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10 best-performing tech CEOs in the world

Last updated on: July 24, 2013 11:00 IST

Image: Carnations are placed before a computer screen showing a portrait of Apple co-founder and former CEO Steve Jobs at an Apple store in St. Petersburg.
Photographs: Alexander Demianchuk/Reuters

Information Technology has given the world some of the biggest companies and leaders that many admire. Most of these companies have become such an integral part of our routine that we cannot imagine a life without them.

Think of work without Google or other search engines, it will surely be unimaginable for most. Ditto is the case for smartphones.

To rank the best CEOs of such organisations, Harvard Business Review has come up with a scorecard that takes into account the financial and corporate social performance of CEOs and ranks them accordingly.

Here are top 10 best-performing CEOs in the world.

Steve Jobs

Company: Apple

Country: United States

Tenure: 1997 - 2011

He had a Midas touch and every product he introduced since the first generation iPod have been runaway success. But he didn’t have a smooth going. He had to leave Apple in 1985 after a power struggle with the board of directors.

He returned to Apple as an advisor when the company was near bankruptcy after failing to deliver operating system Copland and took control of the company as an interim CEO. Within a year, Jobs turned around Apple and brought it into black. Currently, Apple has over $137 billion cash reserve. Commentators call it the biggest turnaround in corporate history.

Apple is one of the most valuable public traded companies in the US.

While he was away from Apple, Jobs co-founded Pixar Animation Studios that was bought over by Walt Disney. He had served as CEO of Pixar and had been a member of the board of directors of Walt Disney Company.

In 2003, Jobs was diagnosed with a pancreas neuroendocrine tumour and died of respiratory arrest on October 5, 2011.

When he died people world over mourned his death and in many countries fans have built his statues to pay him a tribute.

10 best-performing tech CEOs in the world

Image: President, Chief Executive and Chairman Jeffrey Bezos speaks with employers and attendees at the Consumer Reports headquarters in Yonkers, New York
Photographs: Mike Segar/Reuters

Jeffrey P. Bezos


Country: United States

Tenure: 1996 - present

He is credited with not just building the largest online retail store but also revolutionising e-commerce. Amazon started as a book retailer online but soon expanded its offering to a variety of products.

According to Wikipedia, Bezos founded Amazon after making a cross-country drive from New York to Seattle. On the drive he wrote business plan for the new venture. Amazon was born in the garage like many other technology giants of the Silicon Valley.

When the company started, it did not plan to make profit for the first four-five years. Stockholders complained about its “slow” growth and many believe that the model won’t succeed.

When the dot com bubble burst, Amazon was one of the few companies that survived and rapidly grew to be a Fortune 500 company.

The company has a customer base of over 30 million people and makes its primary revenues come from the commission it charges affiliates for selling their product through the website.

10 best-performing tech CEOs in the world

Image: South Korea's Samsung Electronics former CEO Yun Jong-Yong speaks during the company's annual shareholder meeting at its headquarters in Seoul.
Photographs: Jo Yong hak/Reuters

Yun Jong-Yong

Company: Samsung Electronics

Country: South Korea

Tenure: 1996 - 2008

After graduation, he joined the family-run business Samsung Group. He moved to Samsung Electronics right after it was established and remained there rising through the ranks to be at the helm.

He managed to wade Samsung through the Asian crisis in 1996 and challenged the well-established giants, such as Sony, in their domains.

Samsung owes it success to two products without which our lives are unimaginable. First are the chips for computers, cell phones and other electronic devices and the other is the liquid crystal displays (LCD).

Samsung was successful in these two domains thanks to Yong's efforts, who changed the focus of the company from TVs and microwave ovens. Their household appliances were usually called as cheap imitations of Japanese companies such as Sony.

His work earned him many awards and has been often cited among 'Asia’s Most Powerful Businessperson', 'Businessman of The Year' and 'Top Managers of all Time'.

10 best-performing tech CEOs in the world

Image: Meg Whitman speaks at the Tech Museum in San Jose
Photographs: Max Morse/ Wikimedia Commons

Margaret C. Whitman

Company: eBay

Country: United States

Tenure: 1998 - 2008

10 best-performing tech CEOs in the world

Image: John Chambers, CEO of Cisco Systems, speaks during a news conference at at the 2010 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas
Photographs: Steve Marcus/Reuters

John T. Chambers

Company: Cisco Systems

Country: United States

Tenure: 1995 - present

Under his leadership, the company has grown from $70 million in annual turnover to over $46 billion at present.

