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Amazon.com, The Bodyguard 120

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the secret-services dept.
theodp writes "While the press is running Amazon's standard we-can't-make-our-CEO-accept-more-than-$81,840 line again this year, the e-tailer's recent SEC filing does disclose an interesting new compensation tidbit. On top of what it spends to provide security for its CEO at business facilities and during business travel, Amazon shells out an estimated $1.1 million a year to cover the cost of security arrangements for billionaire CEO Jeff Bezos. Holy Jack Welch, Batman - that's a lot of door desks!"
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Amazon.com, The Bodyguard

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  • Seems reasonable (Score:3, Informative)

    by flyingember (555991) on Friday April 21, 2006 @02:31AM (#15171147)
    That's $550/hour. Better than the $160,000/hour some ceos make
    • 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year, by my maths makes it closer to $39/hour?
      • duh, for the security it's around $550 an hour....
        • What's with the 40 h/week? If there is one thing that is needed around the clock, surely it's security. Or are the bad guys also only working 40 hour weeks? And if so, is it really probable that that would be the *same* 40 hours?

          Also, the $1M figure seems quite low. Anyone would care to guess what security for GWB costs? I'd guess about 100 times as much.

          • Re:Seems reasonable (Score:5, Informative)

            by Zelucifer (740431) on Friday April 21, 2006 @04:35AM (#15171452)
            Well, a 3-day event involving Bush, his inauguration as a matter of fact cost $17 million dollars for security. Now when you consider that they're spending apparoximately $6.1 billion on upgrading his helicopters (increase floor space, and communications... specifically adding secure lines with constant access), Marine One if you're curious. I'd say it's quite a bit more then a hundred times.... interesting article on the Marine One upgrade if anyone is interested Popular Science [popsci.com]
            • On the other hand, the $17M for the inauguration supposedly offered security for more than just him, so all of it shouldn't go to "his" account.

              Similarily, Amazon obviously spends a *lot* more than $1M on security per year, as does any company of some size.

              • Agreed, however it was just an example of the incredible, difference between the two. Honestly, from some of the things I've read, $17 mil is a drop in the ocean compared to what we spend on the president every year.
            • As has already been pointed out, security at the inauguration was for everyone present at the event, not just GWB.

              What hasn't been pointed out about the helicopters is that the $6.1B price tag is for a full fleet replacement, 23 new VH-71s, replacing the VH-3s that entered service in 1962. Further, they won't even be in use until at least 2009, after GWB leaves office. He'll most likely never even ride in one of the new units.

              Calling the helicopter deal "upgrading [GWB's] helicopters" is like you buying a n
          • Or are the bad guys also only working 40 hour weeks?

            Yeah, actually according to union policy we can only work 40 hours per week without recieving overtime compensation. Also if you work after hours we're to recieve an extra 50% on our normal hourly rate. Unfortunately for us this has created a real problem because most evil organizations prefer to use bad guys in Iraq, Pakistan, or other low cost locations around the world we're non-unionized bad guys will work for a promise of a harem of virgins in the a
    • by jdcook (96434) on Friday April 21, 2006 @04:56AM (#15171489)
      "Better than the $160,000/hour some ceos make"

      That's just the sort of blinkered philistine pig-ignorance I've come to expect from you non-capitalistic garbage. I'll have you know that outgoing Exxon CEO, to whom you obliquely refer, was earning a mere $26,384.62/hour. ($686 million over 13 years, assuming 2000 working hours a year.) And I bet you pretend you'd be willing to handle the demanding tasks of a planet-raping CEO for half that. As if! It'll be a sad day for America when our CEOs are outsourced to India. Won't someone think of the billionaires?

    • How can it seem reasonable? This makes no sense whatsoever. Say I was to take up some IT contracting for a while, with the right jobs and the right hours I could get quite rich. I then take the money from my work and buy, say e.g. a nice expensive car. Should I then ask the company that employed me to pay for the insurance? To pay for a secure lockup? To wash it every week?

      This is completely crazy. If someone earns a million pounds, it is not the companies responsability to protect that money. It's not th

      • I don't condone it, but there's a difference in the company's eyes between you and a CEO. Mainly, they are more of a "target" than you or I. Also, they might have big fat life insurance policies if they die on the company clock.

