To assemble this installment of The Power List, we considered the profiles and results of global corporate titans, taking into account criteria such as company value, revenue and growth, market performance, consumer reach, their standing among rivals, industry accolades and media buzz. This list is not intended to chart earnings or track executive performance year over year. Image counts a lot, as does the volume of news a company contributes to the Adweek stream.
Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Alphabet’s Larry Page, our No. 1s for 2016 and 2015, respectively, turned in great performances last year. Still, in our estimation, they fell just behind our pick for the top spot, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos. Like last year, this list represents a range of disciplines. Along with agency and media chieftains, leaders of tech giants and CEOs of brand marketers, you will find execs who typically fly under the radar and innovative divisional heads. Yes, we’re mixing apples and oranges—but that’s the whole point. Remember: image and influence can sometimes trump quarterly earnings in the corridors of power.
100. Matthias Müller
Revenue: $232 billion
Müller, 63, succeeded Martin Winterkorn as CEO in September 2015. Since then, he’s received mixed reviews as the automaker tries to put Dieselgate (for which it must pay $2.8 billion in fines) in its rear-view mirror. Meanwhile, volume increased nearly 4 percent to 10.3 million vehicles last year, allowing VW to overtake Toyota in the global sales race.
99. Kenneth Frazier
CEO, president, chairman, Merck
Revenue: $39.8 billion
Under Frazier, 62, the pharmaceutical giant’s revenue inched ahead 1 percent last year, helped by the strong sales of cancer drug Keytruda, and a few others. Animal health products have also performed well, driving Merck’s decision last month to close on its controlling stake in Vallée for about $400 million.
98. Steve Swartz
CEO, president, Hearst
Revenue: $10.8 billion
The 55-year-old exec led the venerable publisher to record profits last year despite basically flat revenue. TV properties were aided by an influx in political ads, while Hearst Health was also a strong performer. Acquisitions bolstered the group’s entertainment, data and media ops, and Swartz anticipates more moves in coming months.
97. Logan Green
CEO, co-founder, Lyft
Revenue: $700 million (est.)
In the realm of ride-sharing services, Green, 33, is no Travis Kalanick—which many see as a good thing. While Uber’s controversial front man swerves wildly, Green maintains a steady pace. Meanwhile, Lyft keeps picking up speed, with reports suggesting that profitability could be just a year away. A progressive thinker, he recently floated a plan to relieve congested highways via nationwide “smart lanes” that charge vehicles with fewer than three passengers.
96. Sarah Hofstetter
Revenue: $180 million (est.)
One of the most prominent leaders on the digital agency scene, Hofstetter, 42, has built 360i into a thriving multifaceted operation offering integrated services ranging from advertising to media and business transformation. She’s also given back to the community by spearheading an innovative education program designed to help nonprofits become smarter marketers.
95. Lori Senecal
CEO, Crispin Porter + Bogusky
Revenue: $190 million (est.)
She keeps expanding CP+B’s standing among global creative shops. MDC’s flagship prevailed in pitches for American Airlines, Letgo, Jose Cuervo and Hershey’s. The work’s been consistently strong, particularly two spirits campaigns: the cheekily apocalyptic “Tomorrow Is Overrated” push for Cuervo, and 1800 Tequila’s relaunch with Chance the Rapper.
94. Bob Sauerberg
CEO, president, Condé Nast (a unit of Advance Publications)
Revenue: $2 billion (est.)
Teen Vogue’s sudden cultural relevance was a highlight, along with two Pulitzers for The New Yorker. The 56-year-old exec also made Hollywood strides with TV series Last Chance U and two big-budget film projects: Granite Mountain, which just wrapped, and Old Man and the Gun, which soon starts production.
93. Bill Koenigsberg
CEO, president, founder, Horizon Media
Revenue: $325 million (est.)
For 28 years, Koenigsberg, 61, has charted a course for his independent media agency through advertising’s stormy seas. And it’s been full speed ahead in recent months, with a winning streak that includes Tim Hortons, La Quinta, Chobani and LG Electronics, 400 new hires and an expanded New York office.
92. Bob Pittman
CEO, chairman, iHeartMedia
Revenue: $6.3 billion
Pittman, 63, has shuffled iHeart’s playlist in recent years, employing VR, Snapchat and livestreaming in an effort to grow the company beyond its roots in radio and outdoor media. That strategy helped narrow iHeart’s year-over-year loss to $296 million (from $755 million in 2015) and provides hope for the future.
91. Jim Bankoff
CEO, chairman, Vox Media
Revenue: $120 million (est.)
While many publishers slip and slide, Bankoff, 48, has grown audiences across Vox’s eight editorial brands, which reach 200 million people each month, and generated 3 billion video views. With NBCU, he launched an ad marketplace called Concert, which Condé Nast quickly joined.
90. Kenneth Chenault
CEO, chairman, American Express
Revenue: $32.1 billion
Year after year, Chenault, 65, seems to struggle as AmEx lumbers along, never gaining ground. Still, he deserves credit for making some smart marketing moves: AmEx became the first financial services firm with a Facebook Messenger bot, while signing on as the inaugural sponsor of BuzzFeed’s Nifty channel.
89. Safra Catz
Revenue: $37 billion
Serving as co-CEO with Mark Hurd, Catz, 55, an 18-year Oracle veteran, has edged the company into the advertising space. Last year, Oracle formed a partnership with Publicis’ DigitasLBi to leverage cloud technology for marketing campaigns, and, in recent weeks, teamed up with Simulmedia and Charter for ad targeting. Catz could also move the company into management consulting if its rumored union with Accenture comes to fruition.
88. Mellody Hobson
President, Ariel Investments
Chairman, DreamWorks Animation SKG
Revenue: N/A Ariel; $1.5 billion (est., DreamWorks)
Hobson, 48, established herself as force to be reckoned with long before her 2013 marriage to Star Wars creator George Lucas. For two decades, she’s been a prime mover at Ariel, one of the largest black-owned financial services firms, and she’s in demand by media outlets for her insightful business commentary.