Chambers started his career at IBM soon after obtaining his MBA degree from Indiana University. From there he moved to Wang Laboratories and then to Cisco in 1991 as senior vice president, Worldwide Sales and Operations.

He is also the Chairman of the board, in addition to his role as CEO.

He has featured in CNN's Top 25 Most Powerful People list and also in Time Magazine's ‘100 Most Influential People’.

10 best-performing tech CEOs in the world

Image: Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt attends a news conference in Beijing
Photographs: Grace Liang/Reuters

Eric E. Schmidt

Company: Google

Country: Untied States

Tenure: 2001 - 2011

Since joining Google in 2001, Schmidt has helped grow the company from a Silicon Valley start-up to a global leader in technology.

After working for several companies such as Bell Labs, Xerox and Sun Microsystems, he shifted to Novell as the CEO and chairman of the board. He got in to Google after an interview with the founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin.

Surprisingly, he joined Google’s board of directors as chairman first (in March 2001) and five months later became the CEO of the company.

As the CEO he worked with the founders and was responsible for company’s technical and business strategy.

He has also served as a member on Apple’s board of directors for three years until 2009 but had to resign due to the growing competition between the two technology bellwethers.

Currently, he is the executive chairman of Google and Forbes ranks him as the 138th-richest person in the world, with an estimated wealth of $8.2 billion.

10 best-performing tech CEOs in the world

Image: Symantec's former Chairman and CEO John W. Thompson.
Photographs: Reuters

John W. Thompson

Company: Symantec

Country: United States

Tenure: 1999 - 2009

He joined Symantec after a long career of 28 years at IBM Corporation. Thompson transformed Symantec from a consumer software publisher to the leader in internet security, data protection and storage management.

Under his leadership, the company’s revenue grew tenfold from $600 million to $6 billion.

He is currently on the board of various companies including Microsoft and Seagate Technology and is also the CEO of Virtual Instrument.

10 best-performing tech CEOs in the world

Image: Tomeo Kanbayashi (in the inset).
Photographs: Courtesy, NTT Data

Tomeo Kanbayashi

Company: NTT Data

Country: Japan

Tenure: 1995 - 1999

A lesser-known business leader, he steered NTT Data to become Japan’s largest IT services company and also one of the biggest in the world.

He was a company insider promoted for the top job. Under his leadership, shareholder’s return were at 658 per cent (country adjusted), according to Harvard Business Review.

10 best-performing tech CEOs in the world

Image: Former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Yahoo! Tim Koogle
Photographs: Ruben Sprich/Reuters

Tim Koogle

Company: Yahoo

Country: United States

Tenure: 1995 - 2001

Before the dot com bust, Yahoo was what Google is today and Koogle helped its founders Jerry Yang and David Filo build the a company that challenged the IT majors such as Microsoft as well as big content providers such as The Walt Disney Company.

Yahoo also pioneered the concept of driving local language content to users. His vision of driving Yahoo to advertising-driven enterprise helped the company achieve revenues of $1 billion.

He was named among 'The Top 25 Executives of the Year' in 1999 and 2000 by BusinessWeek magazine.

An engineering graduate from Stanford University, Koogle worked at Motorola and Intermec prior to joining Yahoo.

10 best-performing tech CEOs in the world

Image: Ming-Kai Tsai (in the inset).
Photographs: Courtesy, MediaTek

Ming-Kai Tsai

Company: MediaTek

Country: Taiwan

Tenure: 1997 - Present

Among many epithets that Taiwan’s press has conferred upon Tsai, one is ‘King of the Bandit Phones’. Thanks to him that today many companies can offer cheaper smartphones to customers.

Tsai was working in United Microelectronics, which was one of Taiwan’s biggest chip companies. He rose through the ranks came head of the company’s division that manufactured chips for television and disc players.

When the unit was spun off by the parent, MediaTek came into existence and Tsai was a natural choice to head it.

Very cleverly, Tsai scaled the business by offering better services, cheaper product and being the first one to lap up opportunity. For example when the big chip companies were focussing on 3G chips, MediaTek focussed on improving the existing 2G chips to lower the cost and offered better services with it.

Again, while the focus of big players was developed markets, Tsai focussed on emerging markets (China), which has turned out to be the biggest smartphone market in the world today.