Presenting the Ten Greediest Americans of 2011
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3. Larry Ellison: Loving that Real Estate
How much more incentive to “perform” does Larry Ellison, the top exec at business software giant Oracle, need? Apparently, $77.6 million. That’s how much Ellison collected for the Oracle fiscal year that ended this past May 31.
That piece of change added less than two-tenths of 1 percent to Ellison’s $39.5 billion personal fortune, the world’s fifth largest.
Why does Oracle, at this point, bother ladling still more loot on Ellison? His continuing rewards, says the Oracle board compensation committee, rest on a “subjective evaluation of Mr. Ellison’s performance, the unique contributions he makes to Oracle as its founder and various other factors.”
Among those “various other factors” may be the annual upkeep of the at least 15 personal residences Ellison owns. That upkeep may be getting to the billionaire. Or maybe just boredom. This past fall Ellison put up for sale a 6.9-acre home and horse farm combo he owns in Northern California.
Ellison is asking $19 million for the property. He paid $23 million for it in 2005. But the $4 million haircut he’s now facing won’t be a big deal. The loss amounts to around one-hundredth of 1 percent of his fortune.
2. Don Blankenship: Prepping for a Comeback
This past May, West Virginia state investigators found Massey Energy directly to blame for the 2010 blast that left 29 miners dead at the company’s Upper Big Branch coal mine. Massey CEO Don Blankenship’s management team, probers charged, had nurtured a “culture bent on production at the expense of safety.”
Earlier this month, federal regulators agreed. They found “systematic, intentional, and aggressive efforts” to flout basic safety regulations. Under Blankenship, Massey managers kept two sets of books, one accurate for internal use and another fake for regulators.
Says the top federal mine safety official: “Every time Massey sent miners into the UBB Mine, Massey put those miners’ lives at risk.”
That risk taking paid off handsomely for Blankenship. He pocketed $38.2 million from 2007 through 2009, after $34 million in 2005, and retired this past December with a $5.7 million pension, $12 million in severance, another $27.2 million in deferred pay, and a lush consulting agreement.
What about the families of the lost miners? Federal prosecutors have just reached a settlement with Alpha Natural Resources — the company that bought out Massey this past June — that will provide $1.5 million to each family.
Blankenship could still face criminal charges. But we’ll more likely see him back in the mine business. The mega millionaire retiree has signed Kentucky state incorporation papers that identify him as the president of a new company that calls itself the McCoy Coal Group Inc. Who says Blankenship has no heart? “McCoy” turns out to be his mom’s family name.
1. Mark Pincus: Reaping What He Sows in FarmVille
Mark Pincus, the venture capitalist who runs the Zynga online gaming goliath, wants it all. Money and power. Pincus appeared, early in 2011, on track to get them both.
The 45-year-old Pincus had spent the previous four years building up Zynga — and an awesome buzz on Wall Street. Analysts were predicting that Zynga’s initial public stock offering might be the biggest IPO blockbuster since Google.
This past March, in a preview of the IPO bonanza to come, Pincus would sell off a chunk of his Zynga shares and clear a neat $110 million.