87. Daniel Ek
CEO, founder, Spotify
Revenue: $2.2 billion
Ek, 34, has orchestrated considerable growth for his music-streaming service, which boasts 50 million paying users. And revenue is up, but losses grew too, to the tune of nearly $200 million in 2015. Still, Ek has an eye on expansion, acquiring MightyTV last month to boost programmatic, and preparing a Hi-Fi music tier.
86. Shantanu Narayen
CEO, president, chairman, Adobe
Revenue: $5.85 billion
Already on a roll, Adobe is making further incursions into the media and marketing realm under Narayen, 53. New initiatives include the recent launch of Advertising Cloud, which leverages the TubeMogul acquisition to compete in the ad-tech space, and a deal with IBM to introduce AI tools for brands.
85. Brian Whipple
Head of Accenture Interactive
Revenue: $4.4 billion
Whipple, 51, makes traditional agencies nervous. That’s because he’s built the marketing unit at consulting giant Accenture into a formidable foe that handles significant work from clients like BMW and Visa. Last November, he boosted the group’s creative profile by absorbing Karmarama, and, three months later, added mobile and ecommerce shop SinnerSchrader.
84. Toshihiro Yamamoto
CEO, president Dentsu
Revenue: $7.5 billion
Yamamoto, 58, was elevated in January, succeeding Tadashi Ishii, who stepped aside after being referred to federal prosecutors following the 2015 suicide of a 24-year-old employee who, according to labor inspectors, suffered from the stress of overwork. Yamamoto must reestablish trust in Dentsu and build a sustainable growth path for the long term.
83. Abigail Johnson
CEO, chairman, FMR (Fidelity Investments)
Revenue: $15.9 billion
This 55-year-old exec succeeded her father, Ned Johnson III, as chairman of the mutual funds giant in December. She’s maintained a steady hand during periods of market unrest, focusing on customer service, technology and product innovation, and guided Fidelity through disruption from rivals, regulators and shifting competition.
82. Andrew Robertson
CEO, president, BBDO
Revenue: $2.5 billion (est.)
Robertson, 56, oversaw the agency’s successful bid to secure AT&T’s consolidated business, teaming with Omnicom sibling Hearts & Science to offer creative, data and analytics. Meanwhile, BBDO was named the world’s most creative network for the 11th straight year by the Gunn Report, and topped the IPA Awards honoring ad effectiveness.
81. Brian Moynihan
CEO, chairman, Bank of America
Revenue: $83.7 billion
Welcome to BofAI, where Moynihan, 57, is rolling out Erica, a 24/7 digital assistant that responds to an assortment of voice and text queries. That might sound like an impersonal touch, but BofA consistently polls low in customer care, so hopefully the bot will provide some added convenience.
80. David Zaslav
CEO, president, Discovery Communications (includes Animal Planet, Discovery Channel, TLC, OWN)
Revenue: $6.5 billion
Zaslav, 57, made significant moves to build his networks’ audience and expand across platforms. These include uniting with Snapchat to create new content (including an upcoming “mobile-first” series); partnering with mobile providers to craft local Olympic content; and joining with Group Nine Media to better target millennials.
79. Andy Main
Head of Deloitte Digital
Revenue: $3.1 billion
Main, 52, stands in the vanguard of consulting company execs leading the charge into traditional agency territory. He made a big noise last year with the acquisition of San Francisco shop Heat, bringing Deloitte creative input in its quest for more client dollars. Such efforts, in turn, are pressuring holding companies to launch or build out their own business transformation practices in order stay relevant and compete for plum assignments.
78. Yannick Bolloré
CEO, chairman, Havas
Revenue: $2.4 billion
Bolloré, 37, reorganized the Paris-based holding company last month to unify creative and media under one P&L; meanwhile, North American ops saw leadership changes. Perhaps the shakeup will move the needle in a more positive direction, as overall growth slipped to 3.3 percent in 2016 following a 17.3 percent surge the prior year.
77. Charlie Ergen
CEO, chairman, co-founder, Dish Network
Revenue: $15.1 billion
Is Ergen, 64, polishing up Dish for a sale? Speculation soared a few weeks back after Dish picked up EchoStar’s 10 percent stake in Sling TV. Analysts see Verizon—always looking to strengthen its position in the endless war against AT&T, Comcast and Time Warner—as a potential buyer.
76. Wendy Clark
CEO, president, DDB North America
Revenue: $425 million (est.)
The 46-year-old Clark brought much-needed energy and focus to DDB when she joined from Coca-Cola as 2016 began. Her efforts generated considerable new business, most notably the integrated U.S. McDonald’s account (DDB led an Omnicom team), which ranks as one of the agency’s biggest coups in ages—and spawned the launch of dedicated McD’s shop We Are Unlimited. She’s become a thought leader on the conference circuit, sharing her progressive views on social and operational issues that impact agencies and clients.
75. Ken Powell
CEO, chairman, General Mills
Revenue: $16.6 billion
Can new agencies help Powell, 62, boost sagging sales at the venerable food company, which has been slow to keep pace with consumer demand? We’re about to find out, with a fresh lineup named last year including 72andSunny and Redscout for U.S. creative, plus Joan, Erich & Kallman and The Community handling projects.
74. Harris Diamond
CEO, chairman, McCann Worldgroup
Revenue: $3.4 billion (est.)
Diamond, 64, continues to produce good results for IPG’s McCann, one of the most storied names on Madison Avenue. Business gains included Verizon and MasterCard’s consolidations, plus expansion with Reckitt Benckiser. “The Field Trip to Mars,” a VR experience for Lockheed Martin, was the single most awarded entry at Cannes.
73. Jack Dorsey
CEO, co-founder, Twitter
Revenue: $2.5 billion
When Donald Trump is the foremost proponent of your platform, it’s probably not a comfortable place to be. But Potus is the least of Dorsey’s problems. Seeking new revenue streams as Twitter’s ad business slumps, the 40-year-old leader is mulling a paid subscription service, and will allow brands to buy video spots on Periscope.
