2019's Top Earning CEOs of American Companies

By Jake Schroeder
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It pays to be at the top. Hundreds of CEOs are out there earning eight-figure salaries of at least $10 million each year, but that’s actually chump change to many top CEOs who rake in a lot more than that.

From Tesla to Amazon, innovative U.S. companies with huge profits pay some huge salaries to top executives. As the heads of companies with no shortage of innovation or capital, 2019’s top earning CEOs of American companies reign supreme in the world market.

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Hock E. Tan – Broadcom Inc.

Hock E. Tan is the president and CEO of Broadcom Inc. He has been one of the top paid CEOs since assuming the position in 2016. In 2018, Tan earned $103.2 million. Broadcom, Inc. designs and develops digital-analog semiconductors as well as wireless storage adapters, RF components and fiber optic cables and modules.

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Photo Courtesy: Bloomberg/Getty Images

Tan headed up Broadcom’s move in 2017 from Singapore back to the United States, claiming the move would earn nearly $20 billion in revenue for the U.S. Treasury. He was born in Malaysia and immigrated to the U.S. on a scholarship from MIT. He and his wife have three children.

Frank Bisignano – First Data

Frank Bisignano is the chairman and president of First Data. He has been the CEO since 2013, and he earned $102.2 million in 2018. Before his tenure at First Data, Bisignano was Vice President at Lehman Brothers and First Fidelity Bank. First Data’s revenue was $12.1 billion in 2018, and his earnings were 2,028 times the median employee salary.

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Bisignano has been called one of the most influential people in finance by Treasury & Risk. In recent years, First Data collaborated with Apple on its Apple Pay system. Bisignano is married to Tracy, who still works as a grade school teacher.

Michael Rapino – Live Nation Entertainment

Michael Rapino is the CEO and president of Live Nation Entertainment, the company formed from the merger of Ticketmaster and Live Nation. In 2018, he earned $70.6 million, which was 2,893 times the median employee salary. Live Nation Entertainment earned $10.3 billion that year.

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Early in his career, Rapino co-founded Core Audience Entertainment, a concert promotion company. He then held several roles at Clear Channel Entertainment before being named CEO of Live Nation in 2005. He assumed the top leadership role for Live Nation Entertainment when it was formed in 2010. Rapino is married and has three children.

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Leslie Moonves – CBS

Leslie Moonves served as the CEO and chairman of CBS from 2013 until 2018, when he resigned due to numerous allegations of sexual misconduct. Before his resignation, Moonves earned $68.4 million in 2018, about 595 times the median employee salary. CBS earned $13.7 billion that same year.

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Moonves held numerous executive positions at CBS before being named CEO. He was originally COO of original Viacom, Inc. before it became part of CBS Corporation. In 2018, Moonves stepped down as CEO after several women accused him of sexual harassment. He has four children and has been married to TV personality Julie Chen since 2014.

Gregory Maffei – Liberty Media Corporation

Gregory Maffei is the CEO and president of Liberty Media as well as the chairman of Live Nation Entertainment, SiriusXM and TripAdvisor. He is also the chairman of Starz and Expedia. Due in part to leadership roles in multiple companies, he netted $67.2 million in 2018. Before becoming the CEO of Liberty Media Group, he was the CFO of Oracle and Microsoft.

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Maffei also serves as chairman of Qurate Retail Group, which owns QVC, HSN, Zulily and Cornerstone Brands. He is also a director for Charter Communications and Zillow. Maffei is married with children and resides in Colorado.

Walter Nicholas Howley – TransDigm Group

Walter Nicholas Howley is the chairman and co-founder of TransDigm Group, a company that manufactures aircraft components through various subsidiaries. TransDigm produces ignition systems, gear pumps, electromechanical actuators and controls. In 2018, Howley earned $61.0 million, while TransDigm earned $3.8 billion.

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Howley is currently chairman of the board for TD Group US Holdings LLC. Previously, he served as president for AeroControlex Group and as the corporate director of finance for Imo Industries, Inc. He was also president and fellow of Harvard College and Drexel University. He is married with three children and six grandchildren.

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Dexter Goei – Altice USA

First joining Altice N.V. in 2009, Dexter Goei is now the president of the multinational telecom and mass media company and CEO of Altice USA. In 2018, he earned $53.6 million, while the company itself generated $9.3 billion in revenue. Goei spearheaded the company’s entrance into the U.S. market in 2016. Before joining Altice, he worked in investment banking with JPMorgan and Morgan Stanley.

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Altice USA provides cable, television and internet services for 4.9 million residential and business consumers in 21 states. Goei reportedly bought a home in New York’s Greenwich Village for $31 million. He lives there with his wife and children.

