Sundar Pichai Scores Massive 2022 Payday

Image Credit: iStock, Sundry Photography

Sign up for smart news, insights, and analysis on the biggest financial stories of the day.

Google’s top boss is no doubt searching for words.

Last year, Alphabet awarded CEO Sundar Pichai a total compensation package worth $226 million, according to recently released regulatory filings. It’s the end result of a once-every-three-years stock award program — though the timing is certainly awkward, to say the least.

Quarter-Billy the Kid

Start with the fact that the search titan rang in the New Year with the biggest round of layoffs in company history, handing the pink slip to some 12,000 employees or 6% of its workforce. And, sure, Pichai reportedly assured staff at the time that executives would subsequently suffer pay cuts. And, yes, Google is one of the largest and most well-capitalized companies in the world that has also since spent the first quarter of the year rushing its arguably half-baked large-language model chatbot Baird to the market in a desperate push to match upstart OpenAI’s incredibly popular ChatGPT.

But pandemic-era gains are superseding recent pains in the executive’s latest pay period. For Pichai, like any good hardworking techie just trying to build something new, it’s all about the stock options:

  • In 2019, the last time Pichai’s triannual stock grant was paid out, the executive scored an even high $281 million payday. This time, his equity grant came out to around $210 million, according to the filings, with payouts for both performance and time-based equity.
  • The performance-based portion of the grant contains two tranches with a value of roughly $63 million each, in addition to another $84 million in restricted stock units. The pay package could climb even higher based on Google’s share price, which remains up some 55% since the end of 2019.

Suite Life: Most of Alphabet’s other top brass made out with roughly $22 million to $35 million in annual stock awards last year, the filings show, with the only direct impact on pay stemming from a special executive bonus tied to ESG goals that slashed salaries by around $775,000. In fairness, the C-suite pay packages were technically finalized in December, just before the mass layoffs. If they’re not careful, frustrated rank-and-file Googlers may start asking Baird how to unionize.