BlackBerry’s CEO is Canada’s top-paid executive

Ian Hardy

January 4, 2016 10:01am

According to a report based on 2013 to 2014 financial compensation by Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, BlackBerry CEO John Chen took home $89.7 million, which comprised salary, bonuses and stock options, to top the list of top-paid Canadian executives.

Magna CEO Donald Walker followed in second position at $23.4 million. Gerald Schwartz of Onex, who was the top paid CEO last year, earned $21.1 million. The lowest-paid CEO on the top 100 list was a measly $4.3 million earned by Peter Blake, the former CEO of Ritchie Bros Auctioneers.

BlackBerry recently reported its Q3 earning and posted a loss of three cents per share on revenue of $557 million.

Source 680 News
  • EP_2012

    LOL. Some CEO’s are punished when the company they run is tanking – at Blackberry, the CEO get rewarded!

    • Ski Baron

      What CEO’s are punished? At some point a CEO may get fired but if that happens they almost always get a huge severance package. There is not many (or any) case of CEO being fined or having their salary slashed. Either their contract is honoured and they stay in the job or they are fired and compensated. I do not see how Blackberry works any differently. The only cases I have seen is when the CEO voluntarily takes a low salary to make up for bad returns in the business. Like Lee Iacocca taking a $1 salary to run Chrysler when they were down. Plus most of his money is coming from stock options and part of that is only due to the increased performance of Blackberry. Had Chen not been reasonably successful in his turn around en-devours, he wouldn’t have raked in as much cash.

    • EP_2012

      You pretty much answered your own question.

      In any case, to have a failing company AND be a top-earner among other (more successful) CEOs is a huge slap in the face to any leader that actually earns less and does more.

      A true leader would voluntarily take less money home in order to set an example that the company is important – or when things are going great, he can take a cut so that employees can take home cash… these things do happen, just not at Blackberry, apparently

    • Wilhelm

      You’re wasting your time arguing with that Baron guy. He’ll have you believe all this is justified even though shareholders get absolutely nothing in return for their fidelity to the investment or that the company is oh so big and international. LOL! The company is a shadow of its former self but Rimtards can’t see past their own pinocchio nose when it comes to discussing this.

      They also conveniently have an amnesia when it comes to the history of compensation here. Thorsten Hein’s $56 million for a job well done running it into the ground or the stock options scandal in 2005 which set the tone of compensation here for insiders taking care of themselves even if the optics and ethics are bad.

    • Ski Baron

      You are confusing stock and compensation. The actual paid compensation that Chen received is only a tiny portion of the total that is reported here. The rest is stock options which he may or may not be redeemed by him. They are not giving him stock, they are guaranteeing he can buy it at a specific price even if the stock has increased in value. So there is incentive for him to try and increase the value of the stock so he can make more money. However that stock will exist whether Chen owns it or not and the company has to pay any maintenance on that stock to the current owner. These options have no direct effect on the bottom line of the company other than any gains that Chen would get over the guaranteed price. None of this is coming out of employees pocket nor cause anyone to be laid off to pay for it. People were laid off to make the company more profitable which in turn COULD make his stock options worth more. In reality it is only his base salary and cash bonuses that directly affect the companies profits and don’t actually affect the revenue at all. This is all sensationalized based on that large total number. His base salary is easily in line with other executives in his league. You also cannot compare Blackberry to any other Canadian company, they are not in the same league. Not to mention the personal legal risks any CEO of a major company takes on in this role. This cannot be even be accounted for in dollars because the risk is truly unknown. Chen could go to jail because he is the CEO for something he had no part in, for example. He is the fall guy.

    • Barry Harden

      Do you even have an inkling of how performance is tied to compensation? Had John Chen not stepped into the role of CEO, Blackberry could’ve been in a MUCH dire situation. They are actually doing better than two years ago.

      The company is on an upward trajectory despite the small loss in earnings. You reward the CEO for how much they’ve improved the company and convince them to stay on. The idea here is that Blackberry will eventually be earning profits if the CEO continues his performance.