Jeff Bewkes – Time Warner

Jeff Bewkes was CEO of Time Warner from 2008 to 2018 as well as president from 2005 to 2018 and chairman from 2009 to 2018. He is a self-made man who started at Time Warner selling HBO subscriptions to hotels and left as the chairman and CEO. He exited the company in 2018 following AT&T's $65 billion deal to acquire the media and broadcasting giant. Time Warner is the parent company of HBO, Warner Brothers and Turner Broadcasting.

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During his tenure, Bewkes oversaw the divestment between Time Warner and AOL. He will remain with the company as an advisor during the AT&T transition period. He is married and has two children.

Ron Clarke – FleetCor Technologies

Ron Clarke has been the CEO of FleetCor since 2000 and was appointed to the board of directors in 2003. Before joining the company, he served as president and COO of AHL Services, a staffing firm. FleetCor specializes in payment solutions for businesses and supports them in paying for fuel, tolls and lodging in more than 80 countries.

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In 2018, Clarke earned $45.1 million, which was 1,517 times that of the median employee salary. The company generated $2.2 billion in revenue the same year. He has taken some heat from FleetCor’s shareholders regarding his salary, and he is poised to take a major payout in 2019.

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Stephen Kaufer – TripAdvisor

Stephen Kaufer is the president, CEO and co-founder of TripAdvisor, an online travel research company that offers its customers reviews and opinions on hotels and destinations written by fellow travelers. He made 481 times the media employee salary in 2018 or $43.2 million. The company made $1.6 billion in revenue during the same period.

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Kaufner’s salary has made headlines because he makes almost 500 times more than the average employee. Of course, this gap is largely due to the value of the shares he was awarded in 2011 when TripAdvisor issued its first public stock offering.

Brian Duperreault – American International Group

Brian Duperreault is the CEO of American International Group (AIG). He began his career at AIG as an actuary in 1973 and advanced to his current role in May 2017. He earned $42.8 million in 2018, or 697 times the median employee salary. AIG made a whopping $49.5 billion in revenue in 2018.

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As a former actuary accountant and CEO of American Insurance Agency, Duperreault's expertise resurrected the company during the 2008 financial crisis by splitting it into units of general insurance, life, retirement and a standalone technology unit known as Blackboard Insurance. He is married with three adult sons.

Dirk Van de Put – Mondelez International

Dirk Van de Put is the chairman and chief executive officer of Mondelez International. He was named CEO in 2017 and became chairman in 2018. He made $42.4 million in 2018, which was 403 times that of the median employee salary. Mondelez International had $25.9 billion in revenue that year.

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Mondelez International is a confectionery, food and beverage company based out of Illinois that employs around 83,000 people across the globe. The popular brands include Chips Ahoy!, Halls, Oreo, Ritz, Nabisco and countless others. Van de Put has dual citizenship in both the United States and Belgium, which makes him quite comfortable at the helm of a multinational company.

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David Zaslav – Discovery Communications

David Zaslav has been the president and CEO of Discovery Communications since 2007. He earned $42.2 million as CEO in 2018, which is 522 times the amount of the median employee salary. In 2018, Discovery Communications generated $6.9 billion in revenue.

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In 2017, Zaslav helped Discovery acquire Scripps Networks Interactive. The two companies control almost 20% of the viewership of ad-supported pay TV in the United States, boasting almost seven billion monthly video views. Previously, he worked as an executive for NBCUniversal. He currently serves on the boards of SiriusXM, Lions Gate Entertainment and the National Cable & Telecommunications Association.

John Donahoe – ServiceNow

John Donahoe is the chief executive officer and president of ServiceNow, a cloud computing company that is headquartered in Santa Clara, California. He earned $41.5 million in 2018 — 250 times the median employee salary. ServiceNow generated $1.9 billion in total revenue that same year.

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Before joining ServiceNow, Donahoe worked at eBay and later became president and CEO of Bain and Company. At eBay, he helped with acquisitions, including shopping.com and StubHub. He is on the board of directors at Nike and Bridgespan Group and is chairman of PayPal. He is married with three sons and one daughter.

Mark V. Hurd – Oracle

Mark V. Hurd is the co-CEO of Oracle and also serves on the board of directors. He was previously president and chief executive officer of Hewlett-Packard until 2010 when he resigned. It’s rumored (but not proven) that he was pressured to resign after a close personal relationship was discovered with a marketing contractor.

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In recent news, Hurd is taking a leave of absence from Oracle for health reasons. After the announcement, shares in Oracle dropped 6%. Safra Catz and Larry Ellison, one of the company’s co-founders, will assume his responsibilities while he is away. Mark Hurd is married with two children. As CEO, he earned $40.8 million in 2018, while Oracle reported earnings of $38.8 billion.

