Special Report

The Best and Worst CEOs of 2018

The Best

Source: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

1. Marc Benioff
> Company: Salesforce.com
> Tenure: 1999 – present
> Annual compensation: $4.7 million
> YTD stock price change: +38.4% (NYSE: CRM)

Though the market seems to be growing leery of the cloud computing industry, Marc Benioff and Salesforce may be the exception. The company reported a fiscal year 2019 third quarter that surpassed expectations. The company’s revenue grew 26% from the same quarter a year ago, reaching $3.39 billion.

Benioff was named one of the best performing CEOs in the world by Harvard Business Review, as Salesforce regularly reports solid company performance that beat Wall Street expectations. Since the beginning of 2018, Salesforce’s stock price increased by more than 38%, up from $104 per share to over $140.

Source: David Ryder / Getty Images

2. Jeff Bezos
> Company: Amazon
> Tenure: July 1994 – present
> Annual compensation: $1.7 million
> YTD stock price change: +40.3% (NASDAQ: AMZN)

Amazon began as an online book retailer, with Jeff Bezos at the helm it has grown to a tech behemoth. Amazon now sells everything, through multiple pathways, including online commerce and convenience stores. Its cloud service, AWS, is swallowing up more and more market share with a $27 billion run rate. Amazon’s stock is up nearly 40% since the start of 2018, making Bezos the richest person in the world.

Unlike many large companies which seem to inevitably incur the public’s wrath at some point, Amazon is generally well thought of across much of America. Despite recent controversy over its headquarters expansion to New York City and the Washington, D.C. area, Amazon was named America’s most loved company by Morning Consult.

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3. Warren Buffet
> Company: Berkshire Hathaway
> Tenure: 1970 – present
> Annual compensation: $100,000
> YTD stock price change: +6.0% (NYSE: BRK-B)

Known as the Oracle of Omaha, Warren Buffet has earned a reputation as one of the greatest investors of all time through years of clear-eyed decision making on Wall Street. This year was no different.

Buffett has had the top job at multinational conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway since 1970. His company beat earnings estimates in each of the three quarters of 2018 so far. As of mid-2018, Buffett’s conglomerate reported strong earnings in nearly every one of is business segments, including manufacturing, retail, and insurance. Over the last year, Berkshire Hathaway Class-B stock rose 7.4%, outperforming the S&P 500 index’s less than 3% return and the Dow Jones Industrial Average’s less than 3.5% increase over the last 12 months, as of the time of this writing.

Source: Courtesy of Progressive

4. Tricia Griffith
> Company: Progressive Corporation
> Tenure: July 2016 – present
> Annual compensation: $9.3 million
> YTD stock price change: +14.8% (NYSE: PGR)

Tricia Griffith began her career at Progressive Insurance as a claims representative in 1988, rising through a number of leadership positions to Personal Lines Chief Operating Officer in April 2015, ultimately being appointed as chief executive in July 2016. Since becoming CEO, Progressive Insurance one-year and annualized three-year sales growth topped those at both Apple and Microsoft. Profits at the company have risen more than 100% over the past year, and the stock price soared by nearly 50%.

According to Progressive executives interviewed in a November 2018 profile in Fortune magazine, many of the cultural changes instituted by Griffith as CEO have contributed to the company’s impressive growth. Griffith rose from No. 93 to No. 60 on Glassdoor’s Top CEOs list from 2017 to 2018, the largest increase in rank of any chief executive officer.

Source: Ethan Miller / Getty Images

5. Reed Hastings
> Company: Netflix
> Tenure: 1999 – present
> Annual compensation: $24.4 million
> YTD stock price change: +43.4% (NASDAQ: NFLX)

Reed Hastings is the CEO and founder of Netflix. The company, which started as an online DVD rental store in the 1990s, is now a billion dollar subscription based video streaming business. Hastings clearly anticipated the changes widespread broadband internet would bring to his business, and he adjusted accordingly. Under Hastings, Netflix has grown its user base every quarter so far, from 22.9 million in the third quarter of 2011 to 137.1 million in the third quarter of 2018.

Hastings has also done well by investors. As of the end of the third quarter in 2018, after several stock splits and price surges, Netflix stock has had a return on investment of 31,260% since its 2002 Wall Street debut.