10 Highest Earning CEOs in 2020

11 December 2020

Here Are the 10 CEOs Who Made the Best Out of a Year Like 2020.

To be the CEO of one of the companies on this list you have to be worth your weight in gold, and judging by these salaries, that’s a lot of gold!

We took a look through the publicly available payslips of the rich and influential on the top rung of the corporate ladder to bring you the 10 highest earning CEO’s in 2020. While the financial year hasn’t quite wrapped yet, we used estimations based on 2019 earnings, and cross referenced these with several sources. Of course many firms keep this information behind sealed doors, so they were automatically excluded. While others had such a complicated system of remuneration that we couldn’t decipher how much bacon their CEO’s were taking home. That being said we have done our best to give you a good idea of how much bacon the big guns are makin’!

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To put a face to these huge names, how about checking this list out with visuals? Here’s a video version of this article.


Let’s jump into the top-10 list of the highest earning CEOs of 2020.


Satya Nadella, Microsoft Corp, $42.9 Million (2019)

Satya Nadella was president of Microsoft’s cloud computing platforms before rising to the ranks of CEO. He was credited with bringing Microsoft’s database, Windows Server and developer tools to its Azure cloud which grew Cloud Service revenue by over 3 billion to $20.3 billion in June 2013.  IN February 2014 he was appointed CEO.

In his first year he acquired Mojang, the gaming inventor of Minecraft. He also oversaw the purchased of Xamarin, LinkedIn and GitHub. Since Nadella took the reins, Microsoft stock had tripled in 4 years and posts a 27% average annual growth rate. Among many awards, this year he was recognized as the Global Indian Business Icon at CNBC-TV18’s India Business Leader Awards in Mumbai.


Miguel Patricio, Kraft Heinz Co, $43.3 Million (2019)

Who can live without Kraft Mac&Cheese? No one, that’s the answer. Once you’ve tried it you’re hooked.  Well the man who currently holds the launch codes to the recipe is Miguel Patricio. He has only worn the CEO hat at Kraft since July 2019, but since then he has been shaking up the business model. He has formulated a strategy to return Kraft to growth by reshaping the company’s portfolio of global brands. He has downsized the originally 55 separate business categories to fit all the Kraft Heinz brands into just six consumer platforms. From here he aims to take the company in a strong growth direction. His former experience is in senior positions at Philip Morris, and Coca-Cola Company. Since 1998 he has helped many marketing positions at Ambev and then InBev moving up the ranks from VP positions to Chief Marketing Officer.


David M. Zaslav, Discovery, Inc., $45.8 Million (2019)

David Zaslav is an entertainment guy. Before Discovery he was an executive with NBC Universal for nearly 20 years. In January 2007 he took the position of CEO of Discovery and quickly went about preparing the company to go public. In 2008 Discovery listed on the Nasdaq stock exchange.

During his tenure, Zaslav has done well to expanded Discovery’s audiences with digital content as well as introducing sports, motoring and children brands. And who can deny the greatest success of his time at Discovery, the introduction of Shark Week!

More recently he acquired Scripps Network Interactive, a deal he closed in March 2018.


John C. Plant, Howmet Aerospace INC., $51.7 Million (2019)

A man with an eye on the skies is John Plant, Co-CEO of Howmet Aerospace. Although he shares the position of CEO, he has been Chairman of the board for Howmet since 2017.

John C. Plant is no stranger to high places and has been at the head of 5 different companies. He was previously in the Automotive industry as CEO of TRW Automotive, before moving to President & CEO of Northrop Grumman Space & Mission Systems Corp. Then just over a year as CEO for Arconic Defense, Inc.


Devin Wenig, Ebay INC., $57 Million       

Devin Wenig makes the list, but not under the same circumstances as the others. According to the company filings with the Securities & Exchange Commission Wenig received $57 million for his role as CEO of eBay for the year filed in May 2020. However Wenig hadn’t worked the full year. He left eBay on September 24, 2019 stating in a Tweet that he was not on the same page as the Board.

Despite their differenced in opinion he wasn’t out in the cold, because Wenig was given a parting gift of a $780 thousand salary, $40 million listed as “Other compensation” and another $10 million in change to keep him warm at night.


Lisa SU – Advanced Micro Devices INC, $58.5 Million (2019)

Take a page out of Lisa Su’s book, she was named one of the World’s Greatest Leaders in 2017 by Fortune Magazine. This MIT electrical engineering graduate doesn’t let the grass grow under her. She has worked at management level at Texas Instruments and Freescale Semiconductors. And while at IBM created a reputation for herself by developing silicon-on-insulator semiconductor manufacturing technologies and more efficient semiconductor chips in her role as VP of R&D.

She joined AMD in 2012 as senior VP, and by 2014 was promoted to President and CEO. She serves on several boards, and is a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, among many titles and awards she holds.


Robert Swan, Intel Corp, $66.9 Million (2019)

Bob Swan was appointed Intel Corporation CEO in January 2019. He had previously served in the role of CFO for the company since October. It seems the top earning CEOs are a tight bunch because Swan serves as CFO for big names like eBay, and TRW Inc with some of the CEO’s named on this very list.

Swan had 7 months to settle into his role as CEO of Intel when he was named interim CEO after Brian Krzanich exited the position in June 2018.


Thomas Rutledge – CEO of Charter Communications, $116.9 Million

The salaries take a big leap up from the previous CEO as we enter the ranks of the top 3 highest earning CEO’s on our list.

Thomas Rutledge is another man who carved his career in the entertainment terrain. Starting out in 1977 at American Television and Communications which later became Time Warner Cable, he wore many hats before serving as President of Time Warner Cable. He was COO of Cablevision from 2004 until 2011. He received NCTA’s Vanguard Award for Distinguished Leadership in 2011, the highest honour in the cable industry.

In 2012 he moved to his role as Chairman and CEO of Charter Communications where he currently remains.


Tim Cook – Apple CEO, $133.7 Million

Tim Cook is one of the more household names on this list. It seems Apple CEO’s take on a Rockstar persona to their dedicated followers. For this honour, Cook is also the highest paid CEO currently in the tech industry. But it’s not all salary, Bloomberg reposted that $122 million of his take home came from stock awards.

This isn’t Cook’s first rodeo though; he had already done his dues for over a decade in the tech industry before he landed his current CEO gig. He joined Apple in 2008 as a senior VP, and was appointed CEO in August 2011, just months before Steve Job’s death.

Cook made history in 2014 when he became the first chief executive of a Fortune 500 company to publicly come out as gay. He made further waves in 2015 when he publically stated that he planned to donate his entire stock fortune to charity. Pretty bold moves Mr Cook, hat’s off to you.

If you’re interested in knowing more about the trillion-dollar company, check out 15 Things You Didn’t Know About Apple


Sundar Pichai, Alphabet INC, $280 Million

Another giant leap in compensation figures from one hundred million to nearly at 300 million dollar territory. Sundar Pichai is really unassuming looking, but this man holds the keys to the entire Google empire and this year was on the list of Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People.

He studied in the field of metallurgic engineering. Since joining Google in 2004 he led product management and innovation of Google Chrome and Chrome OS, and was a driving force in realising Google Drive.  Under his leadership applications for Gmail and Google maps were developed. His list of achievements at Google goes on and on. But his rise to CEO began with his appointment as CEO in 2015. This was at the point of completion of the formation of Alphabet Inc, the new holding company for the Google.


Who do you find the most inspirational CEO?