Tech CEOs Well-Represented On Barron's 30 "Most Respected" List
Given how virtually all anyone talks about these days (other than healthcare, but don't expect a discussion of that here) is social media, gadgets and the interwebz, it should be no shock. Nonetheless, a few tech names fell off the list this year: Chase Carey of DirecTV left the company to be the No. 2 man at NewsCorp.; Satoru Iwata of Nintendo due to the Wii's declining fortunes; and Rick Tsai of TSMC, as he's no longer with the semiconductor manufacturer.
So we have, then, the 10 most respected CEOs from the tech world (phrases in italics are Barron's summation of why each was named to the list):
• Jim Balsillie & Mike Lazaridis, Research in Motion: Despite the astounding popularity of the iPhone and the treatment of the Android as the second coming of smartphones, the Blackberry keeps chugging along. It's still enjoying growth and has a very popular enterprise and small business user base. The duo, CEOs since 2002, are credited by Barron's for keeping it in play when even Palm - once the gold standard of PDAs - has bowed out. Not their first time on the list. "Started the BlackBerry obsession, now tangling with Apple."
• Larry Ellison, Oracle: The company's merger with Sun Microsystems positions it, says Barron's, to challenge Hewlett-Packard, proving that mergers can work in the tech sector. It's already a heavy hitter in the business software market. Plus, the guy's yacht won the America's Cup race and he's been Oracle's CEO since 1977. Yes, '77. New on the list this year. "Sailing away with the corporate software market."
• Ma Huanteng, Tencent: Given that China's the most populous nation in the world, it shouldn't be a surprise that the largest internet messaging company in the world is Chinese. Despite issues with government censorship on the Internet, Tencent has thrived and given its shareholders a good return, Barron's says. And even if IM faces issues due to said censorship, it's making inroads in the search market (and Google's exit can only bode well for them there). Tencent CEO since 1997, this is not Ma's first time on the list. "Instant messaging mogul built China's biggest 'Net company."
• Mark Hurd, Hewlett-Packard: Despite the challenges from other companies whose CEOs also are on this list (Oracle & Cisco), HP's CEO remained on the list at least in part because he cut pay rather than jobs. And everyone at HP got a pay cut, himself included. Looking ahead, he said he wanted to make sure he had enough hands on deck "to deploy" once the company came out the other side of this recession. Barron's betting on that time being now and pointed out that HP was still the world's top-seller of personal computers and printers. He's been CEO since 2005 and is a repeat customer on the list. "Consummate manager has HP humming."
• Samuel Palmisano, IBM: The company that once was counted out saw its shares rise 56 percent in 2009. Big Blue has been getting heavy into cloud computing and partnerships with urban centers in developing markets. Barron's sees this as a — successful — reinvention of the company. CEO since 2002, this isn't his first time on the list. "Big Blue heads for the clouds."