Analysis

The 10 Best Tech CEOs of the US (2022)

For the second time, PakWired has rounded up the best tech CEOs of the United States. These men and women are true thought and innovation leaders in the US tech industry. 

They are revolutionizing Silicon Valley and heading break-out East-coast tech firms in places such as Boston, New York, and MIT’s neighborhood in Cambridge, MA. 

For other entrepreneurs, their stories can provide inspiration and actionable examples on leadership and business acumen. 

Before we deep-dive into the world of tech CEOs, though, a note on our selection process.  As in our 2020 edition of the 10 best tech CEOs of the US, there are a couple of key criteria. 

To start with, we only took into account mid-to-large tech companies – those with more than 500 employees. 

The CEOs themselves were rated based on their company’s business success, stock market performance, and revenue management skill. 

In addition, their leadership skills were assessed based on the company climate they foster. Using data from Comparably and Glassdoor, we took a close look at employees’ views of their CEOs’ social competence, innovativeness, and inspiration value.

Finally, we also took the candidates’ philanthropic activities and sense of social responsibility into consideration. We looked closely at what charities they’re involved in, and at how they handle sensitive issues like race, gender, and the spread of misinformation. 

Still think we’ve forgot someone who deserved a spot among the best tech CEOs in the US in 2022? Let us know in the comments! 

N.B.: This list is not sponsored.

1 – Susan Wojcicki (YouTube)

Kicking off this list is Susan Wojcicki, CEO of YouTube. She’s one of the most famed leaders in California’s Silicon Valley, and regularly features in the top spot on lists of influential tech leaders. Including this one.

Wojcicki’s main career began at Google. She joined as the company’s sixteenth employee as the marketing manager. Her influence actually goes back a little further, as it was her garage that Google’s founders rented to develop the company. Furthermore, she has contributed to a wide range of the search engine’s staple features and revenue sources, including AdSense, Google Books, and Google Images. 

Back in 2014, she then suggested that Google acquire YouTube – for the measly price of $1.65 billion. Ever since, she’s been running the company. 

Under her guidance, the video platform grew into the second-largest search engine in the world – right after Google. As it’s part of Alphabet, it’s difficult to gauge its standalone value, but estimates go up to $200 billion. What is known is that it has roughly 2 billion monthly users, and pulled in nearly $30 billion in revenues in 2021.

2 – Elon Musk (Tesla)

FILE – In this Dec. 1, 2020, file photo, SpaceX owner and Tesla CEO Elon Musk arrives on the red carpet for the Axel Springer media award in Berlin. Activists are appealing to Tesla Inc. to close a new showroom in China’s northwestern region of Xinjiang, where officials are accused of abuses against mostly Muslim ethnic minorities. (Hannibal Hanschke/Pool Photo via AP, File)

Next up is a name you probably won’t be surprised to see on this list – Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and one of the most admired CEOs globally. 

At just over $230 billion (as of June 2022), he is also the richest man in the world. His net worth is tied up with Tesla’s, however, and so has seen some wild up- and downswings – earlier this year, he came close to scratching the $300 billion mark.

Born in South Africa, Musk moved to California in 1995 to pursue a career in tech. He co-founded several companies, including X.com, which evolved into PayPal and was bought by eBay in 2002 for $1.5 billion. 

These days, Musk is most famous for his work at the aerospace company SpaceX and electric car manufacturer Tesla. In addition, he founded Neuralink in 2016, which develops brain-computer interfaces, as well as OpenAI, a nonprofit dedicated to friendly artificial intelligence. 

The first half of 2022 has seen Musk, a self-described free speech absolutist, also jockey to take Twitter private in a $44 billion takeover bid.

3 – Lisa Su (AMD)

Less well-known but no less impressive is the resume of Lisa Su. She’s the CEO of AMD, one of the largest producers of semiconductors and microchips. 

Her stand-out achievement is turning AMD around. She took over the company in 2014, when it was on the brink of bankruptcy. Within six years, Su’s management decisions, certainly not without help by her PhD in electrical engineering, saw AMD soar by 1,300%

Today, high-tech applications like AI, gaming, and cloud computing all rely on AMD’s technology, with main rival Intel playing catch-up.

