To assemble Adweek’s second annual Power List, we considered the profiles and results of global corporate titans, taking into account such criteria as company value, revenue and revenue growth, market performance, consumer reach and affinity, their standing among rivals, the number of employees overseen, key acquisitions and partnerships, industry accolades and media buzz.
This list is not intended as a ranking based solely on earnings ups and downs or the fluctuations of a company’s work force, nor is it designed to chart executives’ progress—or lack thereof—year over year. An executive’s standing in last year’s rankings largely does not figure into our calculations this year. There are many intangibles. Image counts a lot, as does the volume of news a company contributes to the Adweek stream. For example, Google’s Larry Page, No. 1 last year, surely turned in another winning performance but fell just behind our pick for the top spot this year, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg. Why? Because, in our estimation, Zuckerberg proved to have considerably more sway over the daily news cycle—making headlines in regard to advertising, video and more.
Like last year, this list represents a range of disciplines. You will find agency chieftains, leaders of media and tech giants and CEOs of top brand marketers. You will also find entrepreneurs, chief execs who fly under the radar and divisional heads who punch well above their class. And, comparing apples to oranges seems somehow correct in the domain of marketing, media and tech, where image and influence often play outsized roles in who wields power.
1. Mark Zuckerberg
CEO, chairman, co-founder, Facebook
Revenue: $17.9 billion
It’s Mark Zuckerberg’s future—the rest of us will just live in it. Last month, during his keynote address at Facebook’s F8 developers’ conference, Zuck, 32, set his sights on tomorrow, laying out a bold vision for shaping the connected world for decades to come.
Chatbots will increasingly inform customer service and other aspects of the Facebook Messenger experience, letting advertisers more smoothly communicate with audiences and, ultimately, sell them more goods and services. This could be a game changer of epic proportions, letting Facebook and its brand partners bypass the model of the app store in favor of a system that offers greater speed and convenience. At the same time, Facebook is looking to drones to beam wireless internet across the globe, expanding the digital community while providing access to millions more consumers for Facebook and its advertising partners.
But wait, there’s more. Augmented and virtual reality are also high on the agenda. Facebook is developing glasses with a conventional design (that is to say, not goggles) that overlay graphical data on the physical world. And it wants to open new vistas and revenue streams with Gear VR devices produced by its Oculus Rift unit, in tandem with Samsung.
In a macro sense, Zuckerberg wants to make Facebook even more ubiquitous than it already is, further embedding the service in the daily lives of as many human beings as possible—and naturally, making lots of revenue in the process. Given his record of success since he co-founded the social network in his dorm room at Harvard a dozen years ago, virtually no one is betting against him.
In the first quarter of this year, monthly and daily active users totaled 1.65 billion and 1.09 billion, representing a surge of 15 percent and 16 percent, respectively. At the same time, monthly and daily active mobile users grew 21 percent and 24 percent, respectively. Against that backdrop, Facebook’s market capitalization hovers around $340 billion—up by $120 billion versus last year, and more than triple its value four years ago when the company went public.
Given its scale and its vital presence for so many of us, Facebook is one of the most powerful platforms ever created for connecting mankind. As grandiose as it sounds, it is also indisputably one of the most influential instruments whereby a company controlled by one person can shape public opinion and even public policy. During his F8 keynote, Zuckerberg took a not-so-thinly veiled jab at presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump when he said: “Instead of building walls, we can help build bridges. Instead of dividing people, we can connect people. We do it one person at a time, one connection at a time. That’s why I think the work we’re doing together is more important than it has ever been before.”
Critics say such rhetoric is actually driven by Zuckerberg’s desire for more visas to be issued to foreign workers. He has also been accused of hypocrisy over Facebook’s sponsorship of July’s Republican National Convention in Cleveland. More recently, a media report charging Facebook with suppressing pro-conservative stories also had Zuckerberg on the defensive. The company initially suggested that what appears in the main news section, called Trending, is dictated more by an algorithm than people but ended up admitting that human judgment does have a bearing on which content appears and doesn’t appear.
Zuckerberg seems unfazed by the criticism, including the response to his comment in Facebook’s most recent earnings call that he hopes to play a role in “helping to cure all diseases by the end of this century, upgrading our education system so it’s personalized for each student and protecting our environment from climate change.” Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan have committed to ultimately give away 99 percent of their Facebook shares to fund such endeavors.
That charitable divestiture doesn’t mean Facebook’s CEO is going to give up his bully pulpit. In fact, he proposed a stock structure that would allow him to maintain control of the company while selling off shares.
The move just feels so Facebook. For Zuckerberg to maintain his power and influence—and by extension, his ability to affect outcomes on a worldwide scale—it’s imperative to stay connected.
2. Larry Page
CEO, co-founder Alphabet (including Google)
Revenue: $75 billion
Searching for an overarching structure to encompass the enormity of what Google has become since they formed the company in 1998, Page, 43, and Sergey Brin launched Alphabet last summer. Google’s core media operations—including YouTube, digital advertising, Maps and Android—continue under the Google name, run day-to-day by Sundar Pichai as divisional CEO. From self-driving cars and drones to artificial intelligence, mobile operating systems and, possibly, products and services designed to extend the human life span, Page’s vision encompasses many diverse and essential facets of daily life. “Most people think companies are basically evil. They get a bad rap. And I think that’s somewhat correct,” Page once told a TED ideas conference. “Companies are doing the same incremental thing that they did 50 years ago, 20 years ago. That’s not really what we need. Especially in technology, we need revolutionary change.” Just as, in its initial incarnation, Google revolutionized the way we search for facts and, by extension, changed our entire relationship to data, Alphabet is geared toward shaping the world in even bigger, bolder strokes—while maximizing profits, naturally. “We should be optimists,” Page said during last year’s shareholders’ meeting, “and be excited about all the things we’re building and contributing to the world. It’s working.”
3. Tim Cook
Revenue: $233.7 billion
Lately, Apple’s shiny reputation has been tarnished. Following four years of dynamic growth since Cook, 55, took over from legendary co-founder Steve Jobs, Apple began underperforming its Silicon Valley peer group, and the tech giant’s stock has slipped accordingly. After becoming the first U.S. corporation to hit $700 billion in market capitalization, the company’s value recently dipped below $500 billion, and Apple now finds itself in a slugfest with Alphabet for the top slot on the S&P 500. The biggest culprits? Slower iPhone sales and a disappointing debut of the Apple Watch. Some say the correction is long overdue—and few blame Cook for the slide. In fact, he is making inroads that could open new revenue streams down the line. One example: a recent $1 billion investment in ride-hailing service Didi Chuxing, the “Uber of China.” Another: The Apple Music app for Android OS launched in November, arguably the company’s biggest push into a rival platform. Ads for the app starring Taylor Swift went viral, displaying a juicy cultural tang Apple’s advertising has been missing of late. (Apple did win two Grand Clios, one for its “World Gallery” iPhone campaign, and another for “The Game Before the Game” from its Beats by Dre unit.)
4. Robert Iger
The Walt Disney Co. (includes ABC, ESPN, Disney Theme Parks)
Revenue: $52.5 billion
Under Iger, the Mouse continues to roar, despite a Q2 hiccup that saw Disney miss analysts’ earnings-per-share estimates for the first time in five years. Regardless, this adroit mogul has grown the company’s operations across the last 11 years via a mix of diversification, merchandising and acquisitions. Under his stewardship, Disney has become the leading purveyor—and guardian—of popular culture. The company’s scope is remarkably broad and incredibly diverse, ranging from theme parks and cartoon characters to the Star Wars franchise, ABC News, ESPN’s NFL telecasts, even Maker Studios‘ multichannel network built around YouTube star PewDiePie. Largely thanks to Iger, 65, Disney cuts across all conceivable demos, reflecting and defining the American zeitgeist as it keeps the world entertained. Last month, Cohn & Wolfe named Disney the world’s most authentic brand. Even Walt himself would be impressed.
5. A.G. Lafley
Procter & Gamble
Revenue: $76.3 billion
The world’s largest advertiser dealt agency holding company Publicis Groupe a harsh blow last December, naming Omnicom and Dentsu Aegis’ Carat the big winners in a review of its North American media business, one of the most sought-after prizes in last year’s “Mediapalooza.” Earlier, P&G agreed to sell 43 beauty brands to Coty for $12.5 billion. Lafley, 68, undertook such moves to cut costs and focus on core brands like Always, Crest, Gillette and Tide. Always’ groundbreaking “Like a Girl” campaign remains one of the most lauded creative initiatives of recent years. More recently, P&G made headlines for a series of surprisingly dark and affecting “Thank You, Mom” ads, featuring themes around Mother’s Day and the upcoming Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
6. Brian Roberts
Comcast (includes NBCUniversal, Universal Studios, MSNBC, Telemundo)
Revenue: $74.5 billion
Comcast transmitted an especially sharp signal last year across its diverse operations. Under the seasoned leadership of Roberts, 56, cable revenue rose 6.2 percent (driving an 8.3 percent increase overall), while 666,000 customers signed up, an 85 percent year-over-year increase. The company also added 1.4 million high-speed internet customers, marking a decade of net increases in excess of 1 million. Meanwhile, NBCUniversal enjoyed what Roberts called “a remarkable year,” marked by record-breaking results in its theme parks and movie units—the success of the later driven by blockbusters like Minions and Jurassic World, which entered the home-video market in time for the holidays and year-end financial results. NBCU’s recent acquisition of DreamWorks Animation for $3.8 billion will make Comcast an even more formidable player in Hollywood.