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Safra Z. Catz – Oracle

Safra Z. Catz is the co-CEO of Oracle. While Hurd takes time off for his health, she is assuming his responsibilities. Oracle reported earnings of $38.8 billion for 2018, with Catz earning $40.7 million for her role.

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Catz has been an executive at Oracle since 1999 and a board member since 2001. She was named co-president and chief financial officer in April 2011, reporting only to co-founder Larry Ellison. She also served as director of PeopleSoft Inc. and was elected to the board of Walt Disney Company in 2017. She is married with two sons.

Ari Bousbib – IQVIA Holdings

IQVIA Holdings is a multinational American company that serves the health information technology industry as well as clinical research. Chairman and CEO Ari Bousbib earned $37.5 million in 2018, about 388 times the median employee salary. The company reported $9.7 billion in revenue in 2018.

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Bousbib has been the chairman and CEO since 2016. Previously, he served as CEO of IMS Health from 2010 until its merger with Quintiles in 2016. He has also been on the board of directors for The Home Depot since 2007. In 2008, he served on the President’s Commission on White House Fellowships.

Robert A. Iger – The Walt Disney Company

Robert (Bob) Iger is the chief executive officer at The Walt Disney Company. In 2018, he earned $36.3 million. He served as the president of ABC Television and the president and COO of Capital Cities/ABC before it was acquired by The Walt Disney Company in 1996.

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During his tenure, he has overseen acquisitions of Pixar, Marvel Entertainment, Lucasfilm and 21st Century Fox. Iger announced recently that he will step down as CEO when his contract expires in 2021. Although he insists he isn’t running for president, there has been a lot of public support from Hollywood celebs, such as Jennifer Garner and Oprah Winfrey. Iger is married with four children.

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Martine Rothblatt – United Therapeutics

Martine Rothblatt is the founder and chairwoman of United Therapeutics. In 2018, she was the biopharmaceutical industry’s top-earning CEO, with a salary of $35.9 million. United Therapeutics reported $1.7 billion in revenue for the year with Rothblatt earning 203 times the median employee salary.

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She is a transgender attorney with an impressive career. Her resume includes working on the Human Genome Project and creating SiriusXM Satellite Radio. She was also the CEO of GeoStar. Forbes dubbed Rothblatt one of the 100 Greatest Living Business Minds of the Past 100 Years. She is married with four children.

Steve Wynn – Wynn Resorts

Steve Wynn is the founder and former chief executive officer of Wynn Resorts. He earned $34.5 million in 2018 as CEO, a salary that was a whopping 909 times that of the median employee salary for the year. Forbes named him the 379th wealthiest American in 2015.

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Wynn oversaw the opening, construction and operation of famous hotels in Las Vegas, including the Golden Nugget, The Bellagio and Mirage Resorts, which he sold to MGM Grand. In 2018, Wynn resigned as CEO and chairman of Wynn Resorts after reports of sexual misconduct went public. He denies the sexual assault allegations, but after his resignation, his name was removed from a plaza at the University of Pennsylvania, and his honorary degree was rescinded.

Mindy Grossman – Weight Watchers International

Mindy Grossman is the chief executive officer of Weight Waters International. She earned $33.4 million in 2018 in that role, which is an unbelievable 5,908 times the median employee salary. Weight Watchers International reported revenue of $1.3 billion for the year. She has continuously appeared on Forbes 100 Most Powerful Women lists throughout her impressive career.

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Grossman worked at Ralph Lauren Corporation and then Nike earlier in her career. When she served as CEO of HSN, she reinvented the brand. In 2008, HSN went public, and she oversaw the multi-billion-dollar retail portfolio. In 2017, she left HSN to assume her role at Weight Watchers International. She is married with one child.

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Brenton L. Saunders – Allergan

Brenton L. Saunders is the chief executive officer of Allergan, a pharmaceutical company that reported revenue of $1.6 billion in 2018. He has served as CEO since 2014 and earned $32.8 million in 2018. That amount was 349 times the median employee salary for the year.

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Saunders is also the co-founder of the Health Care Compliance Association (1995)he served as the chairman of the American Heart Association’s New York chapter. From 2013 to 2010, he was the CEO of Bausch & Lomb, and he has been on the board of directors of Cisco since 2017. He is married with two children.

Margaret Georgiadis – Mattel & Ancestry.com

In 2018, Margaret Georgiadis served as CEO of Mattel. She earned $31.3 million that year in her role, which was 4,987 times the median employee salary. She was appointed as CEO in 2017 to bring a fresh perspective to the brand and its operating model. Mattel has had some tough years for its flagship brands, including American Girl and Fisher-Price. Mattel reported $4.9 billion in revenue in 2018.

