15 July 2020

Top 10 CEOs (by compensation) and a Better Way for the US To Invest in the Future

Elon Musk was the most richly compensated CEO in 2019. He made nearly $600 million.

In 2010, the Department of Energy gave Tesla a loan of nearly that amount: $465 million. This was the same year and the same program under which Solyndra got a loan of $535 million. (Between them, the two alternative energy companies got exactly a billion.)

It's not a bad idea to invest in companies and any venture capitalist would happily take one Solyndra and one Tesla, one failure and one wild success. What would be a better way to invest in the future than a loan? Take an equity position.

Had the US taken an equity position in Tesla and Solyndra equivalent to the loan amount, the US equity value of Solyndra would be $0 and of Tesla would be $36.5 billion - for an initial investment of one billion in the two companies. Like Musk, we Americans would have been rewarded for the risk we took. It's great to give more reward for more risk: it is weird to make the risk public and the reward private.

Meanwhile, average compensation for the top 10 CEOs was $151 million, and four of the top 10 are immigrants (three from India and Musk from South Africa).

Article on ten highest paid CEOs at Bloomberg.

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