Comcast Throttles BitTorrent Traffic, Founder’s Salary
Well, Comcast founder Ralph Roberts has at least one thing in common with Apple CEO Steve Jobs: an annual salary of $1. Bowing to shareholder criticism, the bandwidth-throttling cable company is slashing Roberts’s pay from $1.85 million to a buck and has amended his compensation package so that he will no longer be eligible for bonuses or stock options. Comcast also scrapped a clause in its proxy statement that had allowed for Roberts’s beneficiaries to receive his salary for five years after his death.
The moves come at a time of growing institutional shareholder dissatisfaction with Comcast (CMCSA). The cable operator’s shares are down nearly 40% in the past year and off by 25% since it gave disappointing 2007 financial guidance in the fall. Suffice it to say, the company’s shareholders are not happy. In a Jan. 14 letter to Comcast, investment firm Chieftain Capital Management accused management of strategic missteps and called CEO Brian (son of Ralph) Roberts’s stewardship of the company over the past decade a Comcastrophe. “The management of this company and supervision by its board have been a ‘Comcastrophe’ for shareholders over the past decade,” Chieftain wrote. “We want and deserve the best CEO Comcast’s board of directors can find–and, based on his record, Brian Roberts is not it.”
Will the concessions Comcast has made to its shareholders silence calls for Roberts’s head? Perhaps. It’s tough to shout epithets at management when the company’s just posted a better-than-expected 54% jump in fourth-quarter net income and announced plans for its first dividend in nearly a decade.