Million-dollar house-hunting with eBay…

September 8, 2011

We recently put executives on notice that they’re falling behind the corner-office Joneses if they aren’t getting to keep their company-issued iPads on the way out the door. Now it looks like the new auction chief at eBay (EBAY) is setting the bar higher on another perk of executive pay: the housing allowance.

Devin Wenig, previously head of Thomson Reuters Markets, is scheduled to start as president of eBay Marketplaces on October 1, a job held by eBay CEO John Donahoe since September, according to the 8-K and press release that eBay issued on Tuesday. It’s a big job — the Marketplaces segment made up 60% of the company’s net revenues from external customers in the quarter ended June 30 — and so as you might imagine, it comes with big pay all around.

The salary, actually, isn’t so huge compared to other senior executives we’ve seen: $750,000 a year. His target bonus would add another $750,000 (or more if various performance measures exceed target). The real money is in equity: $2.4 million in restricted stock, half of it soon after he starts, the other half six months later, and starting to vest in a couple years if he stays employed. He gets another $7.8 million in restricted stock units, vesting 25% on each of the next four anniversaries of his employment. Then yet another slug of $1.8 million in restricted stock units will vest based on company performance through 2012.

That’s a lot of cash and stock, but what really caught our eye — and the eye of the helpful folks over at 8kexecutive — was the housing assistance laid out in his offer letter. He’ll get moving costs paid, of course, plus $10,000 a month for temporary living expenses (if you can call that living) for an unspecified period of time, and “the cost of transportation, including air travel (business class) and reasonable related travel expenses for you or your family every two weeks” for as long as a year. eBay will even pay the taxes on that transportation assistance “to the extent applicable.”

And then eBay has this to offer:

“You will also be eligible to receive a home purchase payment of $1,000,000 (less deductions and applicable taxes) to assist you with expenses related to your move to the San Jose area, including the purchase of a home. This housing purchase payment will be payable as soon as administratively possible following your notice to the Company that you are prepared to purchase a home in the Bay Area, but not later than the first pay period of March 2012.”

To our eye that sounds like Wenig may have to decide to buy a house by March 2012 to be eligible for the $1 million — but also that he could decide not to buy, and continue to collect the temporary housing assistance for, well, it’s not clear how long.

Wenig does have to pay eBay back if he quits or is fired for cause within a year, and he has to give some of it back if he leaves between a year and three years (at 1/36th of the total for every month short of three years that he stays). It’s also not clear how far that $1 million will go. Given that Wenig’s current home — or maybe just his vacation house — seems to be a 3,466-square-foot, four-bedroom, three-bath place a few blocks from Long Island Sound, he appears to have pricey tastes.

Still, it seems like a sweet deal to us, even in light of the other examples of housing allowances we’ve footnoted over the last year or so. After all, eBay runs the world’s largest online marketplace — with a little clever searching, maybe they could find him something attractive there.

Image source: eBay corporate website

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