Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN:US) founder and Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos received $1.68 million in total pay last year, unchanged from 2012, including $81,840 in salary and $1.6 million to cover security arrangements.
The CEO, who owns (AMZN:US) 18 percent of the world’s largest online retailer, again asked the company not to grant him additional compensation in 2013 and has never received a higher salary or any stock-based compensation, Amazon said today in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
Bezos, 50, is the world’s 20th-richest person, with a net worth of $30.3 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Top executives at some of the biggest technology companies have been opting to take low salaries, especially if they are already wealthy. Facebook Inc. CEO Mark Zuckerberg got a base salary of $1 last year, and Google Inc. and Apple Inc. executives have done the same.
Amazon said it pays leaders minimal salaries -- the highest is $175,000, for Senior Vice President Diego Piacentini -- as part of its philosophy of tying total compensation to long-term shareholder value. The shares of the Seattle-based company jumped 59 percent last year.
The $1.6 million in compensation Bezos received for security included protection for the CEO, costs Amazon said are “reasonable and necessary and for the company’s benefit,” according to the filing.
In a letter to shareholders filed separately today, Bezos listed the company’s main initiatives, such as its Prime membership program; streaming-video service and TV content; Kindle readers and tablets; game development; grocery delivery; and Amazon Web Services, its Internet-based computing and storage service for businesses. He wrote that the company is making bets across a range of programs, and some may not be as successful as others.
“Failure comes part and parcel with invention. It’s not optional,” Bezos wrote in the letter. “We understand that and believe in failing early and iterating until we get it right. When this process works, it means our failures are relatively small in size.”
Bezos also said the company has adopted an employment practice that has long been used at Zappos, the online-shoe retailer Amazon acquired in 2009: It will pay workers to quit.
Once a year, he wrote, the company’s fulfillment-center associates are offered $2,000 to leave, with the amount increasing by $1,000 each year until it reaches $5,000. The proposal, headlined “Please Don’t Take This Offer,” is meant to help employees (AMZN:US) decide whether they really want to be working at the online retailer, Bezos said.
“In the long run, an employee staying somewhere they don’t want to be isn’t healthy for the employee or the company,” he wrote.
Separately, Amazon said it agreed to buy New York-based ComiXology, which offers a library of digital-comic books and graphic novels. Terms weren’t disclosed.
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