CNNMoney Ranks Steve Jobs as Top Overachieving CEO

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CNNMoney recently compiled a list of the top 15 Fortune 100 CEOs it sees as overachievers, and Apple’s own Steve Jobs came out at the top of the list. The list was based on which companies outperformed the S&P 500 in 2009 and which CEOs were paid the least for their efforts — making Mr. Jobs an easy pick considering his official annual paycheck from Apple is only a dollar.

Coming in at second place was Goldman Sachs Goup’s Lloyd C. Blankfein at US$862,657, and Morgan Stanley’s John J. Mack took third place at $939.241. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer made the list, too, coming in sixth place with a $1.3 million paycheck.

CNNMoney compared each company’s stock performance as shareholder returns against the S&P 500, so the bigger the gap between the two, the higher a company could potentially rank. Apple, for example, hit 63 percent versus the S&P’s -9.2 percent. Goldman Sachs came in at 102 percent versus 23.5 percent, Morgan Stanley hit 87 percent versus 23.5 percent, and Microsoft came in at -12 percent versus -28.2 percent.

While coming it at the top of the list is yet another feather in Mr. Jobs’s cap, had his pay been in line with other CEO’s there’s a good chance he would’ve ranked a little lower on the list.



Good for Steve Jobs, but does anybody really need to declare that fact as if they had to think about it twice? I mean, has anybody - anybody - else in the corporate world ever pulled off anything as amazing as making a massive success out of a tech company, then, after getting kicked out due to politics, come back to the same company once it is on its deathbed and take it to the lofty position that Apple is in now?

Simple answer: No.


MOSiX, those are both good questions, and it made me think about the mechanics of other business turnarounds. Putting aside for the moment using “overachieving” and “tech company” as qualifiers, some of the things that stand out in Apple’s remarkable success is Steve’s insistence on:
- maintaining the Apple brand
- maintaining the user experience
- allowing the core product to evolve beyond its predecessor.

Most other companies with successful turnarounds, whether with former CEOs at the helm or not, managed the feat with one or more of the usual tools used to accomplish that task. Either large number of employees were let go, manufacturing was scaled back or cut, or massive financial restructuring was involved. Apple did all this by killing off the clones. And Steve’s masterstroke was the iMac, which echoed the appeal of the orignal Mac and provided the platform for OSX (and gradual demise of OS9), the introduction of the Intel chip (and phaseout of PowerPC), and the continuing innovation that Apple is famous for. These strategies have not, as far as I can tell, been successfully used at Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley or Microsoft.

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