Did CEO worship die with Steve Jobs?

Oh St. Steve, you’re in heaven now–or wherever people go who disavow their biological children and exploit Taiwanese workers to save money. Wherever you are, however, you’re still worshiped as the Innovation Christ…

But it just occurred to me the other day that, since the passing of Lord Jobs, there aren’t any CEOs worshiped in the tech space or elsewhere, except for perhaps the perennial (and somewhat justified) respect accorded Warren Buffet (those who say, “What about Warren Buffet?” below will be cited for not reading the OP).

In the 90s, I was an MBA student, and it was different. The gods included Jack Welch, Bill Gates, Larry Elison, Steve Dell–pretty much any CEO of a big, up-and-coming or still-going company was having his ding-dong sucked by the bubble-fanning press.

Today, though? Who are the candidates for worship, and are they actually worshiped? Lessee:

Mark Zuckerberg. Facebook makes money, whoo hoo! setting it apart from most tech companies these days. Despite that, praise for the man-child at its helm is surprisingly… tepid? Not really there? I googled and found articles about Zuck’s management style, etc., but it mostly looked like guru content, i.e., crap by guys with something to sell themselves. I don’t sense the love for Marky Mark and the Facey Bunch.

Jeff Bezos. He seems to get more criticism these days for Amazon’s business practices than for the megabiz he’s built. Again, the lack of love is a bit mystifying.

Elon Musk. I hear a lot about Tesla and SpaceX, but I don’t hear a lot about him.

Those Google guys. Serge and whoever. Same thing as Elon. I hear a lot about Google, but those guys seem lake shadowy mandarins who don’t get a lot of press about their ingenious management methods.

I can’t think of any other candidates. Beyond those mentioned above, the world of tech and online this and that seems pretty anonymous. Even companies that are prominent, like Twitter, seem to have had management shakeups and whatnot. Or their CEOs just ain’t being worshiped.

In any case, I could be wrong. What do you think?

How about Richard Branson? Or the Indian brothers whose names escape me at the moment?

Oh yes, I meant to include Branson as a CEO worked in the 90s. His star seemed to fade in the early 00’s.

I’m sorry but that list looks a lot like you point out a bunch of guys with a fairly strong following for being successful CEO’s, but then that they don’t really count because… reasons?

Yes, Zuckerberg or Bill Gates are admired for the hype behind them, a similar hype Jobs had, and both have decent press due to their philanthropic causes. They can very much be compared to Jobs.

Just not as much as nerd favorite Elon Musk who even appeared in a Simpsons episode. His personality is very well discussed.

And let’s not forget businessmen with plenty of media exposure like Mark Cuban or that guy with the hair. You know, the one that’s on TV all the time because of something he’s doing right now?

Two things:

• It’s a short list, and I think any list would be much shorter than in the 90s.

• I’m not saying they don’t count at all. I just don’t see any of those guys praised as much or in the same way as Jobs was and still is.

He’s famous for sure. I don’t see him being praised for his management style or innovations all that much. Again, it’s a non-zero level, but nothing like Jobs.

I’m not talking about generic celebrity. I’m talking about the business and tech press worshiping these for purported skills, genius, whatever.

The guy with the hair running for some job in politics right now seems to have a lot to say about his own innovative style. With enough success to attract a big following, I should add.

But if your baseline is that you need the exact same amount of praise Jobs got, then you are right, nobody in your list qualifies. In fact no CEO ever in any point in time does. Only Jobs was exactly in every aspect like Jobs.

But similar and pretty close? Sure. Musk is the current Jobs for the media.

Self-promotion isn’t the same thing I’m talking about.

I don’t agree! A lot of these guys were worshiped by the media, even before the 90s. Guys like Lee Iaccoca, etc. Jack Welch, never stopped hearing about that guy, though his legacy doesn’t seem to be appreciated as much these days.

I’m not sure he’s really in the same class or even close. If Musk were to die today, would you keep hearing shit about him forever, as is true in the case of Jobs?

I’m pretty sure that when those guys pass on, nobody is going to photoshop a silhouette of their faces onto their corporate logos like people did with Jobs.

Yep. People who didn’t give one rip about cars yesterday have crowned themselves experts in the industry overnight just because they can parrot what St. Elon says.

Warren Buffett is still the Oracle of Omaha. A CEO doesn’t have to be the darling of millennials to be the object of worship.

As I said in the OP, those who say, “What about Warren Buffet?” below will be cited for not reading the OP.



But never too long to comment about. :slight_smile:

Yes, it is. Jobs was BIIIIIIIGGGG in self-promotion. He wasn’t a media darling by being the shy, retiring type, like Wozniak.

So, which one is it? As famous as Jobs in their respective peaks, or as famous as Jobs after their respective deaths? You keep shifting definitions to suit your thesis.

I think Jack Welch’s legacy has been tarnished by the fact that so many of his acolytes (e.g. Bob Nardelli) have been worthless stuffed suits.

Not to mention that he’s practically a byword for ruthlessness in business. What was he called back then? “Neutron Jack”? For the way he left buildings empty of life without affecting the structure?

But then Bezos doesn’t count because Amazon practices are criticised?

How does that even work?

I didn’t say anything about Bezos so why are you asking me that?

I’m not. I’m agreeing with you in the first paragraph, and then referring to the OP in the other two.

There are always new leaders. Right now there some folks looking at the Gig Economy - e.g., the CEO’s of Airbnb and Uber. Jack Dorsey of both Twitter and Square has been held up, but given Twitter’s difficulties growing past 300mm users haven’t kept him at the forefront.

Larry Page and Sergey Brin of Alphabet/Google appear to be showing an ability to look at a longer game while also lining up their Financials better so analysts better understand their businesses.

The real question is who can show how new models, like Gig Economy businesses, will translate to Warren Buffet-like business fundamentals. Meaning - these new businesses are still being figured out to ensure they are sustainable and can end up in the “buy and hold, dependable” quadrant of business.

The ones that do will have leaders who are worshipped.

The founder of Dell is Michael Dell, not Steve.

The “app economy” is very fragile and will collapse the instant their investors ask “so, when do you plan on actually making money?”

It’s not like it hasn’t happened before.