7. Jeff Bezos
CEO, chairman, president, founder
Revenue: $107 billion
It’s been an impressive ascent for Bezos, 52, since he launched the ecommerce powerhouse in 1994. Through the years, Amazon has become woven into the fabric of modern life—and lately, its financial performance has been like a drone soaring on rocket boosters, with no end in sight. Last year, Amazon broke through the $100 billion revenue mark (revenue was up 25 percent year over year) and earned a $596 million profit after having lost $240 million in 2014. In the first quarter of this year, propelled largely by its cloud business, the company produced the most profitable quarter in its history. Bezos also owns The Washington Post and has played a key role in driving its explosive online growth, with the newspaper’s site hitting a record 988 million pageviews in March.
8. Martin Sorrell
Revenue: $17.6 billion
The leader of the world’s largest agency holding company recently warned that “a low-growth environment” is “the new normal” for the industry, owing to clients’ intensified focus on costs. Despite that, Sorrell, 71, guided WPP, owner of Grey, JWT, Ogilvy & Mather, GroupM and other marquee agency brands, to a solid performance last year, notching 6.1 percent revenue growth and an 8 percent uptick in after-tax profit. More than 40 recent acquisitions, many in the media and ad tech spaces, stand to position the company for the future. Sorrell took some heat for his initial defense of former JWT chief Gustavo Martinez, the subject of a discrimination lawsuit. Still, Sir Martin managed to zing Maurice Lévy of Publicis Groupe after Lévy said at the 4A’s Transformation gathering in Miami that agencies are not, in fact, rife with sexism. “Maurice has a habit of ignoring the facts,” shot back Sorrell, proving that he’s never at a loss for words, especially those that generate headlines.
9. Rupert Murdoch
21st Century Fox (includes Fox Film studio and television network, Star TV, Sky); executive chairman, News Corp (includes Dow Jones, the New York Post, The Wall Street Journal)
Revenue: $29 billion (Fox); $8.6 billion (News Corp)
Employees: 20,500 (Fox); 22,000 (News Corp)
Though Robert Thomson has served as CEO of News Corp for several years and James Murdoch was named chief executive of Fox last summer, this wide-ranging media empire—now split along print and electronic lines—will always be the house that Rupe built. At 85, Murdoch is still going strong, though recent developments have been somewhat anti-climactic following his failed 2014 bid to buy Time Warner. Highlights at Fox include the success of feature film Deadpool, FX miniseries The People vs. O.J. Simpson and the Fox network’s X-Files reboot—driving strong quarterly earnings and beating analysts’ expectations. Conversely, at News Corp, revenue fell short for a fourth straight quarter. But Murdoch transcends mere numbers, of course. The last of the old-school media moguls, he’s as much tabloid fodder as publisher these days, with his marriage this past March to Jerry Hall, Mick Jagger’s ex, generating the kind of gaudy coverage his Fleet Street newspapers have honed to perfection over the past half century.
10. Indra Nooyi
PepsiCo (includes Frito-Lay, Gatorade, Quaker Foods)
Revenue: $63 billion
Among the most powerful women in global business, Nooyi, 60, is credited with driving innovation on many fronts at the food and beverage giant. She partnered recently with Fox to co-create content for hit series Empire, and struck a deal with the UEFA Champions League. On the ad front, the company is rolling out 100 emoji-themed commercials this summer—each five seconds in length—to tap into the youth market. (Pepsi also won a Grand Clio Sports prize for “Made in N.Y.” for Gatorade.) Nooyi is trying to put some pop back into sales, but PepsiCo continues to struggle. Revenue was down 3 percent in Q1, though earnings per share beat Wall Street estimates. At the same time, under Nooyi, the company has introduced healthier drink and snack options across the brand portfolio. That fare, increasingly in demand by consumers, now makes up 45 percent of the company’s total revenue.
11. Roger Goodell
National Football League
Revenue: $13 billion (est.)
Employees: 1,000 (excluding teams)
This tenacious competitor largely broke free of lingering controversies around player domestic violence and concussions to lead the league to another championship season. Brands ponied up $5 million for 30-second spots in Super Bowl 50, which drew 111.9 million viewers, the third-largest audience in TV history. During the regular season, games averaged 18.1 million viewers, triple the average for other programming in prime-time broadcast, providing sponsors with one of the few remaining mass-audience buys on a fragmented media playing field. Goodell, 57, is rushing toward an even bigger audience—and more ad revenue—with a new model for Thursday Night Football across broadcasters NBC and CBS, the NFL Network and Twitter.
12. Leslie Moonves
CEO, president, chairman
CBS (includes the CBS network, Showtime, The Movie Channel, Flix, CBS Films)
Revenue: $13.9 billion
Next year, Moonves plans to boldly go where the network has never gone before, debuting a new Star Trek series on traditional TV, then transporting it to subscription streaming service CBS All Access. Look for other CBS shows to follow, plus more original content, as Moonves, 66, continues to transform the company into a 21st-century media force that barely resembles the old-school company he joined two decades ago. It’s all part of the executive’s aggressive digital strategy, which he now has even more power to implement having recently inherited the chairman’s title from the ailing 92-year-old Sumner Redstone.
13. Jeff Bewkes
Time Warner (includes Warner Bros., The CW, DC Comics, HBO, CNN, TNT and TBS)
Revenue: $28.1 billion
Acutely aware that “the shift to on-demand consumption is accelerating,” Bewkes, 63, has worked hard to keep Time Warner competitive versus other media giants, and he won’t rule out investing in a streaming video service along the lines of Hulu should the right deal come along. Growing the online service HBO Now (which pulled in just 800,000 subscribers in its first year) is a priority. Video games also continue to be a growing business for the company, led by Mortal Kombat X and Batman: Arkham Knight. Last year, it remained the No. 1 supplier of broadcast TV shows, including one of the biggest hits of the season, Blindspot. And as of this writing, League of Justice: Batman vs. Superman is nearing $900 million in worldwide box office revenue, trailing Zootopia and Captain America: Civil War for the year’s top-performing feature film.
14. Paul Polman
Revenue: $57.8 billion
Polman, 59, led the world’s second-largest advertiser to a 10 percent sales bump last year by focusing on premium segments of the personal care, home products and refreshments categories. Momentum slowed in Q1, however, as sales were off, and Polman warned that challenges in emerging markets could intensify. In November, the company concluded its massive “Mediapalooza” review, shifting some global assignments between Omnicom’s PHD and WPP’s Mindshare but making few major changes. Innovative ad campaigns across the brand portfolio continued, including “First Kiss,” an effort from Knorr that paired singles according to their tastes in food to make a love match.
15. Carlos Brito
Revenue: $43.6 billion
This intense, professorial Brazilian has built A-B InBev into the world’s largest brewer, commanding a quarter of the global market. And Brito, 55, is still thirsty for growth, forging a $100 billion deal to acquire rival SABMiller. As that union awaits regulatory approval, going after a cola company also remains a possibility, given Brito’s stated desire to grow A-B InBev’s portfolio of low- and non-alcoholic beverages. “The margins are very good because you don’t have the [alcohol] excise tax,” he said at the company’s annual meeting in April. “You charge sometimes the same price as beer or higher, depending on how you position the product.”
16. John Wren
Revenue: $15.1 billion
The second-largest agency holding company, parent of BBDO, DDB, TBWA, Omnicom Media Group and others, has seen mixed performance. Hampered by weak foreign currencies, revenue was flat in 2015, as was net income of nearly $1.1 billion. Still, organic revenue increased 5.3 percent, keeping pace with its top rivals. Wren, 63, promised improvement this year, and Q1 revenue was up slightly (around 1 percent) to $3.5 billion, with earnings up 4.4 percent. Last month, Omnicom launched a new media network, Hearts & Science, with P&G’s North American assignment as its founding client. (P&G was Omnicom’s biggest win of 2015.) A few months back, Wren also reorganized the company’s health and PR offerings to simplify operations and promote efficiencies.
17. Irene Rosenfeld
Revenue: $29.6 billion
Could the creamy middle finally be in sight for Mondelez, the maker of Oreos and other iconic snack brands? Some analysts think that might be the case after a first quarter that saw the company generate a $554 million profit, up 71 percent, beating Wall Street estimates. New products like Oreo Thins and BelVita Bites helped drive the growth. An enlightened marketer unafraid to take risks, Rosenfeld, 63, has worked hard to recast the food behemoth as a hip purveyor of healthier fare in the face of changing consumer tastes. Dentsu Aegis’ Carat will play a bigger role in helping her achieve that goal after adding North American buying, planning and global communications assignments for the company in one of the biggest “Mediapalooza” reviews of 2015.
18. Akio Toyoda
Revenue: $237 billion
This exec “has changed the attitude of stodgy and insular Toyota,” according to auto analyst George Peterson, who praises the 60-year-old Toyoda for “giving their product-development people the confidence to push the design envelope even with their most conservative vehicles.” That bolder style is most notable, perhaps, in the revamped Lexus, with its prominent grille, which Peterson calls “brave and controversial—just what they need.” Toyoda is also gearing up for the much-buzzed-about connected car, earmarking $1 billion over the next five years to support research into robotics and artificial intelligence.
19. Lowell McAdam
Revenue: $131.6 billion
McAdam rose through the mobile ranks, so his focus on cutting-edge technologies and his vision to grow Verizon beyond traditional “corded” services are no surprise. The company bought AOL a year ago for $4.4 billion, and that deal and the launch of mobile service go90 stand to make the company a more potent force in digital video, advertising and entertainment. Verizon is also reportedly interested in Yahoo’s core assets. The 61-year-old McAdam is also stepping up Verizon’s game in the Internet of Things, introducing connected-car solution Hum and smart-energy product Grid Wide, and even agricultural technology that manages water resources and monitors crop conditions.