72. John Seifert
CEO, chairman, Ogilvy & Mather
Revenue: $2 billion (est.)
This 59-year-old exec racked up prizes, as Ogilvy won top network honors at Cannes and the Effie Awards, along with Adweek’s nod for Global Agency of the Year. He’s championed gender balance in the executive ranks and led the charge to transform the WPP operation from a collection of vertical business units into a unified brand.
71. John Stankey
CEO, AT&T Entertainment, AT&T Services
Revenue: $80 billion (est., includes Consumer Mobility)
Stankey, 54, absorbed serious static for the messy rollout of DirecTV Now, an OTT streaming service panned by pundits and the public as unusable at times. Regardless, the subscription offering is a key element of AT&T’s strategy to target cord-cutters. “It’s going to be a big game changer,” Stankey says.
70. Travis Kalanick
CEO, co-founder, Uber
Revenue: $6.5 billion
It’s been a bumpy ride for the car-hailing service’s 40-year-old leader. His own bad behavior and an apparently toxic corporate environment generated bad press and brand bashing. Some industry watchers say he should shift into a new gear—say, neutral, instead of obnoxious—or consider letting someone else drive the company.
69. Mitch Barns
Revenue: $6.3 billion
Barns, 53, has helped move Nielsen past its legacy as a supplier of traditional TV ratings, positioning the 94-year-old company as a provider of actionable information and analysis for marketers, agencies and media outlets. Nielsen data drives more than $70 billion in annual ad sales, and Barns’ commitment to total audience and content measurement—spanning video consumption across all platforms and devices—could ultimately establish a new currency for media buying and revolutionize the industry.
68. Terry Lundgren
Chairman, Macy’s (includes Bloomingdale’s)
Revenue: $25.8 billion
Double-digit growth in Macy’s digital business was one of the few highlights for Lundgren, 65, who just passed the CEO mantle at the long-troubled retailer to president Jeffrey Gennette. A commercial saluting the Thanksgiving Day Parade, with a sinister, stalker-ish Santa balloon, ranks among the creepiest holiday ads ever.
67. John Malone
Chairman, Liberty Media
Revenue: $5 billion
Malone, 76, an aggressive wheeler and dealer, likes to be in the driver’s seat. Not only has the “Darth Vader” of telecommunications agreed to buy Formula One for $4.4 billion, he’s also a big investor in Charter, which could be on the block, with Verizon tipped as the likely buyer.
66. Andrew Wilson
CEO, Electronic Arts
Revenue: $4.6 billion
Wilson, 42, enjoyed some high scores last year, with FIFA 17 ranked as the top-selling console game, while Battlefield 1 was an explosive hit (heck, the game’s trailer got 52 million views in the lead-up to the title’s release). And, like rival Activision Blizzard, Wilson doubled down on esports by launching a competitive gaming division.
65. Scott Kauffman
CEO, chairman, MDC Partners
Revenue: $1.4 billion
Kudos to Kauffman, 61, for stabilizing holding company operations after taking over in the midst of a 2015 SEC investigation. Last year, he added to MDC’s creative cache (it owns Anomaly, CP+B and 72andSunny) and expanded its global footprint through the acquisition of Swedish hot shop Forsman & Bodenfors, while also growing integrated media services under the Assembly banner. This past February, he strengthened finances through a $95 million equity investment from Goldman Sachs.
64. Greg Creed
CEO, Yum Brands (includes KFC, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell)
Revenue: $6.36 billion
“2016 was a landmark year for Yum Brands,” according to Creed, 59, who led the fast feeder’s separation of the company’s China holdings into an independent entity. Meanwhile, he continues to plan for an increasingly automated future, telling CNBC that, by the mid-2020s, robots could take over many restaurant jobs.
63. Rakesh Kapoor
CEO, Reckitt Benckiser
Revenue: $12.3 billion
In February, Reckitt agreed to acquire Mead Johnson for $16.6 billion. Per Kapoor, 58, that deal should boost the company’s consumer health sales by 90 percent as it adds brands including Mead’s Enfamil infant and children’s nutrition to a roster that already includes Durex, Gaviscon, Mucinex and Nurofen.
62. Steve King
CEO, Publicis Media
Revenue: $3.1 billion (est.)
King, 57, reigns supreme over the French holding company’s media operations, which span Starcom, Zenith, Mediavest/Spark, Blue 449 and Performics. After a shaky 2015, King’s legions came roaring back over the past 12 months, scoring major new business, including impressive gains from KFC, Lowe’s and Molson Coors.
61. Nancy Dubuc
CEO, president, A+E Networks (parent: Hearst/Disney)
Revenue: $4.1 billion (est.)
Dubuc’s content strategy through A+E Studios is paying off, with Six, Roots and Leah Remini: Scientology scoring viewers and critical acclaim. In a bid to diversify, the 48-year-old exec launched 45th & Dean, a storytelling hub/social media agency to develop short-form content for A+E brands and ad partners.
60. David Droga
Creative chairman, founder, Droga5
Revenue: $170 million (est.)
Though his shop’s ads failed to pilot Hillary Clinton into the White House, this 48-year-old Aussie still guided Droga5 to a standout 2016 that culminated in Adweek’s U.S. Agency of the Year honor, and its Ad of the Year prize for an Under Armour spot showcasing Michael Phelps preparing for the Rio Olympics.
59. Brian Chesky
CEO, co-founder, Airbnb
Revenue: $2 billion (est.)
This 35-year-old entrepreneur helped revolutionize the hospitality industry with Airbnb, making it a fixture on the digital landscape. Now, seeking to transform the company from a home-sharing resource into a “holistic travel” business, Chesky aims to make all marketing experiential, and that approach has yielded some smart results. Examples include inspiring vacation planners with 360-degree live video on Twitter and Periscope and a new app feature called Trips that lets users immerse themselves in local culture and cuisine.
