WTF?

Sundar Pichai: Google CEO gets $199m payday – more than the company paid in UK taxes

Seriously Indy. Seriously.

What in buggery is the connection between the amount an American company pays its American chief executive and the amount of corporation tax paid in Britain?

Sundar Pichai’s pay-out was declared in a company filing, and at around £138 million is worth more than the £130 million Google agreed to pay the UK Treasury in back taxes since 2005.

What?

26 thoughts on “WTF?”

  1. It’s the drip drip drip of propaganda. Normalizing hatred of people who are believed to have big piles of money, and dammit, that’s just not fair.

  2. Maybe Google should give HMRC options or restricted stock?
    Maybe they’d accept similar in lieu of my tax liability.
    Makes as much sense.

  3. I dunno. I think there’s something here. It shows that when it comes do doing things like “incentivising leaders” companies are happy to throw hundreds of millions around, which bears comparison to their choices in other areas.

    As to Ted, *believed* to have big piles of money? Hatred is daft, but how are people who are working hard and struggling to get by supposed to feel about the winners of life’s lottery? I do not think we are obliged to regard any distribution of income thrown up by the market as fair and beyond reproach.

  4. Luis,

    Luck is part of all of our hands, but when it comes to income, it isnt a lottery. People who earn large amounts of money may of had the right luck at the right time, but they had to do and get an awful lot right off their own back to be in with a shot of a job like that.

    The world doesnt just pull straws out of a hat and say: ‘you there, you are a CEO’.

  5. Luis Enrique, oh boo hoo hoo. Nothing more than the politics of envy: my life is shit, someone has more money than I do, it must be a) their fault my life is shit, b) they are exploitative capitalists running dogs, c) have their wealth confiscated to make the less fortunate feel better about themselves.

    Life is what you make it. Sometimes life is unfair, get over it.

  6. I have had an on-going twitter discussion (@dslesperance) with a wide variety of the “usual suspects” about Google Tax. Basically, this was a relatively minor adjustment situation which is being used as a blank page for all kinds of people of all political stripes to write their own political narrative.

    The fact that there is little to no real world connection does not diminish the fact that mentioning the UK Google Tax situation allows for dogwhistle headlines to be heard by those who are predisposed to hear that particular pitch.

  7. The BBC Wake up to Money programme this morning was pushing a similar line. It asked listeners to comment on why any CEO deserved a bonus of this size & the most popular answer seemed to be ‘because the shareholders said so’. This rather deflated the presenter’s ‘it’s outrageous’ stance.

  8. From the speech by Gordon Zorro to the stakeholders of the Socialist Telstar Corporation (“Bringing you the very latest in soviet technology”):-

    “how are people who are working hard and struggling to get by supposed to feel about the winners of life’s lottery? I do not think we are obliged to regard any distribution of income thrown up by the market as fair and beyond reproach

    Envy is good”

  9. The Independent editor is paid more than the Independent paid in corporation tax to Albania.

    Pitchforks and mobs outside the Indie offices, please!

  10. “Life is what you make it”

    no, your efforts have a marginal effect on the probabilities that govern your life.

    There are lots of things that explain why Sundar Pichai is paid so much and he did make many of them.

    The economics that explain Google’s profitability and the bargaining power of its executives – market structures, institutions, legislation etc – are man made not features of the universe, and as such we can complain about them and want to change them.

    politics of envy is just a stupid stone to throw at anybody who has the temerity to suggest the current system might not be working so well.

  11. The economics that explain Google’s profitability and the bargaining power of its executives – market structures, institutions, legislation etc

    Eh? They came up with a search engine everybody liked. They then came up with a free email account which allowed you to store lots of data, which everybody liked. Around the same time they released software which allowed you to see a satellite photo of everywhere on earth, which everybody liked. Later they laid a map over the top, which people also liked.

    What market structures, institutions, and legislation favoured them in doing any of this?

