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Microsoft dings Ballmer's bonus over Windows 8, Surface RT struggles

Gregg Keizer | Oct. 7, 2013
The penalty is equivalent to half the cost of a cup of coffee at McDonalds to the average American

The EU later slapped a $752 million fine on Microsoft for that oversight.

Ballmer's 2013 bonus of 79% was an even lower percentage than that of Steven Sinofsky last year. Then, the former Windows chief -- who was ousted in November 2012 -- received 90% of his target award, even though he, like Ballmer, was cited as responsible for the EU browser choice screw-up.

Other top-tier executives received 100% or more of their target bonuses for 2013.

Kevin Turner, the COO, received a cash award of $2.1 million, or 100% of his target, and Satya Nadella, who now leads the Cloud and Enterprise group, received $1.6 million, or 105% of his target. Amy Hood, the new CFO, was handed $457,443, 100% of her target incentive, and as part of her promotion, received a stock award in May of 103,413 shares that will vest over the next three years. At Thursday's closing price, those shares had a paper value of $3.5 million.

In total compensation for the 2013 fiscal year, Turner remained Microsoft's highest-paid executive at $10.4 million, down slightly from 2012's $10.7 million.

Eight of the company's top executives, including Turner and Hood, were handed additional stock grants Sept. 19, the same day Microsoft announced a retention bonus designed to keep upper management from jumping ship during the CEO search. Turner, for example, received grants currently worth $20.3 million. Hood's award was valued at Thursday's closing bell at nearly $3.9 million.

No one should cry for Ballmer's lowered bonus: According to the proxy, he controls 4% of the company, with stock holdings worth $11.3 billion at Thursday's price. Only co-founder and chairman Bill Gates holds more: 4.5%, or $12.8 billion.

The $146,000 that Ballmer did not get in his 2013 bonus is literally pocket change to the billionaire. The amount represented 0.0013% of Ballmer's Microsoft holdings, and an even smaller percentage of his total wealth. To put that into perspective, 0.0013% of $42,693, the U.S. per capita personal income in 2012, is 55 cents, or just over half the price of a coffee from McDonalds "Dollar Menu."

Ballmer and Gates are both on the directors slate for re-election next month when Microsoft hosts its shareholders meeting.

According to a report by the Reuters new service earlier this week, some of Microsoft's biggest investors have urged the board to push Gates out of the chairman's role because they are concerned he will block the board from making drastic changes and handcuff the new CEO to the devices-and-services strategy, which they question. Gates is also on the special search committee tasked by the board to recommend Ballmer's replacement.


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