The 52 most powerful people in enterprise tech in 2017

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Businesses spend a huge wad of cash every year on tech. They'll dole out $3.5 trillion in 2017 alone, according to Gartner.

2017 has seen a dramatic increase in cloud spending and the rise of new technologies in the work place like artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things.

It's seen a crop of new public companies, and some startups that are leading the way in their areas. At the same time, powerhouses like Cisco, Oracle and Microsoft still dominate their respective markets.

And with that kind of money comes power and lots of it.

So here's a shout-out for the 52 people shaping the multitrillion-dollar world of enterprise tech in 2017.

No. 52: Eric Yuan, cofounder & CEO, Zoom

No. 52: Eric Yuan, cofounder & CEO, Zoom
Zoom

Eric Yuan started off 2017 with a $1 billion valuation thanks to a $100 million funding round led by A-list VC Sequoia Capital.

Yuan, who formed Zoom after becoming frustrated in his role as VP of Engineering at Cisco's WebEx, saw a hole in the market to reach smaller companies.

Today, Zoom has become a real contender in the business video communications market.

No. 51: Rob Mee, CEO, Pivotal

No. 51: Rob Mee, CEO, Pivotal
Pivotal

Rob Mee helms Pivotal, the big data startup spun out from EMC in 2012.

Mee cut his teeth in the artificial intelligence world and founded Pivotal Labs, which was acquired by EMC in October, 2013. And then his team, along with a few other cloud and big-data companies that EMC and its subsidiary VMware acquired, were bundled together and spun out to form a new company, taking the name Pivotal.

Pivotal was originally led by industry bigwig and former VMware CEO Paul Maritz. Maritz was talked into launching it instead of retiring. But Maritz didn't push off retirement forever, and Mee, part of Pivotal’s founding team, got the corner office in 2015.

The company is making a name for itself building custom big-data and cloud apps for Fortune 500 companies and said it booked $100 million in revenues when Mee took the helm.

No. 50: Andrew Ng, founder, Deeplearning.ai

Andrew Ng is one of the fathers of artificial intelligence as it is increasingly used by businesses.

Andrew Ng is widely known as creator of the Google Brain, Google's massive AI system that companies can access for their own apps by using Google's cloud. Ng did a shocking thing in 2014 and defected to Google's major Chinese competitor, Baidu, where he worked on AI projects there.

He left Baidu in April and is now working on a much-watched, stealth startup called Deeplearning.ai, which is undertaking the "AI transformation of our society," as Ng described.

Ng is also known as a cofounder of free online education site Coursera and he wrote one of the popular AI trainings courses of all time, teaching the next generation of AI coders.

No. 49: Neeraj Agrawal, general partner, Battery Ventures

No. 49: Neeraj Agrawal, general partner, Battery Ventures
Battery Ventures

Neeraj Agrawal is general partner at Battery Ventures, where he's been a powerhouse in the enterprise world, investing in some of the most successful software as a service (SaaS), since 2000.

This year, one of the companies he backed, AppDynamics, hit it out of the park when it was acquired by Cisco just as it was on the verge of an IPO.

He also backed Coupa and Nutanix, both newly public companies, and he's currently invested in industry hotshots like Glassdoor and Sprinklr.

No. 48: Jacqueline Reses, capital lead and people lead, Square

Jack Dorsey may be most famous as the CEO of Twitter but it is the other company he founded, Square, that's been skyrocketing for investors in 2017.

There are a lot of reasons for that but one of them is Jacqueline Reses, the former investment banker and former Yahoo M&A/HR queen who now works at Square.

Reses joined Square in 2015 where she was again tapped for a dual role. She leads HR and recruiting, as well as Square's all-important Square Capital team, which offers loans to small business.

Shares of Square have been on a tear all summer, in large part because of the success of Square Capital.

No. 47: Bridget van Kralingen, SVP of Industry Platforms, IBM

No. 47: Bridget van Kralingen, SVP of Industry Platforms, IBM
IBM

Bridget van Kralingen has long been one of IBM CEO Ginni Rometty's most trusted lieutenants.

Now Rometty has tasked her to lead two of IBM's most important initiatives, as the venerable company reboots itself into the new worlds of cloud computing and AI.

Van Kralingen is leading the "Industry Platforms" unit, charged with coming up with AI and cloud apps for individual industries, as a way to lure them onto IBM's cloud.