        Here's the thing. CEOs are a nice target for kidnapping. Remember that big Exxon kidnapping some years back? After that Exxon changed its standard for protecting the CEOs during transport; making sure their expensive guys have plenty of protection when moving around and such (ev
  • Microsoft has a new utility called Microsoft Protection Services. It's where salesmen from Redmond visit client sites and make sure that a great shame like something getting broken accidentally or someone getting injured in an unexpected accident doesn't happen.

    Maybe Amazon just saw the need for some protection.
  • by Toba82 (871257) on Friday April 21, 2006 @02:39AM (#15171174) Homepage
    Things we know:
    1) A lot of people on slashdot hate patents.
    2) Jeff Bezos loves patents.
    3) A lot of people on slashdot hate Jeff Bezos.

    4) A lot of people on slashdot are libertarians.
    5) Libertarians approve of gun rights.
    6) A lot of people on slashdot have guns.

    And:
    7) Profit!
  • by dteichman2 (841599) on Friday April 21, 2006 @02:44AM (#15171189) Homepage
    It's a rich guy who isn't trying that hard to get richer.
  • Frugality (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Langfat (953252) on Friday April 21, 2006 @03:00AM (#15171230) Homepage
    From TFA:

    "If you look at this building, you can open the windows and get fresh air and natural light. Those things actually matter to people. Having a mahogany credenza does not." He laughs powerfully. "There are no mahogany credenzas here. There's no art on the walls.

    Ok, now I agree that what is hanging on most office walls is an expensive waste of space, but by saying it in this way, it makes the guy sound like he's saying art doesn't matter to people. That's a ballsy statement that I would highly contest (just look at the uproar here on /. surrounding Ebert's comments as to whether video games are art).
    • Ok, now I agree that what is hanging on most office walls is an expensive waste of space, but by saying it in this way, it makes the guy sound like he's saying art doesn't matter to people. That's a ballsy statement that I would highly contest (just look at the uproar here on /. surrounding Ebert's comments as to whether video games are art).

      I don't really care about whether video games are art or not - I see valid arguments on both sides. I want them to be RECOGNIZED as art because then they would get

    • Re:Frugality (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Public companies are primarily supposed to minimize costs and maximize profit margins to enrich their shareholders. If company money is diverted toward elaborate furnishings, without some profit incentive from the aesthetic value of art, it seems a fairly easy target of criticism. Every penny invested in depreciating or slowly-appreciating assets is money that isn't spent growing the company or some investment with a higher rate of appreciation. Unless it poses a tax benefit greater than a more profitable u
    • "Ok, now I agree that what is hanging on most office walls is an expensive waste of space, but by saying it in this way, it makes the guy sound like he's saying art doesn't matter to people."

      Given that the context of that quote was productivity, I don't see what's so appauling about what he said.
    • Thanks for not being philanthropic with your money and investing in some art. There's only 2 kinds of rich people, the kind that sponsors the arts, and total scrooges. How embarassing for him... I can hear the head-shaking of the worldwide philanthropic-rich-people community as well as the starving artists everywhere (AHEM).
    • I googled up the original Ebert/games/art article [slashdot.org] (BTW, /. search was useless for that type of search):

      +5 comments: zero.
      +1: 134

      Is that called "uproar" nowadays? A little bunch of tepid posts?

      Just a question.
    • Actually, what I find hanging on the walls in a lot of offices I go to these days is merely a cheap waste of money: those stupid inspirational posters. I'm sorry, but if you feel that employee moral is so low that it can be boosted by a $10 poster with a pretty picture and an inspirational quote, then you really don't give a shit about your employees, no matter which way you cut it.
    • Hmmm. I guess Bezos, will all is zillions of dollars, has little appreciation for art, and prefers the look of plastic/laminate/chrome. I have much more modest means,and live in cubeville (although I have a rather-larger-than-usual cube). This cube is made more bearable by some fine handmade (by me!) barrister's bookshelves, several nice pieces of artwork, and other nice touches. I find it more relaxing and pleasant to work in than sterile workspaces used by some of my co-workers.

