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How to make more money than your CEO

A new survey finds that Internet executives who bring specific technical expertise to the table are, on average, better compensated than the CEOs at their companies.

Internet executives that bring specific technical expertise to the table are, on average, receiving greater compensation than the chief executives at their companies, a new survey has revealed.

In its first report focusing on compensation and benefits in the Internet industry, the Association of Internet Professionals (AIP) compiled average salary information for a host of jobs ranging from software developers to content developers.

Technical managers ranked highest in compensation, followed by software developers. AIP executive director Andrew Q. Kraft defined technical managers as "technical, Internet-specific managers, such as VPs of Internet communications, or VPs of Internet commerce."

The chief executives category, which for the purposes of the AIP survey included CEOs, CTOs, and CIOs, among others, ranked third on the compensation scale.

Job Category Average Median 75% Earn More 25% Earn More
Media Production $48,909 $42,000 $40,500 $45,497
Design/Layout $46,734 $42,000 $35,000 $53,375
Web Interface Systems $56,931 $50,000 $42,000 $59,775
Backend/Legacy Systems Development $69,816 $65,000 $46,871 $81,000
Software Development $72,503 $60,000 $51,000 $80,375
System Administration $50,565 $42,135 $34,900 $54,750
Online Services Management $54,592 $50,000 $41,152 $63,500
Content Development $50,986 $42,000 $35,200 $59,000
Technical $73,382 $66,000 $43,500 $97,000
Business Development/Marketing $65,391 $63,750 $42,953 $84,750
CXO (CEO, CIO, CTO, CKO, etc.) $71,010 $64,028 $47,000 $81,875
*Total compensation includes base salary and bonus only.

Source: Association of Internet Professionals, 1999 Compensation and Benefits Survey

He said that the expertise of these managers can boost a Web site's marketability by such a degree that they currently are the most sought-after among all Internet professionals. The perceived scarcity of these professionals also is a factor in the premium compensation they typically receive.

"I think it's a supply-and-demand issue," Kraft said. "There are more people out there with 10 to 15 years of business experience in marketing, business development, or managing companies, that can walk into a CEO role, than people with management experience with Internet-specific knowledge that walk in to management roles."

Despite the considerable publicity devoted to the astronomical executive stock options that are commonplace in the high-tech industry, high-volume stock option packages largely have been limited to top-tier Internet companies, the AIP survey found. By contrast, small- to mid-sized Internet firms typically offer their chief executives profit-sharing packages rather than stock options grants, focusing on short-term profitability rather than longer-term gains.

"What it is showing is more thought to immediacy, and the needs for profits and being profitable today," Kraft said.

The compensation survey polled 2,400 AIP members. Of that number, 15.6 percent responded.