Facebook Inc. revealed that it spent $4.26 million on security for Mark Zuckerberg last year, its first disclosure of such costs, and the highest among companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index that have filed proxy statements for fiscal 2015.
The cost was “to address safety concerns due to specific threats to his safety arising directly as a result of his position as our founder, Chairman, and CEO,” the company said in the filing. Zuckerberg is the world’s eighth-richest person with $47 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
Chief executives of global businesses are often required by their boards to travel on company-provided planes or cars even for personal trips. More than half of firms in the S&P 100 Index had such policies last year.
That doesn’t come cheap. Each around-the-clock assignment requires four full-time guards, which annually can cost more than $80,000 each, said Christopher Falkenberg, chief executive of New York-based Insite Security Inc., which provides protection to clients including hedge funds. A security director can earn about $200,000 a year.
Recent terrorist attacks in two European capitals and an office shooting in San Bernardino, California, have prompted some boards to re-examine security. While the risk for a little known top executive may be low, a person’s public prominence can quickly change, much thanks to social media, Falkenberg said.