Attract talent

Who are the Non-Founder CEOs in Tech?
Over the past few years, as large tech companies begin to mature, we have seen that there has been a slow shift in leadership, with founders stepping down from the CEO role and making way for a new group of executives to take on the most senior position at their company. Learn more about non-founder CEOs and how they lead their respective companies.
Image credit: Jenny Nilsson.
20 minute read

Big tech companies have drastically changed the way we live our daily lives, and the founders of these businesses have amassed significant wealth.

Over the past few years, as large tech companies begin to mature, we have seen that there has been a slow shift in leadership, with founders stepping down from the CEO role and making way for a new group of executives to take on the most senior position at their company.

The decision for founders to remove themselves from a company that they built from scratch is often a difficult one and can significantly impact the trajectory of a business.

“As a company transitions from product to sales, and scales its operations, the skills required change. And if you’re bringing that talent in from the outside, having the CEO title will not only attract better talent… but empower an outsider within the company,” Martin Casado, General Partner at Andreessen Horowitz, wrote in a blog post. “Each founder has to weigh their own situation, and their calculus could come out differently.”

Most recently to join the group of non-founder CEO companies is Twitter, which appointed 37-year-old Parag Agrawal to its most senior position.

Agrawal is one of the youngest CEOs to lead an S&P 500 company and has also become part of the growing number of Indian-American CEOs in Silicon Valley.

In fact, out of the 50 internet technology companies that The Org identified with non-founder CEOs almost half of them were run by people of color. This should not come as a surprise, as studies have shown that Asian Americans are often promoted to executive positions in a company during times of uncertainty.

Female and POC Jan list
Of the 50 interent technology companies identified, 42% of CEOs were people of color and 10% were women.

Some of the most notable non-founder tech CEOs include:

Andy Jassy

Not many people had heard of Andy Jassy before Jeff Bezos handpicked him to be his successor in July last year. Friends, family and even college roommates know Jassy as extremely down-to-earth and unpretentious, a compliment his predecessor rarely received.

The Harvard Business School graduate has been with Amazon since 1997, and previously ran the company’s cloud services business.

Tim Cook

Tim Cook became CEO of Apple in August 2011 after serving at the company as its COO. Cook has an MBA from Duke University where he graduated as a Fuqua Scholar. Before joining Apple he was the COO of Compaq. Cook is known to be a private and quiet person.

Sundar Pichai

On August 10, 2015, it was announced that Sundar Pichai would become the CEO of Google, a few months later, he was named the CEO of Alphabet, Google’s parent company. Pichai joined Google as head of product management and development in 2004 after spending some time at management consulting firm, McKinsey.

He has a degree from the Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur, an MS from Stanford University and an MBA from Wharton where he was both a Siebel Scholar and a Palmer Scholar.

Daniel Zhang

One of the founding members of the Alibaba Partnership, Daniel Zhang has been with Alibaba since August 2007, when he joined as CFO of Taobao Marketplace. Zhang was named CEO of Alibaba in May 2015 and became the company’s chairman in September 2019.

Satya Nadella

Satya Nadella became the CEO of Microsoft in February 2014, after being with the company for 22 years. He most recently served as EVP of the Cloud and Enterprise group at Microsoft.

Nadella has earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Mangalore University, a Master’s in computer science from the University of Wisconsin and a MBA from the University of Chicago.

It is important to note that all of the CEOs named above are men, as women CEOs are still underrepresented in tech companies. Out of the 50 tech companies that we identified as non-founder operated, only 5 of them were led by women. The detailed list of companies with non-founder CEOs can be found below:

