The obscene perks and privileges of some tech CEOs

From six-figure home security systems to ridiculous golden parachutes to financial counseling, many chief executives are living large in Perkistan

If you really want to see what's wrong with much of corporate America, check out this Network World slide show detailing the numerous perks showered upon tech CEOs by clueless boards that should know better. (Also see: The inherent unfairness of employee non-compete agreements) I have to admit I thought it would be worse, but some companies apparently try to keep it real. Others, not so much. Here are some examples of the "not so much": In his final year at HP, the company paid $362,899 to cover former CEO Mark Hurd's home security (did they rent a battalion?) and $13,500 for financial counseling (because, you know, how could a multimillionaire be expected to pay for something like that?). Hurd also got a $12.2 million severance payment. Former CA Technologies CEO John Swainson was compensated in his final year as chief executive with $106,589 for personal aircraft use, $23,505 for company-provided housing, and a $4.5 million golden parachute when he stepped down on the last day of 2009. Oracle CEO Larry Ellison was given nearly $1.5 million to cover home security costs. Is it just me, or shouldn't Oracle shareholders and board members reasonably expect one of the world's richest men to pay for home security out of his own pocket? Of course, the problem with these kinds of perks is that they add to the growing disparity between what top executives make and what rank-and-file workers make, a disparity that can affect morale and, consequently, performance in Cubicle Land. I was pleasantly surprised by the number of companies that don't go perk-crazy with upper management. Among those are Brocade, Symantec, Cisco Systems, Adobe, Red Hat and NetApp. Which doesn't mean these companies aren't paying their CEOs a ridiculous amount in salary and bonuses, but at least they're not living in Perkistan.

Chris Nerney writes about the business side of technology market strategies and trends, legal issues, leadership changes, mergers, venture capital, IPOs and technology stocks. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisNerney.

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