Apple CEO Tim Cook among the most overpaid CEOs, study finds

As You Sow this week released its 9th annual study — “The 100 Most Overpaid CEOs: Are Fund Managers Asleep at the Wheel?” — which focuses on how pension and financial fund managers hold companies accountable for excessive compensation. Apple CEO Tim Cook is listed among the most overpaid CEOs.

Apple CEO Tim Cook
Apple CEO Tim Cook

Total pay for S&P 500 chief executives continues to increase

The average pay of the “100 Most Overpaid CEOs” for this report was $38,192,249, up 30.6% from last year’s average of $29,233,020. The median pay — less influenced by the massive stock awards that inflate pay at the very top — was $23,455,188, representing an increase of 8% over the prior year.

The gap between CEO and median worker pay has also increased

According to the AFL-CIO, the chief executives of S&P 500 companies received 324 times that of their median-paid workers on average, up from 299 times in 2020 and 264 times in 2019. At Amazon, the CEO-to-worker pay ratio reached 6,474 to 1, with CEO Andrew Jassy making $212.7 million in total compensation while the median worker received $32,855.

Shareholder opposition to pay packages continues to grow

In the S&P 500, shareholder votes against CEO pay continued its five-year upward trajectory to a high of 12.6% opposition, gaining 4.2 percentage points in votes against since 2017. As detailed in this report, more funds are voting against more pay packages. If it weren’t for the continued weak response from a handful of the big players, the message that shareholders are fed up would be clearer.

Companies with overpaid CEOs continue to underperform

Companies with the 10 most overpaid CEOs (as named in our previous reports) once again saw shareholder returns much worse than the S&P 500 index.

Apple CEO Tim Cook among the most overpaid CEOs, study finds

MacDailyNews Take: In January, after shareholder pushback, Apple CEO Tim Cook took a 50% pay cut from $99.4 million in 2022 and $98.8 million in 2021 to about $49 million.

“Yes, executive compensation is out of whack. Tim Cook is vastly overpaid for what he does. This is because he holds a rare skillset and it benefits the shareholders to have continuity in the CEO position. Basically, Apple overpays Tim Cook in order to have a long-term CEO which provides confidence to the market. A succession of different CEOs jumping from company to company every other year seeking higher salaries would be a negative and justifies Cook’s overpayment. Cook is paid to stay more than for what he actually does. This is why he has vesting targets set years into the future. If he stays, providing continuity, he benefits and so does the company’s stock price.” — MacDailyNews, February 18, 2022

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    1. CEO pay nothing to do with the supposed end of our democracy. Everything is the chicken little sky is falling “end of democracy”. Get over yourselves.

      1. The democracy is ending because one party uses an overt strategy of cheating in every election via illegal voters, fraudulent mail in voting done on a mass scale, intimidation of poll watchers, and illegal manipulation of electronic voting machines. The Democrat Party actually enjoys its ability to cheat in public and cow everybody into not protesting their cheating. Democrats cheat and lie and steal and kill. It is how they are wired.

        That is what is killing our democracy. It is already dead due to the Democrats. They like Stalin and his comment about the importance of “who counts the votes”.

        1. So. In the last few days Fox News journalists emails cited by Dominion’s lawyers, show they lied and lied to the public about Dominion and voter fraud. They knew Guiliani, Sidney Powell, Trump and all you 2000 mules conspiracy nutters were wrong – “insane and nuts” No evidence. Zilch. Which is to say, they all lied, Fox lied and so are you.
          And neither have you a scintilla of plausible evidence.
          Poor miserable you.

          1. Tennerworthless:

            “So. In the last few days Fox News journalists emails cited by Dominion’s lawyers, show they lied and lied to the public about Dominion and voter fraud.”

            “Fox News’ attorneys have set out the starkest defense yet against the accusation the network defamed an election-technology company when it broadcast false claims that the company had cheated then-President Donald Trump of victory in the 2020 election.

            Of the approximately 115 statements on Fox by its hosts and guests that Dominion contends are defamatory, Fox News wrote in its filing, “there is not a single statement for which Dominion can prove every element of its claim for defamation.”

            Condescending unproven allegation against Fox News you claim as FACT, makes you a LIAR, just like Biden and the rest of the Democrats.

            Dominion machines in my state were proven under counting votes, rejecting other ballots, machine breakdowns for hours on Election Day, leading to numerous recounts because of irregularities. That lead to disenfranchisement of thousands of voters and DAs are still investigating.

            There were proven voting machine irregularities all over the U.S., dead people voting, absentee ballot schemes, multiple voting some in two states, ballot box irregularities, to name a few. So to claim every vote is legit and the election was 100% squeaky clean, is yet another LIE.