58. John Bryant
CEO, chairman, Kellogg’s
Revenue: $13 billion
Bryant, 51, tried to bring some snap, crackle and pop to the mix, adding organic brand Pure to the Kashi portfolio, acquiring Brazilian food company Parati and opening a cereal-themed café in New York’s Times Square. Still, Kellogg’s served up a bowl of meh, as sales slumped 3.8 percent year over year.
57. Ulf Mark Schneider
Revenue: $89.4 billion
He succeeded Paul Bulcke atop the world’s largest food and beverage purveyor following a year of basically flat revenue as the Swiss company struggles along with its peers in a fast-changing industry. To sweeten sales, the 51-year-old leader vowed to cut sugar by 10 percent across chocolates such as KitKat and After Eight.
56. Jeffrey Immelt
CEO, chairman, General Electric
Revenue: $123.7 billion
GE’s awfully chill these days. Yes, GE! That’s largely because Immelt, 61, has transformed the industrial giant into a storytelling machine that uses cutting-edge media to explain and advance its mission. Examples include branded virtual reality content about science and using Instagram Stories to promote GE’s Snapchat series about volcanoes. His secret weapon? Vice chair Beth Comstock.
55. Michael Bloomberg
CEO, president, founder, Bloomberg
Revenue: $9 billion (est.)
This former New York City mayor, 75, has grown his eponymous business data and media empire beyond its iconic financial terminals (mostly just software licenses these days), diversifying content to broaden advertiser appeal and open new revenue streams. The latest: a plan to take Bloomberg Live’s conferences around the world.
54. Kasper Rorsted
Revenue: $19.3 billion
The 55-year-old exec took over last October from Herbert Hainer and didn’t miss a step, keeping the German athletic footwear giant’s momentum firmly on the good foot. “His commitment to the U.S. market as well as other forward-thinking initiatives should keep Adidas in growth mode,” says industry analyst Matt Powell.
53. Kevin Plank
CEO, chairman, founder, Under Armour
Revenue: $4.8 billion
Michael Phelps’ Olympics spot scored Adweek’s Ad of the Year Award. Plank, 44, later took heat for praising Donald Trump, and had to run an ad clarifying his position. Regardless, analyst Matt Powell praises Plank for having “not wavered from his goals of growing the footwear business, establishing a sportswear range and increasing speed to market.”
52. Daryl Simm
CEO, chairman, Omnicom Media Group
Revenue: $3.6 billion (est.)
Under Simm, 55, OMG surged on the new business front in 2016, with PHD (Adweek’s Global Media Agency of the Year) winning Volkswagen’s massive $3 billion media consolidation, and the newly formed Hearts & Science (Adweek’s Breakthrough Media Agency of the Year) playing a pivotal role in AT&T’s decision to consolidate at Omnicom (after also securing P&G).
51. Michael Corbat
Revenue: $70 billion
Citigroup made headlines last month when The Wall Street Journal revealed that the banking colossus keeps a Princeton theologian on call to consult “on weighty questions of right and wrong.” Zacks subsequently upgraded Citi shares to a “buy,” so perhaps Corbat, 56, really does have an in with somebody upstairs.
50. Irwin Gotlieb
Chairman, GroupM (parent: WPP)
Revenue: $4.2 billion
Gotlieb leads the world’s largest media-buying operation, and will soon be inducted into the American Advertising Federation Hall of Fame. Of late, the 67-year-old exec oversaw the consolidation of WPP’s data assets at GroupM under the [m]Platform umbrella, and initiated multiplatform measurement efforts, working with Nielsen and comScore. VW’s defection to Omnicom stung.
49. Randy Falco
CEO, president, Univision
Revenue: $3 billion
Falco, 63, keeps Hispanic media giant Univision at the forefront of the multicultural conversation, expanding its distribution footprint and digital portfolio to reach 106 million consumers each month. He’s made a content play with Story House and targeted young audiences by buying Gizmodo Media Group, investing in The Onion and launching Fusion Media Group.
48. Douglas McMillon
CEO, president, Walmart
Revenue: $486 billion
The success of McMillon’s quest to revamp the retailer’s image remains largely in the eye of the beholder. Still, you have to give the 50-year-old exec credit for taking on Amazon through efforts that include a recently announced program that gives shoppers discounts up to 5 percent when they pick up online orders in Walmart stores.
47. Michael Roth
CEO, chairman, Interpublic Group
Revenue: $7.85 billion
In recent years, this 71-year-old leader has transformed the No. 4 holding company from a slacker into a solid performer. For 2017, Roth is targeting organic growth of 3 to 4 percent. Continued investment in the media side through IPG Mediabrands’ data capabilities, as well as innovative offerings such as R/GA’s consultancy practice should lead the way.
46. Susan Wojcicki
Revenue: $12 billion (est.)
The ad picture at YouTube grew especially fuzzy for Wojcicki, 48, as players like AT&T, Johnson & Johnson and Verizon withdrew from Google properties over concerns about placement near offensive material. The company moved to give brands more control over where ads appear, but it’s unclear yet if that’s sufficient.
45. Bob Bakish
CEO, president, Viacom (flagships: MTV, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, BET, Nick Jr., Paramount Pictures)
Revenue: $12.5 billion
Bakish, 53, is tasked with revitalizing the company following a year of corporate drama that culminated in the exit of his predecessor, Philippe Dauman. Now, the new boss plans to emphasize Viacom’s six flagship properties. “This is about focusing resources to drive the highest possible performance,” says the former head of international networks.
44. Arthur Sadoun
Incoming CEO, chairman, Publicis Groupe (currently CEO, Publicis Communications)
Revenue: $10.4 billion
This 45-year-old exec takes the reins at the French holding company, which ranks as the No. 3 global agency group, on June 1, when Maurice Lévy retires after 30 years at the helm. Sadoun inherits an organization that has seen some ups and downs as it increasingly focuses on helping clients transform their businesses for the digital age. The merger of SapientNitro and Razorfish to provide services across data, AI, IT and ecommerce underscores that mission.
43. Grant Reid
CEO, president, Mars
Revenue: $33 billion (est.)