She's also leading IBM's foray into a young technology called "blockchain." Blockchain is a way to securely store information across many distributed computer systems and was pioneered by the online currency Bitcoin.

Blockchain has the potential to set the tech industry on fire, and IBM is known as one of the leaders of the tech, with van Kralingen at the helm.

No. 46: Adam Blitzer, EVP & GM of Sales and Service Clouds, Salesforce

No. 46: Adam Blitzer, EVP & GM of Sales and Service Clouds, Salesforce
Salesforce

Adam Blitzer is executive vice president of Sales Cloud, Salesforce’s bread and butter product.

Sales Cloud accounted for $3 billion in revenues for the company in fiscal year 2017. That’s almost 40% of overall subscription and support revenues, which means Blitzer has his hand on the money.

And he's also running Service Cloud, the company's popular help desk software.

Blitzer first joined Salesforce in 2013 through an acquisition. He sold his B2B marketing automation company Pardot to ExactTarget in 2012 for $100 million. ExactTarget was then acquired by Salesforce for $2.5 billion in 2013. Now, he’s one of the most powerful people at the company and in the cloud.

 

 

No. 45: David Goeckeler, SVP & GM of Networking and Security, Cisco

No. 45: David Goeckeler, SVP & GM of Networking and Security, Cisco
Cisco

David Goeckeler has become key player in Cisco CEO Chuck Robbin's brain trust.

He's the man leading Cisco's two most important units, networking and security, responsible for $32 billion of the company's $50 billion in revenue

He's also the man behind the networking giant's overhaul of its critical network business, an initiative called Network Intuitive. Revealed in June, this is a set of new hardware and software which combine AI and programmable chips to create next-generation network switches.

Cisco hopes that this new system will allow it to combat a rising tide of startups and competitors who are trying to upend its market dominance.

No. 44: Brendan Burns, partner architect, Microsoft

No. 44: Brendan Burns, partner architect, Microsoft
Microsoft

Brendan Burns holds the title of partner architect at Microsoft but its his work at his former employer, Google, that's made him powerful.

While at Google, Burns created a tech called Kubernetes, one of the most popular open source projects of all time.

Kubernetes is used by programmers to manage bits of apps known as containers. Containers have changed the way programmers write apps for the cloud and Kubernetes has become a critical technology for Google as it tries to become a cloud powerhouse, challenging the likes of Amazon Web Services.

When Microsoft poached Burns in 2016 to work for Microsoft's cloud, Azure, it was a major coup.

Burns is now heading up engineering for Microsoft’s container efforts.

No. 43: Ryan Smith, cofounder & CEO, Qualtrics

No. 43: Ryan Smith, cofounder & CEO, Qualtrics
Qualtrics

Qualtrics offers online survey and marketing software and is a family-run business, with Ryan Smith at its helm. It was co-founded by Smith's father and a BYU professor, Scott Smith, and Smith's brother, Jared Smith, an early Google employee.

Years ago, the Smiths bootstrapped their company from $0-$50 million and that's when VCs and other software giants took notice. Five years ago, the Smiths turned down a $500 million acquisition offer. They wanted to grow their company themselves.

Flash forward to 2017, and the company raised a $180 million round that valued the company at $2.5 billion, bringing the total funding to $400 million in just three rounds. 

Although Qualtrics is based in Provo, Utah, far away from Silicon Valley, the Smith boys run with the A-list Valley crowd. Smith is even counseled by famed Valley CEO coach Kim Scott.

No. 42: Solomon Hykes, CTO & chief maintainer, Docker

No. 42: Solomon Hykes, CTO & chief maintainer, Docker
Anthony Harvey/Getty

Containers are a tech that helps programmers easily write apps for the cloud and are all the rage in enterprise tech. And Docker CTO Solomon Hykes remains the man of the hour in this niche.

Thanks to Hykes, containers have become so popular that there's a war going on between Docker and other would-be Dockers over this new container market.

This year, Docker launched a new open source community called The Moby Project, which it hopes will encourage more developers to roll up their sleeves and work on its container technology, rather than its competitors'.

It's clear that Hykes is looking to keep Docker at the center of the revolution he started.

