Thursday, November 17, 2011

Occupy Apple?

Raj Jayadev offers a new perspective on the Occupy movement in his “Occupy 101” column for the San Francisco Bay Guardian.  His first sentence provides the perfect summary:

The One Percent are not only the bankers and traders on Wall Street — they’re alive and thriving in Silicon Valley.

If this point needed reinforcing, one only has to turn to yesterday’s Apple Talk report by Josh Lowensohn for CNET News:

Disney President and CEO Robert Iger will be pulling in just over six figures after joining Apple's board, when you consider both his annual retainer and his initial grant of restricted stock units.

In an SEC filing today, Apple noted that Iger--who joined Apple's board of directors yesterday--will get "the standard $50,000 annual retainer" which is to be paid out in quarterly installments.

Additionally, Iger gets an initial grant of 142 restricted stock units, as part of the company's Director Plan, worth about $55,000 based on Apple's current trading price. According to Apple's annual proxy filing earlier year, those shares are set to vest in February.

Other perks Iger gets as an Apple board member include "one of each new product" Apple introduces, free of charge, under the company's Board of Directors Equipment Program; that's if he requests them, the program's description says.

As a frame of reference, Iger's base salary last year as the CEO of Walt Disney was just shy of $2.8 million. However he pulled in more than $28 million when including a mix of performance-based bonuses and annual equity awards.

In many ways this is yet another version of the premise that Silicon Valley is a hotbed of elitist discrimination, which is why there was a recent debate on ZDNet over whether or not Silicon Valley is racist.  As I put it in my comment on that debate, “elites neither know nor care very much about the broader social consequences of all that innovation they are so eager to promote.”  In other words Silicon Valley is no different from Wall Street in that, for those who succeed, it’s all about the money;  and nothing else matters other than indulging in that money once you have it.  The Macintosh used to be advertised as the computer “for the rest of us;”  but, now that Apple has its current farm full of cash cows, they could care less about anyone who does not keep bumping up the bottom line on their balance sheets.

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