It's official. Facebook (FB) CEO Mark Zuckerberg has joined the symbolic $1-a-year club for CEOs like Steve Jobs and Google (GOOG) co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin. He voluntarily dropped his salary to $1 last year from $503,205 in 2012. And his total compensation of $651,165 in 2013, which includes bonus and other pay, fell 67% from $2 million in 2012.
But hold the tears. Just like those tech CEOs, Zuckerberg is a multi-billionaire. He owns 426.3 million shares of Facebook stock, which are currently valued at $25.68 billion. Facebook shares have surged 135% in the past year -- many times more than the 20% gain in the S&P 500 (GSPC) and the 21% rise in the S&P Technology Select Sector SPDR (XLK). Zuckerberg made $3.3 billion exercising stock options last year, according to the company's regulatory filing with the SEC on Monday. In 2012 Zuckerberg made $2.3 billion off stock options.
He's also the 22nd richest person in the world according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, with a net worth of nearly $27 billion.
"It's not exactly like he's making a massive financial sacrifice," says Mike Santoli, senior columnist at Yahoo Finance, about Zuckerberg's $1 dollar annual salary. "It's sort of a gesture to the world to say 'we're not going to sit here and loot the company that we're trying to run for the long term at the same time that we are stacking up wealth.'"
Zuckerberg has used his wealth to become a major philanthropist: he gifted 18 million shares to charity last year and was named the most charitable person of 2013 by The Chronicle.
While Zuckerberg is racking up big bucks from the stock options he exercised, he's also spending billions on acquisitions. In late February Facebook paid $19 billion to buy the WhatsApp messaging service, which is equivalent to $42 per user.
A month later Facebook announced the $2 billion purchase of Oculus VR, which makes virtual reality headsets for gaming. At the time, Zuckerberg said he hopes to expand Oculus beyond gaming into a platform that can be used in classrooms, medical offices and more.
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"We feel we're in a position where we can start focusing on what platforms will come next to enable even more useful, entertaining and personal experiences," Zuckerberg explained in a memo about the acquisition.
But the stock tanked after the Oculus announcement.
"Right now it's at such a valuation where they have to reap a massive amount of advertising revenue in the future [and] nobody one can really see how these little bets on the side are going to help that mission," Santoli explains.
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