The candy business isn’t nearly as sweet as it once was, but spending on pets is sky high, so Reid paid $7.7 billion in January to acquire VCA Inc., which operates animal hospitals in the U.S. and Canada. The move makes sense for Mars, long an alpha dog in the pet-care market.
42. John Martin
CEO, chairman, Turner (division of Time Warner)
Revenue: $11.4 billion
How does Martin, 49, chief exec at CNN’s parent company, view Donald Trump’s criticism? “It flies by,” he says. A transformative force during his three years at the helm, Martin has extended Turner’s reach via platforms like Apple TV, Hulu and Sling, and forged partnerships with iStreamPlanet, Mashable and Refinery29. Last month, Turner joined Fox and Viacom in OpenAP, which works like digital ad programs, allowing marketers to “laser target” TV viewers based on extremely specific criteria.
41. Sundar Pichai
Revenue: $89.5 billion (independent of other Alphabet divisions)
After Google’s 2015 reboot, Larry Page became CEO of parent Alphabet, and Pichai succeeded him atop Google, which houses the company’s core businesses and accounts for almost all of its revenue. Pichai, 44, has significantly increased ad dollars, though lately YouTube has generated static for not doing a better job of safeguarding ads from from appearing near questionable content.
40. Shari Redstone
President, National Amusements
Vice chairman, CBS, Viacom
Co-founder, managing partner, Advancit Capital
Redstone, 63, played a key role in last year’s soap-operatic upheaval at Viacom that saw CEO Philippe Dauman exit in September, replaced by Bob Bakish. A deal to merge Viacom and CBS was floated, but appears dead for now, as are plans to sell a stake in Paramount. But what will happen when her father Sumner finally passes away?
39. Kevin Systrom
CEO, co-founder, Instagram
Revenue: $3 billion (est.)
For Systrom, 33, the picture keeps improving. Analysts predict that revenue at his Facebook-owned photo- and video-sharing app will continue its impressive rise, driven by 500,000 monthly advertisers seeking to connect with a growing base of 400 million daily users. A recent push to make posts more shoppable should help fuel further growth.
38. Bernard Arnault
CEO, chairman, LVMH
Revenue: $37.6 billion
France’s richest man, 68, makes luxury pay off for LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, with 2016 yielding record results as spirits, bags/luggage and beauty brand Sephora all gained momentum. LVMH’s Paris museum attracts millions of visitors, and Arnault recently unveiled plans for a venue devoted to craftsmanship, art and live performance.
37. Bernardo Hees
CEO, Kraft Heinz
Revenue: $26.5 billion
Hees, 47, continues to stir the pot in a pressure-filled market where few get to enjoy big-time success. Though his bid to take over Unilever failed, other growth recipes include a food line with Oprah Winfrey, plus reformulations to suit evolving consumer preferences, such as ketchup with 50 percent less sugar and salt.
36. Arne Sorenson
CEO, president, Marriott International
Revenue: $17.1 billion
Following the acquisition of Starwood last year, Sorenson, 57, leads the world’s largest hotel group, and he’s taking innovative steps to remain on top. These include beefing up Marriott’s loyalty program with castle rides, camel tours and communal spaces in order to compete in the experiential space against rivals like Airbnb.
35. Steve Burke
CEO, president, NBCUniversal
Revenue: $31.6 billion
At Comcast’s NBCU, Burke, 58, has become a master of multimedia. Along with a strong showing by the TV network (leveraging the Rio Olympics), The Secret Life of Pets howled in cinemas, Hollywood’s Harry Potter theme park packed ’em in, and a $500 million investment in Snap Inc.’s IPO pointed the way to the future.
34. Elon Musk
CEO, chairman, co-founder, Tesla Motors
CEO, founder, CTO, SpaceX
Chairman, co-founder, SolarCity
Revenue: $7 billion, Tesla; $1.3 billion (est.), SpaceX; N/A, SolarCity
Forty-five-year-old Musk straddles the line between executive and folk hero, inspiring generations of inventors, investors and entrepreneurs as he works to revolutionize automotive and rocket travel—and harness the power of the sun. As for risks and setbacks, he’s said, “If things are not failing, you are not innovating enough.”
33. Adam Silver
Commissioner, National Basketball Association
Revenue: $8 billion
This socially conscious leader, 54, deftly handled controversies (North Carolina’s “bathroom bill,” Trump’s travel ban), while driving the NBA’s full-court press for greater cultural relevance and ad dollars. 2016 brought record revenue, a huge minor-league sponsorship with Gatorade and an esports initiative, the first such venture by a major sports league.
32. Alex Gorsky
CEO, chairman, Johnson & Johnson
Revenue: $71.9 billion
Gorsky, 56, and CMO Alison Lewis have adopted a streamlined strategy for the health and beauty-aid giant, thinking globally in scope but acting locally in execution across brands such as Listerine, Neutrogena and Carefree. Gorsky put his values into action last month, joining other companies in pulling ads from YouTube/Google over hate-speech issues.
31. Ivan Menezes
Revenue: $14 billion
Despite a global sales slide, industry watchers are toasting Menezes, 57, for eking out 3 percent annual growth in North America, along with similar organic gains overall. Anomaly and Barton F. Graf added more assignments, with the former serving up a simple, sobering Johnnie Walker message about optimism and diversity.
30. Jean-Paul Agon
CEO, chairman, L’Oréal
Revenue: $27.6 billion
French cosmetics giant L’Oréal, the world’s third-largest ad spender, has grown and diversified under Agon’s leadership—and the 60-year-old chief exec has been a trend-setting marketer. Prime examples of his playful millennial outreach include a Smart Hairbrush that recommends products and a Snapchat lens filter that applies makeup to selfies.
29. Steve Easterbrook
CEO, president, McDonald’s
Revenue: $24.6 billion
Leo Burnett wasn’t lovin’ it last summer, when McD’s terminated its association with the network and consolidated $1 billion in business at Omnicom. That shift, along with the hiring of PepsiCo’s Morgan Flatley as CMO, represent bold strokes by Easterbrook, 49, whose efforts also include launching mobile ordering and app payment in 20,000 restaurants.
