In recent months, Facebook has faced heavy criticism for its failures to protect the privacy of its users. But the company spares no expense to protect its top executive.
The leading tech companies in Silicon Valley are known to spend liberally to secure the safety of their executives.
Here’s what some of the biggest names in tech are spending to protect their fearless leaders:
- It’s reported that Apple spends more than $300K annual on personal security for CEO Tim Cook.
- Amazon spends $1.6 million to protect CEO Jeff Bezos.
- Oracle spends $1.6 million to protect CEO Larry Ellison.
- Google’s parent company, Alphabet spends $600K protecting CEO Sundar Pichai.
- Uber spends $2 million to protect CEO Dara Khosrowshahi.
But as expensive as the protection for these executives sounds, they don’t come close to what Facebook spends to keep Mark Zuckerberg safe, and the costs have risen considerably over the past few years.
The Cost to Protect Mark Zuckerberg
In 2013 Zuckerberg’s security detail costs were $2.6 million. By 2017, it had shot up to $7.3 million, due in part to the fact that Zuckerberg made a personal vow to visit every U.S. state in 2017. In 2018, Facebook anticipated spending $10 million on its CEO’s security.
What the company actually spent might blow you away – $22.6 million.
About $20 million was dedicated to security personnel to guard the safety of Zuckerberg, his wife and their two children, as well as the procurement, installation, and maintenance of security measures for his residences. Another $2.6 million was allocated for the use of private jets, which the company uses as a part of his overall security program.
Facebook reportedly employs a 6,000-person security army to protect Zuckerberg and the company’s 80,000 employees.
Zuckerberg’s Extensive Executive Protection Measures
According to some Facebook staffers, there are many more details that go into protecting the company’s founder. No one is permitted to park directly below Zuckerberg’s office for fear of a car containing explosives being positioned there. It’s also said that some of his personal security detail go undercover, dressing as Facebook engineers to blend in.
- It’s also been reported that armed security officers stand on constant guard outside Zuckerberg’s homes in the Bay Area.
- Before he enters any public location, including bars, his team will first go in and sweep the property to make sure it’s safe. They also vet any new trainers or doctors before he meets with them.
- It’s said that during company all-hands meetings, members of Zuckerberg’s executive protection team sit at the front of the room and throughout the crowd, on guard in case an employee tries to attack him.
- As another security precaution, the CEO is driven everywhere he goes.
The most interesting rumor about Zuckerberg’s security has to be that there’s a secret “panic chute” located in the floor of his conference room – which features bullet-resistant windows and a panic button – that leads into the parking garage. This top-secret exit route is said to serve as a way to get him out of the office quickly in case of an emergency or security incident.
The Growing Need for Executive Protection
A committee of Facebook’s board authorized Zuckerberg’s overall security program to address serious safety concerns caused by specific threats to his safety.
While that number may seem astronomical, Facebook sees this invest as appropriate and necessary. To put it into perspective, it’s important to consider the threat level Zuckerberg is faced with each day, and the potential loss that the company could suffer should an incident occur.
Reportedly, thousands of people attempt to gain access to Facebook’s headquarters each week to, among other things, meet Zuckerberg.
The Threats Faced by Mark Zuckerberg
If you keep up with the news, you’ve likely heard a lot about Facebook over the last couple of years, and most of it hasn’t been positive.
Facebook’s role in Russia’s alleged influence on the U.S. presidential election was called into question after it was revealed that Cambridge Analytica obtained data from the personal profiles of 87 million Facebook users without consent.
There was also Zuckerberg’s highly publicized congressional testimony, several data breaches and accusations that Facebook enables the spread of white supremacy and hate speech on its platform.
According to Facebook, negative sentiment regarding the company is directly associated with, and often transferred to Zuckerberg as the company’s founder and CEO.
Zuckerberg is also one of the wealthiest people in the world and is worth just over $70 billion.
The guy clearly requires particularly rigorous protection. And given the tremendous amount of influence Facebook wields in the political arena and how visible Zuckerberg has become as a public figure, it makes sense to invest heavily in his safety.
Justifying the Cost of Executive Protection
The people responsible for his security would need to evaluate each and every threat thoroughly. That takes a lot of time and manpower by some of the most highly trained security personnel in the world, hence the high price.
According to LinkedIn, one staffer in Facebook’s executive protection department spent 12 years with the Secret Service, while another spent several years in Europe protecting NATO’s secretary general.
For most people, the attention provided by a security detail is often unwanted. No executive truly wants security people following them 24/7. It’s an invasion of privacy, although Zuckerberg is notoriously flippant when it comes to the idea of privacy, for Facebook users anyway.
Nonetheless, executive security may be inconvenient and feel somewhat intrusive, but it’s a necessary inconvenience and expense for those that face serious threats.
Executives Face Real Danger
Silicon Valley is no stranger to threats.
Back in 1992 Charles Geschke, the president of Adobe, was kidnapped at gunpoint and rescued by the FBI. In 2018 a woman with a gun opened fire at YouTube, wounding three before killing herself. And in December 2018 Facebook had to evacuate its headquarters due to a bomb threat.
The costs of an executive protection program go far beyond bodyguards. Executives have very complex lives. An essential part of the planning process includes assessing the risks, performing background checks, travel planning and gathering intel on anyone the executive plans to meet with. There’s a great deal of logistics and research involved.
For some, executive protection may include bodyguards for not only the executive but key family members, security systems, drones for patrolling the executives’ homes, armored cars, and extensive electronic privacy measures to prevent data hacks.
Executive Protection for Atlanta CEOs
As an executive in Atlanta, you may not have the same threat level as the top tech companies in Silicon Valley, or the same budget to secure your safety. However, it’s still important to have a company experienced in executive protection assess your unique risk level and recommend a tailored approach to ensure the safety of you, your loved ones and the assets you’ve worked so hard to acquire.
Whether you require round the clock security, a security plan for a one-time event or anything in between, high-profile individuals in the Atlanta area should make an appointment to meet with the Knight Protection Services team. Reserve your spot on our calendar by calling (404) 771-9368 now.