The chief executive officers of two major video game companies have found their way onto As You Sow’s 2019 report on "The 100 Most Overpaid CEOs", a report that uses pay data to call out pay disparities in publicly traded American companies.
Both Electronic Arts’ Andrew Wilson and Activision Blizzard’s Bobby Kotick have earned spots on this year’s list along with the likes of Walt Disney’s Bob Iger, Netflix’s Reed Hastings, and 96 other high-earning execs. This all comes just a week after Activision Blizzard announced that it would lay off an estimated 800 employees following the close of a record year.
As You Sow takes more than a CEO’s yearly earnings into account when ranking its list, something detailed in full in the full report. In short, the organization looks at factors like total shareholder return and votes against CEO pay packages to calculate the chief execs earning in excess. The methods for calculating that exact excess can be found in Appendix C in the full report as well.
Following that methodology, the group clocked Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick as number 45 on that ranked list of the most overpaid CEOs. By As You Sow’s data, Kotick is paid $28,698,375 (an excess of $12,835,277 by the organization's estimates). The ratio of Kotick’s pay compared to median worker pay at Activision Blizzard is 301:1.
The median pay ratio for S&P 500 companies is 142.1, while the median pay ratio for the 100 members of As You Sow’s list is 300:1.
Electronic Arts’ Andrew Wilson, meanwhile, is ranked a bit lower on the list as number 98. His yearly take is $35,728,764 (an estimated excess of $19,673,861 as determined by the report), a paycheck that was supported by 97 percent of shareholders’ votes. Though median pay ratio wasn’t used as a metric for ranking those high-earning CEOs, the difference between Wilson’s own pay and that of the median Electronic Arts employer is greater than Kotick’s. As You Sow records that ratio as 371:1.
The gap between median worker pay and CEO pay has ballooned in just the past several decades, as explained in the following quote captured by Axios.
"If you look at the pay of top CEOs relative to workers, that ratio in the 1950s was 20 to 1, was about 30 to 1 by the late '70s, and by the mid-1990s it was 120 to 1," said Robert Reich, former Labor Secretary for President Bill Clinton, during a recent call with Axios and other reporters. ”When I was working in the White House that was a cause of real concern. That ratio seemed appalling to most people. Now it’s 300 to 1."