Fortune’s 25 Most Powerful Businesspeople in the World: #1 Apple CEO Steve Jobs

“Some are empire builders. Others are hired guns. But if they truly have world-class oomph, they’re on Fortune’s subjective – yet really quite accurate – list of the 25 most powerful businesspeople in the world,” Fortune Magazine explains.

1. Steve Jobs
Chairman and CEO, Apple

Management guru Jim Collins once called Steve Jobs the “Beethoven of business.” He was marveling at the Apple founder’s ability, time and again, to conjure digital objects of desire from esoteric blends of chips, disks, plastic, and software, and then promote them with his own alluring brand of performance art. But Jobs might also be called its Machiavelli, a man who can bend suppliers, partners, and even industries to his will… Apple’s fecundity – born of continual and artful innovation in every aspect of its business – has foisted profound changes not only upon infotech but upon many adjacent industries.

During the first two decades of his remarkable 30-year career, Jobs twice altered the direction of the computer industry. In 1977 the Apple II kicked off the PC era, and the graphical user interface launched by Macintosh in 1984 has been aped by every other computer since.

Along the way Jobs conceived of “desktop publishing,” gave the world the laser printer, and pioneered personal computer networks. As a side gig he bankrolled Pixar, which fostered the technology and a brand-new business model for creating computer-animated feature films.

Since returning to an ailing Apple in 1997, Jobs has exercised his increasing power with the facility of a jujitsu master. Consider: He elbowed aside the likes of Sony to change the dynamics of consumer electronics with the iPod.

He persuaded the music industry, the television networks, and Hollywood to let him show them how to distribute their wares in the Digital Age with the iTunes Music Store. He employed the arch austerity of his hugely successful Apple Stores to give the big-box boys a lesson in high-margin, high-touch retailing.

And this year, at the height of his creative and promotional powers, Jobs orchestrated Apple’s over-the-top entry into the cellular telephone business with the iPhone, a lozenge of glass and aluminum encasing a do-everything digital device.

That’s five industries that Jobs has upended – computers, Hollywood, music, retailing, and wireless phones. He’s also had a notable effect on how the creative aspects of all industries operate because of the software tools Apple makes for filmmaking, sound recording, and photo editing.

And he continues to be a tastemaker in TV and print advertising. Moreover, after the sale of Pixar earlier this year, he is now Disney’s (Charts, Fortune 500) biggest shareholder. At this moment, no one has more influence over a broader swath of business than Jobs.
–Brent Schlender, Fortune editor at large

Full article, “The power of Steve Jobs,” here.

Read also, “Power: A cooling trend,” here.

The rest of the list:
2. Rupert Murdoch, Chairman and CEO, News Corp.
3. Lloyd Blankfein, Chairman and CEO, Goldman Sachs
4. Eric Schmidt, Larry Page, and Sergei Brin, CEO; President, Products; President, Technology; Google
5. Warren Buffett, Chairman and CEO, Berkshire Hathaway
6. Rex Tillerson, Chairman and CEO, Exxon Mobil
7. Bill Gates, Founder, chairman of Microsoft; Idea thief and mediocrity purveyor; dispenser of ill-gotten gains
8. Jeff Immelt, Chairman and CEO, GE
9. Katsuaki Watanabe, President, Toyota
10. A.G. Lafley, Chairman and CEO, Procter & Gamble
11. John Chambers, Chairman and CEO, Cisco
12. Li Ka-shing, Chairman, Cheung Kong Holdings and Hutchison Whampoa
13. Lee Scott, CEO, Wal-Mart
14. Lakshmi Mittal
15. Jamie Dimon, Chairman and CEO, JP Morgan Chase
16. Mark Hurd, Chairman and CEO, Hewlett-Packard
17. James McNerney, Chairman and CEO, Boeing
18. Marius Kloppers, CEO, BHP Billiton
19. Steve Schwarzman, CEO, Blackstone
20. Carlos Slim, Chair, TelMex and Carso Foundation
21. Steve Feinberg, CEO, Cerberus
22. Indra Nooyi, Chairman and CEO, PepsiCo
23. Ratan Tata, Chairman, Tata Group
24. Bob Iger, CEO, Walt Disney
25. Bernard Arnault, Chairman and CEO, LVMH

Full list and their descriptions here.


  1. It’s true, he is a living legend. When Steve (eventually) dies, we will look back on this period, as a time when one of the most amazingly innovative people ever actually lived and walked among us.

  2. If you look at that list for the past few years, Gates keeps dropping and Dell dropped off.

    “Add lucky bastard . . .”

    It’s not entirely luck when the lottery is fixed.

    One of my favorite Turtle Boy quotes:
    “The next generation of interesting software will be done on the Macintosh, not the IBM PC.”
    – Bill Gates, BusinessWeek, 26 November 1984

  3. “The great thing about Steve [Ballmer] is, externally and internally, he’s exactly the same person,” Liddell says. “So what you see on the outside is also what you see on the inside.” (Sorry if you’ve just eaten. – Ampar)

    “Steve [Ballmer] is just a ball of energy and I really like him,” Liddell says ­ and we believe him. “So if you like people who are energetic and enthusiastic and are always sort of ‘go, go, go’ then you’ll love working with Steve [Ballmer]. If you find that tough, then he’s a tough person to work for. He’s very open with his opinions and he’s just emotionally charged. So a day with Steve [Ballmer] is very much a day of high energy.”

    “He’s also a very smart person and intellectually he has an incredibly good grasp of detail and of the business. Meetings are very challenging because he gets to the point very quickly. You don’t go into meetings with Steve [Ballmer] under-prepared.”

    – Microsoft’s group CFO, Chris Liddell

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