Yahoo failed to recreate the magic it once was and was also sold to Verizon for less than $5 billion in 2016. But these limitations haven’t stopped Mayer to become one of the top grossing CEOs of 2016 in terms of her asset. 

Despite a $6 million pay cut this year, Mayer still managed to rank among the highest paid tech CEOs in the U.S. The top exec at Yahoo received a pay package valued at $36 million in 2015, down 15% from $42 million a year earlier. The bulk of her package is tied to stock and option awards.

- Marc Benioff, CEO, Salesforce [$33.4 million]

Not only is Marc Benioff a billionaire and a powerhouse, he is one of the most beloved CEOs of all times. Benioff co-founded the cloud software firm, Inc. in 1999 and has served as the chairman of the board since inception and as the company’s CEO since 2001. Benioff’s $33.4 million pay package was down 16% from last year. In November, the company delivered a strong Q3 2017, after showing some signs of weakness in Q2. What’s more, revenue continued to trend up. CEO Marc Benioff predicted the company would reach its $10 billion run rate goal some time in 2018, and went on to forecast the company would reach $20 billion “faster than any other enterprise software company,” as told to TechCrunch.

Virginia Rometty, IBM [$19.3 million]

Rometty, who began her career at IBM in 1981, has been the CEO of big blue since 2012. After being with the tech giant for over three decades in various senior positions, IBM CEO Virginia M. Rometty took the helm on Jan 2012, as the 100-year-old company’s first female CEO, replacing longtime Chief Samuel Palmisano, who remains as the company’s chairman. A $4.5 million performance-based bonus helped push Rometty’s 2015 pay package to $19.8 million.

“We are an innovation company. This means that we pursue continuous transformation,” says the IBM Chief, who holds a Bachelor of Science degree with high honors in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering from Northwestern University.

- Shantanu Narayen, Adobe systems [$18.4 million]

Narayen is among the world’s top paid tech CEOs.  The India-born CEO is known for his leadership skills, technology insight and operational expertise. Narayen, who started his career at Apple, later moved to Silicon Graphics, then co-founded Pictra Inc, a company that introduced the concept of digital photo sharing over the Internet. Narayen’s pay package grew 3% last year, climbing to $18.4 million.

Satya Nadella, Microsoft [$18.3 million]

When Satya Nadella proved everyone wrong by bagging the world’s most coveted job, he admitted that heading Microsoft was ‘beyond his dreams’. The India-born Microsoft CEO with his humble yet smart approach made it to the top, not only in terms of making Microsoft relevant and interesting again, but also by securing a compensation of over $84 million in 2014. Last year it declined 78% to $18.3 million. Thirty percent of his 2015 pay came in the form of cash, including his $1.2 million salary and $4.3 million bonus.One of the most influential technology wizards, Nadella quickly became known within the company as a leader who could span a breadth of technologies and businesses to transform some of Microsoft’s biggest product offerings.

Meg Whitman, HP [$17.1 million]

A seasoned executive educated at both Princeton and Harvard, Whitman’s long career has seen her serve in various roles at Walt Disney, DreamWorks, Proctor & Gamble, and Hasbro. Formerly the CEO of eBay, Whitman has been the CEO of HP in 2011.

“HP is in a stronger position today than we’ve been in quite some time. The progress we’re making is reflected in growth across several parts of our portfolio, the growing strength of our balance sheet, and the strong support we’re receiving from customers and channel partners.” At a time when many of its competitors are confronting new challenges, she believes the comeback in its new avatar will set the stage up for an exciting future. Whitman’s pay package was valued at $17.1 million, a decline of 13% compared to $19.6 million in 2013.

- Jim Whitehurst, Red Hat [16.7 million]

Whitehurst’s $16.7 million pay package is more than double the $6.7 million he received in 2014. An $8.8 million swing in the value of stock awards accounted for the difference. Whitehurst became a very popular figure during the campaign to Keep Delta My Delta because of his transparent honesty and genuine affection for the company and its heritage. Some speculated that his fierce defense of Delta worked against him as Delta’s Board sought a successor to CEO Grinstein in 2007. Before his appointment as COO of Delta, Whitehurst served as Senior Vice President and Chief Network and Planning Officer for the company.

- Ursula M. Burns, Xerox [$10.6 million]

The first African-American CEO of a Fortune 500 company, Burns has been the CEO of Xerox since 2009. A Xerox veteran, Burns’ career with the document technology company stretches all the way back to 1980 when she spent a few months working there as a summer intern in the mechanical engineering department. As Chairman and CEO at Xerox Corp, Burns made $10,613,090 in total compensation. Of this total $1,100,000 was received as a salary, $1,166,453 was received as a bonus, $0 was received in stock options, $8,000,004 was awarded as stock and $346,633 came from other types of compensation.