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Tim Cook Is a Better CEO Than Steve Jobs, Based on This Surprising Metric

Steve Jobs looms large in our collective mythos but Tim Cook may be the true unicorn.

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BY Geoffrey James - 11 May 2018

 

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

There are many ways to measure the quality of a CEO: stock price, valuation, patents filed (i.e. innovativeness), market share, growth rate, brand equity and so forth.

There is, however, one metric that's arguably more important than all the rest: average year-to-year revenue increase (AYRI) throughout a CEO's tenure.

AYRI is especially meaningful because measures long-term rather than short-term impact and, unlike metrics like stock price and valuation, it isn't subject to public opinion and analyst guesstimates.

The non-profit executive recruitment firm Kittleman recently calculated the AYRI of the top 50 CEOs of the world's largest and most powerful companies. (An infographic of this research is on the Kittleman site.)

Not surprisingly, Tim Cook was on the list but few would have guessed that Cook's performance would be so astronomically better than any other CEO, even those of other high-flying high tech firms.

Amazon's Jeff Bezos, for example, has achieved an AYRI of a little under half a billion dollars a year, more than twice as large as Zuckerberg and more than three times larger than Intel under Brian Krzanich. Other notable high-tech CEOs include:

  • Alphabet's Sundar Pichai ($546m)
  • AT&T's Randall Stephenson ($334m)
  • HP's Meg Whitman ($22m)
  • Ebay's Devin Wenig ($16m)
  • Texas Instruments Rich Templeton ($3m).

By comparison, the high performers in the finance industry include Warren Buffett ($354m) and the much-reviled CEO of JPMorgan Chase, Jamie Dimon ($286m).

All of these CEOs, of course, are alive and kicking (and running their respective companies), but what about Steve Jobs, who many people believe was the world's greatest CEO?

Well, according to my back-of-the-envelope calculations, in the fifteen years that Jobs helmed Apple's, he achieved a more-than-hefty AYRI of $625 million a year, which far better than any other high-tech CEO...

...except for Tim Cook, who in the 77 months he's been Apple's CEO has clocked an astounding AYRI of $1.6 billion a year. Therefore, by this metric at least, Cook is arguably the most effective corporate leader of all time.

 

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