Businessperson of the Year

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It starts with results. Each December, when we choose Fortunes Businessperson of the Year, we focus first on CEOs who are delivering the goods. Through an exhaustive screening process, we rank companies by 12- and 36-month increases in profits, revenues, and stock performance, then go deeper to include factors like return on capital. (We give more weight to the 12-month results to identify who’s on top today, but also include the 36-month figures to weed out those who may have just had a lucky year.) But it’s not only about the numbers. We lean toward CEOs with vision—those impacting the world beyond their companies. The 20 star executives that follow are doing nothing less than defining the future of business.

8

Dan Schulman

CEO, PayPal
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Robyn Twomey

Until recently, Schulman was best known in Silicon Valley as the New Jersey newcomer who liked to wear cowboy boots. These days he’s more renowned for his leadership of the iconic payments company. Since coming on board in 2015 to run the newly independent PayPal, after stints at American Express, Sprint, and Virgin Mobile—where he was the founding CEO—Schulman has made some shrewd bets. Opening up PayPal’s platform so that other big players, like Facebook, can build upon its payments software has proved to be a savvy move, enabling more consumers to make PayPal their default payment option.

 

Meanwhile, Venmo, the peer-to-peer payments app popular with millennials, is starting to deliver on its promise. Schulman recently announced plans to roll it out to millions of merchants. That’s important because most of Venmo’s estimated 10 million regular users don’t pay transaction fees—but merchants will, so PayPal can convert its popularity into more revenue. That factor could help PayPal build on its already impressive growth: Last fiscal year, the company’s revenue came in at $10.8 billion, up 17% from the year before. —Michal Lev-Ram

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