Kiwi Camara, CEO of an Austin-based legal technology company CS Disco Inc.is one of the rare executives to be able to claim a higher remuneration than that of Apple Inc. CEO Tim Cook.
While Cook is expected to face a pay cut of around 40% this year, following advice from shareholders and his own recommendation, his compensation for fiscal 2022 reached $99.4 million, as reported in the documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
CS Disco, with a book value of just over $500 million, stands in stark contrast to Apple’s massive $2.98 trillion net worth.
According to data from analytics firm C-Suite Comp, nine CEOs passed the $100 million mark in total compensation last year. Among these frameworks are Blackstone Inc.. CEO Stephen Schwarzman, who received $253 million, and Alphabet Inc. CEO Sundar Pichai, who earned $216 million. Hertz CEO Stephen Scherr also joined the exclusive club with total compensation of $182 million.
Camara, a 39-year-old entrepreneur, earned nearly $110 million in revenue last year, a substantial increase from the previous year’s revenue of $1 million. This achievement is the result of a combination of $500,000 in salary and $109 million in stock options. The value of the stock options is tied to specific goals, which must be achieved by 2032, or in the event of Camara’s acquisition or departure from office.
While the compensation is among the highest in the world, many companies are often happy to pay millions for some of the best talent in the world. While this can often be a contentious point for investors and stakeholders, senior executives have experience growing multi-billion companies, ultimately adding unparalleled value.
Startups are often nothing more than a founder and an idea. Even Microsoft Corp. was once a startup, and although Bill Gates made hundreds of billions during his rise to the top, so did many of his shareholders. The potentially lucrative nature of startup investing has helped propel the recent spike in startup investing on platforms such as StartEngine and Wefunder.
Born in the Philippines, Camara emigrated to the United States as a child, but his journey was not without controversy.
In 2002, while a 16-year-old Harvard University law student, he posted lecture notes online, inadvertently revealing his use of a racial slur in reference to clauses laws prohibiting blacks from buying land. This incident caused considerable outcry among his peers. Camara apologized for his use of the offensive term and later revealed that it hindered his chances of getting a prestigious position at law school.
He graduated from Harvard at age 19, making him the youngest graduate in school history to date. But in 2007, he made headlines again for being the 22-year-old child prodigy who couldn’t land a job, which he says was the result of the racial slur.
In 2013, Camara ventured into the world of legal technology by creating CS Disco. The company focuses on advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and cloud computing, aimed at streamlining workflows for lawyers and law firms.
CS Disco posted revenue of $135.2 million in its 2022 fiscal year. However, the company also reported a net loss of $70.8 million, marking an increase from the net loss from $24.3 million the previous year.
The number of CEOs passing the $100 million threshold in 2022 compared to the previous year has decreased. Last year, Bloomberg reported that more than 30 public company executives exceeded $100 million by the end of 2021.
This trend is indicative of the growing skepticism of shareholders and investors regarding executive compensation.
For example, Netflix Inc. Shareholders recently voted against a pay package for co-CEO Ted Sarandos that included a $3 million salary, $20 million in stock and a potential bonus of up to $17 million. Although the vote was not binding, it was initiated by striking writers who expressed concerns about executive pay. These developments reflect a broader change in attitude towards CEO compensation and the growing attention paid to these compensation practices.
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