It's official: Apple CEO Tim Cook was last year's highest paid CEO in Silicon Valley. By a lot.
According to an annual analysis of top executive compensation in the Valley done by the San Jose Mercury News, the head of the Cupertino, Calif.-based computer maker was paid a whopping $378 million in the 2011 fiscal year, the vast majority of it in Apple stock. Cook, previously Apple's chief operating officier, was named chief executive in August 2011, right as Steve Jobs became too sick with pancreatic cancer to continue heading the company he founded in 1976.
News of Cook's gigantic pay package isn't new. We heard about it back in January. But the San Jose Mercury News analysis, which included "CEO salaries, bonuses, stock grants and options reported by the Bay Area's 198 biggest publicly traded companies for their 2011 fiscal year, as compiled by Equilar," confirms what we all suspected when we heard he would be receiving one million Apple shares for becoming CEO: that he would certainly be Silicon Valley's best compensated exec, and maybe even the highest paid in the world. Runner-up Larry Ellison of Oracle, earning a comparatively modest $77.5 million, wasn't even close.
And Cook probably deserves it. Shares of Apple rose from $357 off of news of Jobs' resignation last August to nearly $610 today. Meaning that the $376.2 million in Apple stock (which he can only start spending in 2016) he was originally issued as ballooned to about $600 million.
But Cook is unlikely to repeat the feat in 2012. That one million in Apple stock was a one-time payment for being promoted to CEO, according to USA Today.
It also stands in contrast (at least in headlines) to his predecessor, Jobs, who famously took an official $1 salary. Though, with 5.5 million shares in the company himself, Jobs was more than adequately compensated.
Still, the messianic Jobs being gone and a regularly-salaried Cook taking his place is perhaps another sign that Apple is becoming a more traditional corporation. As a profile of Cook in a June issue of Fortune describes, Cook is keen on hiring MBAs and paying shareholders dividends--things normal companies do but that Jobs tended not to like.
Do you think Cook deserves to be Silicon Valley's highest-paid CEO? Let us know in the comments.