These TikTok Stars Made More Money Than Many of America’s Top CEOs

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Charlie and Dixie D’Amelio, Addison Rae are among the TikTok stars who have outperformed the leaders of several S&P 500 companies

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By comparison, the median salary for CEOs of S&P 500 companies in 2020 was $13.4 million, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of data from MyLogIQ. CEO compensation figures include stock and option awards, which typically make up the majority of executive pay, as well as annual salaries and bonuses, perks and some types of retirement-advantaged benefits. So far only a few 2021 CEO compensation figures have been released.

Ms D’Amelio’s compensation was higher than that of many CEOs of large publicly traded companies, including Exxon Mobil Corp.,

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K Darren Woods ($15.6 million in 2020), Starbucks Corp.,

Kevin Johnson ($14.7 million), Delta Air Lines Inc.,

Ed Bastian ($13.1 million) and McDonald’s Corp.,

of Chris Kempzinski ($10.8 million), according to the Journal’s analysis of his most recent compensation figures.

Charlie’s older sister Dixie D’Amelio has almost half the TikTok followers of Charlie D’Amelio. But according to Forbes, she was the second highest TikTok earner last year with $10 million. It rivals the salary of Gary Kelly, CEO of Southwest Airlines Co. The D’Amelio sisters were not available for comment.

“They’re building a really business empire,” said Mai Karowski, CEO and founder of Clearly Influence Marketing Agency. She noted that many top TikTok influencers run new companies, launch brands and diversify their income streams.

“The numbers we are seeing now are only getting bigger,” she said.

Some S&P 500 CEOs certainly make a lot more. Robert Kotick, who is the founder of videogame giant Activision-Blizzard Inc. are the heads of,

, earned approximately $155 million in 2020. Apple Inc. CEO Tim Cook earned approximately $99 million in the year ended September 25. The CEOs of some smaller companies made even more.

With the rapid growth of the app, the cash flow of Tiktok Stars has also increased. According to Forbes figures, seven of TikTok’s top earners collectively earned $55.5 million last year, a 200% increase over the previous year.

TikTok, owned by Beijing-based ByteDance Ltd., has charmed people with its secret algorithm, which delivers video clips it thinks users will like. The Buzzy app said last year that it had over a billion monthly users.

TikTok did not respond to a request for comment.

Global policy makers Meta Platforms Inc. including are investigating Tiktok and its associates,

Instagram on data-privacy issues. The potential psychological damage caused by these platforms to young users is another risk for the company. A recent investigation by Businesshala found how TikTok’s powerful algorithms can lure people in, and lead minors — among the app’s biggest users — to content about sex and drugs.

Still, analysts say brands find the millions of followers of top TikTok stars irresistible. The top earners make most of their money from ads, product lines, and other deals outside the app.

“His followers are obsessed,” said Krishna Subramaniam, CEO and co-founder of social-media data company Captiv8. He said that at times TikTok influencers have stronger followers than fans of Hollywood stars, who tend to be more private.

Social-media stars give followers a daily taste of life, he said, by offering updates on breakups, victories and failures.

“They are emotionally invested in that producer,” Mr. Subramaniam said. “You’re more willing to do or buy the things they tell you to buy.”

Dunkin’, the parent of Dunkin’ Coffee Shop and Baskin-Robbins Ice Cream Store, realized this in 2020 when it named a drink after Charlie D’Amelio.

“It’s simply cold brew with caramel and milk,” company president Scott Murphy said about The Charlie in an October 2020 earnings call. “We took an existing product, named it after him, and positioned it to appeal to a younger consumer.” Dunkin did not respond to a request for comment.

Charlie D’Amelio is making the leap from TikTok to TV. He and his family star in “The D’Amelio Show,” a reality show on Hulu’s streaming platform that has been renewed for a second season.

The D’Amelio sisters joined Abercrombie and Fitch Co in May. signed an agreement with,

The Hollister brand of clothing will launch the brand Social Tourist. Abercrombie said in an earnings call in November that ads for the brand played on Hulu shows and garnered 90 million views. The retailer did not respond to a request for comment.

Another producer to make the leap from TikTok is Addison Rae. According to Forbes, she earned $8.5 million last year. His earnings put him slightly above W Craig Jelinek, CEO of warehouse chain Costco Wholesale Corp.

Last year, Ms. Rai hired Netflix Inc. had starred in,

The film “He’s All That,” expanded her makeup line item Beauty and appeared in commercials for the clothing brand American Eagle Outfitters Inc.,

The retailer did not respond to a request for comment.

While her paychecks are hefty, they don’t come close to any other influencer: Forbes named Kylie Jenner its highest-paid celebrity of 2020, largely thanks to CoverGirl owner Coty Inc. in its beauty brand. Selling the stake brought in $590 million.,

Yeh, the rapper who changed his name from Kanye West, came in second with $170 million, thanks to clothing deals with the Gap and sneaker line with Adidas.

Forbes said it only included people whose fame originated on the app on its TikTok list, removing Ms Jenner, who grew up in front of the cameras for the reality TV show “Keeping Up With the Kardashians”. . This list also does not include actors, musicians and other stars who have TikTok accounts.

Mr. Subramaniam of Captiv8 said that he expects TikTok stars to continue to grow their earnings, start new businesses and build their brands in the years to come.

“TikTok is just their entry point,” he said.

Write to Joseph Pisani at [email protected] and Theo Francis at [email protected]


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