Cash is once again king. We got more evidence this week—in our interview with Cisco’s chief people officer—that some tech companies are raising salaries to sweeten pay at a time when falling stock prices make stock less appealing as a form of compensation. While workers may be pleased, investors might not be. Companies (and investors) like to pretend stock compensation doesn’t cost anything—as is clear from the “adjusted” profit figures so many companies highlight in their earnings, which exclude the cost of stock comp.
They can’t be so cavalier with cash pay. The shift in the balance of compensation toward cash will make the impact of head count expenses more apparent on the bottom line. And it will have a double-whammy impact as a wide array of tech companies—from Meta Platforms to Shopify to Pinterest—are looking to hire more people. There’s little doubt the adjusted profit margins that some investors focus on are likely to erode at some companies this year.