Silicon Valley's top executives are receiving record amounts of cash in compensation.
A new survey reveals that the leading executives in the Valley earned $4.8bn in compensation in the last fiscal year, which is more than double the amount for the previous year.
For US companies, giving executives stock options does not appear on their financial reports and therefore is the remuneration of choice at public companies.
However, this might not be the case for long, as shareholders appear to be expressing concern at the size of options being granted.
While the technology elite saw their rewards grow by a staggering 135 per cent, everyday investors and employees saw the value of their hi-tech holdings, in pension plans and the like, fall by 20 per cent.
The reason the top executives took home masses amounts of money is that they exercised their stock options before the huge downturn in stock prices that has taken place over the last 12 months.
Stock options enable executives to buy a company's shares for less than market price and then sell them at a profit.
One example was at optical fibre company JDS Uniphase. During the last fiscal year, the six top executives at JDS exercised 7.5 million options, for a gain of about $300m, compared with 36,210 shares exercised for a $1m gain the year before.
More than 90 per cent of the options were exercised before the shares peaked on 6 March, 2000.
The shares over the last 12 months have dropped from a high of $140 to Friday's close of $12.44.
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