Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Google, saw a significant increase in his salary last year, propelling him to become one of the top-paid CEOs in the United States. Recently, Google approved a stock repurchase program worth $70 billion.
Meanwhile, in response to declining revenue growth, Alphabet, the parent company of Google, has been actively reducing expenses, which includes the layoff of 12,000 employees.
The combination of these circumstances has sparked anger among Google's employees. Following the public announcement of Pichai's increased annual compensation, internal communication channels within Google have been flooded with discussions and humorous images denouncing the CEO's pay increase amidst cost-cutting measures in other areas of the company.
Additionally, some workers voiced their opposition to the stock repurchase plan, which was identical in size to the company's buyback program in 2022.
According to the filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Pichai received a total of $226 million in compensation last year, primarily in the form of a stock award of $218 million, which he receives every three years. The previous stock award that Pichai received was in 2019 for $276.6 million, which brought his total compensation to $280.6 million.
Pichai's compensation for 2022 included a base salary of $2 million and an allocation of approximately $6 million for personal security. In the previous year, Pichai's compensation totaled $6.3 million, which comprised a base salary of $2 million and $4.3 million in other forms of compensation.
Amidst these events, memes began to spread, comparing Pichai to Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, who experienced a reduction of over 40% in his target total compensation for 2022. Similarly, Eric Yuan, the CEO of Zoom, announced that he would reduce his salary by 98% and refuse his bonus after the company laid off 1,300 workers. Jeff Lawson, the CEO of Twilio, also disclosed that he would be taking a salary cut in response to a 17% reduction in the workforce.
Numerous memes have appeared on Google's internal communication platforms, with over a dozen of them garnering several hundred likes. One meme, which has received over 1,200 likes, alluded to a statement made by the finance chief, Ruth Porat, in a companywide email last month, where she mentioned that the firm is implementing cost-saving measures over several years, which will impact employee services.
This is not the first instance where Pichai has come under scrutiny for his recent actions. In January, he acknowledged "full responsibility" for the circumstances that led to the layoffs across the company.
The issue of Pichai and finances has been a contentious one since late last year when, during a companywide meeting, the CEO remarked that "we should not always equate fun with money." This statement was in response to the elimination of certain employee benefits, but Pichai avoided answering questions from workers about reducing executive compensation.