20. Jean-Paul Agon
Revenue: $24.7 billion
Agon, 59, has spent his entire professional life at L’Oréal and appears more intent than ever on transforming the cosmetics giant into a vibrant player for years to come. That includes a laser focus on digital. He grew the company’s ecommerce business nearly 40 percent in 2015 to more than $1 billion. One quarter of the company’s ad spend, meanwhile, is now devoted to digital media, connecting L’Oréal brands with younger consumers. (WPP’s MEC will play a key role in shaping L’Oréal’s strategy moving forward, tapped last December as lead agency on the marketer’s near $900 million U.S. media account.) Agon also gets major points for establishing the L’Oréal Technology Incubator, dedicated to cutting-edge R&D and developing such innovations as the Makeup Genius (the first virtual makeup mirror) and a mobile app to measure UV exposure.
21. Randall Stephenson
Revenue: $146.8 billion
Stephenson guided a strong performance in 2015, and that momentum carried over into the first quarter of this year, as consolidated revenue soared past $40 billion, a 24 percent jump. DirecTV—which the company acquired for $48.5 billion last summer—played a key role in driving those gains. Now, AT&T plans to launch three DirecTV-branded online video services, though channel lineups and pricing have not yet been revealed. “We’re seeing good momentum with our initial integrated wireless, video and broadband offers,” says Stephenson, 56. “We’ll expand the integrated choices for customers in the fourth quarter when we launch our new video-streaming services.” Leveraging DirecTV as an engine for continued wireless penetration is imperative.
22. Mark Parker
Revenue: $30.6 billion
Though Adidas and Under Armour have made inroads, Nike still sets the pace in the global sportswear market and doesn’t plan to cede its No. 1 ranking anytime soon. “Our consistent growth is fueled by our connection to the consumer and our ability to deliver innovation at an unprecedented pace and scale,” says Parker, 60. Nike competes from a position of strength, having long established itself as the world’s favorite brand of athletic gear. That standing lets Parker dream big, confident that he can bring his vision to life. “Doing $50 billion in sales in five years is bold but achievable,” says NPD analyst Matt Powell. “The planned growth in Nike’s direct-to-consumer business, especially ecommerce, will change the retail landscape across the world.” On the ad front, work remains impressive, and Nike scored a Grand Clio Image trophy for its “Zoom City Arena” campaign.
23. Mary Barra
Revenue: $152.4 billion
The first woman chief executive of a major automaker, Barra, 54, successfully steered the company through an ignition-switch recall while ushering in improved internal communications to prevent such mishaps. “While their bureaucracies are still pretty ingrained, they seem to be working better together,” says analyst George Peterson, who believes GM has begun “moving where it needs to go.” For example, Barra spearheaded a $500 million investment in Lyft to develop self-driving cars, and the companies recently launched a program called Express Drive, with GM providing vehicles to Lyft drivers for $99 per week plus mileage—or for free, if they generate enough business.
24. Bobby Kotick
Revenue: $4.7 billion
This 53-year-old executive isn’t just playing games anymore. Kotick has worked hard to expand the appeal of Activision’s brands beyond consoles and PCs. In fact, he is morphing the company—publisher of Call of Duty and World of Warcraft, among others—into a multifaceted entertainment powerhouse through the launch of a TV and film studio, an esports division and, most notably, the $5.9 billion acquisition of mobile giant King Digital, creator of the Candy Crush Saga. Some analysts say Kotick overpaid (the deal was twice the size of Microsoft’s Minecraft purchase). But with mobile game sales projected to soar more than 20 percent this year to $21 billion—while growth on other platforms has slowed—Kotick believes the investment is essential to ensure Activision will remain a robust player for years to come.
25. Muhtar Kent
Revenue: $44.3 billion
Will Kent ever find the secret formula for success? Struggling against growing consumer antipathy toward sugary drinks, the brand ditched its long-running “Open Happiness” tagline as the year kicked off in favor of “Taste the Feeling,” which quickly graced a flurry of product-focused ads. While observers agreed the “happiness” mantra had fizzled out, some questioned the new promotional play given Coke’s standing as one of the “bad guys” in the war on obesity. A few months later, the company reported that its first-quarter global revenue and net income declined 3.7 and 5.1 percent, respectively, with softer sales of sweetened carbonated beverages a key factor. Though advertising can’t be expected to move the needle all by itself, Kent, 64, was probably hoping that something a bit more positive would bubble up in the wake of the big new campaign.
26. Grant Reid
CEO, global president
Revenue: $33 billion (est.)
Having already eliminated artificial colors from many of its candies, gums and drinks, Mars doubled down on its commitment as the year began, announcing it would remove such ingredients across its entire portfolio over the next five years. “Our consumers are the boss, and we hear them. If it’s the right thing to do for them, it’s the right thing to do for Mars,” Reid says. Given the changing nature of the marketplace, with buyers demanding natural and healthier choices more than ever, observers view the strategy as an essential ingredient for the long-term success of iconic treats like M&M’s, Skittles, Snickers and Combos.
27. Alex Gorsky
Johnson & Johnson
Revenue: $70.1 billion
Last quarter, J&J overcame currency headwinds to deliver top- and bottom-line growth, with Gorsky, 56, boosting 2016 sales projections by $400 million. Even so, the healthcare and pharmaceutical conglomerate has suffered some unsightly bumps. In February, it was ordered to pay $72 million to the family of a woman whose death from ovarian cancer was linked to the company’s baby powder, and more lawsuits are pending. J&J’s public response was widely derided as obtuse and unfeeling, running counter to Gorsky’s reputation as an enlightened, progressive leader. J&J was another major player in the “Mediapalooza” reviews of last year, shifting its global and domestic chores to IPG Mediabrands.
28. Steve Easterbrook
Revenue: $25.4 billion
Employees: 1.9 million (including all franchises)
Promoted to the top spot in March 2015 and tasked with cooking up a turnaround plan, Easterbrook, 48, has plenty of reason to be lovin’ it these days. Last month, the chain reported its all-day breakfast menu and McPick 2 meal deal helped boost same-store sales for a third consecutive quarter—this, following a two-year decline. This month, the stock hit an all-time high. Even so, continued softness in the fast-food market overall means this CEO’s work is far from done. Along with closing under-performing stores and modernizing menus, he might be mulling a change in the direction of the company’s advertising. The company recently launched a creative review designed to consolidate its U.S. business (DDB and Leo Burnett have shared duties on the main account).
29. Ivan Menezes
Revenue: $16.9 billion
At the world’s largest distiller, Menezes, 56, sold off Diageo’s wine assets to focus on beer and spirit brands like Guinness and Smirnoff, and appointed finance director Deirdre Mahlan to revitalize the sluggish U.S. business. (It also just confirmed its putting its $2.3 billion media account up for review.) A flurry of moves designed to shore up its global position included completing the acquisition of the remaining 50 percent of Don Julio, making Diageo a more muscular player in tequila, the fastest-growing spirits category. Despite such initiatives and Menezes’ promise to “deliver improved, sustained performance,” analysts believe the glass will remain half empty for some time, with no dramatic upturn for at least another year.
30. Steve Burke
Revenue: $29.5 billion
Following February’s deal giving NBC a split with CBS for Thursday prime-time NFL games, Burke, 57, last month spent $3.8 billion to acquire DreamWorks Animation, giving Comcast-owned NBCUniversal an impressive weapon to compete against Disney and other Hollywood studios in the all-important kids and family market. Those moves follow an impressive run for the unit, which has helped double cash flow at the parent company since its acquisition was announced half a dozen years ago. Last year, Universal Pictures enjoyed the highest-grossing year in box office history, buoyed by ginormous hits like Minions, Jurassic World and Furious 7. Broadcast, cable and theme parks were also surprisingly strong. Eyeing millennials, Burke invested $200 million each in BuzzFeed and Vox Media, while NBC and Vox agreed to sell ads on each other’s sites.
31. Rakesh Kapoor
Reckitt Benckiser Revenue: $12.9 billion
“Despite a year of mixed-market conditions, we achieved broad-based growth across both developed and developing markets,” Kapoor said in February as he reported laudable gains in profit and revenue for 2015. Those results bucked the trend in a challenging global market and generated reams of positive press for RB. More recently, however, the headlines have taken a darker turn, as Kapoor, 57, found himself apologizing for the sale of disinfectants linked to about 100 fatal lung injuries in South Korea. As of this writing, South Korean officials continue to investigate, amid calls to boycott RB products.
32. Bernardo Hees
Revenue: $27.5 billion
Last year was a year of transition, as Hees, 46, worked to combine the diverse cultures of Kraft and Heinz. “We are working to implement proven management methodologies, remove inefficient spending and streamline our organization, while investing in our brands and innovation to drive long-term profitable growth,” Hees says. Translation: The company is closing seven factories and cutting 2,500 North American jobs. Such moves may sound unappetizing, but toughness probably suits Kraft Heinz—parent of brands like Capri Sun, Jell-O, Kool-Aid, Maxwell House and Oscar Mayer—which competes in an especially cutthroat space.
33. Reed Hastings
Revenue: $6.8 billion
How chill can you get? Hastings, 55, continues to remake the global video landscape, his hugely successful streaming media/original content model a lead-in for the rest of the industry. Since launching in 130 new markets this past January, the company boasts more than 81 million subscribers worldwide and does business in all major territories save for China. Hastings heralded this expansion as “the birth of a new global internet TV network,” and he believes that by “putting power in consumers’ hands to watch whenever, wherever and on whatever device,” Netflix is writing a playbook for future growth, “bringing great stories from all over the world to people all over the world.”
