Since his introduction, in the late 1970s, of the first commercially successful line of personal computers, Steve Jobs was widely regarded as a pioneer in the tech world. He was also an innovative and savvy businessman who took Apple, the company he co-founded, to the top of the financial market. Jobs' death from pancreatic cancer on Oct. 5, at age 56, left many wondering who will succeed him as the next great tech CEO. (For more on CEOs, see CEO Savvy And Stock's Success Go Hand In Hand.)
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Here are several candidates (in alphabetical order) who are contending to fill those shoes:
Tim Cook, CEO Apple
Before taking over for the ailing Jobs, who resigned in August, Cook served as Apple's Chief Operating Officer and was a strong contributor to the company's worldwide sales and operations. However, Cook, who admittedly is a logistics guy rather than a product wizard, is said to be concentrating on making in-house changes to the Apple culture, instead of new technology. Apple's release of its latest iPhone, an update more than a ground breaker, disappointed fans and investors and capped a sell-off of the stock last month. Indeed, Jobs will be a tough act to follow, for his successor. Unlike Jobs, who was paid $1 salary, according to Apple's 2011 Proxy Statement, Cook in 2010 earned an $800,000 salary, $5 million in bonuses and $52.3 million in restricted stocks.
Dick Costolo, CEO Twitter
There's little denying that Twitter can play with the big kids, when it comes to social media, and Costolo, who became CEO in 2010, is making sure everyone in the tech world knows it. Costolo, whose net worth is around $120 million, announced at the Web 2.0 earlier this month that Twitter's integration with Apple's iOS 5 more than tripled Twitter's daily sign-ups. This is a good omen for Twitter, which has raised $800 million in funding for a possible foray into an IPO in the near future. In the meantime, Costolo and his PR gurus are making sure Twitter is getting lots of "in-your-face" time; a Mexican soccer club replaced player names on the jerseys with their Twitter handles. (To learn more about twitter, read Twitter: The Newest Stock Market Indicator.)
Larry Ellison, CEO Oracle
Ellison is also a co-founder of Oracle, which is considered one of the world's leading software companies. However, in 2008 Oracle entered the hardware business with its Exadate platform, which Ellison claimed was "the fastest database server on the planet." Oracle has since introduced Fusion apps, which are business-focused for supply and product management and order fulfillment. Oracle continues to develop and improve on software for data warehousing and online transaction processing. The company recently announced its array of cloud computing services, which include software for managing tasks, such as sales and human resources, a database, security technology and a platform for writing Web applications with Java software; all designed to give Amazon a run for the money in the cloud sector. According to Equilar, Ellison earned roughly $8.4 million in 2009 and his overall compensation over the last 10 years is in the neighborhood of $1.84 billion.
Mike Lazaridis, CEO RIM
RIM (Research in Motion), which makes BlackBerry, is currently facing some serious problems, in that its stock has fallen below its book value for the first time in nine years, after customers opted for phones built by competing firms, including Apple and Samsung. No doubt the decline was sparked by the massive worldwide BlackBerry outage, which sparked customer outrage. However, RIM is set to unveil three new products this month, each of which has an updated design, affordable price tag and faster, spiffier BlackBerry 7 operating system. Lazaridis, at a recent developer convention, announced plans for the BBX, which will unify all BlackBerry and QNX platforms. Not many details are known, but there's talk about the product having heavy gaming functions. Forbes reports that Lazaridis' annual salary is $1.17 million, but with stock options and other compensation, he pulls in about $5.1 million a year.
Larry Page, CEO Google
The 38-year-old leader of the search giant, regained the top spot in April after having conceded the role to co-founder Eric Schmidt, a decade ago. Both Page and Schmidt have announced they will be making a foray into new ventures aimed at a younger audience. In June, they launched Google+, a social media project to compete with Facebook. Page has said Google+ already has 40 million users. Google Offers, which is set to rival Groupon, is live in several big city markets, but the latest news is Google's plan to bring original content to YouTube via Google TV, which is already available through smart phone apps. Page's stake in Google rose to almost $16.25 billion, based on Bloomberg's report of the company's second quarter earnings this year. According to the SEC filing, Page earns $1 a year salary and does not receive any bonuses. (For more on Google, check out 5 Surprising Companies Google Owns.)
Mark Zuckerberg, CEO Facebook
The Facebook boy wonder's meteoric rise to fame and fortune, has been well-documented in news shows and on the big screen. However, the recent change of some features on Facebook, like Ticker and News Feed, were met with some opposition by users, who claimed they were too busy and too complicated. Zuckerberg insists that the social network's newest feature, Timeline, will be met with an overwhelming nod of approval, soon enough. One major hurdle is that users are still concerned that Facebook's log of personal data, faces security breaches; even Zuckerberg's account was hacked this year. The company is facing fines in some countries for violating specific privacy laws. He also earns $1 a year in salary, but his net worth of $17.5 billion has landed him on the Forbes 400 list.
Other top tech CEOs who deserve mentioning include: Steve Ballmer (Microsoft), Jeff Bezos (Amazon), Michael Dell (Dell) and Brad Smith (Intuit).
The Bottom Line
Steve Jobs was a pioneer, a savvy leader, a trendsetter and innovator whose legacy will live on, not only in the tech world, but in the business and financial sectors. Filling his shoes will be a tall order, but with technology ever growing and expanding across the globe, there are others primed to become the next great tech CEO.