CEO ranking: Apple’s Tim Cook is No. 1, Tesla’s Elon Musk is No. 204

October 20, 2015, 6:29 PM UTC
Photographs by Reuters

Lists are always fun, and this one is a doozy.

It’s a new ranking of 250 CEOs that’s got Tim Cook, Steve Jobs’ most un-Jobsian successor, at the top and Tesla’s Elon Musk, one of today’s most Jobs-like CEOs, near the very bottom.

According to ExecRank, which posted the list on Tuesday, its purpose is to match companies in search of board members and executive advisors with the best available candidates.

The company is a little cagy about its methodology, citing the “patent-pending algorithms” and a “patent-pending advisor matching process” by which weighs 24 criteria (years of C-level experience, earnings growth, etc.).

By these yardsticks, it’s not hard to see why Tim Cook, Google’s Larry Page, and Microsoft’s Satya Nadella might win, place and show.

But why not Elon Musk? I put the question to ExecRank founder John Aspatore.

“Elon would be a dream board member,” he concedes. “If you could get his focus and attention. I’m a startup guy, and in my world Elon is No. 1. But if I were CEO of a Fortune 500 company, the answer would be ‘no.'”

Perhaps even more interesting than its list is ExecRank’s business model.

Using what Aspatore calls a marketplace approach, ExecRank is trying to disrupt old-guard executive search firms like Korn Ferry and Heidrick & Struggle by offering a good-enough service at a considerably lower cost ($195 per month for executives willing serve; free for companies searching for the right fit).

“That’s our secret sauce,” says Aspatore. “Think Uber for drivers. “Think Open Table for reservations. Think Zenefits for HR.”

Below: ExecRank’s top 15.

Screen Shot 2015-10-20 at 11.15.26 AM

Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter at @philiped. Read his Apple (AAPL) coverage at or subscribe via his RSS feed.

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