When Surojit Chatterjee logs out on his final day as chief product officer at Coinbase on February 3, he will have made a whopping $105 million from stock sales.
According to disclosures filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the former chief product officer will also retain a further 249,315 shares of COIN stock, worth another $7.6 million. (Our estimates are based on the closing price of Coinbase stock, at $49.42 per share, on Friday, January 20, after the exercise price, which was $18.71.)
Chatterjee joined San Francisco-based Coinbase from Google in February 2020 on a salary of just under $1 million per year, the filings show.
All told, he has earned about $115 million since joining the company. DL News’ estimate of Chatterjee’s total compensation was checked with two sources who have expertise in executive compensation: Rosanna Landis Weaver, a senior manager at As You Sow, a shareholder advocacy group; and Paul Hodgson, a senior advisor and compensation expert with corporate data house Esgauge.
Chatterjee’s earnings are high, even as pay packages soar among high-ranking executives. For comparison, the CEO of Ford Motor earned less than a quarter of that in the same period, and Ford’s revenues are 45 times the size of Coinbase’s.
A study conducted by Equilar and The New York Times found that eight CEOs were awarded more than $200 million in 2021, with two earning packages above $500 million.
In April 2021, Bloomberg noted that Chatterjee’s five-year contract with the company was worth $646 million. But his stay was cut short and the crypto market has crashed since, bringing down his total take-home.
That astronomical number in the five-year contract was driven by the rise of COIN stock. As the coronavirus pandemic raged across the planet, bored people stuck in lockdown turned to crypto in droves. The price of Bitcoin hit $69,000. Coinbase’s revenues are heavily linked to crypto transaction volume, and COIN stock rocketed to a high of more than $342 per share during that year. Chatterjee’s options were priced at just at $18.71 — making him fabulously wealthy.
That wealth wasn’t just on paper. The company required its executives to trade their stock according to a Rule 10b5-1 plan, which generated frequent automatic sales of their options on a schedule they did not control. As the months went by, Chatterjee was granted options and then sold them in 65 separate transactions, mostly in 2021, according to his SEC disclosures. The plan paid off handsomely: He took $102.5 million in cash gains in 2021 alone.
He wasn’t even the richest beneficiary of the plan. According to the SEC, chief operating officer Emilie Choi booked $106 million in stock sales that same year. CEO Brian Armstrong booked none — zero — that year, but he did gain $57 million from options sales the year before. He continues to hold a controlling stake in the company.
Chatterjee had a five-year agreement with Coinbase but is leaving after three. With COIN stock at $49 per share, his compensation package is now magnitudes less valuable than it was in 2021. But the cash may not have been the driving factor behind his departure — Chatterjee has said he is grappling with family issues.
“As our product leaders have taken on more responsibility, I’ve been able to consider taking a much-needed personal break to spend more time with my family. It has been a tough year for me personally — my father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, and my mother passed away unexpectedly. If I’m honest with myself, I don’t think I’ve allowed myself time to grieve either yet,” he wrote in a recent LinkedIn post.
Chatterjee and Coinbase both declined to comment to DL News.