Now that the 10-Ks are largely behind us, proxy statements are rolling in at a good and steady clip. Which means only one thing: it’s silly season for perks. To be sure, after 10-plus years of digging through SEC filings and finding all sorts of crazy things — from executive fish camps to highly valuable antique map collections — the bar for silly perks is pretty high.
But when a friend of footnoted alerted us to a disclosure in Advanced Micro Devices Inc’s proxy filed yesterday, we just had to check it out for ourselves. There, on page 52 in footnote 13 to the “all other compensation” disclosure in the summary compensation table was this helpful footnote:
“This amount represents the direct costs for Sony PlayStation and/or Microsoft Xbox One game console systems paid for by us and gifted to a Named Executive Officer.”
As best we can tell, this is a first for Advanced Micro Devices, despite the fact that the company has provided graphics chips for Microsoft’s Xbox dating back to 2006. PlayStation appears to be a lot newer of a client. But it’s also a first for major companies. After a quick scan of SEC filings, we couldn’t find a single other company that had gifted gaming devices to their named executives.
To be fair, there is a long and one might even say proud history of companies allowing their directors to sample the merchandise. Nordstrom, for example, provides a generous clothing allowance; Former Vice President Al Gore, who sits on Apple’s board, has received laptops, IPads and other devices. Still, it’s usually products produced by the company in question, as opposed to another company’s products just because a component is in there. It’s also more common for directors to receive the booty, as opposed to the named executives.
Granted, the amount of money spent isn’t likely to move the needle one way or another. All told the amount spent on providing devices to the five named executives was under $5K. Still, we’d love to hear someone at AMD make the argument over why this was a necessary business expense. We’d also love to know why, if they’re providing key components, they actually paid retail for the game consoles.
With proxy season continuing for another five weeks or so, we expect to see other, um, interesting perks disclosed.
Welcome to the silly season for perks!