AT&T CEO Nabbed Record $32 Million Compensation In 2019, Despite Rampant Bumbling, Layoffs

from the ill-communication dept

Last year wasn't a particularly good one for AT&T. Despite spending more than $150 billion in mergers in a bid to dominate the streaming video space, the company instead lost 4 million TV subscribers on the year, not exactly what company executives were aiming for. Not only did AT&T's mergers saddle the company with a mountain of debt, the company then tried to extract that debt from its customers in the form of numerous price hikes, ignoring that's not how streaming TV competition is going to work. The company also bumbled its streaming TV branding so badly, it confused even the company's own marketing and support departments.

That's before you get to AT&T's empty promises in 2019, which include receiving billions in regulatory favors (like killing net neutrality and privacy rules at the FCC), subsidies, and $42 billion in Trump tax cuts for promises that never materialized. Not only did they not materialize, but AT&T actually engaged in the exact opposite behavior it had originally promised, trimming overall network investment and laying off nearly 37,000 jobs just since the Trump tax cuts were announced.

Now your first question is probably but how is AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson doing in the wake of all this? Well you'll be happy to know he's just fine: Stephenson received a record $32 million in compensation in 2019, despite a wave of bungled merger mania so intense it even pissed off the company's investors, triggering a revolt. But yes, good job, Randall:

"AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson's total compensation was more than $32 million in 2019, giving him a 10 percent raise while he slashed tens of thousands of jobs and reduced spending on network upgrades. Stephenson's total compensation was $28.72 million in 2017, $29.12 million in 2018, and $32.03 million in 2019, an AT&T filing to the Securities and Exchange Commission said. His pay raise was driven by stock performance."

In short, AT&T's employees have been asked to share the brunt of Stephenson's missteps, while Stephenson himself saw his pay increase dramatically. Not too surprisingly, the thousands of AT&T employees fired aren't particularly okay with that:

"That felt like a complete slap in the face, saying how great we were but here is your final pay stub because we did so great last year so we’re going to keep this money and not invest in back into the employment force like they said they would,” said Lorenzano, who worked at the company for over four years before receiving his termination notice, along with dozens of other AT&T DirecTV technicians across California."

Again, you'll see no shortage of stories ahead of mergers (like AT&T Time Warner, or T-Mobile Sprint) parroting telecom companies usually false claims that such megadeals create "amazing new synergies." In reality, they generally involve head fakes and layoffs, yet for every 1,000 stories hyping the claimed benefits of such deals, there's only a handful that follow up to see if those promises actually materialized. When it comes to AT&T, nearly everything the company promised would happen in 2019 failed to happen. And while the employees and customers paid the price, its CEO was, once again, handsomely rewarded.

Filed Under: broadband, competition, jobs, layoffs, randall stephenson
Companies: at&t


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  1. icon
    That One Guy (profile), 23 Mar 2020 @ 4:47am

    Makes sense

    I mean it takes some real skill to lead a company that lost literally millions of subscribers and tens of thousands of employees, so it's no wonder they gave him millions more in pay than the last year, that kind of talent is clearly worth the pay to keep around.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Michael, 23 Mar 2020 @ 6:48am

    Re: Makes sense

    Sure they lost millions of subscribers, but the stock price went up because of his masterful work cutting useless expenses (like employees, benefits, etc.).

    Investment thinking once again looks to the end of the quarter and does not really care about longevity.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 23 Mar 2020 @ 6:48am

    Makes me wonder what kind of golden parachute was given to the CEO of Blockbuster when that company went under.

    Or is the CEO of Blockbuster literally the store manager of the last Blockbuster in the U.S.? 🤔

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Mar 2020 @ 7:15am

    Also Driving Off the Core Phone Customers

    "... the company instead lost 4 million TV subscribers on the year..."

    And god knows many unreported phone subscribers whose rates rose in the form of various, nebulous, new fees that slyly offset TV losses (my bill rose from less than $80 per month to almost $95 before I walked).

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. icon
    Federico (profile), 23 Mar 2020 @ 7:59am

    CEO's job

    The job of every good CEO is to fire as many people as possible to increase short term profits and stock value, everyone knows it. Can you imagine what long hours he must have worked to fire 37,000 people? He earned it!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Mar 2020 @ 8:16am

    $32 million in compensation? What the fuck for? It's not like Richard Bennett needs to come up for air.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Mar 2020 @ 8:49am

    "Compensation" just what the fuck is he doing without that he needs compensating for?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Mar 2020 @ 8:53am

    Re: Makes sense

    And you know what's gonna happen next, right? The compensation committees hired by other corporate boards will use this $32M/year as a point of comparison to justify pay raises to their own CEOs. The board is, after all, often made up of CEOs/ex-CEOs/future-CEOs of other companies. One hand washes the other.

