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Eric Schmidt's $100 million 'farewell'

By David Goldman, staff writer


NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- After receiving just $1 a year in salary since 2004, outgoing Google CEO Eric Schmidt is getting a nice, fat $100 million 'thank you and farewell' present.

Well, not so fast.

Schmidt's award, approved by Google's board on Friday and disclosed Monday in a regulatory filing, is a stock-and-options package with a four-year vesting period. That means that he's got to stick around at the company until at least 2015 to fully cash it out.

Schmidt's move from the CEO spot to a position as "executive chairman" of Google's board set the tech industry twittering about whether the change was the first step toward a departure from the company.

The new $100 million package marks the first stock-based compensation that Schmidt has received since he took over as Google's CEO in 2001. His initial salary was $250,000 a year, but in 2004 Schmidt requested that it be cut to $1, where it has remained ever since.

Of course, it's not like he needs the money. When he came on as CEO, Schmidt received a boatload of stock awards, giving him an ownership stake in Google worth about 3% of the company as of the end of 2010. His 9.2 million Google shares make him worth $5.8 billion.

Schmidt last sold Google shares in 2007, but he recently announced that he plans on selling 534,000 shares, taking his ownership of Google down to 2.7%. At Monday's prices, Schmidt would make $325 million from the deal.

Google surprised the tech community on Thursday when it said Schmidt would hand over day-to-day operations of the company to Google's founding CEO Larry Page. Schmidt will stay on as executive chairman after he leaves his CEO role on April 4.

According to the company, he will focus on deals, partnerships, customers and broader business relationships, government outreach and technology thought leadership. He will also continue to act as an advisor to co-founders Page and co-founder Sergey Brin. To top of page

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