No. 41: Nick McKeown, chief scientist & chairman, Barefoot Networks

Nick McKeown is a renowned professor at Stanford University who was one of the key people to help usher in a new way to build computer networks based on software. 

He earned his wealth when his startup Nicira (cofounded with other network industry legends Martin Casado and Scott Shenker) was acquired back in 2012 for $1.2 billion. He's now quietly involved in angel investing, backing up-and-comers like SnapRoute and Kumu.

His latest startup, Barefoot Networks, is credited with being the next big disrupter in the network industry. Barefoot Networks sells an ultra-fast chip for computer networks that can be reprogrammed, allowing networks to be customized.

The company launched in June 2016 with much applause, and the market leader Cisco launched its own programmable switch just one year later in response.

No. 40: Chris Wanstrath, cofounder & CEO, Github

No. 40: Chris Wanstrath, cofounder & CEO, Github
Brian Ach/Getty Images

GitHub is the place where developers store, share and work on their apps, whether these apps are from newbie programmers or major players like Apple, IBM or Microsoft.

As a cofounder and CEO, Chris Wanstrath has had his share of growing up moments as GitHub fielded accusations that depict a rough work culture. So the Valley is closely watching his efforts to revamp it into a more diverse and accepting place.

Nevertheless, GitHub has become one of the most important companies in the world of programming today. It claims 22 million programmers as members, and 117,000 businesses use it to track their software projects as well. 

No. 39: Drew Houston, CEO, Dropbox

The rumor mill is spinning that Dropbox is inching closer to an IPO, which could be the biggest public offering since Snapchat.

So founder CEO Drew Houston must now grow Dropbox into a company worth big investment money.

He's been preparing for his company's success his whole life.

Houston built the $10 billion company from scratch after a frustrating experience in which he forgot his thumb drive at home. Now he's changed the way businesses store and share documents, and is lining up big partners like Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard Enterprise along the way.

No. 38: Alex Karp, CEO, Palantir

No. 38: Alex Karp, CEO, Palantir
Getty / Drew Angerer

Karp leads Palantir, known as Silicon Valley's most secretive company, choosing to keep both its data-mining technology and its client list, many of whom are government agencies, under tight wraps.

Palantir has raised so much money from private investors, it is valued it at $20 billion.

Karp is powerful for another reason: a direct line to Donald Trump's White House. Legendary investor Peter Thiel, one of Trump's very few prominent supporters in Silicon Valley, is a cofounder of Palantir. It's a connection that earned Karp a seat on the American Technology Council, which held its first meeting on June 19. 

It was there at Karp floated the notion that Palantir's style of big data analysis could stop fraudulent spending in the federal government.

No. 37: Jayshree Ullal, CEO, Arista Networks

No. 37: Jayshree Ullal, CEO, Arista Networks
Arista

Arista Networks is taking on network industry Goliath Cisco and having a lot of success.

Arista is seen as a more flexible alternative to Cisco and has seen double digital growth in revenues at a time when Cisco is experiencing declines. 

CEO Jayshree Ullal was a former Cisco star before joining Arista in 2008, and bringing the company public in 2014.

Cisco isn't taking the rise of Arista lightly and has sued the company for patent infringement and lodged complaints with the International Trade Commission. But that hasn't scared off buyers or investors. The profitable company has seen its shares triple since its 2014 IPO.

No. 36 & No. 35 Scott Farquhar and Mike Cannon-Brookes, cofounders & co-CEOs, Atlassian

No. 36 & No. 35 Scott Farquhar and Mike Cannon-Brookes, cofounders & co-CEOs, Atlassian
Mike Cannon-Brookes (left) and Scott Farquhar (right)Atlassian

Scott Farquhar and Mike Cannon-Brookes have created an $8 billion teamwork software titan in Atlassian. They are now gunning to take on Microsoft Office with the $425 million acquisition of Trello in January.

When Atlassian filed for its 2015 IPO, it revealed that it had been consistently profitable since the decade previous—without doing a single round of traditional venture capital financing,

And Atlassian got there without a traditional outbound sales team, instead relying largely on word-of-mouth. 

The company startled investors when it swung to a loss for its fiscal 2016. But it is spending into the red to develop more software products for more businesses, it explained.

Meanwhile, Farquhar and Cannon-Brookes are like the Mark Zuckerbergs of their home country Australia, the youngest Australian billionaires on Forbes' 2017 list.

