Fortune named Google CEO Larry Page “the most ambitious CEO in the universe,” or to put it in simple terms: the Business Person of the Year (2014). Page has taken the crown from Apple’s Tim Cook on Fortune’s list of the top 50 executives.
The choice is rather interesting, since Apple’s stock price has performed much better this year, but Page’s fabled “moonshots” propelled him to the top of the list.
Tim Cook, Apple’s Chief Executive Officer — who recently came out as gay — ranked no. 2 on Fortune’s list. They praised his work, saying “he knows what he’s doing as CEO of Apple,” as the company’s stock reached an all-time high today, driven by renewed enthusiasm for Macs and booming sales of the bigger iPhones.
Replacing a legend is an exercise filled with peril. Yet three years into his stewardship of Steve Jobs’ company, it is becoming increasingly clear that Tim Cook knows what he’s doing as CEO of Apple. The company’s stock is at an all-time high. Booming sales of larger iPhones and renewed enthusiasm for Mac computers are making up for slowing growth in iPads. The coming Apple Watch and the already released Apple Pay service show that Apple remains an innovator—even under a CEO known more for operational prowess than product savvy. Cook has replenished the management ranks at the top of Apple with relatively little rancor. The company remains secretive but has a whiff of openness. And with the purchase of the Beats headphone and streaming-music offering, Apple is reversing Jobs’ abhorrence for high-priced M&A deals. The low-profile Cook even stole the spotlight by matter-of-factly becoming the first openly gay CEO in the Fortune 500. The light still shines brightly in Apple’s executive suite, even without the legendary impresario who switched it on in the first place.
Page and Cook are followed by John C. Martin, Chairman and CEO of Gilead Sciences, in the third spot, while Steve Ells and Montgomery Moran (co-CEOs of Chipotle) share the fourth spot on the list. Closing out the top five was Denise Ramos, CEO and President of ITT.