Our recognition of Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg as this year’s Businessperson of the Year got me thinking about past recipients. There have been seven, dating back to 2010—eight if you include our designation of Steve Jobs as “CEO of the Decade” the year before.
I was curious to see who was on the list, so I wrote them down on a single piece of paper. In reverse chronological order, the other BPOYs have been Nike’s Mark Parker, Larry Page of what was Google, Elon Musk of Tesla and SpaceX, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Howard Schultz of Starbucks, and Reed Hastings of Netflix. I already knew we’d never named a woman, and I hope we will soon. I also suspected we’d be tech-heavy, and we were: All but two of our winners have come from the tech world.
What startled me is that all eight hail from West Coast companies. In fact, the executives we’ve honored come from just three states, California (5), Washington (2), and Oregon (1).
What to make of this? Fortune certainly isn’t biased against the East Coast. We’re the very bastion of New York media and have been for 86 years. Moreover, our list is driven primarily by data, specifically medium-term financial and stock-performance results. It’s no secret that much of the dynamism in the U.S. economy is in the West. But you’d think we could find one fast-growing company CEO to honor in the East.
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I also couldn’t help but notice that all our awardees come from blue states that Hillary Clinton carried on Tuesday. At the risk of overgeneralizing, these optimism-fueled parts of the U.S. aren’t the centers of discontent that chose change for change’s sake. Make of that what you will.
Incidentally, today we’ve posted Andrew Nusca’s graceful profile of Microsoft’s Satya Nadella. I think after reading it you’ll agree that the CEO’s temperament, a word we heard a bit too often in recent months, is part of the reason he has been successful in making Microsoft great again.
With gratitude today for all who have served our country in uniform, have an optimistic weekend.