  • That is an impressive salary. I wonder if they will keep it up after the turn around

    • Wilhelm

      It’s disgusting is what it is. The shareholders continue to suffer, don’t get paid any dividends for their holdings and this clown is pulling in nearly $100 million in compensation??? Something is seriously WRONG with this picture but then again it’s vintage Blackberry. Insiders, no matter how incompetent, always make out like bandits while leaving the wreckage behind for someone else to clean up.

      In light of this company’s problems (too numerous to list here) people should be outraged that Chen is pulling in that kind of income when he’s done absolutely nothing to earn it beyond keeping this thing afloat so the feeding at the trough can continue.

    • IJustGotaTan

      That’s only $43,000 per hour. How does he survive on that

    • thorsten garbe

      Holy that’s it???
      My cleaning lady make twice as much.

    • gmechnce

      can i be your Cleaning lady for few days? 🙂 PLEASSEEEE………..

    • Jamie

      All shareholders get to vote on the board members who in turn set the CEO pay package. If you are a share holder, rally other share holders to force the board to make a change. John Chen is making that kind of cash (most of witch I’m guessing is in stock options) because he was seen as the only man who could turn the company around, and he’s doing that despite what all the pundits said would happen. John really wants the company to do well for the share holders seeing as much of his money is in shares. If it doubles, he makes a huge fortune.

    • Wilhelm

      That’s bullshjt. The idea that Chen was the ONLY one who could save this is absurd. The past 2 years of his performance here proves it.
      Chen could give two chits about shareholders because if he did he would looking more seriously at a buyout rather than raving on about how ‘undervalued’ the company is. Says who? Him? Big deal. The company is ‘undervalued’ because it has no value and patents don’t count for anything outside of the goodwill in a potential merger. Otherwise, none of that stuff brings in money in this company beyond the lawsuits they seek to attack others who may adopt similar designs/ideas and are capable of bringing something to the market.
      All BB has brought is 5 years of misery to shareholders.

      Last but not least, Chen has already made a huge fortune. His options expire in 3 years time roughly and even in the worst case scenario the clown is going to walk away with over $70 million in stock compensation just like his predecessor Thorsten who bagged $56 million for a job well done. Running this into the ground.

    • Jamie

      How is a company who carries 3b in cash and assets, little debt and tons of patents worth 4.8 billion? It’s not and that’s why Chen is saying the company is under valued. Some of the money they are making by the way right now is from licensing fees from their worthless patents. Nortel sold it’s patents only for $900 million and BlackBerry has much better patents. It’s mobile network infrastructure is also worth a ton of money, it’s the only phone manufacturer with one. You want people to believe that BlackBerry spends all it’s time going after patent lawsuits which is complete bs. Yes if someone blatantly copies their design they will protect their turf. Apple has been suing Google all over the world for heavens sakes, go complain about them. I had Blackberry stock since Chen took over and doubled my money. The turn around is obviously taking hold now on the schedule he predicted when he first took over. The board picked him personally and they can pay him what ever they want. Share holders don’t like the board, they can pick whoever they want. There is a system in place to please share holders and if they don’t like it, sell the stock. That simple. Do I think he should make that much? Hell No! But then I’m not the one who has a horse in the race now am I. That decision is left up to the people who have the most to loose and the most to gain by BlackBerrys recovery.

    • Wilhelm

      They don’t have $3 billion in cash anymore. More like less than half that when you take debt into consideration. I suggest you read the financials more closely instead of the headlines.

    • Jamie

      I don’t own shares anymore so I don’t bother reading it to the bone. I can list hundreds of companies with market caps higher than 5 billion which have less than 2.7 billion cash, 1.25 billion in debt and less revenue growth than blackberry. I watch the stock price and it’s been doing pretty good the last few weeks. I guess John is earning his money.

    • by the way Messa I made $3000 over the last 2 weeks of BlackBerry sorry your still living in your moms basement because you didn’t know when to sell! Did you find a job yet? I guess their stock didnt tank like you thought!! ha ha

    • you try to sound so smart Messa, you change your clothes but you stink of the same old stuff. No one cares what you think man!

