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Google's chief accepted gear but no pay as Apple board member


Before he resigned from the company's board of directors this week, Google Chief Executive Eric Schmidt was essentially a volunteer during his tenure with Apple, accepting only products.

All the Google executive did accept, according to public records from the Securities and Exchange Commission revealed by BusinessWeek, was $8,712 in Apple products, and a $7,580 unknown "commemorative gift." The publication also recalled, as previously known, that Schmidt passed on stock options and a $50,000 retainer fee offered by the Cupertino, Calif.-based company.

Apple's directors are entitled to one of each of the company's new products, as well as a discount on hardware purchases. The directors do capitalize on the offering: former U.S. Vice President Al Gore took $13,161 in Apple products, while Arthur Levinson, former CEO of Genentech, took $8,923.

While Apple's board members are allowed 30,000 shares of the company stock, and the option to purchase an additional 10,000 shares each year, Schmidt passed. Instead, in September 2006, the Google executive bought 10,000 shares on his own, on the open market, at a cost of about $740,000. Today, BusinessWeek calculates, those shares would be worth $1.7 million.

Apple board members are also entitled to a $50,000 annual retainer fee, paid as $12,500 each quarter. But Schmidt also passed on that offering.

He practices the same actions with his own company as well. Schmidt's salary with Google is only $1 a year, and he hasn't accepted stock options from the company for several years.

Schmidt had served on the Apple Board of Directors since August of 2006. With Android for mobile phones out and Chrome OS for computers on the way, it was decided that Google and Apple were competing in too many similar markets. With his effectiveness diminished, he resigned from the board.

Schmidt already had to recuse himself from board meetings that involved iPhone plans, many of which would clash with Google's own attempts to promote its Android mobile operating system. Though the Google executive was adamant that the two companies don't occupy the same markets, the Federal Trade Commission has been investigating the Apple-Google link for a possible violation of antitrust laws through unfair collaboration.

Even though Schmidt resigned, the FTC declared this week that it would still be looking into links between the Apple and Google boards. Levinson still serves both companies, and if federal scrutiny continues, he may be forced to resign from one of his positions.