No: 34: Jason Taylor, VP of Infrastructure, Facebook

Jason Taylor leads the team that manages Facebook's enormous infrastructure, the tech that supports 2 billion Facebook users worldwide.

That's a powerful job but that's only the beginning. He is also the chairman and president of arguably Facebook's biggest contribution to the tech world, the Open Compute Project.

OCP creates open source hardware for data centers. Anyone can contribute to the designs and use them for free, with contract manufacturers standing by to build the hardware. OCP hardware is cheaper, easier to repair, and greener than buying it from traditional makers, it says.

OCP has created a cult-like following and now Taylor is man leading the crowd.

No. 33: Jay Parikh, VP of Infrastructure, Facebook

No. 33: Jay Parikh, VP of Infrastructure, Facebook
Facebook

Facebook isn't exactly the first name you think of when you think of telecommunications equipment but that could one day change.

Under VP of Infrastructure Jay Parikh, Facebook has taken its home-built innovations in telecom and computer networks and created a consortium called the Telecom Infrastructure Project.

TIP is modeled after Facebook's other successful project in this area, the Open Compute Project. TIP's goal is nothing less than to disrupt the $350 billion telecom equipment market.

And Parikh is the liaison between the brave new world Facebook envisions and the rest of the telecom industry.

No. 32: Jeff Lawson, cofounder & CEO, Twilio

No. 32: Jeff Lawson, cofounder & CEO, Twilio
John Phillips/Getty Images

Twilio is one of the companies that secretly runs the internet: Its services let apps and websites send you text messages or make phone calls. If you've ever gotten a text from Uber saying your car is getting close, or a phone call from Netflix to verify your account, you've used Twilio.

Twilio CEO Jeff Lawson, a long-time industry veteran formerly at Amazon Web Services and StubHub, has seen saw his influence grow since he took his company public in 2016.

In 2017, Twilio ranked eighth on Fast Company's list of the world's 50 Most Innovative Companies alongside heavyweights like Amazon, Alphabet's Google, Apple, Snap, Facebook, and Netflix.

While the stock got pummeled earlier this year after warnings that big customer Uber would be cutting back, Lawson is already leading a rebound in investor confidence.

No. 31: Aaron Levie, CEO, Box

No. 31: Aaron Levie, CEO, Box
Mike Windle/Getty

Aaron Levie famously had his growing-up moment when Box was a young startup without much revenue and Citrix offered to buy the company for about $600 million. Levie stared down investor pressure to sell and talked his board into turning down the offer.

Flash forward to 2017, and his company now has a market cap of over $2 billion. The cloud file storage and collaboration service reported better-than-expected quarterly results at the end of May, is narrowing losses and upped its guidance for the rest of its 2018 fiscal year.

Levie has promised investors that Box will be profitable and generating over $1 billion in annual revenue by 2021.

Levie also remains one of the Valley's favorite CEOs. He continues to make a lot of smart moves in the cloud industry and he's always absolutely hilarious. If you don't follow his Twitter account, do yourself a favor and add him.

No. 30: Todd McKinnon, CEO, Okta

No. 30: Todd McKinnon, CEO, Okta
Okta

Okta founder and CEO Todd McKinnon became a Wall Street darling in 2017 when he took his company public. The IPO went well, giving the company a $2 billion valuation.

Okta continued to shine after its first earnings report. The strong results sent the $2.3 billion company's stock to a new high, just two months after the successful IPO in which its stock soared 44% on the first day of trading. 

Okta pioneered the idea of a cloud service that makes it easier for companies to manage employee passwords to other cloud services.

McKinnon grew up as an early employee running engineering at Salesforce and now finds that Salesforce and Microsoft are his partners and his competitors.

No. 29: Mike Olson, chief strategy officer, Cloudera

Big data software company Cloudera was one of the most heavily funded enterprise startups of all time, raising about $1.05 billion and being valued by private investors at $4.1 billion.

Cloudera founder, former CEO and current CSO Mike Olson completed the company's much-anticipated IPO in April. The stock did well in its IPO, even though the company's public valuation was half of its last private one, a market cap of about $2.5 billion. 

It didn't matter. Cloudera's biggest private investor, Intel, is happy to keep its large chunk of the company. Cloudera's big data software helps Intel sell more of its chips and servers.

