Underrated or overrated? Executives rank the business world’s top CEOs
Business leaders weigh on which of their peers get too little credit, and which ones get too much.
Most underrated CEOs based on 5,250 responses
Satya Nadella, Microsoft
Nadella’s peers have now voted him “most underrated” five years in a row—an indication, perhaps, of his ability to steer the company through a major reinvention while generating shockingly little drama. Tech analysts believe (though Microsoft won’t confirm) that the Azure cloud business Nadella has championed now accounts for as much revenue as the Windows software that turned the company into a behemoth a generation ago. The successful absorption of LinkedIn and software development site GitHub have demonstrated the 53-year-old CEO’s ability to win on multiple fronts, as has the Xbox’s sustained cred in gaming circles. Microsoft’s share price, meanwhile, has more than quintupled during Nadella’s seven-year tenure—a sign of investors’ long-term confidence in his big bets.
Mary Barra, General Motors
Last spring, GM was making PPE for health care workers; by fall, it was posting healthy profits.
Tim Cook, Apple
The pandemic barely slowed Apple’s rollout of new phones, watches, and services.
Doug McMillon, Walmart
Walmart has been a bulwark against COVID, keeping stores open and hiring widely.
Most overrated CEOs based on 4,489 responses
Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook
Facebook is hardly the only online platform to have struggled to curb the spread of misinformation. But over the past year, with COVID-19, the killing of George Floyd, and the presidential election each spurring waves of algorithmically amplified falsehoods and hate speech, Zuckerberg’s company came under unprecedented scrutiny—and an expanding circle of critics faulted the CEO and cofounder for doing far too little, years too late. Advertisers began voting with their dollars in meaningful ways, pulling back and even pulling out, as revenue growth slowed. An antitrust suit by the Federal Trade Commission, meanwhile, seeks to undo Facebook’s acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp—taking aim at some of Zuckerberg’s signature accomplishments.
Jeff Bezos, Amazon
Amazon’s hypercompetitive culture inspires as much criticism as admiration of late.
Elon Musk, Tesla/SpaceX
Fortune’s Businessperson of the Year for 2020 remains profoundly polarizing.
Jamie Dimon, JPMorgan Chase
Some bank analysts think JPMC has been too complacent in the fintech race.
This article appears in the February/March 2021 issue of Fortune with the headline, “Underrated/overrated.”