Thursday, March 24, 2005

Google founders, CEO are denied '04 bonus / Business / Technology / Google founders, CEO are denied '04 bonus: "Google Inc. pampers its employees with free food and many other perks, but the online search engine leader is more stingy when it comes to rewarding the trio of billionaires who run the company. In a meeting held this month, Google's board decided not to give 2004 bonuses to the company's chief executive, Eric Schmidt, or its cofounders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, according to documents filed yesterday by the Mountain View, Calif., company.

The men, who consult on most of Google's key decisions, each received a $1,566 holiday bonus besides their salaries, which are modest compared with most high-profile companies. Schmidt collects a $250,000 salary while Brin and Page each receive $150,000 annually, according to disclosure made as part of Google's closely watched initial public offering of stock. All three men rank among the world's richest men. Brin and Page each are worth $7.2 billion, while Schmidt is worth $2.8 billion, according to Forbes magazine's most recent wealth survey.

The executives are cashing out a small portion of their Google stock by selling a combined 16.6 million shares under an 18-month divestiture plan adopted last year. Even after those sales, Brin and Page will each own about 31 million shares of Google stock. Schmidt will own 12.2 million shares after the sales are complete. Google hasn't always withheld bonuses from its top three executives. The company gave Schmidt a $301,556 bonus in 2003 and doled out $206,556 apiece to Brin and Page.

The company performed far better last year, with its profit rising to $399 million, nearly quadrupling 2003's earnings. Page and Schmidt shouldn't need bonuses to be motivated to drive the stock higher because their fortunes are already tied to Google's shares, said Paul Hodgson, who studies executive compensation for the Corporate Library, a watchdog group."

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