28. Satya Nadella
Revenue: $85.3 billion
Nadella, 49, is all about opening windows. From buying LinkedIn to forging partnerships with Adobe, GE and Lowe’s—plus launching Surface Studio and Microsoft Teams, and growing the company’s cloud business—he’s helped the tech behemoth diversify and compete on multiple fronts with Amazon, Google and Apple.
27. Bobby Kotick
CEO, president, Activision Blizzard
Revenue: $6.6 billion
Gaming’s preeminent player, Kotick, 54, led Activision Blizzard to a 42 percent revenue surge last year. And the innovations just keep coming. They include: the Overwatch League for professional esports competitors; a Netflix partnership and Skylanders Academy TV series; a proposed cinematic push based on Call of Duty; and a book publishing arm.
26. Evan Spiegel
CEO, co-founder, Snap Inc. (Snapchat)
Revenue: $405 million
At 26, Spiegel led a March IPO, raising $3.4 billion. Last week, the company faced a furor over the CEO once reportedly saying the app was “only for rich people,” and that he didn’t want to expand into countries like India and Spain. (He’s denied making such comments.) Elsewhere, Spiegel continues to leverage the app’s popularity with millennials, selling ads against Nielsen’s TV-like ratings system, pitching advertisers on sequential video ads and targeting users via offline sales data.
25. Muhtar Kent
CEO, chairman, Coca-Cola
Revenue: $41.9 billion
In May, Kent, 65, passes the CEO mantle to president, COO James Quincey, though he will remain Coke’s chairman. In eight years as chief executive, Kent helped the company expand beyond soda (his Monster Beverage deal is one example), but, bedeviled by fickle consumer tastes, business never really popped. The future may be water-based.
24. Reed Hastings
CEO, co-founder, Netflix
Revenue: $8.8 billion
Though the fighting’s been fierce on the video battlefield, Hastings, 56, an ex-Marine, keeps gaining ground, as Netflix posted record quarterly subscriber growth to close out 2016. He’s become a savvy marketer as well, with ingenious, at times edgy campaigns for Black Mirror, House of Cards and Santa Clarita Diet. It doesn’t hurt that the content is buzzy.
23. Randall Stephenson
CEO, president, chairman, AT&T
Revenue: $163.8 billion
Sorry, Rupe! Murdoch failed to acquire Time Warner in 2014, but, last October, Stephenson put an $85 billion merger in motion. “The world of distribution and content is converging, and we need to move fast,” says Stephenson, 57, who foresees the colossus becoming a “viable nationwide competitor” to Comcast in the mobile space.
22. Mark Parker
CEO, president, chairman, Nike
Revenue: $32.4 billion
While another runner—namely, Under Armour’s Kevin Plank—stumbled by praising Donald Trump, Parker, 61, took off on the high road, launching a powerful campaign dedicated to equality. He also used the hashtags #blacklivesmatter and #stoptheviolence in his note to employees blasting the president’s immigration proposals in no uncertain terms—a move seen by some observers as risky.
21. Ginni Rometty
CEO, president, chairman, IBM
Revenue: $79.9 billion
Named chief executive five years ago, Rometty, 59, ranks among the world’s most powerful women in business. She’s championed cloud services, acquired agencies to bolster the branding component of IBM and accelerated development of the Watson supercomputer, now a cultural fixture and very much the public “face” of Big Blue. All that said, hardware and business services continue to decline, with Rometty (and even Watson, presumably) unable to find an answer for the company’s financial malaise.
20. Lowell McAdam
CEO, chairman, Verizon
Revenue: $126 billion
Acquiring Yahoo and merging its operations with AOL to form the oddly named Oath gives McAdam, 62, a potent and pliable content, video and advertising engine to drive future growth. AOL’s Tim Armstrong will lead the rebranded entity, as Yahoo chief Marissa Mayer departs. Meanwhile, McAdam’s next deal may be for cable operator Charter.
19. Akio Toyoda
CEO, president, Toyota
Revenue: $252 billion
Volkswagen recently surpassed the Japanese auto giant as the world’s largest car company by sales. Regardless, Toyoda, 60, earned praise for his commitment to vehicle quality and technological innovation in an increasingly competitive marketplace. He raised the company’s full-year profit forecast to about $15 billion, up a full billion from the previous projection.
18. Irene Rosenfeld
CEO, chairman, Mondelez
Revenue: $26 billion
This 63-year-old exec accelerated ecommerce growth by 35 percent, and continues to focus on healthy snacking alternatives to drive expansion against strong headwinds. Willing to take chances, she generated headlines for last month’s flight of giant Oreo drones over New York City, though not everyone saw the stunt as a slam dunk.
17. Roger Goodell
Commissioner, National Football League
Revenue: $14 billion (est.)
Despite a ratings slide, the NFL’s TV ad revenue hit a record $3.5 billion last season. That gain, combined with the success of the league’s Thursday Night Football package and the opening of U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, continues to propel Goodell, 58, on his drive for $25 billion in revenue by 2027. He’s still struggling to overcome negative headlines about concussions.
16. John Wren
CEO, president, Omnicom
Revenue: $15.4 billion
As leader of the No. 2 holding company, Wren, 64, seems to try harder, and his efforts have paid off. Recent launches Hearts & Science and We Are Unlimited look like winners, with Hearts honored as Adweek’s Breakthrough Media Agency of the Year. All told, Omnicom achieved year-over-year organic growth of 3.5 percent, impressive for a giant its size.
15. Mary Barra
CEO, chairman, General Motors
Revenue: $166.4 billion
Barra, 55, the world’s top-paid auto CEO, capped off a great ride in 2016 by delivering record earnings per share, with an especially strong performance in North America leading the way. “I think she has been one of the most effective CEOs for GM,” says industry analyst Chris Cedergren. “She is very progressive and forward thinking and has demonstrated that she will disrupt her own company to create new opportunities that drive revenue and earnings.”
