by Tom Kaneshige

Tech Titans We Will Miss and Ones Better Off Dismissed

Sep 12, 20115 mins
IT Leadership

In the wake of Carol Bartz's firing from Yahoo, let's take a look at how tech CEOs' personalities and business tactics defined or are defining their companies, for good or ill. Here are 10 dynamic current and former tech CEOs, some we will miss, and others ... not so much.

Not Miss: Former Yahoo CEO Carol “F-Bomb” Bartz

There’s a reason Bartz got her walking papers over the telephone. Really, who would want to deliver the news to her face? The fiery Bartz is known for tongue lashings and f-bombs that would make sailors cringe. While her straight-shooting talk made Yahoo look scrappy, her phone call firing makes Yahoo look spineless, too.

Bartz Couldn’t Deliver Yahoo Turnaround

Carol Bartz Out As Yahoo CEO

With Bartz Out, Yahoo Must Refocus or Die

Miss: Former Apple CEO Steve Jobs, Super Control Freak


When Jobs retired as CEO last month and the media spun story after story, you’d have thought the iPocalypse was upon us. Jobs has been billed as the greatest visionary CEO on the planet, but we contend it’ll be his control-freak nature that will be most missed at Apple. Jobs was best when he was saying no to extraneous features, no to products that weren’t ready, no to pesky reporters… Teardown: Apple CEO Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs at Apple: In Pictures

Apple’s Greatest Hits Under Steve Jobs

Not Miss: HP CEO Leo Apotheker, a.k.a. The Cut Man


Nobody misses the hatchet man, especially one as spectacular as Apotheker. In less than a year as Hewlett-Packard CEO, Apotheker has managed to turn the iconic Silicon Valley company into a wreck with a dubious future. HP took a bath with its failed TouchPad, and Apotheker plans to spin off the PC unit. Heads are rolling. Even if HP comes out of this okay, Apotheker has spent his leadership capital.

HP CEO Surprise: Former SAP Chief Apotheker Takes Charge

HP Plans PC Spinoff, $10 Billion Autonomy Buy

7 Ways to Use HP Touchpads After They Stop Working

Why You Shouldn’t Buy a Discounted TouchPad Tablet

Miss: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Geek with a Dark Side


Powerful you’ve become, Mark, the dark side we sense in you. Anyone who has seen the movie “The Social Network” knows of Zuckerberg’s genius and cutthroat tactics. He’s a feared leader, a legend in the making. It’s ironic that the social networking king has some of the worst social skills of any CEO. Then again, you don’t have to “like” him. Likeability is an overrated CEO trait. Teardown: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg

Not Miss: Microsoft CEO Steve “Wild Man” Ballmer


The famous video of Ballmer hopping around on stage maniacally chanting “Developers!” cemented Microsoft’s image as a company that’s losing it. Who can take this guy seriously? Ballmer comes off as hyperactive and too focused on sales and marketing. And marketers can be the most untrustworthy of the corporate lot. Good leaders come off a little more — heck, a lot more — controlled. Put another way: Would you want to follow this guy? Teardown: Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer

Miss: Former Google CEO Eric “Cool Hand” Schmidt


Contrast Steve Ballmer’s outrageous style with Schmidt’s cool demeanor. When Schmidt talks, you get the feeling you’re listening to your wise older brother, intelligent yet approachable. Google replaced its steady hand with founder Larry Page, who, with his wind-blown hair and casual dress, plays the younger brother perfectly.

New Google CEO Sweeps in With Company Reorg

Visiting the Googleplex

Not Miss: RIM Co-CEOs Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis — Who’s the Boss?


When things are going great, people will praise even a committee of so-called leaders. It really doesn’t matter who’s in charge. But when challenges arise, there can be only one who steps up and carries the company on his or her shoulders. This is where RIM’s Co-CEO structure has failed. Risk-taking. Accountability. Consequence. You can’t divvy them up. Otherwise, it’s just a sitcom.

CEO Teardown: BlackBerry-Maker RIM’s Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie

Miss: Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, a.k.a. Bruce Wayne


Does anyone know who’s the boss at Oracle? Hint: There’s only one. Ellison’s shadow looms so large that many Oracle executives left to run other companies: Tom Siebel, Craig Conway, Marc Benioff, Zach Nelson. It was Ellison who won the database wars of the 1990s and built an empire. In those days, rumor had it that there was a bat cave under his Japanese-styled samurai home. Teardown: Oracle CEO Larry Ellison

Larry Ellison in Pictures: It’s Good to Be The King

Not Miss: AOL CEO Tim Armstrong, Dazed and Confused


Earlier this year, someone leaked an internal memo about “The AOL Way” under Armstrong’s watch. The document details the relationship between content and profitability that flies in the face of journalism, sending mixed messages about AOL and its services. Now there’s finger-pointing and yelling coming from TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington. Confused? Yeah, so are we.

Miss: The Fall of Former HP CEO Mark Hurd


It’s a pretty good bet Hewlett-Packard misses Hurd these days. Last summer, Hurd resigned as HP CEO following an investigation into a claim of sexual harassment (which found he hadn’t actually violated sexual harassment policy) and falsified expense reports. HP hired Leo Apotheker, and things have gone down hill. Couldn’t Hurd have blamed it all on damn autocorrect?

Mark Hurd’s HP Dismissal: 5 Unsolved Mysteries

Mark Hurd: a Look Back At His HP Tenure

The Best of ‘Damn You, Autocorrect’