    • rick

      So how would you suggest the Board turn it around for Shareholders?

    • Ski Baron

      The fact is, a very small percentage of his overall compensation is directly tied to the bottom line of the company. Probably over 80% of it has no direct bearing on stock holder dividends. Plus common shareholders are never guaranteed any dividends even if the company makes tons of cash, only preferred shareholders have any guarantees.

    • Victor Creed

      The same could be said of Apple shareholders during their dark days. But Apple is immune from negative talk right?

    • So question, would you work for a company that is about to go down, risk tarnishing your name as it goes down for a regular CEO salary? If so then he will never be paid that again because his name and brand is taking all the risks with BlackBerry. BlackBerry will continue and will be treated like a new company with a new CEO.

      Hey man come save our company and put your name all over it oh there is no bonus for you unless you succeed. IF you fail youll never get a job again at a decent business. Bigger risk bigger pay.. it the was business works!

    • Buy the way changing your name from Messa to this one is fooling no one. All i have to do is look at your comments counts and your unique ID. Your are fooling no one and all your comments are deleted LOL How do you like it now that blackberry stock is up almost $2.00 since we last talked, i thought you said it was going to tank. Here you are again singing the same old song!

      Are you nit getting tired of changing your name. Ill find you every week, just look up your Disqus ID @disqus_Cq7jIkTuhA you cant change that!!! please someone from MS just ban this guy!

    • Ski Baron

      That isn’t only his salary.

  • Chris303

    I have a hard time believing that the company can afford him and/or that other large Canadian companies don’t have higher paid CEOs. What about the telecom giants? Or nigh-monopoly companies like Cineplex?

    • Wilhelm

      You better believe it. It’s another example of this pig company paying its insiders well even though they are losing money hand over fist. Even the big six banks are compensating their CEO’s like this with their billion dollar PROFITS.
      Shareholders should be outraged and the board of directors ought to be bloody ashamed of themselves.

    • Ski Baron

      There is nothing going on here that doesn’t happen at other large corporations like this. You cannot compared Blackberry to any other Canadian companies really. Even though it is faltering it is still huge and international.

    • Wilhelm

      Still defending this I see. You really are a piece of work you know that.

    • Ski Baron

      As I say you cannot compare Blackberry to any Canadian company they are not as far reaching or complex. Especially banks. They make billions but you have not said how much the CEOs of those companies actually make, how do you know they make less? I’ll bet their BASE SALARIES are more than Chens if you can find out what they get paid. I’m not defending anything, I am providing fact, without personal attacks. There just isn’t other companies in Canada of Blackberries scope and that is a fact. Profits don’t tell the complexity and broad reach of a company. You should be mad at the bank CEOs and not Chen, those are the companies truly ripping people off. Blackberry is totally a discretionary purchase.

    • No you sir are the piece of work, you change your name because you make so many people mad at you that someone made a fake account about you. You then get all your comments deleted by MobileSyrup so you change it again. you sir are the piece of work. your not even trying to change your attitude, insulting manor or your condescending hate speech to people.

    • Ski Baron

      Most Canadian owned companies are not as large and international as Blackberry. The Canadian phone company execs may get up to 1 million in salary but there is not so much opportunity for stock options and their business is wholly located in Canada. Banks only deal in Canada mainly, they may have alot of money but the complexity of their operations is not the same. Blackberry may be faltering but it is still a massive company that is far reaching.

  • Andrew

    So he wants to turn around the company, but takes 16% of its revenue… Uh, what? I wonder what BlackBerry could do with an additional 15% of its revenue going back into the business. If he was truly committed to turning around the company he and other execs would be taking massive pay cuts rather than removing the people who actually make and sell the products and services.

    • Columbo

      His salary is only $1 million. The other 88M is in restricted stock options, it’s not money he’s taking home every year. I’m not sure why the article arbitrarily combines the two.

    • Wilhelm

      That is misleading. He is paid $1 million but also received another $2.4 million in share based awards and incentives so in reality its closer to $3.4 million USD. Other insiders walked away with considerable sums as well with Marty Beard earning $4.2 million and in-house lawyer Zipperstein making over $6 million.
      Then there is a new hire Sandeep Chennkeshu who made over $18 million in pay with only $260,000 of that in stock!

