The latest perk in the newly beleaguered tech industry: taking the CEO’s money.
Jeff Weiner, the CEO of LinkedIn, has forfeited his annual $14 million stock bonus and agreed to distribute those shares to employees suffering from financial whiplash after the stock tanked last month, the company confirmed this week.
“Jeff decided to ask the Compensation Committee to forego his annual equity grant, and to instead put those shares back in the pool for LinkedIn employees,” Joe Roualdes, a spokesperson for LinkedIn, said in a statement provided to Mashable.
The decision comes nearly a month after LinkedIn released a disappointing holiday quarter earnings report, which prompted skittish investors to abandon the stock, effectively cutting the company’s market value in half in a matter of days.
Weiner soon turned the company’s regularly scheduled all-hands meeting into one big pep talk, reminding employees that LinkedIn is still “the same company we were the day before our earnings announcement.”
The motivational speech and bonus giveaway are notable reminders that stock prices are more than just vanity metrics for prominent technology companies, despite the usual talking point that executives and employees try to ignore the fluctuations and stay “heads down.”
Employees who joined LinkedIn last year may now have stock options that are under water, which hurts LinkedIn’s morale and ability to retain promising employees.
Likewise, potential new hires may look at the swooning stock and choose to work at one of the many billion-dollar startups out there that seem on the up-and-up, or publicly traded competitors like Facebook, whose stock is generally trending in the right direction.
Weiner isn’t the only technology CEO forfeiting a portion of his stock to employees in a difficult market.
Jack Dorsey, the CEO and cofounder of Twitter, announced in October that he would give one-third of his sizable stake in the company back to employees in order to “reinvest directly in our people.”