34. Philippe Dauman
CEO, president, chairman
Viacom (includes BET, MTV, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, Paramount Pictures)
Revenue: $13.3 billion
Inherited the chairman mantle from ailing 92-year-old Sumner Redstone, after the latter’s daughter, Shari Redstone (Viacom’s vice chair), declined the position. (Sumner Redstone and his family remain majority owners of Viacom and CBS.) Dauman, 62, a Redstone protégé who has served as chief executive for a decade, is credited with helping the company move into the digital age, and he has accelerated that via partnerships with DigiTour, Snapchat and Roku—important moves, as Viacom’s traditional TV platforms continue to lose young viewers to new media. Some investors have called for significant changes—such as the sale of the company or its various assets, or even a reunion with CBS. Adding fuel to the fire, Shari Redstone cast the lone vote against Dauman’s ascendancy to the chairmanship, feeding speculation more drama is to come.
35. Bernard Arnault
Revenue: $38.8 billion
What weak global market for luxury goods? Last year, LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton defied expectations to generate record sales, with 6 percent organic growth—more than double the luxury category’s performance as a whole. Arnault, 67—France’s richest man and an art collector with his own personal museum of treasures—is credited with giving managers across his 70-plus brands the freedom to experiment and follow their passions, fostering a spirit of corporate joie de vivre that drives innovation and helps keep LVMH on top. In the first quarter of this year, strong demand for wine, cosmetics and perfume helped produce a 4 percent revenue gain, though sales of clothing and leather goods have slowed.
36. Michael Bloomberg
CEO, president, founder
Revenue: $9 billion (est.)
A consummate New Yorker and Gotham’s former mayor, Bloomberg, 74, has moved his data and media empire forward, unveiling scores of content and advertising initiatives at the recent NewFronts. These include Kinection, a content studio; support for in-program ads; and content plays focused on technology, gender equality and luxury goods. Of course, all expansion ultimately supports the company’s core product, the Bloomberg terminal, which streams the latest news and financial data to 327,000 customers worldwide. Subscriptions go for $21,000 per year. However, JP Morgan Chase and other banks have threatened Bloomberg with a kind of recall vote, according to reports, and may switch from the terminal to cheaper alternatives.
37. Fabian Garcia
Revenue: $1.9 billion
Retail veteran Garcia, 56, became the new face of Revlon last month, taking over the chief executive post from Lorenzo Delpani, who remains on the board. Garcia’s impressive resume includes senior posts at Colgate-Palmolive (where he was most recently COO, global innovation and growth), P&G, Chanel and Timberland. The change came shortly after Ron Perelman, chairman and majority owner of the cosmetics maker, said he would seek “strategic alternatives” for the company, which has battled competition via retailers like Sephora and slower sales in emerging markets. With a new CEO at the helm, an immediate move to sell the company seems less likely, though Perelman’s goal in the long run might still be to beautify the company for potential buyers.
38. Greg Creed
Yum Brands (includes KFC, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell)
Revenue: $13.1 billion
Employees: 1.5 million
Creed, 58, leads the world’s largest fast-food empire, with 43,000 restaurants across 130 countries. Named CEO as last year began, he inherited essentially flat sales, and that trend has continued, as the industry struggles with changing consumer tastes and dining habits. Helping Pizza Hut rise in the U.S. is a key goal, and Creed last November tapped KFC’s David Timm—known for dishing up innovative campaigns in the U.K.—to be CMO and spice up the pizza chain’s domestic marketing effort. (Pizza Hut has since enlisted Droga5.) Creed is also shepherding one of the biggest strategic moves in Yum’s history: spinning off Chinese operations into a separate public entity called Yum China.
39. Satya Nadella
Revenue: $93.6 billion
After getting into hot water early on in his tenure for remarks about women’s pay, Nadella, 48, has won over most of his critics while decidedly upping Microsoft’s cool factor. In fact, some tech watchers liken Nadella—who took the reins from Steve Ballmer two years ago—to Bill Gates, the company’s legendary founder because of efforts ranging from AI and gaming (Nadella acquired Minecraft in 2014) to cloud computing, at which Microsoft has become especially adept. In fact, FBR analyst Daniel Ives credits Nadella’s wizardry with putting the company on the “yellow brick road to the cloud.” The company’s annual commercial cloud business now exceeds $10 billion in revenue, a number projected to double by 2018.
40. Maurice Lévy
Revenue: $10.9 billion
The industry’s third-largest agency holding company turned in a middling performance in 2015, posting 1.5 percent organic growth and suffering major losses like Coca-Cola, Mondelez and P&G (and Walmart as 2016 began). Lévy, 74, boldly met those challenges while accommodating the ever-changing marketplace, streamlining operations into four global hubs: Creative, Media, Digital/Technology and Healthcare. Now, some view Publicis, once a voracious acquirer, as an acquisition target itself, with Omnicom and Dentsu seen as likely suitors. The biggest impediment to a sale—other than an estimated $17 billion purchase price—would be Lévy himself, who steadfastly insists the company is not on the block. “It would most certainly have to be a hostile takeover,” Seth Alpert, managing director of M&A firm AdMedia Partners, told Adweek in March.
41, Tim Armstrong
Revenue: $2.8 billion (est.)
Acquired by Verizon a year ago, AOL is playing a key role in helping the telecommunications giant expand its reach in digital media and advertising. According to recent reports, AOL’s Q1 revenue of $670 million—its best Q1 results in half a decade—let Verizon avoid a loss in revenue in the period. Bolstering its momentum in the digital ad space, Armstrong, 44, purchased Millennial Media and inked a 10-year deal with Microsoft’s ad unit. He also cut deals with 60 television partners and 230 multichannel networks while creating 55 original series with Verizon mobile subscription service go90. Last month, AOL bought virtual reality studio RYOT, establishing a 360-degree-video unit under its Huffington Post division, as the company plans to build a production studio in lower Manhattan.
42. Michael Roth
CEO, president, chairman
Revenue: $7.6 billion
Slow and steady best describes the recent performance of No. 4 agency holding company IPG. Last year, the parent of McCann, MullenLowe, FCB and IPG Mediabrands had flat revenue. Even so, organic revenue grew better than 6 percent—besting some key rivals. “Increased macro uncertainty and market volatility” led Roth, 70, to approach 2016 with “an appropriate degree of caution,” which is why he projected organic growth of 3-4 percent for the year. Activist investor Elliott Management, long a thorn in Roth’s side, recently cut its stake from 6.9 percent to 4.8 percent and seems to have been appeased by both its $15.7 million profit on the stock sale and the company’s performance—for now.
43. Shane Smith
Revenue: $900 million (est.)
Smith launched Vice with two pals in 1994 as a free punk music and lifestyle magazine. Fast-forward 22 years, and Smith, 46, has grown the company into a digital media juggernaut spanning 30 territories with a market valuation, by some estimates, in excess of $5 billion. Vice’s strong millennial appeal—it appears to have cracked the generational code that remains elusive for many traditional media—precipitated a series of partnerships with news, entertainment, technology and telecommunications companies, including Sky, HBO, Verizon, A&E and ESPN (the latter a brand-new, wide-ranging deal that brings Vice World of Sports to the cable network). These multiscreen alliances have helped fuel Vice’s ascent and ensure that its edgy content becomes further ingrained in the cultural landscape.
44. Susan Wojcicki
Revenue: $5.2 billion (est.)
After 11 years of breaking new ground in digital video, YouTube is ready to take on TV-size budgets and challenge the networks. “What we’re seeing this year that’s new and different is that we’re being considered right alongside TV” for ad dollars early in the allocation process, Wojcicki, 47, told Adweek. YouTube stars with millennial cachet make the service more appealing for advertisers looking to reach the elusive 18-34 crowd. According to Wojcicki, when it comes to teens’ favorite celebrities, eight of the top 10 are YouTubers, a stat that bodes well for brands seeking to connect with a youthful audience and build a loyal base over the long haul. At the recent NewFronts, IPG’s Magna Global took her pitch to heart, striking a $250 million, multiyear deal with YouTube.
45. Randy Falco
Revenue: $2.9 billion
Under Falco, 62, Hispanic media giant Univision planned to go public last year, but that has been preempted, mainly owing to Wall Street worries over softness in the cable industry and the ever-present specter of cord cutting. Still, the network expanded its unduplicated average monthly audience reach to 49 million consumers across all platforms, a nearly 10 percent gain year over year. What’s more, Univision packs a potent pitch for advertisers, delivering, in Falco’s words, “a young, dynamic, multicultural community that has increasing political and economic influence.” Falco broadened Univision’s reach with English-language acquisitions like The Onion and African-American media site The Root, both under its Fusion Media Group banner.
46. Irwin Gotlieb
GroupM (parent: WPP)
Revenue: $4 billion (est.)
At the helm for more than a dozen years, Gotlieb, 66, continues to oversee the world’s largest media-buying operation, responsible for some $107 billion via agencies like Maxus, MEC, MediaCom and Mindshare. Among last year’s high-profile “Mediapalooza” pitches, the network’s biggest scores included General Mills and L’Oréal. GroupM also got acquisitive, bringing innovative digital agency Essence into the fold, as well as Greenhouse Group, a data-driven marketing company. In a move that further underscores Gotlieb’s commitment to data and programmatic, Brian Lesser, who had run tech-focused division Xaxis, was upped to CEO of GroupM North America. Meanwhile, advanced TV unit Modi Media inked a deal with Cablevision to buy upfront inventory on an addressable (read: household) level, paving the way to the future.
