I just ran across an article by Mark Cuban about CEO pay and how stock and options have distorted it beyond all recognition. I go a step further and suggest … well, read for yourself.

In the startup world, we hire CEOs because we expect them to be passionately committed to the idea, to the industry, and to the company. We can’t afford to pay them millions and they realize that the stock is a risky bet.

The idea that we have to pay millions for a dedicated, committed CEO who takes the same risk as the shareholders and employees is hogwash. They’re STILL doing studies to justify linking CEO pay to performance. Get real, people: if the link is STILL unclear in an era of nine-digit salaries, then guess what? It’s not strong enough to justify anything. So let’s go for CEOs who don’t demand a multimillion dollar payout just to take the job.

There are only 4,000 chances in America to be the CEO of a public company. Just 4,000. That’s called “a scarce commodity.” Rather than paying CEOs *anything*, let them bid on the job. Only 4,000 people will ever get the chance to play in that arena, try things on that scale, and have that kind of impact. I want the people who are so committed to the job, company, and industry that they’d pay for the privilege. And let’s let them pay.

(And yes, there are some people in the F500 driven by non-monetary considerations. I’ve met and talked with two Fortune 500 CEOs extensively. Both had companies doing extraordinarily well. Both were so committed to and in love with the job that they told me the money was completely beside the point. “Where else could I learn this much, try this much, and have so much fun learning?” one said.)

The solution to CEO pay? Charge people to be CEO.…

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