Kavin Bharti Mittal, CEO at Hike Ltd, received an almost 24-fold increase in compensation for 2015-16, as the messaging app expanded its operations and attracted marquee investors.
Mittal received total remuneration of Rs 18.28 crore for the year through March 2016, according to the company's annual report. This compares with the Rs 74.61 lakh he got for 2014-15.
To be sure, Mittal didn't get the entire amount in cash. His salary was Rs 99.6 lakh and total, including perks, was about Rs 1.47 crore in 2015-16. He had received Rs 74.59 lakh in salary the year before.
Although the annual report didn't specify the individual components of his total compensation, yet it said that top management executives' remuneration includes variable pay as well as stock options. Separately, a spokesperson for Hike said the increment in compensation is due to the stock options granted to Mittal during the year.
Promoters of large firms typically do not take stock options even when they work in an executive position. In fact, some take nominal cash salaries. But some startups include such options for founders as part of the compensation mix.
While Mittal got steep hike, his compensation remains lower than the Rs 46.5 crore that Kunal Bahl and Rohit Bansal, co-founders of e-commerce marketplace Snapdeal, each got in 2014-15 in total executive compensation, pitchforking them to become the joint seventh-highest paid executives in the country that year.
Mittal's compensation accounted for nearly a third of the four-year-old company's total employee costs of Rs 58.89 crore, which more than doubled from Rs 25.1 crore in 2014-15.
The jump in compensation came in a year when Hike's net loss widened to Rs 217.36 crore from Rs 122.36 crore as costs climbed.
The previous fiscal year was also the year when the company started earning revenue from operations. The company reported revenue from operations of Rs 42.32 lakh for 2015-16. Coupons generated almost all its operating revenue.
Total income climbed to Rs 34.92 crore, thanks to a jump in profit from sale of investments to Rs 34.41 crore from Rs 3.83 crore in 2014-15.
Mittal, son of Bharti Enterprises chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal, founded Hike in July 2012. Hike is a peer-to-peer messaging app that uses both data and SMS to deliver messages.
In August last year, Hike raised $175 million (Rs 1,170 crore) from China's Tencent Holdings Ltd, Taiwan's Foxconn Technology Group and other investors in a round that propelled it to the elite list of unicorns, with a valuation of $1.4 billion. This was the fourth funding round for Hike and took the total it has raised so far to $250 million.