Wikimedia Commons/ Flickr/ Brian Solins
Jack Dorsey, who has run two of Silicon Valley's hottest tech companies since 2015, is one of those chief executives who famously refuses to take a traditional paycheck. For the last several years, he declined any pay from Twitter and accepted a mere $2.75 from Square.
However, the man presumably still has bills to pay, and has been offloading stock in recent months. In 2018, he sold 1.7 million shares of Square, according to regulatory filings, netting him close to $80 million after estimated taxes. That's not bad, even for someone juggling two companies.
It's been a good time to sell Square. The company, which makes the little square devices used by small businesses to accept credit cards in person, is still unprofitable but has seen its stock climb 80% this year. The majority of Dorsey's fortune is tied up in his ownership of Square equity. Thanks largely to the run-up in the stock, he is now worth $1.9 billion more than at the start of the year. His net worth currently stands at $4.7 billion, with his 61 million shares of Square accounting for $3.9 billion.
Twitter has also been on a tear. Its stock has racked up gains of almost 50% this year. In comparison, the broader U.S. market is down by 1%. Dorsey, whose stake in Twitter is worth close to $600 million, hasn't touched those shares this year. (The same cannot be said for one of Twitter's other cofounders, Evan Williams, who has sold or donated nearly half his Twitter stock since April 2018.)
Dorsey, 42, is not alone in declining to take a traditional salary. Billionaire founders like Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, Oracle's Larry Ellison and Google's Larry Page and Sergey Brin all famously collect a $1 salary every year. In lieu of a regular paycheck, they often receive lucrative compensation tied to the company's performance. They also typically sit on troves of company stock that they can (and often do) sell.
The decision to decline traditional compensation is often touted as proof of the executive's vested interest in the company's success, since they are receiving zero guaranteed compensation. In Twitter's annual proxy, Dorsey's decision to decline compensation is described "as a testament to his commitment to and belief in Twitter’s long-term value creation potential." Dorsey declined all compensation, including stock awards, from Twitter in 2015, 2016 and 2017. He received just $2.75 from Square in 2016 and 2017. In the previous two years, he collected $6,000.
Dorsey, who is originally from St. Louis, dropped out of college from both the University of Missouri-Rolla and later from New York University. He was a certified masseur and dabbled in fashion design before making his way to technology. Dorsey, who taught himself to code, cofounded Twitter in 2006 with Ev Williams, Biz Stone and Noah Glass and served as CEO until 2008. He would return as CEO in 2015. He also cofounded Square in 2009, before taking it public in 2015. He remains CEO of that company too.
A spokesperson for Dorsey declined to comment.