Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Google CEO Eric Schmidt’s Friends and Family Fly for Free, Frequently

eric-schmidtGoogle’s new 2008 proxy statement looks a lot like Google’s proxy statements from previous years: The company’s top executives received nice bonuses, though slightly smaller than last year’s. And Google’s (GOOG) ruling troika–CEO Eric Schmidt and co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page–all took home salaries of $1, and will make do by owning gazillions of dollars worth of Google shares.

One smallish change: Eric Schmidt’s friends and families spent a lot more time with him on the company jet last year.

At least that’s the conclusion I’m drawing from a footnote to the SEC document, which notes he was paid a total of $508,763 in “other compensation.” The breakdown: $402,562 for personal security costs, plus another $106,201 “paid by Google on Eric’s behalf for costs related to aircraft chartered for Google business on which family and friends flew in 2008.”

Google has consistently been shelling out about a half-million dollars in “other compensation” to Schmidt each year, so this is nothing new. The only difference is that Schmidt seemed to bring more friends and family on the Googleplanes last year, or having them take longer flights, than before.

In 2007, friends and family-related flight costs only totaled $4,000. And in 2006, Google shelled out $22,456 for “tax gross-ups” related to those flights, plus another $531 in “aggregate incremental costs.”

So what prompted Schmidt’s pals and relatives to take to the skies that much more this year? I’ve asked Google for more information, and will update if I get anything.

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work