Another one of Su’s achievements is her high rate of employee approval – she’s in the top 5% of all US CEOs, across all sectors. 

4 – Satya Nadella (Microsoft)

Satya Nadella is the president and CEO of Microsoft. Born in India, he came to the US for his studies in the 1980s, eventually earning an MSc in computer science and an MBA. 

Nadella launched his career at Sun Microsystems, but joined Microsoft in 1992. Since then, he occupied increasingly important positions before succeeding Steve Ballmer as CEO in 2014. 

One of Nadella’s trademarks is his visionary outlook on future development. It was he who led major projects like Microsoft’s move to cloud computing – not without risk for the makers of a desktop OS. Today, the company is a cloud leader, with one of the most extensive infrastructures in the world, earning Nadella a deserved spot among the best tech CEOs in the US in 2022. 

5 – Shantanu Narayen (Adobe)

Shantanu Narayen has been CEO of Adobe Inc. since 2007. Like Microsoft’s Nadella, Narayen was born in India and moved to the US to earn both a degree in computer science and an MBA from the University of California, Berkeley. 

Narayen joined several Silicon Valley ventures in the 1980s and 90s. He even worked in Apple’s senior management from 1989 to 1995, but joined Adobe in 1998. 

Overall, Narayen’s distinguishing features are his innovativeness and penchant for transformation. It was during his tenure as CEO that Adobe launched its signature Creative Cloud and expanded into digital experiences. The success has proven this strategic reorientation right.

Furthermore, Narayen was the highest-ranking tech CEO on Glassdoor in 2021, as well as the second-highest-ranking CEO overall. 

6 – Sundar Pichai (Google/Alphabet)

Sundar Pichai is the third prominent Indian American to feature on this list. Since 2015, he has been the CEO of Google, and since 2019 he also serves as CEO for Alphabet, Inc., the tech giant’s holding company.

Pichai holds an MSc in materials and engineering from Stanford and an MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. After he graduated, he worked for McKinsey & Co for a while, but decided to join Google in 2004.

Many of Google’s most well-known products are based on Pichai’s ideas – from Google Chrome to Google Drive. 

7 – Jen-Hsun Huang (NVIDIA)

The longest-serving CEO on this list is Jen-Hsun (“Jensen”) Huang, founder and CEO of NVIDIA. He’s been at the helm of the company, which designs integrated circuits and GPUs, since 1993. 

Huang is one of the richest US CEOs – and one of the most philanthropically active. During the economic crisis in the late 2000s, he voluntarily reduced his annual salary to $1. He furthermore donated $30 million to Stanford University to build an engineering center.

8 – Anne Wojcicki (23andMe)

Anne Wojcicki is the co-founder and CEO of biotech company 23andMe, which specializes in personal genomics. Fittingly, the 23 in the name is the number of human chromosomes. She’s a Yale-educated molecular biologist and, incidentally, the sister of YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki, another of 2022’s best US tech CEOs.

Together with her ex-husband, Google co-founder Sergey Brin, Wojcicki runs The Brin Wojcicki Foundation. They have also donated extensively to The Michael J. Fox Foundation and the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society. 

9 – Yamini Rangan (HubSpot)

One of the newest entries on PakWired’s 2022 list of the best tech CEOs in the US is Yamini Rangan, who took over the top position at HubSpot in 2021. A tech veteran, Yamini holds an MSc in computer engineering and an MBA from Berkeley. She was formerly CCO at Dropbox, then within HubSpot

10 – Eric Yuan (Zoom)

Finally, Eric Yuan has been CEO of Zoom since he founded the company back in 2011. The idea for a virtual meeting platform came to him back in the 1990s, when he and his wife were both studying at universities in their native China – but separated by a 10-hour train ride. 

Yuan shot to fame during the pandemic, when Zoom became the center of life for millions.

Yuan’s performance as CEO has won him praise for both transparency and his approach to crisis management. In addition, he won Comparably’s 2021 award for best CEO in terms of diversity, with a 98/100 rating by POC employees.

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