Cisco’s CEO experienced a shift in his compensation structure in fiscal 2001. While his salary decreased slightly, he received a higher number of stock options compared to the previous year. This included a notable drop in his base salary to $1 per year, a decision approved by the company’s board. The adjustment aimed to align Chambers’ incentives with the overall performance of Cisco, linking a significant portion of his earnings to the company’s success. Cisco’s approach to executive compensation is based on individual and corporate achievements, as well as industry benchmarks.


  1. What led to the decrease in Cisco’s CEO salary in fiscal 2001?

    • The decrease in salary was a strategic decision to realign the CEO’s incentives with the company’s performance and long-term success.
  2. What was the rationale behind awarding Chambers more stock options?

    • The increase in stock options aimed to tie a significant portion of the CEO’s compensation to the appreciation of Cisco’s stock value.
  3. How does Cisco determine executive pay?

    • Cisco bases its executive pay on both individual performance metrics and comparisons with industry competitors.
  4. Why did Chambers request to lower his base salary to $1 a year?

    • Chambers opted for a minimal base salary to emphasize the importance of his stock options and align his interests with those of Cisco’s shareholders.
  5. What was the impact of the stock option grant on Chambers’ total compensation?

    • The stock option grant placed a substantial portion of Chambers’ total compensation at risk, as its value relies on Cisco’s stock performance.
  6. What is the significance of the strike prices mentioned in the SEC filing?

    • The strike prices determine the value of the stock options when they are exercised, reflecting the company’s performance and stock appreciation.
  7. How many stock options does Chambers currently hold?

    • Chambers holds a total of 18.8 million exercisable stock options and 12.6 million that remain restricted.
  8. Did other top executives at Cisco experience similar compensation changes?

    • While some top executives saw salary increases, they received fewer stock options compared to the previous year.
  9. How did the CFO’s compensation change in fiscal 2001?

    • The CFO’s salary increased, but there was a reduction in the number of stock options granted.
  10. What was the trend in stock option grants for senior vice presidents at Cisco?

    • Senior vice presidents received a consistent number of stock options compared to the previous year, maintaining a balance between salary and equity incentives.
  11. How does Cisco’s executive compensation strategy differ from its competitors?

    • Cisco’s strategy focuses on aligning executive compensation with company performance and stock value, emphasizing long-term success over short-term gains.
  12. What are the future implications of the executive compensation structure at Cisco?

    • The revised compensation structure aims to motivate executives to drive sustainable growth and shareholder value at Cisco, fostering a culture of accountability and performance-driven rewards.


In summary, Cisco’s CEO, John Chambers, underwent changes in his compensation package in fiscal 2001, with a decline in base salary and an increase in stock options. This shift reflects Cisco’s strategy to align executive incentives with the company’s overall performance and shareholder interests. By emphasizing stock-based compensation tied to long-term value creation, Cisco aims to motivate its top executives to drive sustainable growth and success. As Cisco continues to navigate the evolving business landscape, the company’s executive compensation structure underscores a commitment to driving value for both its executives and shareholders. For more insights on executive compensation strategies and corporate governance, visit our website for in-depth analysis and resources.