      In my opinion, if you'r

      • There's a difference between an employee hanging a poster, and the company paying for fine art everywhere. THe second is an order of magnitude more money. Employees at Amazon can hang what they want in there cubes. Me, I have my Einstein doll collection.
    • Let me see if I can phrase this in computer terms...

      What most companies hang on the walls is the Windows default wallpaper ("Bliss"). What people consider "art" suitable for hanging on the walls is Digital Blasphemy. If you can't afford reproductions of Digital Blasphemy desktops, don't waste money on copying Bilss.
  • So? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bl00d6789 (714958) on Friday April 21, 2006 @03:01AM (#15171232)
    I'm not really sure I see what the big deal is. While $1.1 million might seem like an excessive amount to spend on security for one person, it isn't compensation to Bezos. It's an expenditure for security of a company official while he's conducting company business, not a paycheck.
    • Re:So? (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      You miss the point. You have to be OUTRAGED. Or you won't comment, start comment/mod flame wars, and basically drive more traffic to Slashdot.
    • I'm not really sure I see what the big deal is. While $1.1 million might seem like an excessive amount to spend on security for one person, it isn't compensation to Bezos. It's an expenditure for security of a company official while he's conducting company business, not a paycheck.

      I don't think that is correct. The linked Schedule 14A [sec.gov] states:

      1,100,000 (2)

      (2) Represents the approximate incremental cost of security arrangements for Mr. Bezos in addition to security arrangements provided at business facil

      • I think what that's stating is that the $1.1 million was spent on security above and beyond what would have otherwise been provided by hotels and transportation services. That's just my interpretation, but that would mean that the $1.1 million is still just a business-related travel expense. Regardless, it clearly cannot be considered a payment to Bezos.
        • it clearly cannot be considered a payment to Bezos.

          Yeah, just like when companies give congressmen lavish trips to Hawaii for "conferences." How can you consider it a bribe when they're doing a few minutes of business on their 3 week trip? And those meals at 5-star restaurants--well, they have to EAT to do business, right? And that $100 million yacht--well, they have travel expenses, right?

          -Eric

          • Here, Here! Hate the rich!! woot! Lousy stinkin' rich, what did they ever do for us? Except provide jobs... and drive up the standard of living... and bring us aqueducts!

            Want to bitch about Congress? Go for it. Only problem is - you're most likely one of the people voting them in there - or did you actually vote third party?

            As for the $1M in security - how exactly is that compensation? If your company took out key man insurance on you to protect itself - would you consider that compensation?
            • Being rich is not in itself a vice, but giving powerful people the benefit of the doubt is pretty foolish. Chances are, they aren't going to show any goodwill to the less powerful; they're just going to exploit any goodwill the less powerful show to them. Why should employees be grateful for jobs if employers aren't grateful for labor?

              By the way, I sure am glad my real wages have gone up so much since in the last 25 years. Almost by .1%!

      • I agree. But either way, it's not too unusual for a company's most prized employee to deserve some company-provided protection at home. $1.1M isn't a lot of money when you consider that it probably pays for a very modest but skilled staff and equipment to do the job. I can imagine the cost of a security shack, a handful of guards, surveillance equipment, etc., could easily end up costing this much.
    • Note that this is listed as compensation received by Bezos. If this were security while he were conducting company business, it would not be considered compensation, and would not need to be linked to him. This explains the "in addition to security arrangements provided at business facilities and for business travel". The money is most likely paid to him to compensate him for his personal security expenses, such as the security at his residence.

      However, this doesn't mean that the payment is somehow inappr

  • Income tax (Score:5, Informative)

    by Aceticon (140883) on Friday April 21, 2006 @03:38AM (#15171319)
    There's a not that uncommon tax scam for company owners which works as the following:
    - Company owner is also company CEO
    - Company CEO is payed minimum/symbolic wages
    - Company pays for just about any expense of the owner/CEO and his family

    Thus "safe"-house, bulletproof limo, bodyguard-driver, security-certified cleaning company, bulletproof yacht ...

    I reckon that for a listed company, the positive advertising (and share price boosting) effects of divulging a CEO's low salary would make such a scam even sweeter ...
    • Seems to me to be a flaw in the idea of "income tax". Oh well, throw a few hundred more pages in the tax code, no big deal, right? As long as the gov't gets theirs and we can stick it to rich guys....
      • Not a flaw. A loophole.

