In the business world, you might not always be able to guess who's making the most money judging from who gets the most headlines. Take Jeff Green, the CEO of an advertising tech company called The Trade Desk. He's not exactly a household name, and he doesn't have a tendency to take any trips to space or pay cash for social media platforms, he was the highest paid CEO in the world last year, with a staggering pay package totaling $830 million.
Most of that pay package is in the form of stock options that will vest in eight predetermined "batches" depending on the company's future stock performance. If the company's stock market value rises significantly over the next decade, the shares could become worth billions. A spokesperson for the company had this to say about the figure:
"These are performance-based options, which vest at ambitious price targets…We have heard from our major investors that they are very supportive of this grant, as they stand to benefit significantly if these price thresholds are met."
Green could already exercise his first batch of stock options, reportedly 2.4 million shares, but he apparently has not done so. He has spent a reported $14.1 million to exercise options valued at almost $53 million, but these were older options not included in the most recent pay package.
Should all seven of the package's stock market benchmarks are met by the company, Green could eventually stand to make anywhere from $1.8 billion to $5.2 billion worth of new shares.
While the bulk of Green's pay is in stock options, he's still getting a salary from Trade Desk. For 2021, that came to $965,000, plus a discretionary bonus of $1 million, an "annual incentive payment" of $2.7 million in cash and $1.9 million in company-paid taxes. But these are all small numbers compared to the money he'll be making if he guides The Trade Desk into a successful coming decade.
Green might not be familiar to the general public but he did get some headlines last year, when he formally cut ties with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints over what he called their "hinderance of civil rights." At the same time, he also pledged to give at least 90 percent of his wealth – which could grow significantly depending on the future performance of Trade Desk – to charity.
Below is an interview Jeff gave to CNBC's "Mad Money" host Jim Cramer in July 2021: