Silicon Valley C-suiters redefining digital leadership. View as a gallery.
Like Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard before him, Bezos started his venture from his garage. Amazon redefined retail, creating a new way for consumers to shop. Launched in 1994, Amazon is one of the most successful startups to weather the dotcom bust, but its efficiency and expansion haven't been without friction from competitors, as allegations of poor factory conditions and e-book price collusion have challenged the company's reputation recently. Bezos also launched Blue Origin, whose goal is to make travel to outer space accessible and safe for all of us nonastronauts.
Combined score: 99.0
"Don't be evil" is the motto around which Page and his cofounder Sergey Brin built the company that completely transformed Internet search. Consistently honored for spawning search-engine innovation, Page, 39, was named Google's CEO last year. He's reportedly been interested in math and science since he was a kid ("I really wanted to change the world," he told Wired), and his time at Google has been marked by creative decisions that have changed the course of the company's history. He is responsible for discovering Android, the mobile software startup that Google acquired, and has been integral to the pursuit of endeavors like Google Book Search and the self-driving car.
Combined score: 92.2
Mark Zuckerberg is at the center of the most hyped and most watched tech event of the year: the Facebook IPO. The social-media wunderkind, who wed his longtime girlfriend Priscilla Chan the day after the company's May 18 IPO, founded Facebook from his Harvard dorm room. As it has grown into the largest social media site in the world (it has 900 million users), he's transitioned from an anti-social and misanthropic programmer to superstar CEO. Given the lackluster and litigious IPO, though—the stock price plummeted on initial weeks of trading, and investors have filed lawsuits alleging the company hid negative information regarding the IPO—his leadership skills have been called into question. On the bright side, the growing pressures may offer a chance for Zuckerberg, only 28 years old, to redefine his influence.
Combined score: 92.0
After spending $40 in late fees at his local video store, Reed Hastings came up an idea for a better video-rental service and cofounded Netflix with Marc Randolph in 1998. The company's innovative business model, opinion algorithms, and efficient hiring (and firing) practices have helped it grow its customer base to 23 million. Despite missteps last year, including a pricing change and a spinoff if its DVD business that was ultimately nixed, Hastings continues to adapt the company's business to fit changing viewing habits. Next up: turning Netflix into a streaming network with original programming.
Combined score: 90.6
Arguably this year's hottest Internet company, Pinterest is a digital scrapbook with a social bent. Founder Ben Silbermann was a product designer at Google when he quit, hoping to indulge his creative side. After months of floundering, he and a college friend came up with Pinterest and founded it in March 2010. The site's success was anything but immediate—nine months after launch it had fewer than 10,000 users. Then, bolstered by word-of-mouth and tech-industry coverage, Pinterest attracted 8 million people in April.
Combined score: 82.0
The cofounder of PayPal, the online payment system that was acquired by eBay for $1.5 billion in 2002, Musk has dedicated the last decade to innovative technologies in space travel, electric cars, and solar power. He founded SpaceX, the rocket engineering company that recently sent an unmanned capsule to the International Space Station, and hopes to capitalize on the expectation that private industry will supplant NASA. He's cofounder and head of product design at electric car company Tesla Motors, and the largest shareholder of solar power system maker SolarCity.
Combined score: 71.0
Donahoe took the helm of eBay in 2008, following Meg Whitman's tenure, after working for two decades at Bain & Co. He has also served as interim CEO of PayPal since the beginning of this year. Under his leadership, eBay has increased profits, sold off Skype to Microsoft, and acquired Germany's largest lifestyle retailer. And PayPal introduced a mobile payment system to challenge competitor Square, a mobile payment company started by Twitter cofounder Jack Dorsey.
Combined score: 50.0
Something of a serial entrepreneur, Mark Pincus launched his first startup in 1995. Since then, he's started a handful of ventures, including software company SupportSoft and social content startup Tribe Networks. But co-founding online game-maker Zynga has been his biggest success to date: the social game network has more than 200 million users. Zynga garnered flack for a revenue model that was tied too closely to Facebook, but Pincus has since expanded the model.
Combined score: 47.8
Path is, in essence, an online journal that can be shared with a close circle of friends. The mobile app notched 2 million users earlier this year, following relatively rapid growth after the release of an updated version in late 2011. Morin created the company in 2010 as an alternative to Facebook, where he'd worked since 2006 when the site had just 10 million users. He also did an early stint at Apple, where he developed the platform that allows developers to build Facebook applications. Trivia fact: Morin was previously a nationally ranked downhill skier.
Combined score: 47.4
One of the companies launched through Paul Graham's Y Combinator startup incubator, Airbnb is a "hospitality exchange service" that allows users to rent living space on a short-term basis. Chesky cofounded it in 2008 with Joe Gebbia, a classmate from his years at the Rhode Island School of Design. The site now boasts vacancies in 19,000 cities and 192 countries. Since June 2010 Chesky has been hopping from one Airbnb home to another, in an attempt to "grasp the full impact and experience" of his company.
Combined score: 46.8
America's wealthiest man got that way by focusing on software, not hardware. When IBM's personal computer shipped with Microsoft code, Bill Gates, a Harvard dropout, retained the copyright—a decision that will go down in business history. At its peak, the Windows operating system was installed on nearly every computer on the planet; by 1998, Gates had made Microsoft the world's most valuable company. Now Microsoft's chairman and a full-time philanthropist, Gates has an initiative to convince other billionaires to pledge half their fortunes to charity.
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