The chief operating officer of Japanese conglomerate SoftBank Group Corp., Marcelo Claure, is preparing to leave his role after founder Masayoshi Son reportedly refused to pay him a $1 billion bonus for good work.
According to Bloomberg, Claure was pivotal in salvaging some of SoftBank’s Vision Fund investment in WeWork, pushing the troubled office-sharing company to debut through a SPAC last year after it aborted an IPO in 2019. In 2020, Claure spearheaded the turnaround and sale of telecom firm Sprint Corp to T-Mobile for around $21 billion, too.
For his travails, the Bolivian-American COO Claure is already the second-highest paid executive at SoftBank, taking home $17 million in 2020. (Simon Segars, who heads the company’s chip unit, Arm Ltd., just barely edged him out.) But Claure reportedly thinks he deserves a billion-dollar bump, possibly paid over multiple years, after helping the Japanese conglomerate reap record profits.
In its last fiscal year, which ended March 2021, SoftBank Group reported $46 billion in profit—the highest annual profit of any Japanese company, ever. Claure is effectively asking for a 2.17% share of the take, which may be a fraction of the total, but it’s much more than other executives—save one—take home.
Last year, Apple’s board lavished CEO Tim Cook with roughly $95 million in bonuses, including stock awards and expenses, while the California company turned a profit of $94.7 billion. That puts Cook’s compensation—separate from his $3 million salary—at a minute 0.1% of earnings. That excludes some $750 million of stock options Apple awarded Cook in 2011, which haven’t vested yet.
In fact, only $12 million of Cook’s total compensation was directly tied to Apple’s financial performance—which is equivalent to 0.013% of earnings, if you round it up. So maybe Silicon Valley is too cheap to match Claure’s salary expectations, too. Would the SoftBank COO stand a better chance of earning a billion-dollar-bonus at a U.S. bank?
Wall Street’s best paid banker, JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, doesn’t even come close to a 2% share of the bank’s profits, which hit a record $48.3 billion last year. According to the bank, Dimon was treated to a 10% pay increase for the bank’s stellar performance, bringing his total compensation, including $1.5 million in base salary, to $34.5 million for the year.
Roughly $28 million of Dimon’s compensation was issued as restricted stock tied to company performance, and $5 million was a cash bonus. So call it a cool $33 million bonus, which is equal to a measly 0.07% of the bank’s earnings. Bigger than Cook’s 0.013% performance-related bonus, but it still wouldn’t satisfy Claure.
So, where can Claure go to get the $1 billion he deserves?
Maybe Tesla, where CEO Elon Musk earned a whopping $6.6 billion in compensation in 2020, making Musk the highest paid executive that year, according to a Bloomberg ranking. Second on the list was Oak Street Health CEO Mike Pykosz, earning a total $568 million in compensation.
But Musk’s compensation is paid entirely in stock options, tied to Tesla’s performance. If Claure wants cash on hand, he might have to look elsewhere.
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