New Highest-Paid CEO: GoPro’s Nick Woodman Is Just A Surferman No More

Just nine years after his first digital camera launched, GoPro’s founder and CEO, Nick Woodman, is already the Highest-Paid CEO in America.

According to the Bloomberg Pay Index, a ranking of executives based on their annual remuneration, Nick Woodman was granted a 4.5 million package of restricted stock units at the end of 2014, with a calculated value of an astonishing $284.5 million. He was given the title of the highest-paid CEO in America for the year 2014.

Technically though, Woodman is the Highest-Paid CEO “on paper.” CNN Money noted that he has yet to receive the whole of the $284.5 million, but the money will be paid out to him monthly over a span of a number of years.

Restricted stock units (RSUs) are a form of remuneration awarded to employees that couldn’t be sold until they vest and until certain conditions are met.

Alex Gauna, an analyst at JMP Securities LCC, recommended investors to purchase GoPro shares, which opened to the public during the Nasdaq Stock Exchange in June 2014. Gauna told Bloomberg that Woodman’s being the highest-paid CEO in America is a well-deserved title.

“Nick Woodman is a special entrepreneur and is instrumental to the company’s success both through his vision and leadership,” said Gauna. “[His compensation] is appropriate relative to what he means to this company,” he said.

Going forward, analyst Michael Pachter tells CNN Money that today’s highest-paid CEO will most likely earn several million dollars in the coming years, but nothing close to the 2014 compensation. His wealth is tied directly to the stocks of the company.

“Nobody is worth that much money—except maybe Steve Jobs back in the day,” said Pachter. “Nobody begrudges anyone’s stock gains, especially founders.’”

But despite analysts’ remarks, GoPro is doing very well for a small company, selling around 8.5 million units after their high-definition camera was released in 2009. Its stock price has doubled since it was first made public in 2014—which means well for its highest-paid CEO.

Business Insider reports how the highest-paid CEO recalls the day he realized GoPro was going to be a success.

“GoPro had just launched our first camera. It was a 35-millimetre, big, bulky, film camera you wore on the wrist. So I’m checking the surf, wearing the camera, and these two little kids are going out surfing and they’re in their wetsuits and they have their surfboards. And they’re jogging by me and one of them nudges his friend and says, ‘Hey look! Dude, he’s got a GoPro.’ As they run by me they turn around and say, ‘GoPro! Be a hero!’ and throw me a little shocka [hand symbol]. No advertising or anything. I remember thinking, ‘They know the slogan. They said it back to me. It’s working!’ By the way, a 12-year-old surfer is a very hard consumer to reach, so the fact that they were saying it back to me was very meaningful to me.”

Nick Woodman has unseated Cheniere Energy’s Charif Souki who was awarded a compensation valued at $281 million in 2013 as the highest-paid CEO by Bloomberg.

[Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images]