47. Michael Corbat
Revenue: $76.4 billion
Financial services behemoth Citigroup generated more than $17 billion in full-year profits, its best performance in a decade. But with its stock slumping, shareholders still take issue with Corbat’s paycheck. Last month, Citigroup’s new management compensation structure came under fire, with a 27 percent pay hike for its 56-year-old chief executive—to a cool $16.5 million—viewed as excessive. That said, Corbat is widely praised for revitalizing and simplifying Citigroup’s operations in his four years at the top. Analysts believe that until the stock rallies in a big way, shareholders will continue to want to tighten the purse strings.
48. Oprah Winfrey
Harpo Productions, Oprah Winfrey Network
Employees: 10,000 (est.)
At 62, Oprah has taken greater creative control at the cable network she co-owns with Discovery Communications, and the results are impressive. Putting the emphasis on soap operas and serious dramas, OWN’s prime-time viewership grew 12 percent over the past year to 537,000, per Nielsen. That’s a decent upswing, especially given the soft cable market. Meanwhile, O, The Oprah Magazine (a joint venture with Hearst) recently added columnists Elizabeth Gilbert and Farnoosh Torabi. Gilbert will also appear in videos for O, helping to expand its audience. In January, three months after taking a 10 percent stake in Weight Watchers, Oprah tweeted about her 26-pound weight loss on the program, and the stock surged 23 percent in a single day, proving that even without the daily talk show that made her a star and a multibillionaire, she’s still got influence like nobody else.
49. Herbert Hainer
Revenue: $19.3 billion
“Focusing on making the right products for the U.S. market had a very positive impact on the business at the end on 2015, and the turnaround has continued into 2016,” says analyst Matt Powell. Even so, in October, Hainer, 61, will pass the baton, ceding control of the world’s No. 2 sportswear provider (behind Nike) to Kasper Rorsted. Falling to third place in the U.S. market (behind Nike and Under Armour) proved Hainer’s undoing. Still, the company’s long-serving leader plans to cross the finish line with a flourish, projecting “significant margin and profitability improvements” for 2016, and a 10-12 percent increase in global sales.
50. Jack Dorsey
Revenue: $2.2 billion
Twitter’s 39-year-old co-founder Dorsey returned as interim chief executive last summer following Dick Costolo’s departure, and assumed the title permanently in the fall. Despite a flurry of activity, his tenure at the top has not been entirely successful thus far. Still, initiatives such as “Moments” (a highlights tab targeting new users), sorting tweets in the timeline based on relevance and integrating Periscope real-time video into profiles have resulted in generally positive reviews. But Twitter’s earnings have not generated many heart icons (the service’s “like” symbol, introduced last year) on Wall Street. After Q1 revenue of $595 million missed expectations, shares plummeted 13 percent.
51. Doug McMillon
Revenue: $482.1 billion
Employees: 2.3 million
McMillon, 49, continues to reshape the image of oft-vilified Walmart, focusing on social responsibility with initiatives that range from calling attention to the plight of veterans to improving the lot of farm animals in its supply chain and backing the first film festival in its home base of Bentonville, Ark., in partnership with actor and activist Geena Davis. So far, however, the impact of such moves on public perception has been negligible. McMillon recently shook up his internal and external marketing teams, elevating Tony Rogers, who oversaw promotional efforts in Asia, to CMO in the U.S., succeeding the retiring Stephen Quinn. McMillon also pulled Walmart’s North American media account from Mediavest after nearly a decade with the Publicis Groupe shop. As of this writing, the business has not been reassigned.
52. Terry Lundgren
Macy’s (includes Bloomingdale’s)
Revenue: $27.1 billion
Lundgren, 64, recently stripped the retailer’s plum holiday assignment from JWT, moving over to BBH and Figliulo & Partners. The RFP process began before the Gustavo Martinez lawsuit was filed, and the decision to switch was apparently unrelated to the allegations of sexist and racist behavior made against the former JWT chief exec. BBH and F&P are now tasked with helping the iconic department store chain keep pace in an increasingly interactive world. To his credit, Lundgren has worked hard to adopt an ecommerce model, with Macy’s faring better than many of its legacy brick-and-mortar competitors. Even so, sales slid 4.3 percent in Q4, down 3.7 percent for the fiscal year. Lundgren also made headlines for incurring the wrath of Donald Trump after he dropped the presumptive GOP presidential nominee’s clothing line from Macy’s last summer, shortly after Trump started disparaging Mexicans. (Lundgren said Macy’s wouldn’t carry the products of any politician.) Still, Trump called for a boycott of the retailer.
53. Nancy Dubuc
A+E Networks (parent: Hearst/Disney)
Revenue: $4 billion (est.)
For Dubuc, 47, Vice is a virtue. Last October, she oversaw the deal with Vice Media that rebranded History’s H2 as Viceland and upped A+E’s stake in Shane Smith’s millennial-focused media juggernaut to almost 20 percent. Dubuc has also kept A+E competitive across multiple platforms through an array of channels, sites and apps. She’s won praise for all these moves, diversifying the network and expanding its reach at a time when cord cutting and an abundance of choice threaten the future of cable. At the same time, hit shows like Lifetime’s UnReal and History’s Vikings have kept A+E at the forefront of the cultural conversation, while an all-star remake of Roots, bowing on Memorial Day, is generating plenty of buzz.
54. Daryl Simm
Omnicom Media Group
Revenue: $3.2 billion
Simm’s cachet rose after OMG scored P&G’s North American media assignment, the crown jewel of last year’s Mediapalooza reviews. That victory precipitated the launch of a third OMG network, Hearts & Science, with P&G as its inaugural client. Now, Simm, 54, runs three distinct practices: OMD, a media-buying powerhouse; PHD, best known for planning; and H&S, which he says will be “highly focused on data-driven marketing” and adding clients beyond P&G. That three-pronged attack, he believes, will give OMG an edge as it looks to expand in the marketplace beyond the $56.2 billion in global ad dollars spent through the organization last year.
55. John Malone
Revenue: $4.8 billion
The force is strong with this one—again. Dubbed the “Darth Vader” of telecommunications in the 1980s and ’90s, Malone, 75, is back with a vengeance, having brokered the deal to create the nation’s No. 2 broadband company and third-largest video provider by merging Charter Communications (where he is the top shareholder) with Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks. That $67 billion union received FCC approval this month. In the past year, Malone has also taken a 10 percent stake in entertainment company Lionsgate. Those who follow the mogul’s activity say he is intent on building a sort of industry Death Star, coursing with sufficient power and scale to ensure the continued expansion of his empire.
56. Andrew Wilson
Revenue: $4.6 billion
A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away—well, a few years back anyway—EA Games began to fall out of favor with fans. But Wilson, 41, has made that seem like a distant memory. Last year saw the biggest digital launch in EA’s history, the highly anticipated Star Wars Battlefront, which so far has shipped 14 million units. Like rival Activision, EA has gained yardage in its drive to expand into the booming mobile space, with Madden NFL ranking among the holiday season’s top-grossing apps. Further, the game’s monthly active players shot up 30 percent in the fiscal fourth quarter.
57. Paul Bulcke
Revenue: $90 billion
Like other companies in its peer group, Nestlé, the world’s largest food and beverage conglomerate, has struggled in recent years, and 2015 brought more of the same, as the Swiss giant missed its sales growth target for a third straight year. An inability to raise prices, particularly in Europe, has proved vexing for the maker of products ranging from Kit-Kat and Boost to Lean Cuisine. Still, Bulcke, 61, a low-key leader whose mantra is “calm strength,” delivered 4.2 percent organic growth last year and projects similar numbers for 2016. In North America, sales have perked up, with Nescafé and Nespresso really burning hot.
58. John Bryant
Revenue: $13.5 billion
In these health-conscious times, legacy breakfast cereal and snack brands—typically brimming with sugar and calories—continue to fall out of favor. As Tony the Tiger might say, they’re not so “Grrrrrreat!” That’s had a negative impact on many companies, with Kellogg’s taking an especially big hit. Though Bryant, 50, has tried a mix of different products and promotional tactics, 2015 sales were down 7.2 percent, with the exec bemoaning that snacks have become “an area of weakness.” For 2016, he hopes to cultivate modest growth in the sector by introducing new Nutri-Grain Bars and Special K Chewy Nut Bars.
59. David Zaslav
Discovery Communications (includes Animal Planet, Discovery Channel, TLC, OWN)
Revenue: $6.4 billion
Is Zaslav getting Trumped? While the seemingly nonstop coverage of the Donald’s quest for the GOP presidential nomination boosted ratings at rival news channels, viewership among Zaslav’s holdings softened in recent months. The 56-year-old media mogul initiated cost-cutting efforts that included buyouts and possible layoffs, while a plan for channel bundling across digital carriers like Hulu and YouTube is also top of mind. “The biggest question is, do we all want all of our channels carried, or do we as an industry choose the path that we will each pick our best five or six channels,” Zaslav was quoted as saying in a media report a few weeks ago. “At this moment, we’re trying to figure it out.”
