Wall Street may now be infamous for wealthy execs clinging to their bonuses even in the midst of a downturn, but that's not always the way it plays out in big tech. Google (NSDQ: GOOG) sales chief Omid Kordestani, for example, turned down the $1.4 million bonus he was awarded in March. From the company's proxy statement: "Omid Kordestani declined his 2008 bonus payment ... Omid also declined to receive any equity awards in 2009."
True, every other senior Google exec kept his 2008 bonus. And Kordestani is worth $1.4 billion, according to Forbes, so he certainly doesn't need the extra cash. But Alexander Cwirko-Godycki, a research manager at Equilar Inc., a Redwood Shores, Calif., company that specializes in executive compensation, said an increasing number of executives at big tech companies were forgoing bonuses as the economy weakens, even when those executives were achieving some of their performance goals.
A recent Equilar report found that technology companies accounted for the largest chunk38 percentof the 133 companies that have cut the base salaries of executives since June. Financial firms made up a comparatively small 12 percent. At Google, base salaries of top executives stayed flat last year and bonuses for top executives fell only slightly. Former CFO George Reyes, SVP for Product Management Jonathan Rosenberg, SVP for Engineering and Research Alan Eustace and Chief Legal Officer David Drummond each made $450,000 in base pay, the same as in 2007. Their base wages were all bumped up from $250,000 to $450,000 that year. Google didn't respond to an e-mail seeking comment.
As usual, the Google triumvirate of Eric Schmidt, Larry Page and Sergey Brin (who are all paid $1 a year) declined to participate in the company's executive bonus plan in 2008, according to the proxy statement, filed Tuesday. Brin and Page are worth $12 billion, while Schmidt is worth $4.4 billion.
By Joseph Tartakoff