14. Carlos Brito
CEO, Anheuser-Busch InBev
Revenue: $45.5 billion
Late last year, the driven, acquisitive Brito, 56, completed A-B InBev’s $100 billion merger with MillerCoors. In March, all six major agency holding companies bellied up to the bar in pursuit of the beer behemoth’s massive global media planning and buying business, as Brito seeks to simplify his agency roster.
13. Paul Polman
Revenue: $55.7 billion
Under Polman, 60, the world’s second-biggest advertiser—with a portfolio including Axe, Dove and Knorr—rebuffed a takeover bid by Kraft Heinz, and now says it will trim its media spend and agency roster. That news sent shares of WPP, its main partner, tumbling, and fueled concerns about a broader market slowdown.
12. Jeff Bewkes
CEO, chairman, Time Warner (includes Warner Bros., The CW, DC Comics, HBO, CNN, TNT, TBS)
Revenue: $29.3 billion
After rebuffing Fox three years ago, Bewkes, 64, in 2016 agreed to an $85 billion mega-merger with AT&T that could remake the media landscape. “There’s going to be basically more effective advertising, so it won’t be as disruptive,” he says. Investments in 5G are also expected, speeding up AT&T’s competition with Comcast and Verizon. One potential hiccup—HBO hasn’t found a new hit, as Game of Thrones and other veteran shows come to an end.
11. Leslie Moonves
CEO, president, chairman, CBS (includes the CBS network, Showtime, The Movie Channel, Flix, CBS Films)
Revenue: $13.2 billion
“It was a joke! It was a joke!” So says Moonves, 67, of his controversial quip about Donald Trump being of questionable value to America, but “damn good for CBS.” Still, that statement could prove eerily prescient if the FCC moves ahead with deregulating by raising the cap on station ownership, allowing Moonves to expand his fiefdom.
10. Rupert Murdoch
Executive co-chairman, 21st Century Fox (includes Fox film studio and television networks, Star TV, Sky)
Executive chairman, News Corp (includes Dow Jones, the New York Post)
Acting CEO, Fox News
Revenue: $27.3 billion (Fox); $8.3 billion (News Corp)
At 86, Murdoch, last of the old-school media barons, still wields considerable clout, especially in conservative circles, though his standing has dropped in recent years. Bedeviled by advertising declines, particularly in print, News Corp initiated a round of buyouts and layoffs at Dow Jones’ Wall Street Journal last fall. On the other hand, Fox recently reported a 12 percent TV revenue gain, fueled by sports and political ads. At Fox News, sexual-harassment allegations toppled top-rated host Bill O’Reilly and network chief Roger Ailes, as they continue to generate the kind of headlines Murdoch would love—if only they were about someone else’s empire.
9. Tim Cook
Revenue: $215.6 billion
Apple’s mojo has fallen a bit farther from the tree. After five years as the world’s most valuable brand, the tech giant ceded that mantle to Google in February, per Brand Finance’s Global 500. Cook, 56, hasn’t stirred up much excitement through launches or marketing campaigns (which are awfully hit-and-miss these days as he streamlines global efforts). Still, $738 billion in market cap value is nothing to sneeze at, nor was Apple’s first fiscal quarter, with record sales of $78.4 billion. Cook’s challenge: Guide Apple through this period of relative malaise and stoke growth until its next transformational product comes along—whatever and whenever that may be. Because it certainly wasn’t the Apple Watch.
8. Indra Nooyi
CEO, chairman, PepsiCo (includes Frito-Lay, Gatorade, Quaker Foods)
Revenue: $62.8 billion
These days, the PepsiCo glass seems half empty. Good intentions fizzled for Nooyi, 61, a few weeks ago, when a Pepsi ad starring Kendall Jenner as a model who ditches work to join a peace protest was universally derided as the most tone-deaf commercial of the year so far. That faux pas closely followed news that Coke would replace Pepsi as Major League Baseball’s soft-drink sponsor, undercutting Nooyi’s strategy of leveraging all four major sports leagues. Overall, however, she’s earned praise for cementing Pepsi’s position on the cultural scene, focusing on healthier snacks, and growing sales 5 percent in the last fiscal quarter.
7. Martin Sorrell
Founder and CEO, WPP Group
Revenue: $19.4 billion
At 72, Sir Martin continues to helm the largest agency holding company—parent of Grey, Ogilvy & Mather, GroupM and others—with significant swagger, his frequently acerbic, insightful pronouncements making headlines worldwide. And he’s won praise to back up that bluster, ranked as the second-best-performing global CEO by Harvard Business Review. Last year, the group was stung by Volkswagen’s media shift to Omnicom, and Unilever’s recent decision to cut back on ads raises concerns. Meanwhile, Erin Johnson’s discrimination lawsuit against WPP, its JWT division and the latter’s former CEO continues to drag on.
6. Robert Iger
CEO, chairman, Walt Disney Co. (includes ABC, ESPN, Disney theme parks)
Revenue: $55.6 billion
Under Iger’s stewardship, Disney’s been an absolute beast. Coming off record 2016 revenue, its live-action Beauty and the Beast film has already cracked $1 billion in global sales. This December, Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi hits screens, expanding one of the greatest media/merchandising franchises ever. Against that backdrop, and with near universal acclaim (and no small amount of envy) for Iger’s bold cross-platform innovation, it’s no surprise that the 66-year-old chief executive’s tenure was extended for a year through July 2019, and that Disney plans to keep him around on a consulting basis for quite some time thereafter.
5. David Taylor
CEO, president, chairman, Procter & Gamble
Revenue: $65.3 billion
Taylor, 59, inherits a leaner operation from A.G. Lafley, who twice helmed the world’s largest advertiser and stepped down (for good—probably) last summer. During Lafley’s most recent tenure, P&G shed some 100 brands, eliminating $10 billion in costs. Now, Taylor and his marketing chief, Marc Pritchard, are shaking things up again, reviewing all P&G agency relationships this year across brands, while threatening digital giants to be more transparent or risk losing business. Given P&G’s softness in some segments, that’s probably a prudent move. Though if Taylor’s plans don’t pan out, one wonders if Lafley might be invited back for a third turn at the helm.