LogoOrg ChartFounder/sPrevious CEOCurrent CEODate AppointedEstimated # CEO Since Founding
1AmazonJeff BezosJeff BezosAndy JassyJul 20212
2AppleSteve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Ronald WayneSteve JobsTim CookAug 20117
3AlphabetLarry Page, Sergey BrinLarry PageSundar PichaiDec 20192
4AlibabaJack MaJonathan LuDaniel ZhangMay 20153
5MicrosoftBill Gates, Paul AllenSteve BallmerSatya NadellaFeb 20143
6PayPalPeter Thiel, Luke Nosek, Ken Howery, Max Levchin, Yu PanDevin Wenig (ebay)Dan SchulmanJul 20155
7IntelGordon Moore, Robert NoyceBob SwanPatrick P. GelsingerFeb 20218
8IBMCharles Ranlett FlintGinni RomettyArvind KrishnaApr 202010
9HPDavid Packard, Bill HewlettDion WeislerEnrique LoresNov 20199
10Cisco SystemsSandy Lerner, Leonard BosackJohn ChambersChuck RobbinsJul 20154
11Oracle Larry Ellison, Bob Miner, Ed OatesMark Hurd and Safra A. Catz (joint CEOs)Safra A. CatzSep 20143
12Thermo Fisher ScientificGeorge N. HatsopoulosMarijn E. DekkersMarc N. CasperOct 20094
13JabilWilliam MoreanTimothy MainMark MondelloJan 20134
14BroadcomHenry Samueli, Henry NicholasHenry NicholasHock E. TanMar 20063
15QualcommIrwin Mark Jacobs, Adelia A Coffman, Andrew Viterbi, Klein Gilhousen, Andrew Cohen, Harvey White, Franklin AntonioSteve MollenkopfCristiano AmonJun 20214
16Micron TechnologyWard Parkinson, Joe Parkinson, Doug Pitman, Dennis WilsonMark DurcanSanjay MehrotraMay 20174
17CDWMichael KrasnyTom RichardsChristine A LeahyJan 20194
18Applied MaterialsMichael A. McNeillyMichael R. SplinterGary E. DickersonSep 20134
19Western DigitalAlvin B. PhillipsStephen D MilliganDavid GoeckelerMar 20204
20CognizantKumar Mahadeva, Francisco D'SouzaFrancisco D'SouzaBrian HumphriesApr 20194
21AdobeCharles Geschke, John WarnockBruce R. ChizenShantanu NarayenDec 20073
22Leidos HoldingsJohn Robert BeysterJohn P. JumperRoger KroneJul 20145
23eBayPierre OmidyarDevin WenigJamie IannoneApr 20205
24UberGarrett Camp, Travis KalanickTravis KalanickDara KhosrowshahiAug 20172
25IntuitScott D. Cook, Tom ProulxBrad SmithSasan K. GoodarziJan 20195
26Science Applications InternationalJohn Robert BeysterTony MoracoNazzic S. KeeneAug 20193
XeroxXerox HoldingsJoseph C. WilsonJeff JacobsonJohn VisentinMay 201810
28Booking Holdings Jay S. WalkerDarren HustonGlenn D. FogelJan 20174
29NetAppJames Lau, Michael Malcolm, David HitzTom GeorgensGeorge KurianJun 20153
30ServiceNowDavid Loo, Fred Luddy, Don Goodliffe, Bow RuggeriJohn DonahoeBill McDermottNov 20194
31GartnerGideon GartnerMichael FleisherEugene A. HallJul 20043
32WorkdayAneel Bhusri, David DuffieldAneel BhusriChano Fernandez & Aneel BhusriAug 2020 & May 20143
33NortonLifeLock Gary HendrixGreg ClarkVincent PiletteNov 20198
34AutodeskJohn Walker, Dan DrakeCarl BassAndrew AnagnostJun 20174
35TwitterJack Dorsey, Biz Stone, Evan Williams, Noah GlassJack DorseyParag AgrawalNov 20212
36Kakao Kim Beom-sooCho Soo-yong , Yeo Min-sooNam Koong-whonJan 20215
37Palo Alto NetworksRajiv Batra, Yuming Mao, Nir Zuk, Dave StevensMark McLaughlinNikesh AroraJun 20183
38GoDaddyBob ParsonsScott WagnerAman BhutaniSep 20196
39CitrixEd IacobucciDavid J. HenshallRobert M. CalderoniOct 20215
40TrimbleCharles TrimbleSteven W. BerglundRobert PainterJan 20203
41IACBarry Charles DillerGreg BlattJoey LevinJun 20153
42McAfeeJohn McAfeeChris YoungPeter A. LeavFeb 20207
43RackspaceRichard Yoo, Pat Condon, Dirk ElmendorfJoe EazorKevin M. JonesApr 20197
44CadenceAlberto Sangiovanni-Vincentelli, A. Richard NewtonLip-Bu TanAnirudh DevganDec 20215
45Match GroupGary KremenMandy GinsbergShar DubeyMar 20204
46F5 NetworksJeff HusseyJohn McAdamFrançois Locoh-DonouApr 20175
47Arista NetworksAndy Bechtolsheim, David CheritonN/AJayshree UllalOct 20082
48SplunkMichael Baum, Rob Das, Erik SwanDouglas MerrittGraham Smith (interim)Nov 15, 20214
49Interactive BrokersThomas PeterffyThomas PeterffyMilan GalikOct 20192
50CheggAayush Phumbhra, Osman Rashid, Josh CarlsonJim SafkaDan RosensweigFeb 20103
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