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Electronics industry is hot spot for CEO pay

Chief executives in the electronics industry are getting the best pay among private, venture-backed technology companies, according to a VentureOne study.

Chief executives in the electronics industry received the best pay among private, venture-backed technology companies in the first half of the year, according to a study released Tuesday by research firm VentureOne.

The top executives at electronics, information services and communications companies outpaced the median total compensation package of $216,000 for CEOs at start-ups in all industries, according to the survey. Last year, the median was $205,000.

Despite the market turmoil, chief executives earned more money and, in most cases, grabbed bigger equity stakes this year than during the same period a year ago.

"In the tech industry, you have forces pulling both ways," said Jon Holman of San Francisco-based executive recruiting firm The Holman Group. "The fact that it's harder for these private companies to get funding and fewer deals going around, you'd think the compensation would go down. But there's the factor of looking for 'A' players who have good jobs, and this economy is guarding them with their lives. It's getting even harder to pry these people from their jobs."

According to the study, the median compensation and equity stakes for chief executives were as follows:

• Electronics: $232,500 and a 15 percent stake.

• Information services: $220,000 and an 8.1 percent stake.

• Communications: $217,500 and a 9.4 percent stake.

• Software: $209,000 and a 12 percent stake.

• Semiconductor: $200,000 and an 11 percent stake.

Holman said equity stakes have been driven up mostly by the market's decline. A prospective CEO, who may have once been willing to take a smaller stake, now expects a larger stake to have a better chance of making financial gains.

The pay gap between founder CEOs and non-founder CEOs, as well as chief technology officers in the same categories, is wide.

Founder CEOs at information technology companies made a total compensation package of $180,000 and held an 11.2 percent stake during the first half of this year. But non-founder CEOs raked in $250,000 with a 10.1 percent equity stake.

Chief technologists who founded their respective companies made $152,000 this year, with a 6.74 percent stake. But non-founder CTOs grabbed a total compensation package of $175,000 and received nearly a 2 percent stake.

Holman noted that founders historically have earned less money than subsequent CEOs and CTOs at their companies because they were compensated with a large equity stake. Although non-founder CEOs and CTOs also received healthy options grants themselves, often it was at strike prices far less than those of the founders.