60. Tadashi Ishii
Revenue: $7.2 billion
Ishii, 65, continues to quietly build the Japan-based agency holding company into a global powerhouse, on par with larger rivals WPP, Omnicom, Publicis and IPG. Since the year began, Dentsu has expanded its footprint significantly, closing on acquisitions in China, Mexico, the Netherlands, Spain, Brazil and Canada. In addition, the company recently reformatted much of its global b-to-b offering as Interprise, a new agency network based in London. As for future expansion, some see Publicis as a possible target because the companies have a history (Dentsu once owned 15 percent of the French firm). If Dentsu ever buys Publicis, it would send seismic shocks through the industry, potentially creating the largest marketing communications company on the planet.
61. Adam Silver
National Basketball Association
Revenue: $7 billion
Employees: 950 (not incl. teams)
In his two years captaining the NBA, Silver, 54, has led a highly effective two-pronged offense, engaging younger fans through cutting-edge technology and broadening the league’s appeal via outreach overseas. The NBA recently offered the first live professional sports event available in virtual reality and broadcast its first game in 4K Ultra HD. Also under Silver, the league has staged contests in China and Africa, as well as its first All-Star Game played outside the U.S. (at Toronto’s Air Canada Centre in February). Through such smooth moves, the NBA has gained significant cultural clout and sponsorship appeal, successfully courting partners like Pepsi, Tissot and Verizon.
62. David Droga
Creative chairman, founder
Revenue: $126 million (est.)
This Aussie native reigns supreme as Madison Avenue’s most iconic creative figure since Alex Bogusky left the business a half-decade ago. No wonder Hillary Clinton tapped 47-year-old Droga’s perennially hot shop. For the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, Droga5 produced spots detailing various women’s lives and explaining why Clinton is the best choice. Another ad put the candidate in sharp focus, using four decades of Clinton’s own words to illustrate that she has stayed true to her core principles. Among its many plaudits in 2015, Droga5 was named Agency of the Year at both Cannes (among independents) and The One Show, and was honored as the most effective indie shop at the Effies.
63. Kevin Plank
CEO, chairman, founder
Revenue: $4 billion
“Becoming the Facebook of fitness is the cornerstone of Plank’s goal of doubling the UA business in the next five years,” says NPD Group analyst Matt Powell. “The company has made massive investments in websites and apps. It will be fascinating to see how this investment plays out.” Plank, 43, a former University of Maryland football star, has made all the right moves on the corporate playing field, leading Under Armour into the first string of sportswear and apparel makers (from humble beginnings a decade ago when he sold performance gear out of the trunk of his car). Dynamic advertising continues to be a mainstay, with the “I Will What I Want” campaign winning the Cyber Grand Prix at Cannes and a Gold Effie.
64. Howard Schultz
Revenue: $19.2 billion
This 62-year-old coffee kingpin was really using the old bean when he introduced a new rewards program in February. Some customers were steamed about the changes, but Starbucks reports almost 1 million new sign-ups during its most recent quarter, an 8 percent increase compared to loyalty program enrollment a year prior. Always a canny marketer, Schultz isn’t done yet. He plans to roll out a branded prepaid Visa card that enables customers to earn rewards points with each purchase. And the exec continues to follow his conscience, opening a Starbucks in Ferguson, Mo., last month to create opportunities for young people and help revitalize the community. The chain plans 15 more launches in diverse communities over the next two years.
65. Evan Spiegel
Revenue: $100 million (est.)
Snaps may quickly vanish, but this 25-year-old’s messaging app has plenty of staying power. From a brand perspective, Snapchat delivers 100 million active daily users, reaching more than 40 percent of consumers 18-34 in the U.S. (On average, TV networks reach 6 percent of the coveted demo.) About one-third of the app’s users create “Stories” (image-driven messages that last 24 hours), resulting in 10 billion video views per day, having broad cultural implications. Increasingly, Snapchat conversations “are not only including a photo or video, but are being started by them,” says SunTrust Robinson Humphrey analyst Robert Peck. “People’s behavior is changing so that photos are being used as speech instead of a repository for memories.” Now, users can also use Snapchat to peruse shoppable ads. Lancôme and Target recently became the first brands to run such units, doing so in Cosmopolitan’s Discover channel on the platform.
66. Travis Kalanick
Revenue: $1.5 billion (est.)
Now spanning 60 countries, the ride-hailing app has been a cultural game changer, earning its share of boosters and detractors along the way. Persistent allegations of questionable business practices—including the sabotaging of rivals and plotting a smear campaign against journalists—have earned Kalanick, 39, a bad-boy image. In the past year, however, the CEO largely stayed above the fray—even though settling two lawsuits for a combined $100 million to avoid paying for employer-sponsored benefits didn’t exactly make for terrific publicity. Of late, there’s been talk of an IPO, but Kalanick seems in no hurry to change lanes. “I’m going to make sure it happens as late as possible,” he told CNBC.
67. Marissa Mayer
Revenue: $5 billion
“This constructive resolution will allow management and the board to keep our focus on our extremely important objectives.” So said Mayer, 40, rather cryptically, a few weeks back when activist investor Jeff Smith, her arch-nemesis, became her new boss. Smith joined Yahoo’s board along with three other directors—a development that could put added pressure on Mayer and Yahoo management to sell the site. Mayer has been trying—but failing more than succeeding—to turn the company around since she was tapped as chief executive four years ago. Yahoo has struggled to maintain relevancy, even as Mayer made big investments like Katie Couric (reported to be itching to part ways with Yahoo). Given the bleak-looking future at Yahoo—and the fact that Mayer’s severance could total $55 million if the company changes hands—perhaps she should just resign herself to letting go? (At press time, Yahoo was said to be mulling several bids, including a somewhat surprising effort from Warren Buffett and Quicken Loans founder Dan Gilbert.)
68. Andrew Robertson
Revenue: $2.5 billion (est.)
Robertson, 55, has led this Omnicom-owned agency to impressive results year in and year out, and 2015 was no exception. Global wins included Bacardi and Barbie, and BBDO expanded existing relationships with clients like Bayer, Diageo, Mars and Pepsi. Domestic ops were especially strong, notching an estimated 5 to 7 percent revenue increase en route to claiming Adweek’s U.S. Agency of the Year Award. Big laughs and big ideas ran through the shop’s creative output. Highlights included “Touch the Pickle” from BBDO India for P&G’s Whisper, which won the Grand Prix in the inaugural Glass Lions competition at Cannes for work that illuminates gender issues. The network also pocketed four Gold Clio Awards and a Gold Clio Sports trophy.
69. Steve King
Revenue: $2.7 billion
As Publicis Groupe bid adieu to P&G’s humongous North American media assignment in December—losing out in a review to Omnicom just a few months after ceding Coca-Cola’s North American business to IPG Mediabrands—it launched a major reorganization. Among the most notable moves, King, 56, gained oversight of the French holding company’s media operations, now split into four units: Starcom, Zenith, Mediavest/Spark, and Optimedia/Blue 449, through which nearly $80 billion in business flows annually. Alas, King hadn’t even gotten comfy on his throne when Walmart pulled its North American business from Mediavest in February. On the plus side, he did expand his kingdom last month when, in a surprise shift, Walmart-owned Asda handed its $140 million account to Blue 449. Still, there’s a lot of ground to make up. Heavy is the head that wears the crown.
70. Jeffrey Immelt
Revenue: $117.4 billion
The push by Immelt, 60, to recast venerable GE as a “digital industrial company”—shedding ancillary businesses to focus on its core products—has begun to pay off, with share performance much improved over the past year. Revenue climbed 6 percent in Q1 to $27.8 billion, beating predictions, and digital orders, crucial to the CEO’s strategy, soared 30 percent. At the same time, GE has become a potent media force, producing a range of innovative messaging across multiple platforms. Recent examples include its “Unimpossible Missions” web films, showcasing cool science and the company’s cutting-edge technology, and amusing recruitment ads about a millennial software developer whose friends and family just don’t understand how rad it is to work at GE.
71. Ken Powell
Revenue: $17.6 billion
Powell, 61, is following the same recipe as other global food providers, vowing to remove artificial flavors and colors from General Mills’ cereal products. He made sure parents got the message by launching an animated campaign last summer via McCann and production studio Buck. More recently, the company partnered with Xerces Society, a conservation group, to support bee populations by planting thousands of acres of flowers on farms that supply oats for Honey Nut Cheerios. Meanwhile, on the Mediapalooza front, General Mills consolidated its U.S. and global chores at Mindshare, a unit of WPP’s GroupM.
72. Elon Musk
CEO, chairman, co-founder
Revenue: $4 billion (Tesla); N/A (SpaceX)
Employees: 13,000 (Tesla); 5,000 (SpaceX)
No matter how you choose to travel—by electric car, rocket ship or Hyperloop—Musk, 44, has got you covered. In recent weeks, the famously self-confident, South Africa-born inventor and entrepreneur caused a stir by announcing that Tesla production would hit 1 million by 2020, despite mounting losses. Meanwhile, SpaceX shrugged off previous failures and notched another successful landing of its Falcon 9 booster on a floating barge. As for Musk’s proposed super-speedy Hyperloop, the man himself is not directly involved in its development, but the first full-scale test of such a system took place two weeks ago. Musk, on Tesla’s latest earnings call, put everything in wry perspective: “What I find ironic about a lot of the naysayers is that … [those] very same people will transition from saying it was impossible to saying it was obvious. I’m like, ‘Wait a second. Was it obvious or impossible? It can’t be both.’ Right?”
73. John Stankey
AT&T Entertainment Group, AT&T Services (incl. DirecTV)
Revenue: $45 billion (est.)
Employees: 30,000 (est.)