            @Kent is correct and only the tip of an iceberg and the totality beyond voting fraud — Democrats Destroying Democracy DAILY…

    2. The board members of this non-profit complaining about CEO salaries are doing pretty good themselves:

      2022 Net Worth
      Andrew Behar = 5 million
      Geoff Haynes = $499,000.

      The market, meaning the people purchasing the services and goods determine market value and thus the salaries people command. It’s not ending democracy it’s a excellent example of how a free economy works.

      Pointing fingers at people making a lot of money, while your making a lot of money is what ends democracy.

      You want to stop them, then convince people to stop using their services and products. Good luck with that.

      1. Net worth is NOT the same as income from a specific job. If you happened to have owned a house for 30 years in New York or L.A., you may have a net worth in the millions, while never earning more than middle-class wages…

        The pay for virtually ALL CEOs is obscene. There is no other word. Fifty years ago, the average CEO made roughly 40 times the average worker salary. And they were still rich. In some countries, that’s still the ballpark figure. But not in the US, and not with stock buyback programs and other incentives to make the C-suite job holders obscenely wealthy. Forget about Tim Cook for a minute — do you think the CEO of Amazon is worth 6,000 times what the average staffer makes?

        Is ANYONE really worth $200 million a year (plus benefits!) for doing a job that mostly requires them to say “yes” and “no” a lot?

    3. At the top of the game, most all ceos, pop stars, sports stars, actors, social influencers, politicians etc all are vastly overpaid. Should we forcefully lower all pay? what might be the unintended results of “regulating” pay and wealth connected to jobs based on talent and ability. Would the NFL be a better league if there was forced parity across all positions regardless of ability and outcome. Would social equality make a better sports league or movie. How dose “vastly overpaid” jobs incentive vastly incredible results.

      No where is this more evident than lottery tickets. The higher the payout the more tickets sold. Maybe we should start regulating lottery tickets to a maximum of 100,000. Are state lotteries with billion dollar payouts feeding the desire and wage gap envy ultimately causing our democracy to end?

  1. Let’s just guess that the median Apple employee makes $150,000 a year. That puts Tim Cook’s $49.9 million at over 330 times that median worker. NO ONE is worth that. If the median Apple employee makes $200,000 a year (unlikely but possible). That puts Tim Cook at almost 250 times that of the median worker. That’s still an outrageous multiplier.

    Back in the 60s and early 70s when this whole computer and networking revolution was starting CEOs got about 15 to 20 times that of the median worker. Some CEOs in this industry got significantly less.

    The real reason is the board of directors of these companies. They want “flagship CEOs” and pay ridiculous pay to get people that demand those packages. Even for the long term CEOs like Tim Cook the result of those demands and pay have a direct effect on his compensation package.

    Also, any company’s board tying the CEO’s compensation to the stock price is a board of idiots. If they really want to tie it to something financial, tie bonuses to the GAAP book value of the company. If the book value grows, the CEO gets a bonus. If it does not then the CEO does not. Period.

    1. You act as if there’s an objective value of “worth”. A CEO’s worth is whatever the board of directors determines it to be based on a variety of factors. Your opinion has no influence on the matter, and is just that, not a statement of fact.

      1. The fact that you and all too many others believe there is no objective value of worth is one of the primary reasons CEO compensation is so out of whack.

        And your opinion is just that too. So it goes for all of us that don’t hold a huge fraction of Apple’s stock.

        1. It’s not an opinion, it’s a fact. Value is subjective, this is a truth of economics. If you find something to be “too expensive”, if means that your subjective opinion is that the cost does not justify the value. So you forgo buying that item. Somebody else who does see that the cost justifies the value will buy.

          The same goes for a job. The salary is what the position is “worth” to the employer. When you accept a job, you are acknowledging that the salary is the appropriate value for your time and skills. If you don’t accept the job because you perceive the salary as too low, you have valued your time and skills higher than the salary that is offered.

          The fact that you don’t understand this simple concept makes conversing any further with you not “worth” my time.

    2. What about professional sports leagues? Patrick Mahomes makes $45,000,000.00 per year. But the average NFL cheerleader makes 150.00 game or about $22,000 per year. Thats a 2250 times more than what women working for the NFL make.

      That’s an outrageous multiplier but no one its talking about this pay disparity between different sports entertainment professionals.

      Back in the 60s and early 70s when this whole sports thing started to take off. A starting OQ got about 15 to 20 times that of the median worker.

      cheerleader $15.00 / game
      quarterback $2500 / game

      166 times

      so what about pro sports that systematically discriminate against women and less qualified men. Imagine the push back you would get if you tried to apply your logic to sports or entertainment industry ? Why is it fair game only to target CEOs ?

      1. I also firmly believe that all too many pro sports players are overpaid — and it’s not just in the NFL. Some can argue a bit of inflation on their pay is because of the short span of years they are actively playing, but that does not account for some of the players getting super high annual pay.

