Don't cry for Sinofsky: He has $17.5M in Microsoft stock

SEC filings show former head of Windows division won't be standing in the unemployment line

After leaving -- or losing -- his job at Microsoft. Steven Sinofsky will probably not be standing in an unemployment line.

The 23-year veteran of Microsoft, and until Monday, its top Windows executive, has nearly 650,000 shares of company stock, according to recent U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) documents.

In an Oct. 9, 2012, filing with the SEC, Microsoft put Sinofsky's holdings at 647,515 shares as of mid-September. At Tuesday's closing price of $27.09 -- down 3.2% for the day -- those shares were worth approximately $17.5 million.

That paled in comparison to his boss, CEO Steve Ballmer, who controlled more than 333 million shares, making Ballmer the nineteenth-richest American by Forbes' calculations, with some $15.9 billion in assets.

But Sinofsky's millions should be enough to keep the repo man from his door.

On paper Sinofsky had a larger number of shares -- 1,176,195 by one count in a September filing with the SEC -- but they are likely not his any longer.

Two months ago, he was awarded 220,636 shares, which represented the stock portion of his fiscal year 2013 incentive compensation. The shares were to vest over a four-year span, with the first 25% set to vest in August 2013. But those were, as with all such awards, contingent on continued employment.

With his departure, those are apparently off the table.

In its annual proxy statement filed Oct. 9, under a section titled "Post-employment compensation," Microsoft said: "Our Named Executive Officers do not have employment contracts [and] they also are not entitled to payments or benefits upon termination of their employment."

Among the few exceptions, none applied to Sinofsky.

Also apparently off the table: The bulk of his fiscal year 2012 bonus. While Sinofsky received the cash portion of that bonus -- $1.5 million -- the remainder, over 260,000 shares then worth $6.4 million, was also set for vesting over a four-year stretch.

Sinofsky's 2012 bonus, along with the one awarded to Ballmer, made news last month when Microsoft revealed that both men were penalized for poor performance.

In Sinofsky's case, the board pegged his bonus at 60% of its maximum. In the October proxy statement, the company cited the 3% downturn in his division's revenues and its failure "to provide a browser choice screen on certain Windows PCs in Europe as required by its 2009 commitment with the European Commission."

That blunder -- Microsoft called it a "technical error" when it acknowledged the snafu last summer -- may cost Microsoft billions in fines. Three weeks ago, European Union antitrust regulators filed formal charges against Microsoft for the error, saying, "Companies should be deterred from any temptation to renege on their promises or even to neglect their duties."

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His e-mail address is gkeizer@ix.netcom.com.

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