Highest Paid CEO In America Earned $285 Million In 2014

CNN Money reports that Nick Woodman was the highest paid CEO in the United States for 2014. The 39-year-old was awarded a $285 million a year package of restricted stock units at the end of last year. Therefore, the CEO of GoPro is the highest paid CEO “on paper.”

Woodman has earned but hasn’t received all of the stock awards yet. Everything is on paper, but the earnings are paid out monthly over several years.

The Bloomberg Pay Index that ranks executives based on their compensation named the former surfer the No. 1 American executive. Woodman dethroned Cheniere Energy’s Charif Souki as the highest-paid CEO whose compensation was valued at $281 million in 2013.

The $285 million is a reward for turning camera-maker GoPro into a $6 billion company. Woodman’s company quickly got the attention of big investors, and shares quickly shot up to $24 each.

While he doesn’t actually get a $285 million check each year, he is still a very wealthy man. Woodman was granted 4.5 million restricted stock units that he can’t sell until after they vest and certain other conditions are met. Since GoPro shares change in value so often, it is hard to pinpoint exactly how much Woodman has on any given day.

Based on the stock prices today, Woodman’s shares would be worth just over $200 million. Analysts say Woodman will likely receive a salary of several million dollars a year, but the amount will be nothing like his 2014 compensation. Because of his big stake in the GoPro, his wealth increases when the stock goes up.

GoPro, Inc. was formerly named after its founder and CEO. The San Mateo, California-based company was once named Woodman Labs, Inc. GoPro develops, manufactures, and markets high-definition action cameras that are often used in action-video photography.

The New York Daily News reports that Woodman got the idea for a wearable action camera while on a surfing trip in Australia of 2002. It was difficult for photographers to get close enough him to get the footage he desired. The surfer needed a camera system that could capture the professional angles of his surfing.

It took Woodman two years to get the funding for his company. He raised some of the money he needed by selling bead and shell belts and fashionable camera straps for under $20 out of his VW van. His parents invested over $230,000 in his company.

Two years later, the company sold its first camera system, which used only 35 mm film. Digital still and video camera were later introduced. As of 2014, more innovative camera systems became available.

Nick Woodman is worth an estimated $4.8 billion. He saw a need and proved that the proverb is true. “Necessity is the mother of invention.”

[Image by Andrew Burton/Getty Images]