Workers criticize Indian American CEO for not taking a pay cut amid cost cuts, elimination of 12,000 jobs
Search giant Googleâ€™s employees are complaining about Indian American CEO Sundar Pichaiâ€™s pay, which SEC filings show swelled to $226 million last year, including stock awards, making him one of the highest-paid CEOs in America.
Googleâ€™s workforce has criticized Pichai for not taking a pay cut, while Google parent Alphabet has been aggressively cutting costs, including the elimination of 12,000 jobs, in response to slowing revenue growth, according to a CNBC report.
The companyâ€™s announcement that after Pichaiâ€™s hefty pay raise last year the board had authorized a $70 billion stock buyback last week, also drew the ire of employees.
In the weeks since Pichaiâ€™s annual compensation was made public, internal Google platforms have filled with conversations and memes slamming the CEO for taking a pay bump while slashing costs elsewhere. Some employees also criticized the share repurchase, which equaled its 2022 buyback.
SEC filings showed Pichai was paid a total of $226 million last year, mostly through a $218 million stock award, which he receives every three years. The last time he received the award, in 2019, it was for $276.6 million and total compensation was $280.6 million.
His 2022 package included nearly $6 million for personal security and a $2 million base salary. In 2021, Pichai received a total of $6.3 million, consisting of a $2 million salary and $4.3 million in other compensation.
Memes began circulating comparing Pichai to Apple CEO Tim Cook, who in January received over a 40% cut from his 2022 target total compensation, CNBC noted.
Read: Sundar Pichaiâ€™s pay soars to $226 million (April 24, 2023)
Around the same time, Zoom CEO Eric Yuan said he would reduce his salary by 98% and decline his bonus after the company cut 1,300 jobs. Twilio CEO Jeff Lawson said heâ€™d also be taking a pay cut amid a 17% workforce reduction.
More than a dozen memes from employees have filled Googleâ€™s internal discussion forums, many with several hundred likes, CNBC reported citing posts viewed by it.
One meme with more than 1,200 likes referred to comments from finance chief Ruth Porat, who wrote last month in a rare companywide email that the company is making â€œmulti-yearâ€ cuts to employee services.
Cuts ranged from employee laptops and expenses to fitness classes and cafe items, according to CNBC. â€œRuthâ€™s cost savings applied to everyoneâ€¦ except our hardworking VPS and CEO,â€ the meme said.
CNBC said Google didnâ€™t provide an on-the-record comment for its story.
Itâ€™s not the first time Pichai has been under fire for his recent decision making, CNBC said noting in January, Pichai said he took â€œfull responsibilityâ€ for conditions that led to the companywide layoffs.
At an all-hands meeting, employees asked Pichai why executives are getting pay cuts if heâ€™s taking responsibility, according to CNBC. Pichai responded by saying that senior vice presidents are taking â€œsignificant reductions to their bonusesâ€ and that he was forgoing his bonus.
Another popular meme showed an image of Shrek character Lord Farquaad with the text â€œSundar accepting $226 million while laying off 12k Googlers, cutting perks, and destroying morale and culture.â€ A quote from the character read, â€œsome of you may die, but that is a sacrifice I am willing to make.â€
In the computer-animated fantasy from 2001, Lord Farquaad is the ruler of Duloc who exiles many fairytale creatures to the swamp.
At a companywide meeting late last year, Pichai responding to certain perks the company was eliminating said, â€œwe shouldnâ€™t always equate fun with money.â€ But he dodged employee questions about cutting executive compensation, according to CNBC.
Some of the frustration is being directed at Googleâ€™s plan to repurchase $70 billion in stock, a sign the company has more than enough cash to cover its operations and investments, it said.
A recent meme that was liked more than 700 times read,â€ $70 billion in buybacks shows we respect external shareholders more than Googlers,â€ CNBC noted.