Last Updated: April 8, 2024
Richest BusinessCEOs
Net Worth:
$650 Million
Nov 19, 1935 - Mar 1, 2020 (84 years old)
5 ft 6 in (1.7 m)
Writer, Businessperson, Author, Manager
United States of America
💰 Compare Jack Welch's Net Worth

What was Jack Welch's Net Worth and Salary?

Jack Welch was an American business executive who had a net worth of $650 million at the time of his death in 2020. Jack served as the chairman and CEO of General Electric from 1981 to 2001. Jack joined GE at the age of 24. Working his way up through company's various departments, became CEO position at the age of 45. During his 21-year-long tenure as CEO, Jack transformed GE into one of the world's most successful and admired companies. Under his leadership, GE's value rose 4,000%, thanks to his unique management practices that would eventually be nicknamed "The Welch Way." Jack was succeeded by Jeffrey Immelt. Immelt's first day on the job as CEO was September 10, 2001, one day before the 9/11 terrorist attacks. GE's insurance division lost hundreds of millions of dollars as direct result of the attacks. Two GE employees were also killed in the attacks. Immelt served as CEO through 2017. During his time as CEO, Immelt earned $200-300 million. And under his leadership, the company LOST $150 billion in market cap.

Following his retirement, he took on consulting and advisory roles, did public speaking, co-wrote columns and books with his wife, and founded the Jack Welch Management Institute at Chancellor University. Jack Welch died on March 1, 2020 at the age of 84.

Retirement Package

After consistently earning tens of millions in salary and stock bonuses for decades, Jack was handsomely rewarded upon his retirement. His retirement package, including pension benefits, was estimated to be worth $417 million. In today's dollars his package was worth $600 million before taxes.

Book Advance

After retiring he wrote several business books which went on to be best-sellers. He was paid $7 million advance for his book "Straight From the Gut". He also served as an private equity advisor, business commentator and professor. That still stands as one of the biggest book advances of all time, especially when taking into account inflation.

Jerry Seinfeld Contract Negotiation

"Seinfeld" aired on NBC, which at the time was owned by GE. For the ninth and final season of "Seinfeld," Jerry Seinfeld's salary was $1 million per episode. That worked out to $24 million for the season. The finale of that ninth season aired on May 14, 1998. Jerry had previously made it clear that it was going to be his final season. Jack and his highest-level executives, like Warren Littlefield, were desperate for Jerry to do one more season. Jack reportedly instructed his team to do "whatever it takes." NBC ultimately offered Jerry $5 million per episode plus a guaranteed 22 episodes. Had he agreed, that would have worked out to a $110 million payday for Jerry. Jerry declined. As an NBC executive later recalled: "When Jerry said he was turning it down, Jack just went numb."

Early Life and Education

Jack Welch was born as John Welch Jr. on November 19, 1935 in Peabody, Massachusetts as the only child of train conductor John Sr. and homemaker Grace. Throughout middle and high school, he found work during the summers as a golf caddie, shoe salesman, and newspaper delivery boy, among other jobs. At Salem High School, he played baseball, hockey, and football. For his higher education, Welch went to the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he studied chemical engineering. After graduating with his BS in 1957, he went to graduate school at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, from which he graduated with an MS and a PhD in chemical engineering.

General Electric

In 1960, Welch joined General Electric as a junior chemical engineer in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. Unhappy with the job, he planned to quit before he was persuaded by executive Reuben Gutoff to remain at the company. By 1968, Welch had become the vice president and head of GE's lucrative plastics division, where he oversaw marketing for Lexan and Noryl. A few years later, he became the vice president of GE's metallurgical and chemical divisions. In 1977, Welch was named senior vice president and head of the consumer products and services division, a position he held until the end of the decade when he became the vice chairman of GE. He went on to become the chairman and CEO of GE in 1981, making him the youngest-ever person to hold those positions. Welch quickly got to work dismantling much of the earlier management that had been put together by his predecessor, Reginald H. Jones. Throughout the 1980s, he focused on streamlining GE by cutting inventories, closing factories, reducing payrolls, and taking apart the company's bureaucracy.

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As the head of GE, Welch notoriously popularized the "rank and yank" policy, by which he would fire the bottom 10% of his managers and give the top 20% bonuses and employee stock options. He was nicknamed "Neutron Jack," in reference to the neutron bomb, for his mass elimination of employees. Meanwhile, GE expanded by making numerous major acquisitions, including RCA in 1986. During the 1990s, Welch made acquisitions that shifted GE's business from manufacturing to primarily financial services. At the end of the decade, he was named "Manager of the Century" by Fortune magazine. When Welch retired from GE in 2001, he reportedly received a severance package worth $417 million, which was the largest such payment in business history at the time. However, Welch was not without his criticism. During his leadership of GE, the company was engaged in serious pollution of the Hudson River, causing tensions with the Environmental Protection Agency and the State of New York. Welch was also criticized for his apathy toward the working class, and for worsening economic inequality in the United States.

Late Career

After retiring from GE, Welch took on advisory roles with the private equity firm Clayton, Dubilier & Rice and with IAC chief executive Barry Diller. He also did public speaking and co-wrote columns and some books about management with his wife. In 2006, Welch began teaching at the MIT Sloan School of Management, and in 2009 he founded the Jack Welch Management Institute at Chancellor University in Cleveland, Ohio. The Institute was later acquired by Strayer University in Washington, D.C. in 2011.

Personal Life and Death

Welch married his first wife, Carolyn Osburn, in 1959. They had four children, and divorced in 1987. Welch next married Jane Beasley in 1989; they divorced in 2003. The following year, he wed his third and final wife, Suzy Wetlaufer, with whom he was having an affair during his marriage to Beasley. Welch and Wetlaufer co-authored multiple columns and books, including the best-selling 2005 book "Winning."

On March 1, 2020, Welch died from kidney failure at his home in New York City. He was 84 years of age.

Real Estate

In May 2006 Jack and Suzy sold a property in Fairfield, Connecticut for $6.9 million. Jack bought the property in 1990 for $3.25 million and at what point had been seeking $13 million for the 6-acre estate.

In 2007 Jack and Suzy paid $7.6 million for a waterfront estate near North Palm Beach. Jack's widow sold the estate in April 2020 for $21 million.

In 2016 Jack listed a mansion in Boston for $20 million. After his death in 2020, Jack's widow Suzy listed their Fifth Avenue apartment for $25 million. They bought the unit in 2018 for $18.75 million. Suzy ultimately accepted $21 million for the unit in November 2022.

Also in 2020, Suzy bought a nearby townhouse for $22.75 million, and a 290-acre estate in Hudson Valley, New York for $16.5 million. She sold the Hudson Valley estate in September 2022 for $18.5 million.

All net worths are calculated using data drawn from public sources. When provided, we also incorporate private tips and feedback received from the celebrities or their representatives. While we work diligently to ensure that our numbers are as accurate as possible, unless otherwise indicated they are only estimates. We welcome all corrections and feedback using the button below.
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