      Fact is the pay packets here are out of line with the reality of this company and the fact they’ve canned so many employees to salvage their cash flow and keep the pigs at the trough in style.

    • Columbo

      Hahaha you know their in house lawyer, their executives, their new hires, all their salaries including full breakdown… even the most hardcore BB fan doesn’t know this stuff. You are TRULY obsessed.

    • Ski Baron

      That’s assuming that all this money is directly related to revenue. In fact only his salary is directly related to revenue. Stock options have no bearing on revenue.

  • St. Misery

    They had to lay off thousands of talented, hard working Canadians to pay him all that money to deliver mediocre results. While the software side seems decent, I think just about anyone could have done better with their hardware division. Next quarter’s results will prove what everyone always knows; no significant number of people gave a damn about the Priv, with its horrible name and bloated price tag.

    • Wilhelm

      Yup. That near $100 million pretty much accounts for a lot of the people they canned and for what? Compensation and benefits here should go up as the company’s performance improves. Not when it’s in the toilet and struggling.
      The problem here is the Board of Directors and the fact that some of these people need to be gotten rid of as they go back to the days of Lazaridis and Baldsilly. They let the company drift back then to the point of oblivion and are still sitting on the board today making value decisions about the paycheque this clown collects while giving it to the shareholder in the backside like they’ve done for the past 5 years.

    • Ski Baron

      Nice you can call Chen a clown. You probably don’t have a fraction of his qualifications. So what does this make you?

  • mola2alex

    No one deserves that much. How much harder, how much smarter is this guy than the average BB employee. This is outrageous.

    • Roger

      Same could be said for star athletes who’s ACTUALLY getting paid $100M+ per year in endorsements. We’re talking actual money, not stock options.

    • cartfan88

      Or a pop star who has their songs written for them…lip sync it live and use auto tune in the studio raking in $50mln a year. No complaints out of the general population there.

  • Columbo

    This is a bit misleading, his salary plus bonuses total to only $3 million then he has $85 million in restricted stock options. He doesn’t make much off that if he doesn’t turn the company around.

    • Wilhelm

      His options package was worth a substantial sum back in 2013-2014 despite the predicament of the company. It is substantial and today is worth $140 million USD!
      It’s not just about salary but about the kind of paper he’s being given as well. Even if this company falters he still leaves here with over $80 million which is frankly unacceptable to any right minded person.

    • Columbo

      My point is, stock options are not equivalent to annual salary. The package is worth more today because the stock is higher than when he joined, but it’s not money he just gets to take home every year. It’s a one-time investment package, NOT annual take home money.

    • Wilhelm

      And I’m telling you that when he signed his deal initially the package was worth $89 million. Today its worth over $140 million so it has gone up but even at the low point its still ridiculous and should the stock not improve much after the 5 years is up he’s still taking home a substantial amount of pay.
      Meanwhile what have shareholders reaped? This company has NEVER paid them a dividend so while the insiders get generous stock options shareholders get absolutely nothing. Sorry but there is no way to excuse this kind of stuff.

    • rick

      Doesn’t the shareholder stock go up as Chen’s does. Overpayed or not – stock is a better way to incent any employee (including CEO) over a base salary.

    • Wilhelm

      Not when shareholders are taking a bath and get no dividend it isn’t.

    • Ski Baron

      Common shareholders are not guaranteed to ever receive dividends. Plus if the shares are worthless then he cannot sell them to anyone and loses all the cash. No one is taking bath since only a very small percentage of his compensation is actually tied to the profits of the company. This is why companies give stock options instead of cash. It can be very lucrative for the employee while costing the company far less than paying him more in straight cash.

    • Ski Baron

      You should go study up on how stocks work, you don’t seem to understand it. You just go on an on about stuff you just don’t get. Companies don’t ever have to pay common shareholders dividends. Why would they pay a dividend now when they never paid any when they were doing well.