    It's hard for shareholders to claim it's a breach of fiduciary duty when everyone else is doing it; and, anyway, the board and officers often make up the majority of those.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Mar 2020 @ 9:25am

    "AT&T's employees have been asked to share the brunt of Stephenson's missteps, while Stephenson himself saw his pay increase dramatically."

    Privatized profits and socialized losses, we are seeing the successful merging of capitalism and socialism into one incoherent steaming pile.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. icon
    nerdrage (profile), 23 Mar 2020 @ 11:07am

    HBO Max or HBO Sux?

    Let's see if HBO Max is the wet fart of a launch I think it will be. With covid-19 giving AT&T a biggest captive audience than ever, it should blow the doors off but they've made some idiot moves that still make me wonder.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. icon
    nerdrage (profile), 23 Mar 2020 @ 11:09am

    Re: Re: Makes sense

    AT&T is actually known for being a dog of a stock. https://seekingalpha.com/symbol/T

    The current management isn't helping things of course.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Pixelation, 23 Mar 2020 @ 11:27am

    How to get rich

    1) Get hired as CEO
    2)??????????
    3) Fire lots of people
    4) Profit!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Mar 2020 @ 12:11pm

    Re: CEO's job

    Yeah, he really had to work hard saying, "Fire 37,000."

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. icon
    ECA (profile), 23 Mar 2020 @ 12:21pm

    Lets see....

    It USED to be that the wages on top were based on the profits Gained at the end of year. Minus the stocks they had to pay for.
    NOW, they give very little in compensation to those persons with Stocks, They Cut the personnel, wonder Why everyone still there is working so hard, Why some things arent getting done. Why all the yes men are running away.

    Anyone consider that $3000+ per hour 24 hours per day, All 365 days is allot of money?? Or how about $9000+ per hour for 8 hours of his life, for the year? Then add benefits.

    anyone wonder WTF is happening to this country, when the corps keep doing For themselves, and not helping those working people. All those that they Fired, Should NOT use ATT services.. Another Dent to the company when your OWN employees wont use the service.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Mar 2020 @ 1:07pm

    Re: CEO's job

    He got less than $1000 for each person he fired. They're probably saving enough money in a month, compared to last year, to pay his salary. It wouldn't be hard to make the tone-deaf argument that he really did earn it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Mar 2020 @ 1:18pm

    Re: Lets see....

    Nice thought but if AT&T is the only service available in your area your choices are:

    1. Suck it up and use AT&T
    2. Go without internet
    3. Move

    2 is totally impractical these days and would really hamper finding a new job to replace the one you just lost.

    3 is even less practical for someone who just lost their job.

    We need to tie executive salary to the number of jobs created rather than closed, and cap it at a reasonable level. I don't care what company the CEO works for, no executive is worth more than 10 times the salary of their lowest paid employee. CEO wants a raise? Great, raise everyone else's wages, too.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Mar 2020 @ 2:49pm

    Re: Re: Lets see....

    "#" fail

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. icon
    PaulT (profile), 23 Mar 2020 @ 10:27pm

    Re: Lets see....

    "Should NOT use ATT services"

    You speak as if there's actual competition in many areas in the US. That's why they get away with this, the choice for many is not use AT&T or use a competitor, the choice is use AT&T or go without a vital utility.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. icon
    ECA (profile), 24 Mar 2020 @ 3:42pm

    Re: Re: Lets see....

    Good points, but they dont work well either..
    How about the idea that the More he makes for the corp, the more he makes, BASED on the Percentage of profit?

    AS it was in the old days..
    If business goes down, so does your wages. YOU Help the business make more money and you get more..
    You fire allot of people or a Sub company doing the Customer service, the JOBS dont get down, you piss off allot of Customers...and you loose money??
    Or do you look into Leasing Content from other services to keep you on TOP. You install BETTER programming, you ASK the customers WHAT they want..
    You DROP the caps on cellphones and Internet..

    Anyone using broadcast?? notice Channel problems?? Starting to wonder if the Broadcast system is being SHUT DOWN and costing to much.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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