What it costs to protect the world’s richest tech moguls

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas Silicon Valley executives are among the richest people. They are also among the most famous and can become a lightning rod for public anger. They spend millions on security measures: hiring armed bodyguards, installing bulletproof panels in their offices, and installing rumored escape passages. […]

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

  • Silicon Valley executives are among the richest people.

  • They are also among the most famous and can become a lightning rod for public anger.

  • They spend millions on security measures: hiring armed bodyguards, installing bulletproof panels in their offices, and installing rumored escape passages.

  • Scroll on to see how much the likes of Mark Zuckerberg and Jeff Bezos spend on security.

  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Silicon Valley contains a high concentration of the world’s richest tech billionaires, many of whom spend huge amounts on personal-security measures.

Public filings can give us some insight into how much tech moguls spend on security, as their companies shell out millions to keep their executives safe, sometimes by buying them commodities like private planes.

Public records are just the tip of the iceberg, as Silicon Valley’s richest can supplement their security costs out of their own (considerably deep) pockets.

Here, in ascending order, is how much tech’s C-suite stars spend on security.

Jack Dorsey: $68,500 at last count

Jack Dorsey was accosted by right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones earlier after giving evidence to Congress.
Jack Dorsey was accosted by right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones earlier after giving evidence to Congress.

Scott Mahaskey

Jack Dorsey’s security costs were last revealed in 2016 in an SEC filing that showed Twitter paid him $68,506 for “residential security and protective detail.”

Dorsey’s spend may have increased in the intervening years, especially since his Twitter account was hacked in September 2019.

Eric Schmidt: $296,353

Eric Schmidt
Eric Schmidt

REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Schmidt stepped down as Google chairman in 2018, and the previous year the company spent just under $300,000 on Schmidt’s personal security. Bloomberg pegs Schmidt’s net worth at $14 billion.

Tim Cook: $457,000

Tim Cook
Tim Cook

Getty Images/Chip Somodevilla

Apple spent $457,083 on private security for Tim Cook in 2019, according to a proxy statement filed in January of this year, up 104% from $310,000 in 2018.

This is still a modest expenditure by Silicon Valley standards — especially considering Apple regularly dips in and out of being the world’s most valuable company.

Cook’s travel costs also surged last year by 239% to $315,311, a possible consequence of Cook’s vigorous lobbying to save Apple from the brunt of the US-China trade war.

Dara Khosrowshahi: $596,500

Dara Khosrowshahi, CEO of Uber.
Dara Khosrowshahi, CEO of Uber.

Drew Angerer/Getty Images

A proxy statement filed by Uber in March 2020 said the company paid out $596,554 in “business and personal security costs” for Khosrowshahi in 2019.

This is a significant drop since 2018, as Uber’s IPO filing revealed that CEO Dara Khosrowshahi’s compensation included $2 million for “security costs,” roughly equivalent to his bonus.

In 2019 the company also paid Khosrowshahi’s $1,392,569 for costs incurred by “personal travel in Uber-provided vehicles.”

Sundar Pichai: $1.2 million

Sundar Pichai Polish PM
Sundar Pichai Polish PM

Agencja Gazeta/Maciej Jazwiecki via REUTERS

Google spent $1.2 million on security CEO Sundar Pichai in 2018, almost double the previous year when he was handed $680,000 for personal protection.

The sudden uptick in Pichai’s security expenditure came months after an active shooter entered YouTube’s San Bruno campus, injuring three employees.

Nasim Najafi Aghdam, the YouTube shooter.
Nasim Najafi Aghdam, the YouTube shooter.

San Bruno Police Department/Handout via REUTERS

Pichai’s new “overall security program” was approved in July 2018, three months after Nasim Najafi Aghdam shot three people and then herself at YouTube HQ in San Bruno. Following the attack, YouTube announced that it was stepping up its security.

A Google spokesperson told Business Insider’s Nick Bastone that stepping up Pichai’s security was part of a more general trend — Pichai’s security cost also doubled between 2016 and 2017.

Jeff Bezos: $1.6 million

Jeff Bezos
Jeff Bezos

REUTERS/Demetrius Freeman

The world’s richest man doesn’t spend the most on security — at least not publicly. Forbes reports that the amount Amazon shells out for Bezos’ security hasn’t changed since 2012 despite the billionaire’s wealth growing by about $113 billion. An Amazon spokesperson said Bezos pays separately for his personal security.

Bezos had bulletproof panels installed in his office.

