Software execs earn big bucks -- by getting fired

Summary:He may be the richest person in the world -- but in the software industry, Bill Gates is not even among the top 10 wage earners.Former Adobe Chief Operating Officer David Pratt was the top earner among executives in the largest public software companies last year, according to the annual Softletter 1998 compensation survey.

He may be the richest person in the world -- but in the software industry, Bill Gates is not even among the top 10 wage earners.

Former Adobe Chief Operating Officer David Pratt was the top earner among executives in the largest public software companies last year, according to the annual Softletter 1998 compensation survey.

'It seems that one of the best ways lately to break into the ranks of the paycheck elite isn't by doing a great job.'
-- Softletter report

Pratt's earnings totaled $2,788,251, boosted by a hefty compensation package accompanying his departure from the company a year ago.

In fact, several top earners on the list actually lost their jobs in 1997.

"Ironically, it seems that one of the best ways lately to break into the ranks of the paycheck elite isn't by doing a great job -- it's by losing a job and collecting a fat severance settlement," the report said. The annual report lists the top earners among the top 100 largest software companies based on salary and bonuses in 1997. It does not include stock holdings or options, which often boost an executive's worth into the stratosphere.

For example, though Gates didn't make the top 10 list of overall execs -- with his paltry-by-comparison compensation of $591,352 -- his stock holdings make him worth more than $60 billion.



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Following Pratt on the Softletter list was former Novell (Nasdaq:NOVL) President Joe Marengi, who earned $1,572,653.

He was followed by L. George Klaus, the first person on the list to still hold his job. Klaus, the CEO, President, and Chairman of Platinum Software (Nasdaq:PSQL)earned $1,535,251.

Adobe (Nasdaq:ADBE) had the strongest showing on the top 10 list, with CEO John Warnock No. 4 based on his earnings of $1,262,796. The company's president, Charles Geschke , who earned $1,234, 939, was No. 6.

Just one Microsoft listee
The only Microsoft (Nasdaq:MSFT) exec in the top 10 was Chief Operating Officer Robert Herbold, who was No. 5, at $1,259,317.

Last year, Borland International (Nasdaq:INPR) CEO Delbert Yocam topped the list, earning more than $7 million due to due to a fat signing bonus and a $3.8 million advance to buy a house.

Topics: IT Employment, Microsoft, Software

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