Long a key behind-the-scenes player, Stankey, 53, stepped into the limelight last year following AT&T’s $48.5 billion acquisition of DirecTV. Now he oversees operations at the satellite broadcaster—taking over from former chief executive Michael White—and recently was quoted as saying that he plans to double down on content to help DirecTV (already a player in sports and scripted shows) stand apart from its competitors. “Our goal is not to out-Netflix Netflix,” he said in an interview. “Our goal is to offer our customers a little different experience. So we’re looking to be a place where the creative community can come to try some things that maybe haven’t worked in what I’ll call mainstream media.”
74. Kevin Systrom
Revenue: $1 billion (est.)
Employees: 300 (est.)
Facebook’s $1 billion purchase of Systrom’s photo-and-video-sharing app in 2012 is beginning to look like a bargain. After opening up to all marketers in October, Instagram now reports 200,000 advertisers on the platform, eager to reach 400 million monthly users. Credit Suisse projects Instagram revenue will top $3 billion this year and eclipse $5 billion by 2017. Against that booming backdrop, Systrom, 32, and his team must manage change. In March, Instagram said it would add an algorithm that orders items in user feeds based on their interests. Brands and influencers accustomed to getting exposure for free worry it might push their messages out of the picture.
75. Charlie Ergen
CEO, chairman, co-founder
Revenue: $15.1 billion
Dish has an awful lot on its plate. In December, Ergen, 63, handed the title of president and day-to-day operational control to former evp and 20-year company vet Erik Carlson, part of a sweeping senior management reorganization. The move appears to position Carlson as Ergen’s eventual successor at the struggling satellite broadcaster, which had hoped its over-the-top internet television offering, Sling TV, would take up the slack for weakness in other operations. Unfortunately, that doesn’t appear to be the case. All told, Dish lost 81,000 net pay-TV subscribers in 2015, roughly the same number it bled the previous year, while earnings tumbled 21 percent.
76. Harris Diamond
Revenue: $3.2 billion (est.)
This 63-year-old isn’t the flashiest executive in the business, but in his four years at the helm, he’s steered the IPG-owned McCann network in a positive direction. Last year, McCann added new clients like the New York State Lottery, Hulu and Ameriprise while expanding its scope of work with existing accounts such as General Motors, Coca-Cola, Nestlé, Reckitt Benckiser and Verizon. The shop also extended its U.S. Army ad contract through September 2017—nearly a year and a half past its original expiration date—as the client’s review slogs on. McCann consistently produces eye-catching campaigns across a range of accounts and disciplines, and in 2015 the network scored four Cannes Gold Lions for its L’Oréal Makeup Genius app and one Gold each for Chevrolet and Campofrio.
77. Henry Tajer
Revenue: $1 billion (est.)
The affable, 45-year-old Aussie, in his first year helming Mediabrands, handled the pressure cooker of the high-stakes Mediapalooza like a seasoned hand, producing some laudable results. The organization, which handles $37 billion in ad spend across 130 offices in 90 countries, picked up business from Coca-Cola, Johnson & Johnson, McCormick and CVS. Universal McCann and its J3 unit, dedicated to J&J, performed especially well, earning the shop Adweek’s Global Media Agency of the Year honors. Tajer also made key executive moves, poaching John Sintras from SMG Australia to be his global president for business development and product, and hiring Max Baxter and Jarrod Martin to lead strategy/creativity and data analytics, respectively.
78. Troy Ruhanen
Revenue: $1.9 billion (est.)
Ruhanen led his Omnicom-owned network to a strong performance in 2015, especially in the U.S., where TBWAChiatDay New York added GoDaddy, Thomson Reuters, Amway, Hearts on Fire and Travelers. Notable creative included Airbnb’s “Mankind” TV spot, designed to launch a cultural conversation about kindness, and “World Gallery,” created by TBWAMedia Arts Lab for Apple’s iPhone, an Outdoor Grand Prix winner at Cannes and a Grand Clio winner. (TBWA also won Grand Clio Sports and Grand Clio Image prizes.) Ruhanen, 48, also spearheads a program designed to increase female leadership at the shop 20 percent by 2020.
79. Bob Pittman
Revenue: $6.5 billion
“We continue to be pleased with our progress in transforming the company into a multiplatform, data-rich powerhouse,” Pittman, 62, boasted back in February, when announcing a 2 percent uptick in full-year revenue. The radio, outdoor and digital giant also narrowed its annual losses. Pittman made his name in the ’80s as part of the team that launched MTV. These days, he’s thinking outside the box, pushing iHeart ahead in an increasingly complex media world. One example: Last month, Pittman teamed with programmatic ad platform Jelli to make buying spots across iHeart’s radio properties more efficient.
80. Tim Westergren
Revenue: $1.2 billion
Despite growing revenue by more than 25 percent year over year, Pandora lost $169 million in 2015 while subscriber growth stalled. That precipitated the departure of CEO Brian McAndrews in April, with Westergren, 50, returning to the chief executive post he held from 2002-04. It’s unclear what the new boss can do to get the digital music service hitting high notes again. Once viewed as revolutionary, Pandora is now part of a crowded playlist and under intense pressure from Apple, Google and Spotify. Westergren just tapped Deutsch to get the service to stand out. Meanwhile, analysts believe the company should seek a buyer, or else risk getting stuck in a gloomy groove for the foreseeable future.
81. Daniel Ek
Revenue: $1.7 billion (est.)
Ek, 33, has been making his music-streaming service, which boasts 75 million users, sound a lot better to advertisers seeking mobile options. In March, he introduced Overlay Mobile, a display format that only plays when users have the screen open, guaranteeing, at least in theory, 100 percent viewability. At the same time, the company partnered with data management platform Krux to better target specific consumer segments like sports fans, luxury shoppers and fitness junkies. A few weeks ago, Spotify announced a raft of video series, partnering with creators like Russell Simmons and Tim Robbins. And seeking to drown out competition from Apple, Pandora, YouTube and others, Spotify introduced an ad campaign casting Falkor from The Neverending Story as its spokesdragon. And Spotify called a fine creative tune in 2015, winning a Grand Clio Music Award.
82. Kenneth Chenault
Revenue: $32.8 billion
Chenault, 64, is charging ahead with bold plans to cut $1 billion in costs by 2017, as AmEx’s financial performance continues to disappoint (a nearly 40 percent drop in Q4 profit had Wall Street reeling). Chenault said job cuts and management restructuring were on tap, and last month Fox Business reported that layoffs had begun. In addition, marketing ops are being consolidated to gain efficiencies, housed under a global unit led by marketing service chief Mike McCormack. AmEx’s longtime CMO John Hayes, widely praised for his innovative approach, will depart after 20 years with the company. Could an agency shake-up also be in the cards?
83. Anne Finucane
Bank of America
Revenue: $82.5 billion
Working with CEO Brian Moynihan, this 63-year-old former ad executive has been on a long-term mission to soften BofA’s image, achieving impressive results. Now, IPG’s Hill Holliday—where Finucane spent 14 years in the ’80s and ’90s, and long a BofA roster shop—gets a bigger crack at the assignment, having added consumer chores on the business last December. Hill garnered considerable praise for a Christopher Guest-directed commercial with aging rocker Billy Idol, which poked fun at the bank’s own marketing machinations. BofA scored some buzz in recent weeks, inviting a 3-year-old T-ball player to spend a day with the Houston Astros, and recording the experience for the bank’s #MLBmemorybank series. Finucane also spearheads BofA’s focus on environmental, social and governance issues and is tasked with shaping its position with institutional investors.
84. Steven Swartz
Revenue: $10.7 billion
It’s been a busy few months for Swartz, 54, who continues to make the venerable publisher of magazines like Esquire, Cosmopolitan and Harper’s Bazaar more digital and youth-focused, with online video a priority. In March, he engineered a deal with Verizon to create digital video channels with original programming aimed at mobile-obsessed millennials. Two properties launched shortly thereafter: comedy channel Seriously.TV and lifestyle offering RatedRed.com. In a separate deal, Hearst and Verizon last month agreed to acquire Complex Media, an online publisher catering to men. These developments appear to dovetail nicely with Hearst’s other millennial-centric forays, which include ownership positions in AwesomenessTV, BuzzFeed and Vice Media.
85. Yannick Bolloré
Revenue: $2.49 billion
Maybe it does take a village. Bolloré, 36, likes to tout the French holding company‘s “global village” approach, through which it consolidates regional holdings into unified offices, spurring collaboration and community while keeping costs low. Parent of Havas Media, Havas Worldwide and Arnold, the firm has created 40 such “villages,” including 10 last year, as it grew global revenue 17.3 percent. Each of Havas’ major geographic regions reported full-year organic growth, with APAC and North America leading. In 2015, the executive invested $115 million in a dozen acquisitions (most notably, the digital shop FullSix) and brought out the checkbook again in February to buy beebop, a German social media firm.
86. Jerry Buhlmann
Dentsu Aegis Network
Revenue: $3.4 billion (est.)
Buhlmann serves as one of Dentsu CEO Tadashi Ishii’s top lieutenants, tasked with expanding and modernizing the Japanese company’s agency operations. With some 40 acquisitions between 2015 and the first quarter of this year, Buhlmann, 56, has kept up a heady pace. Results at Dentsu’s media holdings have been especially impressive, with Carat honored as Adweek’s U.S. Media Agency of the Year for 2015 after big scores with P&G and Mondelez. Buhlmann recently shuffled senior management in that group, naming Will Swayne—who previously led all of Dentsu Aegis’ P&G business—global president, a title he takes from Doug Ray, who now focuses exclusively on domestic ops.
87. Jim Heekin
Revenue: $895 million (est.)
