Salesforce Cuts Benioff's Compensation 60% After Shareholder Criticism

Advisory votes from stockholders spurred changes to pay packages for executives

Salesforce Inc. Chief Executive Officer Marc Benioff's compensation was reduced about 60 percent after shareholders indicated they were less than pleased with his pay package.

The board cut Benioff's total compensation to $13.2 million in the fiscal year that ended Jan. 31, from $33.4 million a year earlier, according to a regulatory filing on Wednesday. The decline was much steeper than the 16 percent cut to his pay in the 2016 fiscal year.

Salesforce received 53 percent approval from shareholders in an advisory vote for executives' compensation in 2015, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Stockholder support for the proposed pay packages for company executives climbed slightly the following year, but the board made further changes for the 2017 fiscal year, including expanding the use of performance-based restricted stock units, according to the filing.

"After the 2016 meeting, we sought additional feedback from our stockholders," the compensation committee said in the filing. "The two main themes we heard were that, notwithstanding recognition of the enormous contributions and leadership provided by our CEO, the overall magnitude of CEO pay remained high, and that it would be beneficial to expand'  the use of performance-related stock units for Benioff and other executives.

Salesforce, co-founded by Benioff and based in San Francisco, sells business software that allows customers to access services over networks instead of installing them on their own computers. The company's shares have gained 11 percent in the past year, compared with a 14 percent increase in the S&P 500 Index and a 23 percent gain in the Nasdaq Composite Index. 

Despite the cuts, Benioff remains among Silicon Valley's wealthiest executives with roughly 5 percent of the company's shares and net worth of around $4.2 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. His annual salary as CEO has remained $1.55 million the past two years with the reductions in his compensation package largely tied to equity awards.  


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