57% pay rise for top Silicon Valley executives

By agencies   |   Monday, 23 May 2005, 07:00 Hrs
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SILICON VALLEY: Silicon Valley's top executives saw their pay rise 57 percent in 2004 to a collective total of $2.1 billion.

The 2004 compensation for 728 senior executives was the highest in three years and approached the $2.3 billion of 1999, just before the tech-stock bubble burst.

Stock option gains, which doubled to $1.4 billion accounted for two-thirds of their total pay, according to the Mercury News' latest study.

Topping the 2004 list was Yahoo's Chief Executive Terry Semel, whose $230.6 million in compensation vaulted him into the record books with the third-biggest annual pay package in valley history. Nearly all of his compensation came from exercising options granted when he took over the Internet company in mid-2001.

Semel was one of two Yahoo executives in 2004's top 5, each benefiting as Yahoo's revenue and stock price soared on a resurgence in online advertising. Farzad Nazem, Yahoo's chief technology officer since 1997, came second with $63.2 million, followed by Maynard Webb, chief operating officer of eBay, with $46.4 million.

Oracle chief executive, Larry Ellison, came in fourth with $45.8 million, including nearly $42 million in option gains and the third-largest bonus of all the executives, $3.2 million. Cisco's John Chambers ranked fifth with $40.2 million.

"The principal driver behind Silicon Valley compensation is still gains from stock options," said Tim Ranzetta of Equilar, the company that analyzed the regulatory filing data of the valley's 150 largest companies.

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