Facebook has spent $16 million on Mark Zuckerberg’s “security” since 2011

You know what’s cool? Staying safe.
You know what’s cool? Staying safe.
Image: Reuters/Eduardo Munoz
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Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg famously takes a $1 annual salary. Of course, he’s hardly roughing it, given that he already owns a sizable share Facebook’s stock, making him a billionaire many times over.

But for the first time, we now know more about the perks enjoyed by Facebook’s founder and CEO beyond his pay. In a regulatory filing yesterday (Apr. 27), the company revealed that it spent more than $16 million over the past five years on private air travel and other aspects of Zuckerberg’s “overall security program,” which includes the personnel and equipment to secure his homes. These costs are reported as “all other compensation” in Facebook’s filings.

Even among tech tycoons, Zuckerberg’s security bill stands out. Oracle paid $1.5 to secure Larry Ellison’s home in 2015. Amazon paid $1.6 million for Jeff Bezos’s security the same year, as Footnoted, a service that analyzes SEC filings, has reported.

When contacted by Quartz, Facebook referred to statements made in its latest annual report, which say that its board approved a security program for Zuckerberg, but didn’t provide further comment.

Facebook spelled out the security costs in an SEC filing after the regulator pressed it for more details last year. In an exchange of letters that started in August 2015, the SEC asked Facebook’s general counsel if the company had included security expenses in its account of Zuckerberg’s annual compensation package. Although the company had mentioned this spending in previous filings, it only detailed the amount spent on the CEO’s air travel. Eventually, the company agreed to disclose security costs as part of Zuckerberg’s overall compensation package.

Facebook paid $5 million for Zuckerberg’s security and private air travel last year, down from $6.2 million in 2014.

Zuckerberg is serious about his personal privacy and security. He has a Palo Alto home and also owns the four properties surrounding it. He also owns a parcel of land in Hawaii. Construction at his Palo Alto home in 2014 caused his neighbors grief, as masses of workers and equipment prevented them from parking outside their houses.

Zuckerberg’s number-two, chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg, was granted permission to have security measures paid for by the company in 2013, according to the filings. But she didn’t make use of those measures until two years later. The company paid $1.25 million for security for Sandberg for the first time last year.

Facebook had previously claimed that it didn’t have to report Zuckerberg’s security costs because the measures weren’t put in place for his convenience, so they didn’t fall under rules governing the disclosure of executive perks. Facebook said the security measures were necessary for Zuckerberg to carry out his corporate duties because of his fame as the company’s founder.

“He is synonymous with Facebook and, as a result, malicious and negative sentiment regarding the Company or its products is directly associated with, and often transferred to, Mr. Zuckerberg,” company lawyers wrote to the SEC. “Mr. Zuckerberg has had to frequently travel… in support of the Company’s mission to make the world more open and connected, which has elevated such safety risks.”