When Steve Jobs returned to Apple in 1997 to replace Gil Amelio as CEO, things turned around dramatically. With Jobs’ vision to execute technological innovations, the company he founded in 1976 became an investor’s dream.
Jobs, who passed away from pancreatic cancer in October 2011 after resigning as Apple CEO, has created one of the greatest success stories in the world of technology – but he also created one of the greatest growth stories in the world of investing.
I’m by no means an investor by trade, but I am the founder of a digital marketing agency. I’ve found in my line of business it’s important that non-professional investors like you and me take note of these innovators. The sooner an innovator is recognized, the quicker we can profit. The best CEOs remain in their positions because they are simply the best at what they do. Sustainability as a CEO is three-fold: employees share the vision, customer service is at its best and, of course, the product evolves over time into something exceptional. Simply put, invest in a CEO or study from the best. Below are some great current examples.
The South-African born geek-turned-billionaire innovator holds the CEO role at two companies he founded: Tesla Motors and SpaceX. He is also chairman at SolarCity.
There’s no doubting that the future of everyday transportation resides in electric automobiles. It’s already happening even in the little town of Wilkes-Barre, Pa. where I founded my company LSEO.com. Indeed, I am part of this trend: I own a Tesla P85 Model S.
Investors who believed in Musk’s vision at Tesla Motors have also profited. Tesla Motors (TSLA) is up over 1,200 percent since going public in July 2010. Though Tesla stock is up, this just may be the beginning of Musk’s reign in the world of electric cars. The company is heading in the right direction and will be bringing a more affordable electric car to the market soon. His proven work ethic and relentless push to innovate is something to watch.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is arguably the most popular (and able) CEO ever. He is a true visionary. Facebook, which changed the world of social media forever. Like Musk, Zuckerberg is constantly pushing ahead. Due to his leadership and technology-forward, long-term view for Facebook, he is worth making up a portion of your portfolio.
Facebook’s stock since going public in May of 2012 is up 181 percent, and Zuckerberg is showing no signs of slowing down. Just remember – there’s much hype around Facebook. Don’t buy into the day-to-day but rather Zuckerberg’s vision to be the leader in the social-media sphere.
The founder and CEO of Salesforce, a cloud computing company that debuted in 1999, Marc Benioff is another innovator who turned the software industry on its head. He spearheaded the trend of offering software as a service rather than building it for customer relationship management (CRM).
Benioff continues to build his brand as the leader in cloud computing, even penning the best seller, “Behind the Cloud.” He continues to develop new products within the cloud computing space and lead in philanthropy. Since going public in January 2004, Salesforce stock is up nearly 1,200 percent. Benioff is another visionary to watch.
CEO and Founder of Square, a mobile-payment company that recently had its IPO, and CEO and co-founder of Twitter, Jack Dorsey is another innovator who continually pushes through. His story is similar to Steve Jobs. Dorsey, who set the highly debated 140-character count for Twitter posts, was pushed out as Twitter CEO in 2006 – just as Jobs was from Apple in 1985. But Dorsey returned as CEO in July and, while away from Twitter, founded Square. When Jobs was out of Apple, he also co-founded Pixar, the computer-animated film studio.
Will Dorsey’s story turn legacy like Jobs’ story? Only time will tell, but I think it’s definitely worth keeping tabs on.
Shortly after joining Starbucks as Director of Marketing in 1981, Howard Schultz returned from a trip in Milan, Italy with a better understanding of the social makeup revolving around coffee shops.
He learned that there were close to a quarter-million coffee shops in Italy, and these were the places where people met to socialize over everything from business to romance. Schultz returned to Starbucks’ headquarters in Seattle and tried persuading the owners to follow Italy’s coffee-forward social lead. But it didn’t happen.
Though he was short on money and his wife was pregnant with their first baby, Schultz raised enough for his first coffee store, the Il Giornale, named after a Milani newspaper. Two years later, the owners of Starbucks sold the Starbucks retail unit to Il Giornale for nearly $4 million, and Starbucks spread across the states and became the well-respected brand it is today.
Schultz innovates not only in the way of coffee but through customer and employee relations through unique marketing concepts and employee incentives such as free education.
These top five CEOs continue to pave the way in their respective industries and are among the most widely recognized business executives. Whether you’re looking to invest in a CEO or you’re a business owner looking to learn from the best, keep these leading names in mind.