Protecting Mr. Bezos

Looking through Amazon.com's Year 2011 Proxy Statement (page 19), I found the "2010 Summary Compensation Table":
Name And Principal Position Year Salary Stock Awards(1)All Other Compensation Total
Jeffrey P. Bezos, Chief Executive Officer 2010 $ 81,840 $ — $1,600,000(2) $1,681,840
2009 81,840 1,700,000 1,781,840
2008 81,840 1,200,000 1,281,840
Thomas J. Szkutak, SVP and Chief Financial Officer 2010 160,000 6,465,300 3,200(3) 6,628,500
2009 160,000 3,200 163,200
2008 157,500 7,491,000 3,150 7,651,650
... etc... (similar numbers for three more SVPs) ... etc ...
Nothing much unusual about these data. Publicly traded companies are required to publish this information. The executives' salary does not need to be high (in fact, Mr. Bezos' is actually lower than many rank-and-file engineers in the company!), as they get compensated by sizable stock awards instead. And Mr. Bezos personally does not even need the stock grants, as he owns almost 20% of the company anyway. What attracted my attention was note (2) in the "All Other Compensation" column:
(3) Represents the approximate aggregate incremental cost to Amazon.com of security arrangements for Mr. Bezos in addition to security arrangements provided at business facilities and for business travel. We believe that all company-incurred security costs are reasonable and necessary and for the company’s benefit.
This, per se, is probably nothing that unusual either: major companies lead by celebrity billionaire CEOs such as Mr. Bezos or Mr. Gates have probably always spent a hefty chunk on "extra security", just in case. It is interesting, however, that now (since when? I never knew!) they have to report these costs, even if approximate, as part of the top executive's "compensation" on the company's proxy statement. I suppose this is just a SEC requirement, and not an implication that IRS wants to consider the cost of extra security as part of the CEO's taxable income! Anyway, now that we're given the number - USD 1.2 to 1.7 million - it can just as well enter the public record. This probably compares to the budget of a small-town police department (well, in a really small town, that is...), with some left for car payments on a nice armored car, I guess. Of course, this is probably nothing compared to what the Secret Service protection for the government leaders costs.

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