        If there are new laws made to plug it, the rich have plenty of well paid type A professionals with accounting and law degrees or can hire firms who will figure out ways around the new laws. That is why they stay rich and do not have to pay those pesky taxes. Also, as stated in other posts, if the company is the one officially making all the money, the company has to worry about paying taxes not Jeff. Of course the company will have many expenses (like the 1.1 million in security for
    • Re:Income tax (Score:4, Insightful)

      by ScentCone (795499) on Friday April 21, 2006 @09:41AM (#15172574)
      There's a not that uncommon tax scam for company owners which works as the following...

      Think, for a moment, past whatever distaste you have for the fact that some people launch successful businesses and get themselves (and the people who risked money to help) a good (or great) return on that investment.

      What do you think it would cost Amazon if something unexpected were to happen to Bezos? A million dollars? Way, way more than that. What do you think it would cost everyone who have a bit of their pension fund invested in Amazon's stock? What do you think it would cost the thousands of vendors, partners, employees, re-sellers, affiliates, freight companies, publishers, and everyone else if Amazon had a big stumble - even if just temporarily - because Bezos got wacked by some addled-brained author who's mad because his crappy book couldn't get out of position 150,000 on the A-list?

      Companies with interests that far reaching and of that much significant financial impact on/for so many people are simply buying insurance when they spend such a relatively small amount on protective services for their key figures. A million is a lot of money. But that's nothing compared to what it would cost Amazon if Bezos got killed in a carjacking or got kidnapped in Belize while on vacation. I own some stock in Amazon, and I sure as hell would hope that the company's looking out for the interests of their highest-profile, most important human asset. Sure the company would function without him... but way, way more than a million bucks would go down the toilet if he met a sudden violent end.
      • And now he's safe from death?

        What was his estimated probability of death over the next 10 years, what is it now? Divide the cost of 1.1 mil by the difference between these two numbers, and that is what you have to compare to the loss to the company. The death rate was not reduced from 100% to 0%.

        It would also be a shame if Bezos died of hunger, and yet Amazon is not supposed to pay for his food. Or maybe he could become unstable because of lack of entertainment, so amazon should pay for trips around the wor
        • And now he's safe from death?

          No, but for as long as he's doing what he's doing for Amazon, much of what makes him (and other big-ticket, very public figures) valuable and a magnet for criminals (of both the nefarious and crackpot variety) is because of what he does for Amazon. To the degree that what you spend your days doing for a multi-billion dollar company employing thousands of people makes you more vulnerable to everything from pie-throwing faux-anarachist buffoons to Pacific-Rim kidnapping gangs o
          • He's more rock-star/rainmaker at this point, than business manager.

            Then what would be lost if he would be lost? Publicity?
            • Then what would be lost if he would be lost? Publicity?

              Business continuity. Investor confidence. Morale. All for only a while, but the result in lost productivity at the company, and in the value of the stock would, despite certain recovery down the road, absolutely eclipse the expense of going to the comparitively routine expense of keeping a large company's leaders traveling and being in public as safe as possible. It's not complicated, it's simple math, and they're doing a certain amount of risk analy
      • I have no problem with the guy's success.

        It's the half-assed attempt to look like someone that sacrifices himself for the good of company (and to by projecting such image getting his stock to go up in value) that gets on my nerves.

        In other words, my problem is with dishonest people trying to scam everybody else.

      • What do you think it would cost Amazon if something unexpected were to happen to Bezos?

        Given their recent stock performance, it would probably be good for the company. :)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 21, 2006 @03:46AM (#15171342)
    Huh, I'm surprised Jeff feels he needs the guards. Two years ago in an Amazon.com dodgeball league mathcup, I chucked a ball at his feet. He leapt over it jumping-jack style while simultaneously throwing another ball into my knee. Fortunately he didn't have enough time to suck in enough air for his laugh as I headed to the sideline.

    ...and yes, we still have door-desks.. though they're rumoured to cost more than regular desks!

