back to article Harvard smarties name Steve Jobs 'world's best CEO'

The prestigious Harvard Business Review has published its ranking of the world's best-performing CEOs, and we'll give you one guess who is El Numero Uno. You're right. As the report succinctly puts it, "It may come as no shock that Steve Jobs of Apple tops the list." What may come as a surprise - or not - it that one other …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    What does this sentence mean.

    Ballmer, in fact, is not even mentioned among those celebrity CEOs that the HBR was surprised not to find among those whose numbers rose to the top of the 1,999 CEOs whose performance they evaluated.

    ?? What does this mean? too much Christmas spirit? It's only Tuesday over here...

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And the worst...........

    can only be Jonathan "Harry Potter" Schwartz

    followed closely by Mark Turd

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I bet the chairs are flying around Redmond as we speak. Not being mentioned in the top1999 has got to dent the ego...

  4. Chris Miller
    Thumb Down

    Apples and oranges

    There are three very different types of companies in the list;

    (a) turnrounds - such as Apple

    (b) startups - such as Google and Amazon

    (c) existing large, successful (in financial terms) business - such as Microsoft and Cisco.

    They each require rather different skills from the CEO, but it's obviously much easier to achieve stellar returns from types (a) and (b) than from type (c) (so kudos to John Chambers).

    As for Eric Schmidt, does anyone seriously think he contributes anything to Google apart from providing a suit topped with grey hair to reassure banking types? On the rare occasions he opens his mouth, he has an unerring knack for inserting his foot in it (e.g. if you want privacy you must be a criminal).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      So it's harder to take control of a business that practically has a monopoly and and iron grip over it's markets than it is to take a university dissertation and make it the de facto search engine for the internet and a veritable license to print money or a failing business weeks away from bankruptcy in to one of the most profitable businesses in the world? Bollocks. I've read some apologist shite in my time, but you take the biscuit there mate. Microsoft's CEO didn't make the list because the company have lost money since the day Ballmer took over. He is the worst thing that happened to Microsoft. As CEO of a profitable business that has seen a slow but steady decline in it's market share and value should be shown the door. The guy is a used car salesman, and a bad one at that (see comments about the iPhone and Windows Mobile market strategy). This report from the Harvard Business Review illustrates this coldly and emphatically. You. Cannot. Argue. With. The. Results. Especially since the report has been prepared and produced by the most prestigious school of business (in other words, they have a fucking clue!) in the World.

      1. Mat

        Monopoly businesses

        are regulated to hell! and are not allowed to get away with half the practices that the likes of Apple and Google are

        1. Anonymous Coward

          And whose fault was that?!

          "Monopoly" businesses *that operate within the confines of law* aren't regulated. They brought that on themselves. Even those businesses that are regulated manage to continue to innovate and grow, albeit at a slower pace. Microsoft's market cap AND share value isn't anywhere near what it was pre-Ballmer. Ballmer's tenure has seen Microsoft become an also-ran in one of the most important emerging technology area's. The figures do not lie. This review is based on cold hard facts. How on earth can anyone say that this isn't fair and it's not Ballmer's fault as CEO?! Incredible. Is it because Jobs is the top CEO? Pathetic...

      2. Paul 4


        Its harder to grow a company with a monopoly. Almost imposible infact. And. Putting. Full. Stops. After. Every. World. Is just rude. What hes saying is that they are compairing two totaly diffrent things.

      3. Richard 102

        Not disagreeing, AC, but ...

        ... I think what he's saying is that it may be harder to *shine* in such a situation, because doing the job well and competently may be a lot easier. In sports, there's a saw that you don't want to be the guy who takes over for a legend. If you succeed, it's because your predecessor built the team. If you fail, it's all your fault. now, imagine taking of MS from Gates. At that point you have one direction to go: down. If MS had come up with iTunes + iPod + iTunes Store, well, big deal, they own the PC market, no surprise. If they had come up with the iPhone, well, big deal, they've been in smartphones for years, and they have a bunch of money to throw at the issue.

        Believe me, I am *not* defending Ballmer. As long as he is CEO at Microsoft, he might be Apple's best weapon. And Google's. And RIM's. And ... But given the head start he was given, what could he have done to impress the hell out of everyone? A bacon-flavored interface? Plasma-powered horses?

        That being said, the only success MS has had under ballmer has been from inertia. That MS has to fight on so many fronts - Linux (and open source in general), Apple, Oracle, Google, RIM, IBM, etc etc etc, - and that they can't concentrate on one long enough to kill it off on that front may be their undoing. They are facing, in business terms, what Prussia faced in the late 1600s geographically. And I don't see Ballmer, nor Ozzie as being a spiritual heir of the Hohenzollerns.

    2. Chris Miller

      For the benefit of the hard of understanding

      (that would be AC @01:24), you might want to improve your reading skills before posting. Where did I express my admiration for Ballmer? It should be obvious to the meanest intelligence that there's a significant difference between growing a business from 1% to 3% market share and growing it from 60% to 65% market share, but apparently (I refuse to swell their already overflowing coffers in order to view the full article) it's not apparent to the HBR.

      They may well represent "the most prestigious school of business in the world", but in my view, MBAs (and particularly Harvard MBAs) have been responsible for the destruction of more shareholder value than any other group in history. It's certainly the case that anyone with a pulse (and a HUGE wad of money) can gain a Harvard MBA. If you doubt this, three words: George Walker Bush.

