Last year was a time of enormous economic distress and uncertainty. For the CEOs of major companies, it was also a time of enormous pay raises, the Wall Street Journal reports. While salaries were in many cases unchanged, and some CEOs volunteered to take pay cuts, the Journal notes that salary generally makes up less 10% of compensation for top execs and that the surging stock market helped median pay for CEOs jump from $12.8 million to $13.7 million. According to the Journal's analysis of compensation for 322 CEOs, compensation rose for 206 of them in 2020, with an average rise of 15%.
At some companies, CEO compensation rose sharply despite major losses. At Norwegian Cruise Lines, which lost $4 billion after travel was halted last year, CEO Frank Del Rio's compensation doubled to $36.4 million. A company spokesperson tells the Journal that the pay, including bonuses linked to a contract extension, was to secure the exec's "continued invaluable expertise." Cruise industry News notes Norwegian's execs had a 20% salary cut in 2020, though it was dwarfed by the size of the bonuses. Marketwatch reports that another CEO who saw a large rise in compensation last year was Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. He received a salary of $1 and nothing in bonuses or stock options, according to a company filing Friday, but more than $25 million listed under "all other compensation" includes millions to pay for personal security and private aircraft use. (Read more executive compensation stories.)