  • by mikelang (674146) on Friday April 21, 2006 @04:19AM (#15171423)
    The bright side is that:
    • nobody doubts that multi-billionaire needs bodyguards,
    • nobody doubts that CEO like Jeff Bezos is worth the additional expense.
    • The bright side is that:

      • nobody doubts that multi-billionaire needs bodyguards,
      • nobody doubts that CEO like Jeff Bezos is worth the additional expense.

      Well, I would if I were an Amazon.com shareholder or customer. Since I'm not, I could care less what he gets paid.

      In fact, why am I even reading this?!?

      - RG>

  • by illtron (722358)
    This summary confused the hell out of me. Please, if you're not funny, stop the attempts at humor. It only makes you look like a jackass.
  • Bill Gates Mother (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fishdan (569872) on Friday April 21, 2006 @07:23AM (#15171801) Homepage Journal
    I can't find a reference to it anywhere, so it may just be urban legend, but I heard that there was a very real attempt to kidnap Bill Gates mother about 10 years ago, that was broken up at the last moment by the police. Even if it's just rumor, I don't resent these guys needing to feel secure -- and it's obviously not just themselves. Is it fair for Jeff Bezos' siblings to think that they might be targetted?

    You'd have to think that with money like the extremely wealthy and extremely popular have, they have very legit security concerns. That's why I didn't like the pie episode [parascope.com]. Hate the guy all you want (and in my professional life, I really do despise Bill and MSFT), but whatever you might think of a person, there's no reason to make hi, fear for his life. And for me, when I saw the pie movie, there's a second on Bills face when it looks like he's has the epiphany "Fuck, I'm a potential target for [terrorists | anarchists | crazed anti-indutrialists | ELFers | PETA | someone who thinks I'm a symbol], and this person is about to hit me with something." I saw a real fear of anticipated violence.

    And for me that's over the line.

  • This is the way rich stay rich; have a company they control officially make all the money and spend all the money on them. That way it never shows up as their personal income or expenses so the tax man stays away would be litigators do not have much to try to sue for.

    That is the way the smart rich people do it. Middle and low class lamers (me included) make all their income as salary and so are taxed on everything we make. Also, if we are sued we could lose everything we have.

    There must be some tax advant
  • Chief Executive Jeffrey P. Bezos - who is worth $4.3 billion, according to Forbes magazine


    Do you really need "annual compensation" for what I would call "managing your personal finances"?
  • by bigdaddyhame (623739) on Friday April 21, 2006 @10:26AM (#15173085) Homepage
    Certainly he needs bodyguards, and rightly so. The market for kidnapping billionaires' relatives for ransom is quite lucrative. Up in Canada one of our billionaires, Jim Pattison, paid an undisclosed ransom to kidnappers after his daughter was kidnapped. She was returned unharmed, but no doubt Pattison's security detail was upgraded. Didn't the family that owns the Heineken brewery in Holland suffer the same? The board of directors of any large company have a responsibility to the shareholders to keep themselves, and the Chairman and CEO, out of trouble.
  • by moochfish (822730) on Friday April 21, 2006 @01:37PM (#15175061)
    You are talking about the man who directed one of the top internet brands in the world through the bubble burst and into profitability. $1.1 million plus $80k ($1.18 million) for a CEO is chump change. They could double or triple the cost of his security and salary and he'd still be worth it. When you have a CEO that makes your company adapt and grow to new trends as well as Amazon has, paying the CEO less than 0.05% of your company's revenue isn't insane.
    • a-fucking-men. as a grad student making about $32k a year, you can be assured that i'm not biased towards ceo's or people who make a lot of money. but this resentment of the ultrarich ceo is just pathetic.

      (a) financially it makes sense. a good ceo can earn a company billions. as an asset, a good ceo is worth millions a year.

      (b) being a ceo is like winning the lottery, except there is skill involved. for chrissake, even a hippie can count the number of Fortune 500 CEOs in the entire country. (hint: it's

  • by BigGerman (541312) on Friday April 21, 2006 @02:36PM (#15175739)
    Even one decent bodyguard 24 hours a day is going to cost you some $400,000 a year. And I am sure those guys need gear and gas and expense accounts. I dont think this amounts to much.

If it's worth doing, it's worth doing for money.

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