Jeff Bezos is the richest person in the world and runs the third-largest company by market capitalization in America, so there’s a good chance he doesn’t much care that his “low” base salary, which is just a little more than double that of Amazon.com Inc.’s median U.S. employee, hasn’t changed since the company went public.
In Amazon’s AMZN, +4.35% 2019 Proxy Statement filed Thursday with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the e-commerce and cloud giant disclosed that Bezos was paid a base salary of $81,840 in 2019, the same as in 2018 and 2017. In fact, his base salary in 1998 was $81,840. Amazon went public in May 1997.
The Amazon chief executive’s total compensation last year was $1,681,840. That included $1.6 million in security services for Bezos, in addition to the security arrangements provided at the company’s facilities and for business travel.
“We believe that all company-incurred security costs are reasonable and necessary and for the company’s benefit, and that the amount of the reported security expenses for Mr. Bezos is especially reasonable in light of his low salary and the fact that he has never received any stock-based compensation,” the company stated in the proxy statement.
Basically, Bezos doesn’t need stock-based awards, given that he already owned 55,495,676 Amazon shares as of April 3, or 11.15% of the shares outstanding. Based on current stock prices, the value of his stockholdings exceeded $133 billion.
According to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, Bezos’ total net worth of $140 billion as of April 15 made him the world’s richest person, well above Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft Corp., in second-place at $103 billion.
Amazon’s stock surged more than 4% Thursday, for its third-straight record close, as the company benefited from a surge in e-commerce demand with the COVID-19 pandemic resulting in stay-at-home mandates.
Also in Amazon’s proxy statement, the company disclosed that the median annual total compensation for its full-time U.S. employees was $36,640 in 2019, up 4.4% from 36,096 in 2018. The latest figure includes the full effect of the $15-per-hour minimum wage that went into effect in November 2018.
That means Bezos’ salary was just 2.2 times that of the median U.S. full-time employee, while his total compensation was 45.9 times.
For all of Amazon’s global compensated workforce other than Bezos, the median compensation last year was $28,848, making the CEO pay ratio 1 to 58.
The stock has now soared 24.5% over the past eight sessions, to lift its market capitalization to $1.18 trillion. The only U.S. companies more valuable were Apple Inc. AAPL, +0.79% at $1.24 trillion and Microsoft MSFT, +3.00% at $1.33 trillion.
In comparison, Apple CEO Tim Cook’s base salary in 2019 was $3 million, while his total compensation was $11.56 billion; in 2018, his base was $3 million and total compensation was $15.68 million, according to the proxy statement filed in January.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella received $2.33 million in base pay in fiscal 2019 and total compensation of $42.91 million, according to the proxy statement filed in October, up from a $1.5 million base and total compensation of $25.84 million in fiscal 2018.
Over the past 12 months, Amazon’s stock has rallied 27.5%, while Apple shares have run up 42.6%, Microsoft’s stock has hiked up 45.0% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +0.14% has lost 11.6%.