To describe the last few days as “tumultuous” for the US banking system would be a gross understatement. On Friday, the FDIC seized Silicon Valley Bank (SBV). On Sunday the FDIC took over Signature Bank. Other regional banks saw their stock prices drop precipitously Monday as fears of contagion spread.
What makes the current crisis so extraordinary is just how fast everything unfolded and how drastically confidence in previously admired banks simply evaporated. At this time a week ago, many intelligent observers considered SVB to be a stable and extremely safe institution. SVB’s $209 billion worth of total assets made it the 16th largest bank in the United States. And now it’s gone. Under Federal guardianship. Kaput. Dead.
I’m not going to even attempt to describe what caused SVB to end up where it is today. There are plenty of articles and Twitter threads if you want to know more. What I want to talk about is Silicon Valley Bank’s now-former CEO, Greg Becker. Becker, along with other SVB senior executives were all fired by the government over the weekend.
I can only imagine the daze Becker must be feeling right now.
Think about. One week ago today he was the CEO of not only one of the biggest banks in the country, but the most important bank for technology companies in world’s epicenter of cutting edge innovation. He was also a Board Member of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco (a position he was also removed from in the last 48 hours).
Greg Becker’s former position could have gotten him a meeting with any Silicon Valley mogul at a moment’s notice. Billionaires and Venture Capital big shots would pick up his call on the first ring. And clearly his lucrative salary and stock options made him very wealthy.
But, how rich was Greg Becker a week ago and how’s his wealth looking today?
One Week Ago
At this time one week ago, Greg Becker was sitting pretty in a presumably-amazing leather chair, in a presumably-amazing corner office, with a presumably-amazing huge wooden desk.
If Becker pulled up his stock portfolio it would have told him that he owned 98,867 shares of Silicon Valley Bank. On Monday, SVB’s stock price closed at $283 a share, so his stake was worth roughly…
Not as much as I would have predicted, actually. On the other hand, like many stocks, SVB’s share price has been walloped in the last year. Just a little over a year ago, SVB was sitting at an all-time high of $750 a share. At that level, Greg’s stake was worth…
These shares are now worthless. Literally zero. No bailout for equity holders.
Salary and Other Compensation
I wouldn’t feel too sorry for Becker though . Since joining SVB in 1993, he has reportedly sold around $25 million worth of equity, including $3.6 million which he reportedly sold in the days just before SVB failed. A lot of people online have questioned the timing of those recent sales, but to be fair they were part of a prearranged structured sale plan. The timing is awkward but I highly doubt anything illegal happened here. Not worth going to jail for a couple million bucks that everyone is absolutely going to find out about.
Outside of share sales, Becker was also paid a handsome compensation package every year. His 2022 total comp has not been revealed yet, but in 2021 Greg Becker made $9,922,132 in total compensation broken down as:
- $1,040,385 base salary
- $3,000,000 bonus
- $5,861,186 equity awards
- $20,561 “other” compensation
FYI, someone who makes $1,040,385 in base salary gets a bi-monthly direct deposit of $22,909 TAKE HOME pay. That’s after taxes and other fees! So every month he was receiving around $46,000 direct deposited into his bank. That’s over.
According to regulatory filings, here’s Becker’s total compensation in recent years:
- 2021: $9.9 million
- 2020: $7.5 million
- 2019: $10.7 million
- 2018: $7.6 million
- 2017: $6.1 million
- 2016: $5.1 million
- 2015: $4.9 million
- 2014: $4.1 million
- 2013: $4.0 million
Assuming he made roughly $10 million in 2022, in the decade between 2013 and and 2023 Becker earned at least…
$70 million in total comp
A big portion of that comp was stock awards which he either sold or are worthless today if they’re part of the 98,000 he still owned as of Friday, but still, that’s a lot of comp!
In another case of awkward timing, Greg and all Silicon Valley Bank employees were paid their annual bonuses on Friday. FRIDAY. The very same day the bank was seized by the FDIC. Once again, I’m sure these payments were accrued for by the accounting team in the year prior, and the payments were scheduled weeks in advance. Assuming his bonus was once again around $3 million, that means just before his bank failed Becker cashed out around $6 million between prearranged stock sales and his bonus. Weird timing but nothing illegal or unethical.
I don’t really have a conclusion here. It’s just a stunning turn of events. It makes you want to stress-test your own life. If you lost your job tomorrow due to a meteor strike, what would the next few weeks and months look like for you financially?