The head of a digital ad-buying platform ranked as the highest-paid CEO in the U.S. information technology sector in 2021, thanks to a large stock option award.
The Trade Desk Inc.’s Jeffrey Green earned total adjusted compensation of $835 million in 2021. The vast majority of that compensation consisted of a long-term stock option award, granted in October 2021, for 16 million shares of common stock valued at $828.4 million. The executive also received about $3.9 million in cash compensation and $2.7 million in nonequity incentive plan compensation in 2021.
That made Green the highest-paid U.S. infotech CEO last year, ahead of executives like Amazon.com Inc.‘s Andrew Jassy and Intel Corp.‘s Patrick Gelsinger, who ranked as the eighth- and ninth- highest-paid CEOs, respectively. All of the executives in the top 10 received the majority of their total compensation in stock or option awards.
The Trade Desk specializes in real-time programmatic marketing automation technologies. It achieved nearly $1.20 billion in revenue in 2021, up 43% from $836.0 million in 2020.
The company last year entered into several new partnerships with big companies, including Walmart Inc., Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd.’s Samsung Ads in India, and smartphone-maker Xiaomi Corp. It also expanded a partnership with NBCUniversal Media LLC related to the programmer’s Peacock streaming service.
The second- and third-highest-paid infotech CEOs both lead companies that completed initial public offerings in 2021.
* Read the S&P Global Market Intelligence ranking of fintech CEO pay.
* See the financial highlights for The Trade Desk.
Qualtrics International Inc.’s Zig Serafin ranked as the second-highest paid CEO with total adjusted compensation of $540.5 million, of which $540 million came in the form of stock awards granted effective Feb. 1, after the completion of Qualtrics’ IPO. Serafin also received $500,000 in cash compensation.
Qualtrics provides software that helps companies gauge customer satisfaction and feedback. It remains a subsidiary of SAP SE, which holds about 72% of the company’s shares. SAP acquired Qualtrics for $8 billion in 2018.
Affirm Holdings Inc.’s Max Levchin was the third-highest-paid infotech CEO, with total adjusted compensation of $451.2 million, nearly all of which came in the form of stock options.
Levchin received options for up to 12.5 million shares of class A common stock last year as part of a “value creation award” in advance of the e-commerce company’s January IPO.
Levchin also received about $200,000 in cash compensation, the majority of which covered costs related to personal security services, according to a company filing.