    • Ski Baron

      How does he leave there with 80 million if the company falters? If the company tanks his stocks are worthless and his compensation gone. His best option is if he leaves when the company is doing well. The value of stock options would be degreaded if you screw the company over and then leave.

    • Wilhelm

      We all know that the stock is unlikely to hit zero so let’s get real already.
      The same bullshjt that surrounded Thorsten Heins’ departure is going on here with Chen should he fail as well.
      Then again I remember you defending Heins’ as well. LOL! The guy puts the company in the position of a billion dollar writedown because of his arrogance and faith in an OS that was going nowhere and you think he deserved $56 million because he took the ‘blame’ LMAO! You’re a fool buddy.

    • Ski Baron

      Gee who is the fool here? The one with facts or the one that calls people names to make a point. You know nothing about business or stock markets, give it up. You should go take some business classes or save your breath.

  • Roy Trenneman

    Utterly shamefull and completely disgusting I think these compensations are completely undjustified especially John Chen’s where his company is operating at a loss.

    • Ski Baron

      You have to look at the detail of what really happened. His base salary is not that high. The stock options are what he recognized in gain from executing the stock option. It doesn’t mean that the company paid that much for the stocks if they already owned them. They may have actually paid a much lower price for the stock he received. He just benefited from the difference between the guaranteed price and what it was worth when he received it. The transaction may have cost Blackberry something, nothing or less than nothing, it all depends on the initial purchase price of the stocks he received.

    • Wilhelm

      It’s not the point. The point is the man was given options quite likely on the dirt cheap end of the scale with the option to cash out in 5 years at whatever the price is at that time. If it’s high then he makes a real killing. If its low, he still has the option of getting out. Either way, he stands to reap tens of millions at a minimum based on 2013 stock prices here which weren’t that pretty. Today, his options are worth over $140 million roughly.

      To suggest he won’t ever exercise these options or that the shares were there already whether he owns them or not or how much it cost the company is neither here nor there. It’s the optics of giving insiders generous compensation regardless how shitty the company is performing or has performed in the past. Every executive that has been with this company and let go has received a golden parachute which tells me the Board is more interested in lining pockets than protecting shareholder value.
      Anyone care to explain why Sandeep Chennkeshu, who has only been with the company for just over a year is pulling in $18 million in pay? None of it really in the form of stock? Or why the in-house lawyer deserve $6 million? Or Marty Beard $4 million?

      If this company was actually making money in the form of profit and if shareholders were getting a cut with a decent dividend and some meaningful capital gains on their holdings then no one could complain too much. But as it stands none of this is excusable so please stop with your lame attempt to defend the indefensible.

    • Ski Baron

      I’m talking business and I am not sure what you are talking about. I am not defending this person specifically but am explaining executive compensation and risk that you do not seem to understand. You don’t compare you numbers to anything, you just say it is too high. Too high for what and compared to what? What is the basis for the lawyers pay? And how does this lawyer compare to other lawyers in other companies? Does he get percentages based on some cases or is a flat salary or both or what?, you just throw out numbers that are meaningless without detail. From what I understand Marty Beard is an indispensable asset there why is he not worth that pay? Regardless, nothing about Chen’s compensation is irregular for the size and type of company he runs. All the stock options are not his salary and may not even have cost the company anything. He still has to pay a price for the stock which is probably still more than Blackberry paid for it. The compensation is based on what the value of the stocks is worth today, not what they were purchased for. Most likely none of the stock option compensation is coming out of the profits of the company, only his base salary which is quite reasonable. Plus the stocks still exist and have to be maintained by Blackberry no matter who owns them, it’s not like they are printing millions in stock and giving it to him, they can’t do that it is not legal.
      The fact is Chen’s Salary and compensation is easily in line with what others in similar situations make. You can try to say it all you want but Chen’s compensation barely affects shareholders dividends at all. The stocks themselves are not an expense of the company and thus not tied to the bottom line as you seem to vaguely allude to. Why is it not excusable to you, does it really affect you that much? You haven’t shown any of this is outrageous compared to anything you are just seeing large numbers and reacting negatively.