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In April 2018, Georgiadis left Mattel and became the CEO of Ancestry.com, a leading consumer genomics and ancestry company. She has previously worked for Discover Financial Services and Google, and she is a director at McDonald’s Corp.

Mark D. Okerstrom – Expedia Group

Mark D. Okerstrom is the chief executive officer and president at Expedia Group, a company that provides travel services online for leisure travelers and small businesses. The company services consumers worldwide and provides reservation services in addition to shopping.

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Okerstrom has been the CEO since 2018 and had reported earnings of $30.7 million for that fiscal year. His income was 431 times the median employee salary at Expedia Group, which reported total company revenue of $10.1 billion for 2018. Under Okerstrom’s direction, Expedia saw revenue double from 2012 to 2016. Originally part of Microsoft until 1999, Expedia now has 675 million monthly visitors and billions in revenue.

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Josh Sapan – AMC Networks

Josh Sapan is president and chief executive officer of global entertainment company AMC Networks. He earned $29.6 million in 2018, approximately 449 times the median employee salary for the year. Since assuming his role at AMC Networks in 1995, he has overseen AMC Networks, IFC, We TV, BBC America and Sundance TV. In 2018, AMC Networks reported $2.8 billion in profits.

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Prior to joining AMC Networks, Sapan was the president of Rainbow Media’s National Entertainment Division. He recently led the company’s acquisition of RLJ Entertainment and Levity Live, and he led AMC to join 21st Century Fox in funding the sports TV service fuboTV.

Jeff Bezos – Amazon

Although Jeff Bezos — CEO and founder of Amazon — topped the list of richest Americans, his annual salary is actually a modest $81,840. (Unbelievable, right?) In 1994, Bezos founded the e-commerce giant in his garage in Seattle. He has remained the CEO and owns almost a 12% stake in the company.

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In 2019, when Bezos and his wife MacKenzie divorced after 25 years of marriage, she assumed sole ownership of one-quarter of his Amazon stake. MacKenzie’s 4% stock in the company makes her one of the richest women in the world. In 2018, Amazon had $230 billion in revenue and $10 billion in net profit.

Mark Zuckerberg – Facebook

As Facebook’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg made more than $22.5 million in total compensation, but his salary only totaled $1.00 in 2018. According to proxy statements filed in 2018, he made $0 in bonuses and $0 in stock options, so it’s not clear how the eight-figure earnings were generated.

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In recent years, the Facebook CEO has faced criticism for not having technology in place to stop fake news articles from appearing on its feed. Zuckerberg said he is making it his top priority in 2019 to tackle these social issues. In July 2019, Facebook was fined $5 billion by the Federal Trade Commission for violating customers’ privacy. It was the largest fine in history.

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Michael Dell – Dell Technologies

Michael Dell is chairman and chief executive officer of Dell Technologies. In 2018, Dell made $2.39 million, with $950,000 received as salary and $1.42 million received as a bonus. He was not awarded any stock options or stock, but he did earn another $18,000 from other investment opportunities.

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Dell became chairman and CEO of Dell Technologies when it formed in 2016 after the merger between Dell and EMC, a computer storage giant. The $60 billion merger between Dell and EMC was the biggest technology acquisition to date.

Jack Dorsey – Twitter

According to Twitter’s filings, CEO and co-founder Jack Dorsey only received a salary of $1.40. The symbolic number is a tribute to the platform's former character limit of 140. From 2015 to 2018, Jack Dorsey declined any compensation at all. Of course, his salary doesn’t mean much, considering his net worth is around $5.4 billion.

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Jack Dorsey co-founded Twitter in 2006 with Box Stone, Ev Williams and Noah Glass. He served as chief executive officer until 2008, when he took a hiatus, later returning as CEO in 2015. He has also been the chief executive officer of Square, a business payment company, since 2015. In 2016, Dorsey gave one-third of his Twitter shares to employees.

Elon Musk – Tesla

Although you may think Elon Musk would pay himself billions a year, according to Tesla’s proxy statement, his 2018 earnings were $0. Don’t feel too sorry for him, however. His net worth is estimated to be more than $19.9 billion.

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The Tesla CEO was reportedly paid $56,380 for running the electric car company, but 2018's reports indicated that Musk made $2.3 billion in stock options. Musk denies this, saying he only made $56,380, which was the minimum wage in California. The $2.3 billion refers to a compensation plan that will pay Musk in Tesla stock over a 10-year period on the condition the company hits operational milestones and reaches $650 billion in capital.

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