Facebook’s frontman Mark Zuckerberg writes in his founder’s letter the following words among other things “We don’t build services to make money; we make money to build better services, these days I think more and more people want to use services from companies that believe in something beyond simply maximizing profits.” He sees and speaks of Facebook as less of a company than a philosophy; a social mission to be propelled.

He references how that people talk about the invention of the printing press and the impact it has had in terms of better communication, something that has forever set the Gutenbergian level of influence, he writes ‘’by simply making communication more efficient, it led to a complete transformation of important parts of the society’’

But Zuckerberg is just one out of the many men in California and the world at large that sustain this line of thought or receive a dollar a year annual salary. A number of top executives in large businesses and government systems have worked for a one-dollar salary for a long time now. One-dollar salaries are often used in certain situations where an executive wishes to work without a direct remuneration, but for legal reasons has to receive pay above zero, in order to draw the line between him and a volunteer. The following are notable one dollar a year salary earners;

Jon Corzine (former Governor of New Jersey), Jack Dorsey (Twitter), Larry Ellison (Oracle Corporation), Darren Entwistle (TELUS), Richard Fairbank (Capital One Financial),  David Filo (Yahoo!) William Clay Ford Jr. (Ford Motor Company),  David Lloyd George (former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom), Richard Hayne (Urban Outfitters), Herbert Hoover, (former President of the United States), Lee Iacocca (Chrysler Corporation), Steve Jobs (Apple), John F. Kennedy (former President of the United States), Jan Koum (Whatsapp), Edward Lampert (Sears Holdings) F. Thomson Leighton, Spiegel (Snap), Elon Musk (Tesla Motors, SpaceX), Larry Page (Alphabet Inc.), Vikram Pandit (Citigroup), Mark Pincus (Zynga), Richard Riordan (Mayor of Los Angeles), Eric Schmidt (Google), Arnold Schwarzenegger (former Governor of California), Terry Semel (Yahoo!),  Sehat Sutardja (Marvell Technology Group) Meg Whitman (Hewlett-Packard) Jerry Yang (Yahoo!), and Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook).

The aforementioned men speak of far-reaching aspirations with a sense of nobility, they seek after something far more valuable. The dollar-a-year salary is supposed to convince us that it isn’t about the money.

The concept is not one that is novel, in fact, it first emerged in the 1900s where various leaders in the industry around the United States offered their services to the government during the times of war. Later around the late 1990s and early 2000s, many business executives began to adopt the concept of a dollar a year salary, especially in the case of struggling companies or start-ups. they do this often times with the potential of further indirect earnings as the result of their ownership of stock.

In 1999 when Steve Jobs came back to Apple, a company that shared competition space with the dominant PC consortium led by Microsoft’s Windows software, he became interim CEO and also assumed the status of a dollar-a-year man, apparently the most renowned of the past three decades. His return was not money driven; he already made his millions years ago. He only came back to build a company. The patent rationale behind the concept of the dollar a year salary is the foregoing of money for something more long term. It goes beyond this and is often time a strategy, a move that speaks directly to shareholders. It is actually in some ways a show that you believe in your product. Dr. Charles Diamond, Managing economic director at FTI Consulting says that the assumption is that they tend to gain on the stock over time.  It’s a signal that they are betting on the company’’ he told Wired.

Since the death of Steve Jobs, investors are starved for another visionary. What we have are career CEOs who jump from seat to seat in the Valley without any true allegiance to any one company.

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