    • Roy Trenneman

      Maybe the issue then is system of compensation for CEOs? What is it about that position that they deserve 184 times the average worker salary or Based on last year’s earnings, Canada’s 100 top CEOs earned at 12:18 p.m. today — Jan. 4 — what the average Canadian will make in a whole year? My coworker suggested that the CEO should only earn the company’s average pay and either annually or monthly recieve bonuses based on company performance. Worth a thought.

    • Ski Baron

      If you go to business school there is great discussion on executive compensation and the reasons for the high pay. CEOs are usually very very experienced in their jobs and industries and this first gives them the basis for high pay to start with. CEOs have a far larger legal obligation than any other employee in the company. In fact in a corporation the CEO could be held responsible for any action of any employee in the company. Meaning, the larger the company the higher the risk to the CEO. Thus a good reason that bigger companies compensate better because there is more risk to the CEO. A CEO can be sued or jailed during or after their time with the company, the risk is there as long as the statute of limitations demands. If there is not limit the CEO could be on the hook for this job the rest of his life even if he only works there a short time. This another risk of being a CEO is length of tenure. The average CEO does not keep their job for very long and usually they lose it due to little fault of their own. Often when this happens the CEO is black listed and sometimes can never find a similar position again, even if they did nothing wrong. Given the situation with Blackberry, Chen is taking some risk. If he totally screwed up and the company failed under his tenure, he could be held responsible and be worse off than when he started. Even after getting all that compensation. There is much risk and unknown factors in this type of job.

    • Wilhelm

      LOL! Stop trying to defend this kind of ridiculous conduct already. You’re talking shjt when you say CEO’s can be jailed or sued because we all know that’s a very minimal risk to anyone in that role. You treat this ‘hazard pay’ but by that definition a cop on the street should be earning the same because they put their LIFE on the line every time they go on shift.
      You’re nothing more than a Blackberry apologist and always have been. This company could go teats up tomorrow and you’d still try and find a way to defend your position here. Utterly ridiculous.

    • Ski Baron

      I have barely been talking about Blackberry. I am talking how the corporate work works. You have no understanding of this and have no argument but name calling. PS. Heins is still in legal proceedings due to his time at Blackberry. He could still be charged with a crime, fined or otherwise made to pay for his time at Blackberry. These guys are on the hook for their entire lives for these jobs, even if they only have them a short time, not saying they always suffer but it happens. You are arguing facts with a bunch of stuff that makes no sense. The fact is CEOs get high pay due to their high responsibility and short tenure, it is fact. You People all the names you want, it doesn’t mean you are right. You are not comparing things that make sense. Cops have unions and contracts that cannot be breached. Cops have a specific job that is defined in this contract. CEOs of corporations are responsible for everything in the company including thousand of employees, facilities, and anything else. Cops are not specifically responsible for millions or billions in assets. You can cry all you want but this is how the corporate world works. Not sure why you attack me when this is just how things work. Just because you are mad about how much Chen may have made, doesn’t make you right.

    • Wilhelm

      A company on the ropes has no business offering generous compensation to any executives whatsoever. Not when the shareholders have been left holding the bag and receive nothing in the form of dividends for their fidelity to this investment.
      The history of this company is one of insiders cashing out big time and it doesn’t matter whether you think it’s in line with others or the norm. That doesn’t make it right or proper and the cost to the company is irrelevant. There is something wrong with paying insiders these kinds of packages when they continue to fire hundreds and indeed thousands of people in order to keep their cash flow going just so the pay for these slobs can increase or maintain whatever standard you seem to think is normal.
      In 5 years this clown will cash out bigtime whether or not the company is saved or does better. It’s unlikely it’ll head to zero but even if it goes back to the historic lows Chen will still reap a decent profit.

    • Ski Baron

      Go read a book on business, you are making yourself look foolish.

  • MartinJdub

    Chen’s base salary was among the lowest of the 100 CEOs at $341,452.

    However, his shares in the company were worth some $88 million, Mackenzie calculated and accounting for the vast majority of his total compensation…big diff!

  • imjohnh

    So, a million dollars a phone? Sounds about right.