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.
Some of the most notable non-founder tech CEOs include:
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 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.
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.
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 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:
|Logo||Org Chart||Founder/s||Previous CEO||Current CEO||Date Appointed||Estimated # CEO Since Founding|
|Amazon||Jeff Bezos||Jeff Bezos||Andy Jassy||Jul 2021||2|
|Apple||Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Ronald Wayne||Steve Jobs||Tim Cook||Aug 2011||7|
|Alphabet||Larry Page, Sergey Brin||Larry Page||Sundar Pichai||Dec 2019||2|
|Alibaba||Jack Ma||Jonathan Lu||Daniel Zhang||May 2015||3|
|Microsoft||Bill Gates, Paul Allen||Steve Ballmer||Satya Nadella||Feb 2014||3|
|PayPal||Peter Thiel, Luke Nosek, Ken Howery, Max Levchin, Yu Pan||Devin Wenig (ebay)||Dan Schulman||Jul 2015||5|
|Intel||Gordon Moore, Robert Noyce||Bob Swan||Patrick P. Gelsinger||Feb 2021||8|
|IBM||Charles Ranlett Flint||Ginni Rometty||Arvind Krishna||Apr 2020||10|
|HP||David Packard, Bill Hewlett||Dion Weisler||Enrique Lores||Nov 2019||9|
|Cisco Systems||Sandy Lerner, Leonard Bosack||John Chambers||Chuck Robbins||Jul 2015||4|
|Oracle||Larry Ellison, Bob Miner, Ed Oates||Mark Hurd and Safra A. Catz (joint CEOs)||Safra A. Catz||Sep 2014||3|
|Thermo Fisher Scientific||George N. Hatsopoulos||Marijn E. Dekkers||Marc N. Casper||Oct 2009||4|
|Jabil||William Morean||Timothy Main||Mark Mondello||Jan 2013||4|
|Broadcom||Henry Samueli, Henry Nicholas||Henry Nicholas||Hock E. Tan||Mar 2006||3|
|Qualcomm||Irwin Mark Jacobs, Adelia A Coffman, Andrew Viterbi, Klein Gilhousen, Andrew Cohen, Harvey White, Franklin Antonio||Steve Mollenkopf||Cristiano Amon||Jun 2021||4|
|Micron Technology||Ward Parkinson, Joe Parkinson, Doug Pitman, Dennis Wilson||Mark Durcan||Sanjay Mehrotra||May 2017||4|
|CDW||Michael Krasny||Tom Richards||Christine A Leahy||Jan 2019||4|
|Applied Materials||Michael A. McNeilly||Michael R. Splinter||Gary E. Dickerson||Sep 2013||4|
|Western Digital||Alvin B. Phillips||Stephen D Milligan||David Goeckeler||Mar 2020||4|
|Cognizant||Kumar Mahadeva, Francisco D'Souza||Francisco D'Souza||Brian Humphries||Apr 2019||4|
|Adobe||Charles Geschke, John Warnock||Bruce R. Chizen||Shantanu Narayen||Dec 2007||3|
|Leidos Holdings||John Robert Beyster||John P. Jumper||Roger Krone||Jul 2014||5|
|eBay||Pierre Omidyar||Devin Wenig||Jamie Iannone||Apr 2020||5|
|Uber||Garrett Camp, Travis Kalanick||Travis Kalanick||Dara Khosrowshahi||Aug 2017||2|
|Intuit||Scott D. Cook, Tom Proulx||Brad Smith||Sasan K. Goodarzi||Jan 2019||5|
|Science Applications International||John Robert Beyster||Tony Moraco||Nazzic S. Keene||Aug 2019||3|
|Xerox||Xerox Holdings||Joseph C. Wilson||Jeff Jacobson||John Visentin||May 2018||10|
|Booking Holdings||Jay S. Walker||Darren Huston||Glenn D. Fogel||Jan 2017||4|
|NetApp||James Lau, Michael Malcolm, David Hitz||Tom Georgens||George Kurian||Jun 2015||3|
|ServiceNow||David Loo, Fred Luddy, Don Goodliffe, Bow Ruggeri||John Donahoe||Bill McDermott||Nov 2019||4|
|Gartner||Gideon Gartner||Michael Fleisher||Eugene A. Hall||Jul 2004||3|
|Workday||Aneel Bhusri, David Duffield||Aneel Bhusri||Chano Fernandez & Aneel Bhusri||Aug 2020 & May 2014||3|
|NortonLifeLock||Gary Hendrix||Greg Clark||Vincent Pilette||Nov 2019||8|
|Autodesk||John Walker, Dan Drake||Carl Bass||Andrew Anagnost||Jun 2017||4|
|Jack Dorsey, Biz Stone, Evan Williams, Noah Glass||Jack Dorsey||Parag Agrawal||Nov 2021||2|
|Kakao||Kim Beom-soo||Cho Soo-yong , Yeo Min-soo||Nam Koong-whon||Jan 2021||5|
|Palo Alto Networks||Rajiv Batra, Yuming Mao, Nir Zuk, Dave Stevens||Mark McLaughlin||Nikesh Arora||Jun 2018||3|
|GoDaddy||Bob Parsons||Scott Wagner||Aman Bhutani||Sep 2019||6|
|Citrix||Ed Iacobucci||David J. Henshall||Robert M. Calderoni||Oct 2021||5|
|Trimble||Charles Trimble||Steven W. Berglund||Robert Painter||Jan 2020||3|
|IAC||Barry Charles Diller||Greg Blatt||Joey Levin||Jun 2015||3|
|McAfee||John McAfee||Chris Young||Peter A. Leav||Feb 2020||7|
|Rackspace||Richard Yoo, Pat Condon, Dirk Elmendorf||Joe Eazor||Kevin M. Jones||Apr 2019||7|
|Cadence||Alberto Sangiovanni-Vincentelli, A. Richard Newton||Lip-Bu Tan||Anirudh Devgan||Dec 2021||5|
|Match Group||Gary Kremen||Mandy Ginsberg||Shar Dubey||Mar 2020||4|
|F5 Networks||Jeff Hussey||John McAdam||François Locoh-Donou||Apr 2017||5|
|Arista Networks||Andy Bechtolsheim, David Cheriton||N/A||Jayshree Ullal||Oct 2008||2|
|Splunk||Michael Baum, Rob Das, Erik Swan||Douglas Merritt||Graham Smith (interim)||Nov 15, 2021||4|
|Interactive Brokers||Thomas Peterffy||Thomas Peterffy||Milan Galik||Oct 2019||2|
|Chegg||Aayush Phumbhra, Osman Rashid, Josh Carlson||Jim Safka||Dan Rosensweig||Feb 2010||3|