Eye on Oracle

Aug 26 2009   5:54PM GMT

At Oracle the buck stops at Larry’s desk

Shayna Garlick Shayna Garlick Profile: Shayna Garlick

It looks like Oracle CEO Larry Ellison – the outspoken, yacht-owning, top-paid CEO billionare – will soon be the newest member of an exclusive club.

But is this a club he really wants to belong to?

Probably not, because as a member of the $1 per year CEO club, Ellison will be taking a pay cut of $999,999 in Oracle’s fiscal 2010, which began June 1.  The fourth richest man in the world received a $1 million salary in fiscal 2009; however, this only accounted for 1.2 % of his total compensation, according to an article in CNET.

So, with 97% of Ellison’s income coming from stock, this may be more of a symbolic gesture. But is it also a sign of how the recession is affecting Oracle?

According to the Wall Street Journal‘s take on Ellison’s pay cut, yes.  The WSJ points out that Oracle CEO Jeff Epstein is the only one of the company’s executives to finish fiscal 2009 “above the money,” having a paper value above his issue price.

Ellison is in good company, however. Who else has been or is a part of the $1 salary CEO club? Here are some notable executives:

Steve Jobs:  The Apple CEO, who owns 5.5 million shares of Apple stock, has been bringing home a $1 salary since 1997. But Jobs’ salary seems to have had little effect over his wealth in the past decade, as he’s made millions in stocks and accepted large gifts from company executives, such as a $90 million Gulfstream V jet in 2000.

Larry Page, Sergey Brin and Eric Schmidt: The top three Google executives have been receiving $1 salaries since 2004.  Schmidt also received no salary or stock for his recent service on Apple’s board of directors, though he did accept $8,700 of Apple gear and a $7,500 “commemorative gift,” according to Business Week.

John Mackey: The CEO and Co-founder of Whole Foods wrote a letter to his employees in November 2006, announcing that his salary would be reduced to a $1, he would no longer receive any other cash compensation, and Whole Foods would donate future stock options he would be eligible for to two company foundations. In his letter, Mackey also wrote:

“I am now 53 years old, and I have reached a place in my life where I no longer want to work for money, but simply for the joy of the work itself and to better answer the call to service that I feel so clearly in my own heart.”

If we hear a similar sentiment expressed by Larry about how he is in it now only for the joy of creating great database software, we’ll be sure to create a whole special report around that news.

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