4. Brian Roberts
CEO, chairman, Comcast (includes NBCUniversal, Universal Studios, MSNBC, Telemundo)
Revenue: $80.4 billion
A cute year-end holiday spot distilled the Comcast proposition: In its unwired state, Grandma and Grandpa’s house is a dull, dispiriting drag. Ordering the full hookup—Wi-Fi, voice remote control, shows, movies and music on demand, and Xfinity X1 with Netflix—transforms the place into a wired paradise. The message is clear: Whatever your pleasure for entertainment or communications, Roberts, 57, has you covered. The next frontier: battling A&T and Verizon in wireless. Xfinity mobile bows soon, and Comcast just boasted that its network is ready to supply users’ increasing need for speed as media consumption hurdles toward the 5G future.
3. Larry Page
CEO, co-founder, Alphabet (including Google)
Revenue: $90.3 billion
Page keeps reaching for the stars. Since forming Alphabet as the high-tech industry’s first true holding company in 2015, this 44-year-old executive has concentrated on moon shots ranging from AI and biotech to self-driving vehicles—all ventures that could pay off big down the line. (And, yes, he’s sunk personal capital into firms that develop flying cars.) These “other bets” may seem like pie in the sky right now, but 20 years ago, so did the notion that a simple window on the web could become the world’s conduit to instant information. Today, Alphabet derives 87 percent of its revenue from advertising, mainly across Google Search and YouTube. That’s an awful lot of eggs in one basket, and recent moves by marketers such as AT&T, PepsiCo, Verizon and Walmart to pull campaigns running near questionable content underscore the need for the company to diversify into new revenue streams.
2. Mark Zuckerberg
CEO, chairman, co-founder, Facebook
Revenue: $27.6 billion
“Our mission to connect the world is more important now than ever,” says Zuckerberg, who topped Adweek’s Power List a year ago. “Our business did well in 2016, but we have a lot of work ahead to help bring people together.” Just how much more togetherness does the 32-year-old tech titan have in mind? Consider: The No. 1 social networking site increased its daily active users 18 percent year over year to 1.23 billion, while mobile DAUs soared 23 percent to 1.15 billion. Still, issues of truth, transparency and social conscience remain. To quell marketers’ moans about measurement, Zuck rolled out a dashboard to better gauge impressions and results. After taking hits over the prevalence of fakery in news feeds, he introduced tools to separate fact from fiction. On a more visceral level, the horror of the recent Cleveland murder streamed on Facebook Live calls that service’s raison d’être into question.
1. Jeff Bezos
CEO, chairman, president, founder, Amazon
Revenue: $136 billion
When Jeff Bezos plans a moon shot, he literally has Earth’s satellite in mind. Last month, he asked NASA to back his aerospace startup, Blue Origin, in an “Amazon-like shipment service for the moon that would deliver gear for experiments, cargo and habitats by mid-2020.” And that’s just one of many ambitious, forward-looking projects Amazon’s 53-year-old mission controller has on his launchpad. Others, in various stages of development, include drones for merchandise delivery, an activewear line featuring suits, dresses and shirts, and automated grocery stores where customers simply grab items and walk out.
“In business, what’s dangerous is not to evolve,” Bezos once famously said. Given his track record for success, few would bet against the man to pilot his flights of expansion to dizzying heights.
“Amazon is a company committed to innovation,” says industry analyst and author Rebecca Lieb, who credits Bezos for having “the drive and commitment” to succeed with diverse initiatives at massive scale. “Richard Branson comes to mind as an entrepreneur with Bezos’ extraordinarily wide-ranging vision—bold and unafraid to penetrate new markets.”
When Amazon launched in 1994, the connected age had barely begun, and a business plan that called for selling huge quantities of books online sounded, to many, like a moon shot indeed. Since then, of course, the company has morphed into the general store for the millennial generation—as well as one of its top video-binge destinations. Along the way, Bezos helped reshape the retail landscape, sending traditional brick-and-mortar purveyors scrambling for wired strategies—and, in some cases, screaming into bankruptcy. These days, even Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, is investing in ecommerce to follow Bezos’ example.
Meanwhile, Amazon’s performance has never blazed so bright.
“By all objective measures, it’s fair to say that 2016 was a quite remarkable year for Amazon,” says CFRA Research senior equity analyst Tuna Amobi. “It has remained at the forefront of cutting-edge online retail and technology, driving its shares to all-time highs, and becoming one of the world’s most valuable companies.”
Sales soared 27 percent for fiscal 2016, and profit increased fourfold to $2.4 billion. (It’s hard to believe the company lost nearly $250 million just two years ago.)
Some analysts who follow Amazon are floored by the scope and audacity of Bezos’ drive to diversify. “Clearly, the company owns ecommerce,” says Lieb, “but in the past couple of years, after a late start, they’re nearly head to head with Apple and Netflix in streaming, a significant new market.”
But, wait, there’s more—much more. Amazon’s cloud business grew 47 percent in the last quarter, twice as fast as the company overall. And, as the human voice increasingly becomes the OS of choice for consumer technology, Amazon’s Echo smart-speaker/microphone—accessing its Alexa AI service—ranks among the leaders.
Bezos also owns The Washington Post, and he’s widely credited with revitalizing its editorial operations and expanding the outfit’s relevance for millions of readers born long after the newspaper’s Watergate heyday.
“It’s hard to think of an area of media, tech or commerce the company doesn’t touch,” says Lieb.
As for the man himself, well, Bezos remains an enigmatic mix of folksiness and cutthroat intensity—a supporter of progressive causes such as marriage equality who has nonetheless been accused of fostering a brutal workplace environment (which he denies), and taken to task for refusing to pull ads from far-right news sites.
Such contradictions define a man of bold vision who, for better or worse, overhauled virtually every aspect of shopping, with an eye toward creating a more immersive and holistic user experience. Applying that same template time and again in his quest for expansion, Bezos rockets ahead, spurred by the belief that no frontier is final.