Top Tech CEOs Got More Money Right Before Layoffs, Data Shows

In 2021, the average CEO pay grew 1,460% higher than it was in 1978. That's a lot, even for CEOs.

Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai took home total compensation with a worth over $225 million in 2022, the same year that Alphabet announced its intention to cut 10,000 employees amid a wave of layoffs in tech.

That hike in pay for Pichai marked a 3,474% increase over the previous year, but it wasn’t the only truly massive boost in compensation for tech CEOs at companies that also drastically slashed their workforce this year and last year.

CEOs at Meta, Microsoft, Uber, and Salesforce are also among those to make large personal gains while delivering short-term boost through one or more large rounds of layoffs, says data from a new analysis.

Just How Large Were CEO Compensations Last Year?

The facts, analyzed by ABC News using data from research firm Equilar, show similar trajectories for a handful of the biggest tech CEO compensation packages and layoff plans during 2022 and this year.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella saw nearly $55 million in compensation, while the company planned to lay off 10,000 workers; Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi received about $24 million in compensation, and this year the company laid off “hundreds.”

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Employees have voiced their dismay as best they can, as writer Isobel O’Sullivan earlier reported:

“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.”

CEO Wages Are More Inflated Than Ever

Granted, CEOs making large amounts of money is nothing new. The Economic Policy Institute issued one report in 2018 explaining that the average CEO pay had jumped 940% since 1978, an growth far higher than the typical worker, which grew a mere 11.9%, and also far higher than even very high earners, who saw a wage growth of 339.2% during that period.

But CEOs are now making more money more quickly — Economic Policy Institute’s 2021 report just three years later found that CEO pay was now 1,460% higher than it was in 1978.

The numbers can seem abstract when laid out so quickly, but the takeaway seems clear: The value provided by a working employee isn’t compensated with anything near the same process as the value a CEO has to offer.

Employees Aren’t Happy About It

Inflated wages for CEO might be a little harder to swallow when your own wages are shrinking thanks to growing inflation and rising costs of living, so it’s safe to say that many workers are little on edge about it on 2023. Plus, AI advancements may be set to further increase the gap, pushing wages down by weakening the labor market.

Some flexibility measures might help — remote work is a popular perk, as it can ease many stress-inducing aspects of modern work — but ultimately, workers will likely need just one thing to rest a little easier: Fewer raises for CEOs and more raises for everyone else.

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Written by:
Adam is a writer at and has worked as a tech writer, blogger and copy editor for more than a decade. He was a Forbes Contributor on the publishing industry, for which he was named a Digital Book World 2018 award finalist. His work has appeared in publications including Popular Mechanics and IDG Connect, and his art history book on 1970s sci-fi, 'Worlds Beyond Time,' is out from Abrams Books in July 2023. In the meantime, he's hunting down the latest news on VPNs, POS systems, and the future of tech.
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