Adena Friedman
Source: Adena Friedman Facebook

How Nasdaq, Inc. CEO Adena Friedman Made Her Millions

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Jul. 23 2021, Published 11:19 a.m. ET

Adena Friedman, a 52-year-old businesswoman, has had a long and prosperous career, most of which was spent at Nasdaq. For a few years, she worked at The Carlyle Group before returning to Nasdaq in 2014 as president.

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At the beginning of 2017, Friedman’s tenure as the CEO at Nasdaq started. There had been a long-held expectation that she would succeed Robert Greifeld in the top executive role. How's the compensation determined for the CEO of a major exchange?

Adena Friedman's career path

Friedman first joined Nasdaq in 1993 and held several key roles at the exchange. At Nasdaq, Friedman served as the head of data products as well as the chief financial officer. She remained at Nasdaq until 2011.

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adena friedman nasdaq
Source: Adena Friedman Facebook

At that time, Friedman took the role of chief financial officer at The Carlyle Group, an investment firm, not long before the firm’s IPO on the Nasdaq Global Select Market.

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In 2014, Friedman returned to Nasdaq as the president and eventually added the role of chief operating officer. In 2017, she was promoted to the CEO of Nasdaq and made history as the first female head of a global exchange.

Greifeld, Friedman’s predecessor at Nasdaq, had taken the firm from a single exchange to a global markets operator trading stocks and options. Greifeld stated at the time of the leadership change, “Adena has played an instrumental role in building this organization into one of the most innovative leaders, with a tremendous disruptive spirit,” according to The New York Times.

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When Friedman took over the company, she knew that she would need to keep Nasdaq at the top of the changing investment landscape. “Nasdaq today is a world-class market operator and technology leader,” she noted in an interview.

How much is Adena Friedman's salary?

As the CEO of one of the major stock exchanges, shareholders play an important role in determining Friedman’s salary. According to recent analysis, Friedman’s total CEO compensation for the year ending in December 2020 was $16 million.

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Of that $16 million total, only 13 percent, or about $1.2 million, came from salary. Therefore, about 87 percent of Friedman’s CEO compensation package was from non-salary remuneration.

As Yahoo News noted, when a large percentage of compensation is outside of salary numbers, it often means those additional sources depend on the company’s performance. Nasdaq has done well lately, with its EPS growing by 12 percent yearly over the past three years and over 30 percent revenue growth in the past year.

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adena friedman ceo
Source: Adena Friedman Facebook

MDDailyRecord estimated Friedman’s net worth at around $120 million.

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Earlier this week, it was announced that Nasdaq would partner with banks to spin out Nasdaq Private Market, which will enable investors to buy shares of pre-IPO companies. Banks involved in the deal will include Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley.

According to Friedman, Nasdaq has been in the private market business for seven years and executed over $30 billion in transaction volume for private companies during that period. “Going forward with our partners we expect to unlock significantly more value for our clients and shareholders by advancing the market for private company shares,” she stated.

Adena Friedman's family life

Friedman has been married to her husband Michael Cameron Friedman since 1993 and the couple has two children.

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