July 23, 2024

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Google employees are complaining about CEO Sundar Pichai’s salary increase

Google employees are complaining about CEO Sundar Pichai’s salary increase

Google CEO Sundar Pichai speaks on a panel at the CEO Summit of the Americas hosted by the US Chamber of Commerce on June 09, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. The CEO Summit entered its second day of events with the official signing of the International Coalition to Connect Marine Protected Areas and a speech from US President Joe Biden. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

Anna Money Maker | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Google CEO Sundar Pichai received a huge pay raise last year, making him one of the highest paid CEOs in America. Last week, his company announced the approval of a $70 billion share buyback.

Meanwhile, Alphabet, Google’s parent company, has cut costs dramatically, including cutting 12,000 jobs, in response to slowing revenue growth.

This confluence of events infuriated the Google workforce. In the weeks since Pichai’s annual compensation was announced, Google’s internal platforms have been filled with chats and memos criticizing the CEO for receiving a pay increase while cutting costs elsewhere. Some employees also criticized the stock buyback, which is equivalent to a buyback in 2022.

SEC filings It showed that Pichai earned a total of $226 million last year, mostly through $218 million in stock awards. His bounty included nearly $6 million in personal security and $2 million in base salary. In 2021, Pichai received a total of $6.3 million, consisting of $2 million in salary and $4.3 million in other compensation, but no shares were awarded.

Memes started circulating by comparing Pichai to Apple CEO Tim Cook, who in January took a 40% cut from his target total pay for 2022. Around the same time, Zoom CEO Eric Yuan said he would take a 98% pay cut and refuse to bonus. After the company cut 1,300 jobs. Twilio CEO Jeff Lawson said it would also take a pay cut amid a 17% workforce cut.

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More than a dozen messages from employees have filled Google’s internal discussion forums, many of which have garnered several hundred likes, as reported by CNBC. One meme with more than 1,200 likes pointed to comments from CFO Ruth Porat, who wrote last month in a rare company-wide email that the company was making “multi-year” cuts to employee services. CNBC found that the cuts ranged from employee laptops and expenses to fitness classes and coffee shop paraphernalia.

“Ruth’s cost savings have been applied to everyone… except for our hard-working VPS server and CEO,” Alm said.

Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

This is not the first time Pichai has come under fire for his latest decision. In January, Pichai said he took “full responsibility” for the circumstances that led to the company-wide layoffs.

In an all-out meeting, the staff asked Pichai why executives would take pay cuts if he was taking responsibility. Pichai responded by saying that senior vice presidents are taking “dramatic cuts to their bonuses” and that he is forgoing his bonus.

Another popular meme featured a photo of Lord Farquaad’s partner character with the text “Sundar accepts $226m while laying off 12k Googlers, cutting perks, destroying morale and culture.” A quote from the character reads, “Some of you may die, but that’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make.”

In a computer animated fantasy from 2001, Lord Farquaad is the ruler of Dolok who banishes many fantastical creatures to the swamp.

Pichai and money has been a contentious topic as far back as late last year, when the CEO said at a company-wide meeting that “we shouldn’t always equate fun with money.” At the time, he was responding to certain perks the company was cutting, but he deflected employee questions about cutting executives’ compensation.

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Some frustration is directed at Google’s plan to buy back $70 billion in stock, a sign that the company has enough cash to cover its operations and investments. One recent meme that was liked more than 700 times read, “$70 billion buybacks show we respect outside shareholders more than Googlers.”

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