Top 10 technology leaders
Gigabit Magazine profiles the ten most highly-rated CEOs of technology companies, as ranked in Glassdoor’s Annual Employees’ Choice awards this summer.
10 | Satya Nadella
You hear Microsoft, you hear Windows. But during Satya Nadella’s maiden public address as its CEO in 2014, he refrained from mentioning Windows once – an omission that immediately set the tone for what has been a transformative reign.
Nadella has reshaped and redefined the computing giant, switching its core focus from software development to cloud, mobile and an open-arms approach to open-source. On the markets, this has seen Microsoft’s share price triple – a stark contrast to the sideways movement endemic under his predecessor, Steve Ballmer.
50-year-old Nadella, who achieved an approval rating of 96%, first joined Microsoft in 1992 and held a number of senior VP roles across its business ahead of becoming only its third CEO.
9 | Michael E. Hansen
Receiving an employee approval rating of 96%, Michael E. Hansen has been CEO of global education and technology company Cengage since September 2012.
Hansen has been the driver of Cengage’s strategy in the digital age, spearheading its root-and-branch overhaul from being an established print publisher to the owner of some of the most respected, cutting-edge learning products and platforms the world over.
He has had a glistening career in the industry, enjoying an 11-year stint at Boston Consulting Group and a standout period transforming the operations at the $20bn German mass media firm Bertelsmann. Hansen is known for his focus on measurable execution and dedication to a company’s culture.
8 | Mark Zuckerberg
He may only be 34, but Mark Zuckerberg – co-founder and CEO of Facebook – has become a globally-recognised face thanks to the truly sensational impact his social media platform has had on the 21st century.
Zuckerberg’s personal story is well-documented: a Harvard dropout who helped create a student network that would grow into an online hub utilised by nearly a third of the world’s population, he became the subject of a blockbuster movie in 2010.
Throughout many highs and a few lows as Facebook’s leader, Zuckerberg – who achieved an approval rating of 96% - has accumulated a net worth estimated to be in the region of $67bn.
7 | Jonathan H. Corr
Jonathan H. Corr’s promotion to the CEO’s office at Ellie Mae represented the final climb on his ladder of progression through the software giant’s ranks.
Corr initially joined Ellie Mae as senior vice president for product management in 2002 before becoming chief strategy officer in 2005 and then chief operating officer in 2011, gathering all the necessary experience to fill the leadership position in February 2015.
Named as one of the fastest-growing companies in North America last year, Ellie Mae – through its leading cloud-based platform – now processes 35% of all the mortgage applications made in the United States each year. Corr earned an approval rating of 96% in Glassdoor’s survey.
6 | Shantanu Narayen
According to his executive biography, Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen would have been a professional golfer if he hadn’t studied electronics engineering.
Some may question the validity of that claim, but the 56-year-old has certainly been successful in steering his company around a challenging course in recent years.
Still the owner of the world’s foremost creative suite, Narayen has overseen Adobe’s shift from desktop to the cloud while also founding and leading its innovative digital marketing category.
Receiving an approval rating of 96%, Narayen has now been in the CEO role for over ten years while his other notable achievements include the co-founding of Pictra and his continued membership of the United States President’s Management Advisory Board.
5 | Jim Kavanaugh
Entering the list with an approval rating of 97%, Jim Kavanaugh – who had a successful professional soccer career before moving into business – has been CEO of World Wide Technology since co-founding the company with David Steward in 1990.
In growing WWT from an ambitious startup to a worldwide organisation specialising in information technology and supply chain solutions, the Saint Louis University alumnus has been recognised with a host of business, entrepreneurial and charitable awards.
According to WWT, Kavanaugh ‘currently focuses his time in the areas of technology innovation, long term planning, strategic acquisitions, financial performance, employee development, and passionately overseeing its unique corporate culture’.
4 | Marc Benioff
The son of a department store owner in San Francisco, Salesforce co-CEO Marc Benioff says his journey to becoming a billionaire software entrepreneur is in big part down to copying his father’s insatiable work ethic.
Earning a 97% approval rating from his employees, Benioff founded Salesforce in 1999 having spent 13 years at Oracle, where his desire to improve alongside his creative spark resulted in rapid progression.
Over nearly 20 years, Benioff – alongside fellow co-CEO Keith Block – has grown Salesforce to become a pioneer in the field of cloud computing and the fastest-growing of the top five enterprise software companies in the world.
3 | Jeff Weiner
This December, Jeff Weiner – who received a 97% employee approval rating in Glassdoor’s survey – will reach his tenth anniversary as CEO of LinkedIn.
At the beginning of his tenure, the business networking platform’s membership base stood at 33mn, but over the last decade Weiner has helped grow that number to half a billion through an inventive strategy involving game-changing recruitment tools and an aggressive approach to advertising.
The New York native has enjoyed a fascinating career that saw him begin as a junior at Warner Bros before rising several rungs to become a VP during the dotcom bubble. He has also had influential roles at the likes of Windsor Media and Yahoo.
2 | Dan Springer
Dan Springer has only been leading DocuSign since January 2017 but his impact in that short period is reflected in his 99% approval rating from the company’s staff.
Initially uncertain about taking on the role at the electronic signature disruptor having served for over a decade as CEO and President at Responsys, Springer was eventually persuaded to take on the reins – and has had his hands full since, guiding it through an IPO earlier this year.
An immediate stock jump led to a business valuation of $6bn, double what DocuSign had been measured at three years earlier and a mark of success for Springer in his early days at the firm.
1 | Eric S. Yuan
Topping Glassdoor’s list with an approval rating of 99% is Eric S. Yuan, founder and CEO of Zoom Video Communications, the San Jose-based provider of remote conferencing services through the cloud.
A graduate of the Stanford University Executive Programme, Yuan spent 14 years at Webex where he grew its team of engineers from 10 to 800, transforming it into an $800mn business. He worked for Cisco Systems following the two companies’ merger in 2007 before forming Zoom in 2011.
A Chinese immigrant, Yuan is known for his creativity and has 11 issued and 20 pending patents in real time collaboration.
"When I came to America, I did not even speak English, but I knew I could write software code," he said in a recent interview. "I knew I had to work hard, so I did.”