Jeff Bezos Amazon spheres
Jeff Bezos Amazon spheres

JASON REDMOND/AFP/Getty Images

A Seattle city-planning permit, spotted by The Daily Beast, showed that Amazon applied to install bulletproof panels in Bezos’ office in November 2018, and was granted permission in January 2019. The panels cost $180,000 to install and can withstand multiple shots from a military assault rifle.

Bezos’ personal-protection bills aren’t available to scrutinize, but in 2019 his security chief said the billionaire wrote him a blank check to launch a private investigation.

Jeff Bezos' head of security, Gavin de Becker.
Jeff Bezos’ head of security, Gavin de Becker.

Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP

After Bezos’ intimate texts to former TV anchor Lauren Sanchez were leaked to The National Enquirer, Bezos hired his personal-security chief, Gavin de Becker, to investigate the source of the leak.

Writing in The Daily Beast in March, de Becker said Bezos told him to “spend whatever is needed” to get to the root of how his texts were obtained by The Enquirer.

De Becker’s investigation concluded “with high confidence” that Saudi Arabia was behind the leak. Bezos owns The Washington Post, which has reported deeply on the death of Jamal Khashoggi, the Post journalist who was murdered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018.

In early 2020 it we learned that Bezos’ phone had been hacked.

jeff bezos lauren sanchez
jeff bezos lauren sanchez

In January 2020, a forensic investigation of Bezos’ phone revealed that in May 2018 he had been hacked via WhatsApp, most likely by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Although Saudi Arabia denied the accusation, the UN threw its weight behind the claim.

Larry Ellison: $1.6 million

Larry Ellison
Larry Ellison

Justin Sullivan/Getty

Oracle pays the annual costs of protecting CTO and cofounder Larry Ellison’s “primary residence,” which Forbes speculated is likely to be his Japanese-inspired Woodside estate in California, although the company declined to comment.

Sheryl Sandberg: $4.3 million

Sheryl Sandberg
Sheryl Sandberg

Allison Shelley/Getty Images

Sandberg’s security costs climbed by 168% in 2019, from $2.9 million in 2018 to $4.3 million.

Mark Zuckerberg: $23 million

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

Reuters

Zuckerberg’s security costs skyrocketed in tandem with the company’s disastrous 2018.

Facebook spent $10 million on personal protection for Zuckerberg in 2018, up $2.5 million from the year before. He was also given a “pretax allowance” of $10 million for “additional costs” to do with keeping him and his family safe.

In an SEC filing, the company said that public rage directed toward Facebook was part of the reason for Zuckerberg’s high security spend.

“He is synonymous with Facebook, and as a result, negative sentiment regarding our company is directly associated with, and often transferred to, Mr. Zuckerberg,” Facebook said.

Facebook upheld that astronomical sum for 2019, per a proxy filing from April 2020, spending roughly $23 million on Zuckerberg’s security and travel costs.

Zuckerberg’s security detail includes 24/7 protection.

facebook ceo mark zuckerberg congress
facebook ceo mark zuckerberg congress

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

Business Insider’s Rob Price published a 5,000-word investigation into Facebook’s security operations and discovered that Zuckerberg is constantly protected by armed executive protection officers who stand guard outside his Bay Area homes, one of which is equipped with a panic room.

The Facebook CEO is rumored to have an escape passage under his conference room.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg toboggans down the Great Wall of China.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg toboggans down the Great Wall of China.

Facebook

Price discovered a popular rumor among Facebook employees is that Zuckerberg has a “panic chute” in case him and his team need to evacuate the offices. One source told Price they had been briefed on the passageway’s existence. Facebook declined to comment.

Elon Musk: unknown

Elon Musk
Elon Musk

Brendan McDermid/Reuters

Elon Musk is one of the most bombastic and divisive personalities to dominate Silicon Valley. His security costs are not readily available. Tesla declined to comment.

In November 2018, the Tesla CEO tweeted that one of his other ventures, The Boring Company, was looking for someone to guard a Monty Python-inspired watchtower.

Monty Python and the Holy Grail
Monty Python and the Holy Grail

YouTube via Python Pictures

Specifically, Musk said that he needed “a knight to yell insults at people in a French accent.”

Google cofounders Larry Page and Sergey Brin haven’t revealed their security costs in many years.

Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin.
Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin.

Getty/Justin Sullivan

The last time Google disclosed security costs for its cofounders was in 2006, when it gave Larry Page $33,195 for transportation, logistics, and personal security.

Page and Brin have now both left Google’s parent company Alphabet, handing power to Sundar Pichai.

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