        1. Like top tier quarterbacks, Top tier CEOs have to constantly win or be replaced. If Tim Cook had a few absolute looser quarters he would be on the street looking for a job quicker then you can say Payton Manning. Top level makes insane amount because they win an insane amount. It’s the law of the jungle. Winner takes all! But greed alone will get you taken out, the greatest winners know how to spread the wealth and share the bounty. Eventually a greedy king is a dead king.

        2. I agree with you on that however at the same time I think that if the team is making all that money from the fans, advertising, etc, who should get all of the money? Should it all go to the owners rather than the players? It’s an interesting discussion.

  2. There’s a difference between the end of democracy and the end of capitalism. Over paid CEOs isn’t destroying our democracy. Limiting pay is an ending of capitalism.

    Our democracy is in danger because our media is no longer doing journalism. Also, we aren’t willing to protect the sanctity of our elections.

    Our capitalism is in danger because too many don’t want to work, save, and depend upon themselves. Also, capitalism is in danger because of government regulations and taxation.

    CEOs pay is not the problem.

    1. Wrong! Tim Cook is arguably the most talented CEO in history in one very important category. Profitability. And even though he was beyond extremely lucky to inherit the best company ever, Tim has innovated his ass off on making obscene amounts of profit. He has fine tuned a cash making machine better than ever. All the while, keeping Steve’s vision largely intact. Tim is a creative visionary in one major category; profitability

        1. Apple has moved on from Steve Jobs and currently has perhaps it’s best lineup ever. Apple Silicon is amazing and the new Macbooks are finally offering the features that the intended users want. Other than the Mac Pro that some are still waiting for, I’d say the product line is looking pretty good. I know that being “woke” threatens the right wing way of life and I find the middle ground to be the best. But I’d take “woke” over “right” any day.

          I’ll sit here now and wait for the insults to roll in.

        2. Do you advocate that “innovating”, however you define that, should take precedence over a CEO’s fiduciary responsibility?

          These forums, clearly urged on by the site owner, have an unusually large number of people enamored with their singular lionized figureheads (you know their names, and they aren’t in any way related to Apple) while lambasting whatever easy scapegoats they can single out from the other side (including Cook and most of the team at Apple today). This is a perfect example of immature simplistic thinking, and it is best to be ignored.

          Cook obviously coasted on prior wins and prioritizes his pet projects. I recall many people called him out on it. But it was no surprise. Every CEO does this, including Jobs. Jobs may have overseen a lot of good product introductions but he also mismanaged many of them with overpricing & lack of continuous improvement. He was the guy who killed off tons of good Apple innovation: Xserve, Airport, Aperture and several other good software titles, Displays, real Mac Pro workstations, all died with Job’s full knowledge. He, with Cook of course, switched gears to prioritize iOS wall building for the decade following the iPhone release. Now the pathetic attacks of Cook by many of the repetitive attackers on these forums are just lame and have very little to do with innovation, or their bizarre interpretation thereof.

  3. David M Zaslut gets paid insane amounts of money. No wonder Warner Bros has cut so many shows, they need to pay the boss too much cash. Pat Smellsinger is also vastly overpaid as Intel CEO – what a useless loser, presiding over such appalling mediocrity. Crim Cook is underpaid in comparison

  4. “If he stays, providing continuity, he benefits and so does the company’s stock price.” So, if the stock price benefits, is he really overpaid? To me as a shareholder it sounds like a good deal if I make more money when he makes more money.

  5. Praise of the Apple lineup 99% of products Jobs developed, says NOTHING in Cooks favor. Cook creativity: Zero. Cook beancounter: 99% approval.

    If Cook was gone tomorrow — any one of the Top 20 CEOs in the world can step in and do the same on Day One. Riding first class on the iPhone gravy train. Top 10 Overpaid CEO Woke Cook, FINALLY getting the recognition he deserves! 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻

    Humdrum, indeed: “But I’d take “woke” over “right” any day.”

    Takes guts to admit all in for a radical INTOLERANT ideology forced on non-believers everyday of all age groups at home, school, work and play. That is anything but “woke.”

    Ignorance is BLISS… 🙈🙉🙊

    1. None of the current design language is based on designs from the Jobs/Ives era when they advocated ultra thin over practicality that led to the butterfly keyboard fiasco and Macbook Pros that lacked an SD card reader or an HDMI port, things that are gladly back along with Magsafe.

      As for “Takes guts to admit all in for a radical INTOLERANT ideology forced on non-believers everyday of all age groups at home, school, work and play.”” that’s not at all what I said. Besides, it’s the right wing who are pushing intolerant ideologies and who only want certain histories taught, and others ignored. I am not, and have never claimed to be, a supporter of extremists on any side. I’ve had my issues with certain “woke” folk and I agree it can go to far.

      Among many other things I’ve worked in education for most of my life and I’m happy to report that young people aren’t letting the right get to them. They’re smarter and are the future which the right knows and is why they hate education and critical thinking. Oh, and the best way to get a kid to read a book you don’t want them to? Ban it.

      How’s the Macbook Air by the way?

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