    (Nb. not that I think Google is particularly benign, but there is no doubt that their initial success came off a series of good products which quickly became the standard. This is all the more impressive because they were late-comers in the market.)

  12. “no, your efforts have a marginal effect on the probabilities that govern your life.”

    Dude, Marx is dead. Get over it. We are not flotsam driven by the winds of circumstance. There may be an upper bound to any given individual’s capability, and it requires effort to move towards it. However, there is no lower bound.

    I guess I could have been a competent car mechanic or lorry driver or something. But I took good advice, worked hard, took chances and instead I’m a patent attorney.

  13. “What in buggery is the connection between the amount an American company pays its American chief executive and the amount of corporation tax paid in Britain? ”

    Barely more than the connection between the size and weight of things compared to blue wales, Nelson’s column, olympic swimming pools, etc.

    £138 million would be just under six Nelson’s columns tall in £50 notes and weigh about the same as a very large hippo. You could easily fit it into a London bus and you certainly couldn’t dive into it like Scrooge McDuck if you put it in an olympic swimming pool.

  14. The Times has it too. But given the commercial rivalry between Sky and Google, that’s no great surprise. Also a drivel piece by Oliver Kamm saying how everything’s lovely in euroland, if you can peep behind the paywall.

  15. Tim

    I could talk about IP protection laws, international trade laws etc.or maybe the underlying internet tech but I think the biggest factor is network effects and the economic structure that creates more or less a natural monopoly, whereby whoever came up with the one search engine everybody uses wins an incredible amount of pricing power. None of that is down to how clever their technology was – that might explain why they won, but not what they won.

    the structure of certain markets – economics – creates winner takes all effects, opportunities to become mind blowingly rich – the idea that natural monopolies (i.e. water companies) need regulation is really quite familiar, the arguments are hardly controversial. We don’t have to sit by and say, congratulations you are in a great position, go ahead and make out like a bandit. The fact that you can explain how and why they got into that position is not sufficient to say it’s all good

  16. I could talk about IP protection laws, international trade laws etc.or maybe the underlying internet tech but I think the biggest factor is network effects and the economic structure that creates more or less a natural monopoly

    the structure of certain markets – economics – creates winner takes all effects,

    Erm, didn’t I make the precise point that Google were latecomers to the market? Thus it is a bit strange to put their success down to the market structures favouring monopolies and “winner takes all” conditions.

  17. “politics of envy is just a stupid stone to throw at anybody who has the temerity to suggest the current system might not be working so well.”

    If by the current system you mean the poisonous corporate socialism that masquerades as todays “free market”, then you and I have a rare point of agreement.

  18. When we get the coming 10,000 metre sea level rise that we keep getting told is coming Wales will indeed be blue.

  19. “…– creates winner takes all effect”

    bogus idea . it is winner CREATES for all. Pichai did not take any money from anyone. Google’s value was created de novo -from scratch, from zilch. nobody had to lose for google to win.
    trade and wealth is not a zero sum game

  20. I would have thought it normal for a company’s wages bill to be bigger than its tax bill. With most intangibles the wage bill can be up towards 90% of its outgoings. It certainly is in teaching.

    Income 100 zarbles, wage bill 90 zarbles, 20% tax on the remaining 10 zarbles is 2 zarbles. Your wage bill would have to be less than 16% of your outgoings for it to be less than your tax bill, and that’s assuming you have ZERO other outgoings.

  21. @Tim Newman

    “They came up with a search engine everybody liked. They then came up with a free email account which allowed you to store lots of data, which everybody liked. Around the same time they released software which allowed you to see a satellite photo of everywhere on earth, which everybody liked. Later they laid a map over the top, which people also liked.”

    All of this is nice, but their single best product was image search results. Y’know, type in “Rosamund Pike nude” (or whatever) and see what the internet know.

    Text is useful, but a picture paints etc, and email, maps and the rest other people did equally well.

    (Although Google’s music storage and streaming service is very handy too)

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