  5. Philip Cohen

    "Evil/Monster" Meg?

    Why is ‘Noise’ Donahoe trying to destroy eBay? Because ‘Could be an Evil Monster’ Meg left him the instructions on how to do so. Good luck California!


    PS: At least ‘Meg 2010’ has found a local web designer with a sense of style and an understanding of visual communications (but programming in India is cheaper).

  6. Anonymous Coward

    No Gordon Moore???

    Wow I am amaze that Moore is not on the list!

  7. Charles Manning

    @Chris Miller

    They are measuring shareholder returns (ie. increase in share value).

    While your general observation is correct that it is difficult to sustain double-digit growth, it is worth noting that:

    1) MS has shown no real signs of life since Ballmer got in the Big Chair. In fact, the share value has decreased.

    2) The knee-point in the MS performance graph is right where he joined.

    Have a look at MSFT vs NASDAQ on

    What do you see? Since Ballmer came on board the company has been dead. Bobbing up and down with the Nasdaq tide. Now, for sure, MS represents a percentage of NASDAQ, but you'd still expect to see some reasonable deviations caused by MS activity.... Nothing.

  8. Raymond Cranfill
    Paris Hilton

    Eric Schmidt is a Nimrod

    While Schmidt may have positioned Google well over the last decade, I don't think he should be counting up his bling just yet. Particularly if he keeps making comments as he did recently regarding net privacy and Google's use of data collected from private individuals. If Schmidt really believes that terrorists, criminals and other miscreants are the only ones concerned with privacy on line, he is sadly mistaken. And if he continues to take a Dieu et Mon Droit attitude to Google's use of data collected from private punters, he may just manage to replicate Steve Balmar's CEO performance over the last decade. Personally, I switched to Scroogle earlier this year and so have most of my friends. I now know exactly what Google's "Do No Evil" motto means. It's not a corporate inunction but rather a commandment to the masses of little people that use Google every day. I can do without it, and I bet a lot of others can too.

    Paris, because she knows personally just how evil a Google search can be.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Trouble is...

      The trouble is that the only people aware of this are those that read these sorts of websites. Schmidt knows this. At the risk of incurring the wrath of all, he has a point which seems to have been taken largely out of context AND copy edited to make it look like one of the evil dictators of yore had said it. I'm guessing Google are the new Apple AND Microsoft all rolled into one! Except they're not. They are a business, like Apple andMicrosoft, that are publicly floated and owned by share holders who expect a return on their investment. They exist to make money - not to take over the world and enslave us all as many of the tin-hatters will have you believe. Time to stop reading the Philip K Dick style Sci-fi chaps.

  9. Tony Paulazzo

    The morality of purity

    >The beauty part of the HBR list is its purity... Just cold, hard cash, measured by shareholder returns.<

    Cold being the operative word, and I'd probably replace purity with corruption - er, y'know, IMHO.

  10. GrandpaChris

    Apple Steve knows how to make money.

    Been buying Apple products from 1979. Should have spent the $30,000 on Apple stock!

  11. Paul M 1

    But I still don't understand...

    ... why they *aren't* surprised that Ballmer isn't on the list (assuming I've correctly parsed that sentence in the first comment).

  12. SynnerCal

    Clueless, absolutely clueless

    Way to go Heartless Bastard School - just trot out the same tired old "never mind the quality, feel the width" approach. So to be a "success" (by their myopic measure) all I'd need to do with RegCorp (fictitious example) is look around for successful businesses, suck the life out of them (returning _some_ of the "juice" as stockholder dividends) and then bail out before all that's left are wizened husks. Woo-hoo!

    On the other hand, if I'm the kind of CEO that invests in R&D (remember this is tech companies we're talking about) and generates small, but solid, ROI and aims for longevity then HBS will mark him/her as a 'failure'. I'm probably being naive but isn't this exactly the kind of short-sighted "results now" attitude that resulted in the current recession - with bankers gambling like Vegas holiday makers in the hopes that they'd end up being seen as "successful", getting share price hikes and consequently obscene bonuses.

    Cretins all of them.

  13. Anonymous Coward

    But wasn't Jobs fired by Apple once?

    Back in the days of the Apple //e, //c, ///, ///+, the original Mac, Mac +, and my favorites, the Mac XL & Lisa, I do believe Mr. Jobs damn near drove Apple into the ground. If memory serves correctly, Mr. Sculley was brought in to save the company and then there was another chuckle-head that was brought in to keep things semi-solvent until Jobs finished running NeXT into the ground.

  14. Chief Bromden
    Gates Horns

    Every New CEO's Legacy

    I agree with Synner Cal's views.

    Pundit of Pundits Alan Greenspan, who was responsible for the US housing bubble scam as well as the overall failure of the Fed in promoting transparency of financial instruments, received (and still receives) accolades for the performance of the US economy before the crash. But he bailed out just in time, after his long innings. Now there is hardly a basis to measure the 'relative performance' of his successor as a steward of the economy.

    I think, this scenario is not uncommon in Corporations. Who is willing to bet that Bill Gates didn't have a hunch about how things would turn out for Ballmer, before handing over the reins?

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