Google Employees Angry Over CEO’s $226 Million Pay Hike

As Google's employee spending takes a tumble, and 12,000 jobs get cut, it's business as usual for CEO Sundar Pichai.

Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai is coming under scrutiny in internal staff forums for taking home a total of $226 million last year, while the company makes massive cuts to employee services like laptops, travel, and food.

Aside from Pichari’s lucrative pay, workers have also taken to the forums to express discontent about the company’s proposed decision to buy back $70 billion in stock.

As Google still reels from 12,000 workers being laid off in January, and other tech leaders like Apple’s CEO Tim Cook and Zoom’s CEO Eric Yuan reduce their pay, this hypocrisy certainly isn’t a good look for Pichai. Here’s what we know so far.

Google Employees Are Complaining About Their CEO’s Double Standards

As big tech continues to feel the squeeze, for one of the leading figures in the industry, Sundar Pichai, it appears to be business as usual.

Recent SEC filings reveal that the Google CEO received $226 million in earnings last year, predominantly made up from a stock award worth $218 million which he receives once every three years. His pay packet also included $6 million for personal security, $2 million as a base salary, and $4.3 million in other forms of compensation.

In the weeks following this revelation, Google employees have taken to internal company forums to share memes and voice their contempt about the company’s inconsistencies.

According to CNBC, Google employees have been posting memes taking aim at Pichai’s take-home pay, while higher-ups reduce spending elsewhere throughout the company. Criticism on the company’s internal forums has reportedly been rife, with suggestions that those higher up in the company, such as Pichai and Vice Presidents, are immune to cuts.

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Google staffers are also pressed about the company’s proposed decision to buy back $70 billion in stock, a type of reacquisition that has previously attracted criticism from President Joe Biden for prioritizing company profits over alternatives like employee pay rises.

Google Cuts Employee Services to Meet Targets

Despite a healthier-than-expected first quarter, throughout 2023 search behemoth Google has been rolling out its biggest cost-cutting measures it witnessed in almost two decades.

In April, the company announced its employee services would be taking a hit, with fitness classes, equipment replacement, and travel budgets being sacrificed to make it easier for them to reach their targets.

This follows seismic layoffs that saw 12,000 workers leave the company in January, and similar cuts that saw 200 workers lose their job in Zurich in March – prompting walkouts in the Swiss HQ as well as in the company’s London offices.

Reports reveal that Google has been refusing to cover maternity and medical leave for those that have been laid off too – certainly not a good look for somewhere that was voted the “best company to work for” seven years on the trot.

Tim Cook and Other Tech CEOs Are Sacrificing Their Salaries

While Sundar Pichai is taking home an exorbitant income while his company scrimps and saves, this appears to go against current trends taking place in the industry.

Other leading tech CEOs have recently been applauded for scaling down their salary for the good of the company. Apple CEO Tim Cook requested a pay cut of 40% this year, bringing his total annual salary down to $49 million, and Zoom CEO Eric Yuan decided to reduce his salary by 98% this year and forego additional bonuses.

Pichai has recently told workers that he and Google execs would be refusing financial bonuses in 2023. But with no official reductions being made to his 2023 pay packet, and more layoffs being speculated, its likely discontent will continue to swirl until the CEO faces these concerns head-on.

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Written by:
Isobel O'Sullivan (BSc) is a senior writer at with over four years of experience covering business and technology news. Since studying Digital Anthropology at University College London (UCL), she’s been a regular contributor to Market Finance’s blog and has also worked as a freelance tech researcher. Isobel’s always up to date with the topics in employment and data security and has a specialist focus on POS and VoIP systems.
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