Despite a tough year and ongoing doubts about his company's long-term profitability, Snapchat founder and CEO Evan Spiegel was 2017's best paid chief executive after pocketing 638 million U.S. dollars.
A regulatory filing published on Thursday showed that Spiegel received a 637 million U.S. dollar payout following Snap's listing last year.
His annual salary and other payments pushed that up by another million dollars, in the biggest executive payout in the past decade.
According to Reuters, the only CEO to ever receive a higher annual payment was Daniel Och, head of hedge fund Och-Ziff Capital Management Group, who received 918.9 million and 1.19 billion US dollars in 2007 and 2008 respectively.
Rollercoaster ride in 2017
News of the huge payment to Spiegel, who at the age of 27 has an estimated net worth of 4.1 billion U.S. dollars, comes at a time of uncertainty for Snap. A redesign for the Snapchat app has received a negative response from users, with reality star Kylie Jenner revealing in a tweet that she no longer uses it.
According to BBC, that tweet potentially sent shares down by eight percent and wiped off 1.2 billion U.S. dollars from the company's value. However, Jenner was just one of millions of users to complain about the redesign, and a report from Citigroup downgrading expectations for Snap after the upgrade likely had a bigger bearing on investors choosing to sell Snap shares.
Snap's IPO last March saw its share price open at 17 U.S. dollars before hitting 29 U.S. dollars, valuing the company at around 35 billion U.S. dollars. The rest of the year was a steady decline until Snap shares fell to a low of almost 11 U.S. dollars.
Chinese Internet giant Tencent then took a 10 percent stake in the company in November, and since then Snap has recovered to its initial price of around 17 U.S. dollars.
Data released earlier this month revealed daily active user year-on-year growth of 18 percent, ahead of expectations.
The company posted revenue of 285.7 million U.S. dollars for 2017, a 72 percent increase on the year before and again, beyond the expectations of most analysts.
However, doubts remain over the profitability and potential growth of the social media platform, amid tough competition from rivals like Instagram.
Executive pay in China
Average executive pay in China rose by nine percent in 2016, according to a study by Deloitte, which revealed the average annual payout for top CEOs stood at 1.02 million yuan (146,300 U.S. dollars).
Alibaba founder and chairman Jack Ma, one of China's richest men with an estimated fortune of 41.1 billion U.S. dollars, told the Economic Club of New York in 2015 that he was happier in the 1980s when he earned just 12 U.S. dollars per month as an English teacher.
Ma said his wealth was a "responsibility" towards society, after describing his younger years in Hangzhou as "the best in his life."