During his decade at the helm, Heekin, 66, has piloted WPP’s Grey from also-ran status into the creative stratosphere. Last year, the shop put on a clinic at Cannes, winning 113 Lions (including four Grand Prix statuettes) across offices in 18 countries, while also notching three golds at the Clio Awards. That performance helped earn Grey Adweek’s Global Agency of the Year honors for 2015—its second win in three years. In February, Heekin promoted Michael Houston, who some view as the former’s likely successor, to global president. At the same time, he tasked senior executives Per Pedersen, Andreas Dahlqvist and Nils Leonard with keeping creative on the cultural cutting edge following CCO Tor Myhren’s departure for Apple.
88. Sean Rad
Revenue: $140 million (est.)
Since Rad, 30, co-founded Tinder four years ago, the dating app has grown to 50 million-plus users across nearly 200 countries, generating 1.6 billion swipes and 26 million matches each and every day. “Swiping right”—Tinder-speak for choosing a potential date—has secured its place in our lexicon as an expression of general approval. Seeking to expand, Rad last year debuted initiatives like Tinder Plus, a paid subscription service, while retiring Tinder Moments, the app’s photo-sharing feature. Tinder matches up well with the agency business, as mobile shop Fetch recently created a Tinder profile to lure interns (attracting 270 candidates in one day), following The Barn at BBH crafting a Tinder-based campaign for Social Tees Animal Rescue.
89. John Seifert
Ogilvy & Mather
Revenue: $2.7 billion (est.)
After 37 years rising through the ranks, Seifert, 58, finally gets to run the show. This low-key, client-focused exec was named global CEO as the year began, succeeding Miles Young. Seifert also remains chairman and CEO at Ogilvy North America, which he’s credited with helping modernize by emphasizing digital services and inclusion (he hired Donna Pedro as Ogilvy’s first chief diversity officer). “Nothing is more important than the work,” Seifert says. “The trick is to manage with agility so we can stay focused on the future and be prepared for what’s coming.” David Ogilvy himself couldn’t have put it more succinctly. And Seifert takes charge of a top-flight creative network that produced two Grand Clio winners last year: Boutique shop David scored for its Burger King work while O&M London won for 28 Too Many.
90. Tamara Ingram
Revenue: $1.5 billion (est.)
In March, less than a year after being named WPP’s chief client team officer, Ingram, 55, succeeded Gustavo Martinez as JWT’s leader as he departed in the wake of a discrimination lawsuit filed against him and the agency. The next week, at an event in London to present a film on diversity co-produced by JWT and the BBC, Ingram, a no-nonsense Brit, declared: “I believe to the core of my being that diversity of people leads to diversity of thinking and diversity of ideas … It’s our duty as a company to change the world and make it a better place, to include all our peoples to make sure we live in a safer world.” Now, as one of the industry’s highest-ranking women, Ingram has the clout to make good on that pledge and help mold advertising into a more open and inclusive industry.
91. Carter Murray
Revenue: $1.3 billion (est.)
Nearly three years into his tenure, Murray’s efforts to turn around the IPG agency have gained momentum. This year began well, with Clorox tagging the network for its global assignment after a review. Murray, 41, has sought to dispel the perception of FCB as a creative also-ran, hiring former Leo Burnett CCO Susan Credle to oversee the agency’s global output. FCB’s work had already been on an upswing, winning 74 Cannes Lions in the past two years. Recently, Murray made other big changes at the New York flagship: Karyn Rockwell succeeded veteran Lee Garfinkel as CEO, while Ari Halper and Deb Freeman were tapped to lead creative and strategic services, respectively.
92.<br?> Joe Ripp
Revenue: $3.1 billion
Ripp, 64, continues to author change at Time Inc., exploring new terrain while leveraging iconic magazine brands like Time, Sports Illustrated and Fortune. His latest initiative involves a free, ad-supported streaming channel for People and Entertainment Weekly (coming in the fall). In addition, Ripp recently hammered out a deal with NextVR to extend Life magazine into the realm of virtual reality, with plans to produce three to five VR events each year. Of course, getting more digital and skewing younger makes good business sense, and Time has made progress, notching 23.2 percent Q1 improvement in online ad revenue.
93. Ursula Burns
Revenue: $18 billion
One of the most powerful women in global business for some time, Burns, 57—also the first African-American woman to lead a Fortune 500 company—will now guide one of the country’s largest advertisers as it splits into two publicly traded entities. One will focus on outsourced business services (human resources, customer care and accounting), and the other on document and printing technologies. Burns’ post-split role has not been determined. She has earned high praise for broadening Xerox’s mandate in recent years—adding new revenue streams while maintaining its legacy copier business—and most observers applaud her move to create two smaller, nimbler firms that can be more responsive to the fast-changing marketplace.
94. Shantanu Narayen
Revenue: $4.8 billion
In February, Adobe ran a cheeky ad featuring a morose CMO who had just made a huge Super Bowl buy—without the data to back it up. In the spot, we’re told that Adobe Marketing Cloud could have helped him make a wiser decision and perhaps even save his career. Indeed, Adobe’s ties to the advertising community have grown exponentially since 52-year-old Narayen bought analytics firm Omniture nine years ago. Today, a mounting number of agencies and advertising clients find Adobe’s cloud-based tools for measuring, tracking and crafting campaigns indispensable. For Adobe, that’s meant lots of sunny days. In 2015, the company posted record revenue, up 16 percent year over year, and its share price has continued to soar. This month, the company acquired Livefyre to help brands and publishers leverage user-generated content.
95. Sarah Hofstetter
Revenue: $175 million (est.)
Through 11 years in senior management at Dentsu-owned 360i—including the past two and a half as chief executive, and the previous two as president—Hofstetter, 41, has helped accelerate the company’s transition from search specialist to global digital player. Last year, the shop counted Spotify, Butterfinger and Perrier among its key roster additions. She’s put a premium on creative. Recent innovative campaigns include a New Year’s push for Lean Cuisine that enabled consumers to block TV and web ads mentioning “diet” or “weight loss,” and digital billboards for Canon that helped amateur photographers frame better pictures of New York landmarks. Moreover, Hofstetter has established herself as a thought leader, widely viewed as an important voice on marketing issues that impact the new economy.
96. Bob Sauerberg
Condé Nast (a unit of Advance Publications)
Revenue: $2 billion (est.)
After five years as president, Sauerberg, 55, was named Condé’s chief executive last year and continues efforts to contemporize the publisher, which counts Vogue, Vanity Fair, The New Yorker and GQ among its A-list magazine properties. His biggest move was acquiring music and lifestyle-focused Pitchfork Media, which serves a largely male millennial audience. Sauerberg also launched content studio 23 Stories to generate new revenue streams across the company’s brands. And he went Hollywood, sort of, as Condé released the first film from its entertainment unit. The First Monday in May—a documentary about the annual Met Gala, of which Vogue editor Anna Wintour is an organizer—premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival.
97. Arianna Huffington
Co-founder, editor in chief
The Huffington Post
Revenue: $165 million (est.)
Adweek’s Brand Visionary for 2015, Huffington, 65, helped to reshape the media landscape 11 years ago when she co-founded the site. HuffPost pioneered a highly addictive mix of aggregated news items, opinion pieces and original reporting (four years ago, it became the first online outlet to win the Pulitzer Prize). AOL acquired HuffPost in 2011 for $315 million and has been building out the unit since its own acquisition by Verizon, most notably in video. Though some question the long-term viability of an ad-driven model amid shrinking CPMs, HuffPost boasts an enviable reach and profile and is positioned to be a force for a long time to come.
98. Martin Clarke
Revenue: $105 million
The Daily Mail is on fire. Clarke, 51, runs the world’s best-read English-language website, with 240 million unique visitors per month, including 80 million in the U.S. Video views are on the rise, with 400 million last month alone, a 60 percent improvement year over year. Last year, the company partnered with Dr. Phil’s production company to develop a syndicated news show, Daily Mail TV. In recent weeks, the company has surfaced as a possible suitor for Yahoo. Acquiring those assets would strengthen Clarke in the online content game and make the Daily Mail an even more formidable player.
99. Lori Senecal
Crispin Porter + Bogusky
Revenue: $160 million (est.)
Senecal, one of the highest-ranking women in the ad business, placed her stamp on the MDC-owned network last year shortly after her arrival as its first global chief executive, seeing off the shop’s longtime CEO and creative chief Andrew Keller when his role was eliminated. Considered a savvy manager from her days running corporate sibling KBS, Senecal is now tasked with leveraging CP+B’s vaunted creative reputation to take the agency to greater heights. Creative momentum continued last year, as CP+B snagged a Grand Clio and two golds for its inventive Domino’s “Emoji Ordering” campaign. More recently, it scored major buzz with a blind taste test-themed promo for Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, which had quietly sold for months without artificial flavors, preservatives or dyes.
100. Stewart Butterfield
Revenue: $65 million (est.)
Last month, one tech news site proclaimed Slack’s growth “insane,” with daily users up more than three times year over year. “Plenty of startups have tried and failed to make enterprise software sexy, but Slack made it viral,” it said. Indeed, Butterfield, 43, previously best known for co-founding Flickr, suddenly has a workplace phenomenon on his hands. Widely regarded as the fastest-growing app in history, Slack’s namesake product— launched two years ago to help corporate teams collaborate more effectively—now claims 2.7 million daily active users. What’s more, Butterfield recently corralled $200 million in new funding, for $540 million total, so there’s plenty of funding for expansion.
This story first appeared in the May 23, 2016 issue of Adweek magazine.
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