About two months into his job as CTO of Oxygen Media Inc., Curtis Brown made a dramatic presentation to the company's senior managers that demonstrated just the kind of bottom-line thinking they wanted to hear.
Brown's due diligence on the state of technology at the New York-based entertainment company produced a four-page Excel spreadsheet listing all the major technologies Oxygen employed at the time, including many the CTO felt were redundant. Brown faced the other managers, held up all four sheets, and then put down two pieces of paper. Holding up the remaining two, he said, "This is how much technology we can use." He then jettisoned one more, adding, "I think we can get down to one sheet of technology."
In a year when the high-tech sector has suffered deep losses, the business side is holding CTOs more accountable than ever for results and savings. These key players are maintaining high salaries, are using both technology savvy and business sense to help create efficiencies and keep an eye on ROI, and are simultaneously searching for new technology that will help launch products and generate future revenue growth.
Of the 195 CTOs who responded to the 2002 InfoWorld Compensation Survey, 41 per cent report base salary increases in the past 12 months; 62 per cent report receiving some kind of bonus. CTOs report an average salary of US$143,802, excluding bonuses, profit sharing, and other forms of compensation. The April 2002 survey had a total of 3,295 respondents representing executives, mid-level managers, and staff members.
Brown, whose salary has not changed since he made that proposal about two years ago, has delivered the efficiencies he promised. "I think we're just a hair over one sheet of technology, and that's what we needed," he said.
Those cuts, which resulted in a 50 per cent reduction in Brown's staff, represent the kind of attention to finances that companies are looking for - and are finding - in their CTOs. "I'm comfortable saying I've saved tens of millions of dollars at Oxygen," Brown said.
The recruitment picture
Steady salary rates for CTOs reflect the numbers that IT executive recruiters see in the marketplace. Jim McFadzean, partner in the Silicon Valley recruiting firm Ray & Berndtson said that while the overall number of openings has dropped off, pay for high-level technology executives has not. "I have not seen any dramatic change in compensation," McFadzean said. "I think if anything, it's maintained or gone up."
Not surprisingly, what has changed since the dot-com bubble burst is a wariness on the part of job seekers about stock options, though options haven't gone away entirely as an incentive. "The equity holding in most cases is still an integral part of negotiating for the offer," McFadzean said.