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SoftBank’s COO demanded a $1 billion bonus. Is any exec worth that much?


The chief operating officer of Japanese conglomerate SoftBank Group Corp., Marcelo Claure, is preparing to leave his role after founder Masayoshi Son reportedly refused to pay him a $1 billion bonus for good work.

According to Bloomberg, Claure was pivotal in salvaging some of SoftBank’s Vision Fund investment in WeWork, pushing the troubled office-sharing company to debut through a SPAC last year after it aborted an IPO in 2019. In 2020, Claure spearheaded the turnaround and sale of telecom firm Sprint Corp to T-Mobile for around $21 billion, too.

For his travails, the Bolivian-American COO Claure is already the second-highest paid executive at SoftBank, taking home $17 million in 2020. (Simon Segars, who heads the company’s chip unit, Arm Ltd., just barely edged him out.) But Claure reportedly thinks he deserves a billion-dollar bump, possibly paid over multiple years, after helping the Japanese conglomerate reap record profits.

In its last fiscal year, which ended March 2021, SoftBank Group reported $46 billion in profit—the highest annual profit of any Japanese company, ever. Claure is effectively asking for a 2.17% share of the take, which may be a fraction of the total, but it’s much more than other executives—save one—take home.

Last year, Apple’s board lavished CEO Tim Cook with roughly $95 million in bonuses, including stock awards and expenses, while the California company turned a profit of $94.7 billion. That puts Cook’s compensation—separate from his $3 million salary—at a minute 0.1% of earnings. That excludes some $750 million of stock options Apple awarded Cook in 2011, which haven’t vested yet.

In fact, only $12 million of Cook’s total compensation was directly tied to Apple’s financial performance—which is equivalent to 0.013% of earnings, if you round it up. So maybe Silicon Valley is too cheap to match Claure’s salary expectations, too. Would the SoftBank COO stand a better chance of earning a billion-dollar-bonus at a U.S. bank?

Wall Street’s best paid banker, JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, doesn’t even come close to a 2% share of the bank’s profits, which hit a record $48.3 billion last year. According to the bank, Dimon was treated to a 10% pay increase for the bank’s stellar performance, bringing his total compensation, including $1.5 million in base salary, to $34.5 million for the year.

Roughly $28 million of Dimon’s compensation was issued as restricted stock tied to company performance, and $5 million was a cash bonus. So call it a cool $33 million bonus, which is equal to a measly 0.07% of the bank’s earnings. Bigger than Cook’s 0.013% performance-related bonus, but it still wouldn’t satisfy Claure.

So, where can Claure go to get the $1 billion he deserves?

Maybe Tesla, where CEO Elon Musk earned a whopping $6.6 billion in compensation in 2020, making Musk the highest paid executive that year, according to a Bloomberg ranking. Second on the list was Oak Street Health CEO Mike Pykosz, earning a total $568 million in compensation.

But Musk’s compensation is paid entirely in stock options, tied to Tesla’s performance. If Claure wants cash on hand, he might have to look elsewhere.

This story was originally featured on

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