Tech Companies Split on Executive Compensation Increases According to Technology Executives Roundtable Survey

Inaugural Atlanta Technology Executive Compensation Survey Sets Benchmark for One of Georgia’s Most Prosperous Industries

< Back to news

ATLANTA, April 20, 2010 – Atlanta technology companies were split 49 (no) to 51% (yes) on whether they would provide a compensation increase in 2010 for executives, according to the Technology Executives Roundtable (TER) 2010 Atlanta Technology Executive Compensation Survey.


With the release of its inaugural Atlanta Technology Executive Compensation Survey, TER, an association that consists of more than 100 Georgia-based CEOs, CFOs and general managers, is providing a unique service to its members and to the Georgia technology community at large. The study was underwritten by Arketi Group, CarterBaldwin, Croft & Bender, Frazier & Deeter, Morris Manning & Martin, Silicon Valley Bank and Wm. Leonard & Company.


The report found that overall, average salaries among technology executive teams ranged from $213,096 for CEOs to $107,346 for Controllers. For those few tech organizations that compensated independent directors (14 percent of respondents), average director salary was $45,190. As expected, CEOs commanded the highest average salary in the executive suite, followed by COOs, presidents, CFOs, and then other executive team members.


Senior sales, marketing, business development and technology/development executives earned similar salaries (less than 20 percent overall variance), while controllers fell below these positions.


For 2010, overall executive compensation across all companies surveyed is expected to increase by an average of 5.3 percent. However, a careful analysis of individual company plans reveals the majority of technology executives should not expect a significant 2010 compensation increase. Forty-nine percent of the companies surveyed plan no 2010 increase and 82 percent of those planning an increase are planning to raise compensation 5 percent or less. Thereby, the average 5.3 percent number includes a few companies that plan significant compensation increases. 


“TER members have come to rely on the organization for the type of information that they can only get from interacting with their peer group and this survey is no different,” said James Davis, president of TER. “This study is truly the first of its kind to provide this level of Atlanta-specific, technology executive compensation insight. Our members have always wanted a benchmark study that provided compensation data specifically tied to the Atlanta technology community and thanks to our sponsors now they have that information.”


Bonus Potential

With regard to bonus compensation the study found target bonus potential for technology executives in 2009 ranged from an average high of 45 percent for CEOs to a low of 25 percent for senior marketing executives. Technology executives overall actually earned on average of 46 percent of their target bonus package during 2009 with senior sales executives, presidents and marketing executives leading the executive suite with 52 percent, 51 percent and 50 percent respectively of target bonus potential earned.


Commission potential for sales executives ranged from an average of $80,961 at 100 percent of goal for sales executives to $39,567 at goal for business development executives.


Executive Equity

In addition to base and bonus compensation, the survey also provides information on equity ownership. For example, the study found significant differences in the fully diluted equity ownership (excluding founder’s stock) among CEOs and presidents, and other members of the executive suite. On average, CEOs were granted 5.14 percent of fully diluted equity ownership in their firms’. The remainder of the executive team holds equity as follows:

  • COO: 3.85 percent
  • Senior marketing: 1.67 percent
  • CTO: 1.56 percent
  • Senior engineering/development: 1.43 percent
  • CFO: 1.40 percent
  • Senior business development: 1.22 percent
  • Senior sales: 1.08 percent  and
  • Controller: .28 percent.


Additional findings regarding stock ownership included:

  • CEOs currently hold the largest percentage of the overall total stock option pool at 12.85 percent, followed by COOs (10.18 percent) and CFOs (5.64 percent). No other executive surveyed held more than 5 percent of the overall stock option pool. On average 3.55 percent of available stock options are held by independent directors.
  • Across all technology companies surveyed, equity ownership by company founders averaged 42 percent with 40 percent of company founders still owning 50 percent or more of the firms they founded.
  • During 2009, only 11 percent of technology firms surveyed re-priced stock options to lower the exercise price from the original offering price. However, option price reductions when taken were significant. The average option price was lowered by 64 percent.


The survey is available exclusively to TER members and clients of TER survey sponsors. For more information on TER, visit


About the 2010 Atlanta Technology Executive Compensation Survey

The study was designed to identify executive compensation and company ownership among Atlanta technology companies during calendar year 2009. Overall, 87 public and privately-funded technology companies across a wide range of market segments, including software, hardware, and services participated in the survey. Companies participating in the study were led by software and SaaS developers (53 percent), hardware developers (9 percent), technology consulting/service firms (9 percent), Internet services (7 percent), professional services/consulting service providers (6 percent) and others (16 percent).  The vast majority of firms were privately funded (78 percent) with venture capital and angel funding the two most common sources, in business longer than five years (65 percent) and had 2009 revenue in excess of $2 million (66 percent). Most companies had less than $25 million in revenue (88 percent).


About Technology Executives Roundtable

Technology Executives Roundtable (TER) is an association for Georgia technology executives that provides CEOs, CFOs and general managers with the ability to maximize the value of companies through the exchange of top ideas, candid talk and a forum to share what is working, what is not and best practices to unlock business value. Monthly meetings feature speakers and panels of local and national experts covering topics such as strategic alliances, crisis management, non-conventional financing, M&A, intellectual property protection and other issues of interest to senior executives on company growth. For more information, visit