Students will soon be racking up huge amounts of student loan debt while their money lines the coffers of vfx studio Digital Domain, but at least one person is doing well financially: Digital Domain CEO John Textor (pictured left). Digital Domain released its 2011 annual report yesterday, and it turns out that the man at the center of Digital Domain’s “pay-to-work” scandal is profiting quite handsomely, to the tune of $16 million dollars in 2011. Textor’s pay package included a salary of $791,372, a bonus of $407,000, shares through a stock exchange worth $6.5 million and a penny-a-share option award worth $2.5 million. Textor also received options with an exercise price of $9.63. Digital Domain will report the value of those options at $5.8 million. On top of the $16 million he received last year, Textor also owns 25% of Digital Domain, a stake worth $59 million.
Surely, stockholders are paying Textor handsomely because of the wealth he’s bringing into the company. Oh, wait…hang on…Digital Domain’s revenue dropped between 2010 and 2011? According to the Palm Beach Post, “For the full year, Digital Domain reported a loss of $141 million on revenue of $99 million, compared to a 2010 loss of $42 million on revenue of $105 million.” To put this into perspective, Time Warner chief executive Jeff Bewkes received total compensation of $26 million in 2011 for running a company that reported a profit of $2.9 billion.
It’s only fair to let Textor have the final word. His bizarre rationale for earning that much money is that he didn’t actually earn that much money. Textor told the Palm Beach Post, “Received shares in a company I started? I don’t really call that compensation–the accountants do.”
Never mind the fact that the accountants call that compensation because they’re legally obligated to do so, or that the rest of the business world also acknowledges such options as part of executive compensation packages. With a warped world view like this, it’s becoming become clear why Textor doesn’t think there’s anything wrong with making students pay to work at his company.