- Oliver Steil, the CEO of the Goeppingen-based software company Teamviewer, earned more than any Dax manager in 2020. He received remuneration of around 70.7 million euros – the equivalent of almost 190,000 euros a day.
- As a remote maintenance and home office software provider, his company Teamviewer benefits from the new working conditions in the Corona crisis.
- Business Insider Deutschland spoke with Teamviewer CEO Oliver Steil, one of Germany’s highest-earning top managers, about the company’s success.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
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Germany’s best-paid manager doesn’t come from the Dax: Oliver Steil is CEO of Teamviewer, one of Germany’s most successful software companies. And in 2020, he earned around 71.7 million euros. That’s according to Teamviewer’s annual report for the past fiscal year. By comparison, as the ranking leader of the best-earning Dax CEOs, Deutsche Post CEO Frank Appel received more than 10 million euros last year – and that was only because payments from long-term compensation packages for previous years were due. According to an evaluation by Frankfurt-based remuneration consultancy HKP, the average pay of Dax CEOs fell by around 28 percent in the corona year 2020, writes the “FAZ ” – to an average of around 5.3 million euros.
How is it possible that Steil received higher compensation than any other Dax CEO last year? True, he only receives a fixed salary of around 900,000 euros from his employer, plus some bonuses, which were particularly high in 2020 because, according to the annual report, the board achieved 200 percent of its targets. In addition, however, there are more than 70 million euros that are recorded as “third-party benefits” in the annual report.
Prior to the company’s IPO, Teamviewer board members Steil and Stefan Gaiser had agreed with the former owners to “participate in the increase in value of the company” via shareholdings. Former owner Permira, a British financial investor, had bought Teamviewer more than six years ago and floated it on the stock market in the fall of 2019 at a profit of more than two billion. When Gaiser and Steil joined the company in early 2018, they invested in the company with equity and in return received a share of the company’s appreciation. Permira also gave a stake to 80 other Teamviewer executives. At the time, however, things were not going so well. “At that time, the company was growing at a lower rate, and there was less investment in marketing and sales,” says Gaiser. Steil adds, “Of course, that was also a certain entrepreneurial risk for us and could have gone wrong.”
At the end of last year, Steil was now allocated another tranche as a reward under this agreement. According to the annual report, the Teamviewer CEO received more than 1.76 million shares in the company on Dec. 1, which, given its stock market value, amounts to the high double-digit millions. Steil’s only colleague on the board, Chief Financial Officer Stefan Gaiser, was also lavishly rewarded by the former owners in the same way. According to the annual report, he received more than 35 million euros.
In the coming year, Gaiser and Steil could receive as much again as they did this year: A “second outstanding share allocation in an identical amount is expected to take place in the fourth quarter of 2021,” according to the annual report.
Teamviewer benefits from the Corona crisis
On the interview date with Business Insider last year, Steil calls about his company’s app. Blizz is the name of the application for video conferencing and office communication, and it works similarly to Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or Skype. Today, however, the video remains off, but instead, a small microphone lights up next to the profile photo of a smiling Oliver Steil in a light blue shirt.
Based in the Swabian town of Göppingen, the company has been developing software for 15 years that allows people to control other devices remotely, from computer to computer. “Remote access” is the name of the process. Using Teamviewer, IT departments of corporations, for example, can access the desktops of their employees in the home office and eliminate technical problems.
The tool is in particularly high demand during the Corona crisis, which means that Teamviewer is currently experiencing a boom. This is shown by the figures from the first quarter published on Tuesday: billed revenues (billings) have grown by 75 percent compared to the previous year, reaching a record 119.7 million euros.
Half a million paying customers
“The Corona pandemic should lead to a boost in digitization, as more and more companies are thinking about how to work remotely,” says Oliver Steil. He says the Goeppingen-based company is noticing this above all in the increased number of customers. In the first quarter of the year, Teamviewer gained 50,000 new paying corporate customers for its remote maintenance tool, bringing the total number of subscribers to 514,000. In addition, there are a number of private users. Overall, Teamviewer software solutions were installed on more than 2.25 billion devices by the end of March.
“The accelerated digitization through Corona is not just a flash in the pan, however; we expect long-term and sustainable effects on our business,” says Oliver Steil. Many employers see large and long-term efficiency potentials through the shift to the home office. Consequently, Steil and CFO Stefan Gaiser have raised the full-year forecast and now expect billings of around 450 million euros for fiscal 2020.
The Teamviewer business model thrives on subscription fees from corporate customers. Depending on the size of the company, the costs for the service range from 240 to well over half a million euros per year. Everything from small companies with three employees to multinational corporations with 100,000 employees is included, including companies from all industries. A good half of the Fortune 500 companies were or are subscribers.
Both Steil and Chief Financial Officer Stefan Gaiser have played a major role in the success. At the beginning of 2018, Steil moved from the investment company Permira to Teamviewer after Permira bought the Goeppingen-based company in 2014 for 870 million euros. “Permira as an owner was very important in our growth story,” says Steil in an interview with Business Insider. After Steil’s change, everything happened very quickly: within two years, Teamviewer grew from 600 employees at the time to almost 1,000, and in 2019 it launched the largest IPO of a tech company since the dotcom bubble burst.
But what’s the mood like in a company when the bosses earn so much more? “So far, we haven’t perceived it as a problem internally. The mood is very good, but we also pay good salaries and give every employee a share in the company’s success through variable salary components,” says Steil. All employees also received an IPO bonus for the IPO.
Focus on remote maintenance
Teamviewer’s competitors are not the other video conferencing services like Zoom or Microsoft Teams. “The video chat tool is more of a byproduct for us; our core product revolves around remote control of machines, devices, and systems,” Steil says. And Teamviewer is virtually alone in this field.
What sets Teamviewer apart from other providers: Customers can use the remote control tool not only to access their employees’ computer desktops, but also to access virtually any device – whether large machines in production, mobile devices, credit card terminals in supermarkets, or even equipment in laboratories.
To some extent, Teamviewer is competing here with Siemens and Bosch, which are building their customers specially developed IoT platforms for this purpose. “Of course, that takes much longer and is significantly more expensive. With us, customers receive a ready-made and comparatively inexpensive connectivity platform that is ready for immediate use,” says Steil.
Are cloud services reaching their limits?
However, the increased number of users due to the Corona crisis is also putting cloud services such as Zoom or Teamviewer to the test, Telekom CEO Thimotheus Höttges recently told the “Handelsblatt” newspaper. Because when many people suddenly use video conferencing, a very large amount of data is exchanged in the process. “Of course, this also applies to our Blizz video product, but we have increased router capacity accordingly,” Steil said.
In the case of remote maintenance, the core business area, the data volumes transferred are significantly lower and the connections also occur less frequently, Steil explains. There’s “no comparison to the data load of video conferencing,” he said.
Big plans for the coming year
Steil still has a lot of plans for Teamviewer. First, he says, it’s a matter of steering the company safely through the crisis and recession. “In the long term, however, we are trying to continue to innovate, to invest further in the IoT and AR areas, among others, and to develop solutions for new industries here,” Steil said.
In 2021, he said, the company first wants to push the distribution of its products and continue to focus strongly on key accounts. To this end, many new employees will be hired worldwide in sales and marketing. This will also be accompanied by the strengthening of international representative offices – such as on the West Coast of the USA. The United States is the most important market for the German software developer.
Steil’s vision: “We want to become one of the most relevant companies in the software industry worldwide; we already are in Europe.” The figures suggest that the manager could succeed in this.
Disclaimer: This text appeared in an earlier version on Business Insider in May 2020. It has now been reviewed, revised and republished.
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