The most beloved CEOs in tech, ranked by employees

Guess who the most beloved Silicon Valley tech CEO is, according to a new survey?

Mark Zuckerberg? Tim Cook? Wrong.

It’s Jen-Hsun Huang, chief executive of Nvidia. He ranked No. 6 in Glassdoor’s 2017 survey of the highest-rated CEOs, the best showing among Silicon Valley’s top tech bosses, with a 99 percent approval rating.

Jen-Hsun Huang, CEO of Nvidia, in 2009. (Mercury News archives)

Huang co-founded Nvidia, the Santa Clara-based chip maker that has been best known for gaming graphics chips and is now turning its attention to artificial intelligence and self-driving technology, in 1993. According to a Mercury News interview with Huang in 2009, he was born in Taiwan and came to the United States at the age of 10.

Nvidia provides “a fantastic environment for forward-thinking engineers, computer scientists and marketers,” says an anonymous employee on Glassdoor. Another said it is “a big company that thinks it is a startup.”

Elon Musk wasn’t far behind at No. 8. But he didn’t get a 98 percent approval rating for leading Tesla, the Silicon Valley-based cleantech company. That score came from his employees at SpaceX, the Southern California-based company where he is also CEO. This is the first time on the list for Musk, also an immigrant CEO. He was born in South Africa.

The average CEO approval rating is 67 percent, according to Glassdoor.

As for Facebook’s Zuckerberg, he was No. 10. Apple’s Cook was No. 53.

Job site Glassdoor’s rankings are based on employee reviews submitted anonymously between May 2, 2016 and May 1, 2017. Each CEO must have received at least 100 reviews from current and former U.S.-based employees during the period. The companies have at least 1,000 employees.

Silicon Valley tech execs didn’t lead the list this year, but the top CEO on the overall list does lead a Bay Area company: Clorox. Its CEO, Benno Dorer, was No. 1 with a 99 percent approval rating from employees of the Oakland-based company, according to Glassdoor’s survey.

Other notable tech CEOs on this year’s list: Brad Smith of Intuit was No. 13; Marc Benioff of Salesforce was No. 15; Sundar Pichai of Google was No. 17; and Shantanu Narayen of Adobe was No. 19.

Tech CEOs who have topped previous years’ lists include Facebook’s Zuckerberg, Alphabet’s Larry Page (when he was CEO of Google) and LinkedIn’s Jeff Weiner. Last year, when Silicon Valley tech CEOs failed to crack the Top 3 for the first time since the list’s inception in 2013, Zuckerberg was at No. 4.

To see the complete list, go to Glassdoor’s site.


Illustration from KRT archives


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  • Leone

    Shantanu Narayen likes sending jobs to his homeland, taking them away from skilled American workers.

  • Dave

    Really? Beloved? Hmm, no I think not. This article is just… Sickening.

  • moth0

    Why isn’t Marissa Mayer or Ellen Pao on the list?

    Oh, nevermind, I thought it was the most hated former CEOs in tech.

  • keenplanner

    Too bad Carly Fiorina isn’t around to line the bottom of the list.

  • Jamie K.

    I work for tech and don’t recall such a survey… It would be great to see sample size

  • VovCA

    My vote is for Lisa Su, she pulled an incredible turn around for AMD, only Steve Jobs resonates in this case.