While Cloudera's other founders sold off bits of their stake or left the company, Olsen still owns over 5 million shares, which amounts to 4% of the company. His power in the world of big data computing is secure.

No. 28: Jeff Dean, senior fellow, Google

No. 28: Jeff Dean, senior fellow, Google
Google

In 2015, Google's celebrated engineer Jeff Dean created a piece of artificial intelligence software called ­TensorFlow. Two years later, that tool is a major part Google's next major money maker, cloud computing.

TensorFlow makes life easier for engineers looking to build machine-learning and artificially intelligent apps. That's the next big thing in enterprise tech.

Dean was an early employee at Google, and is a legend inside the company. He's created many of Google's most important products, like its first ad servers.

Today he's the head of the core AI research group, which means Dean is building the future of enterprise technology, and the future of machine learning as we know it. 

 

No. 27: Stewart Butterfield, founder, Slack Technologies

Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield is continuing his company's multi-year hot streak with some saying that if he wanted to sell his company today, he could command a $9 billion price tag.

But Butterfield doesn't seem to want to sell. He's reportedly looking for a massive new round of funding, another $500 million, which values the company at $5 billion. That's a bump from the valuation of $3.8 billion in 2016.

Slack's whopping valuation is a testament to its crazy growth: the company has four million daily active users and surpassed $100 million in annual recurring revenue last year.

Butterfield is one of the most likable guys in Silicon Valley. With the company poised to see increased competition, Slack will rely on his leadership even more next year.

No. 26: Ben Horowitz, VC, Andreessen/Horowitz

No. 26: Ben Horowitz, VC, Andreessen/Horowitz
Travis P Ball / Getty

It was a good day for A-list venture capitalist Ben Horowitz when Okta went public earlier this year.

With Andreessen/Horowitz having chipped in half of Okta's seed money, the VC firm was a big winner in Okta's $2 billion valuation.

Horowitz has backed many winners over the years like Skype, Nicera and AppLogic, and led deals in dozens of other enterprise startups, including Tidemark, Asana and SnapLogic. 

He continues to be a powerful influence in the enterprise world.

No. 25: Jim Goetz, VC & partner, Sequoia

Jim Goetz has long been known as one of the most successful VCs in the industry. Goetz is a partner at Sequoia, and made his name by backing companies like Hubspot, WhatsApp and Palo Alto Networks.

In January, Goetz took a step back from his management responsibilities at the firm and left US operations up to his partner, Roelof Botha. But Goetz is still general partner of existing funds, continues to represent Sequoia in board seats on startups like GitHub, and is still hunting for new startups to back.

Meanwhile, he plans to be enjoying a bit more free time these days, with the purchase of a new Venetian Islands mansion.

No. 24: Aneel Bhusri, CEO, Workday

Bhusri is CEO and co-founder of Workday, the financial and human management company that is giving the old guards, SAP and Oracle, a run for their money.

The company was founded by Bhusri and PeopleSoft founder David Duffield after they endured one of the ugliest hostile takeovers in software history, when Oracle bought Peoplesoft out from under them.

Workday, a cloud alternative, was their revenge, and investors have loved the company since its 2013 IPO. Shares have more than doubled to above $100.

Bhusri is powerful for another reason. He's also a VC at Greylock where he's backed such companies as Okta, Cloudera and Zuora.

No. 23: Jim Whitehurst, CEO, Red Hat

No. 23: Jim Whitehurst, CEO, Red Hat
Biz Carson/Business Insider

Jim Whitehurst has been CEO of Red Hat for a decade, leading it to become the first and only multi-billion dollar open source software company.

Whitehurst makes sure Red Hat is always in front of the up-and-coming tech. For instance, he was an early supporter of containers. This year, Whitehurst has pushed Red Hat into a unique niche of cloud computing, a service that combines containers and cloud app development in one fell swoop.

Red Hat, which had $2.4 billion in annual revenues for fiscal year 2017, is still the leader in Linux, too, the most popular operating system that owns the data center.

No. 22: Scott Guthrie, EVP of Cloud and Enterprise, Microsoft

No. 22: Scott Guthrie, EVP of Cloud and Enterprise, Microsoft
Microsoft

Microsoft is betting its entire future on cloud computing, pushing its huge slate of enterprise customers to use Office 365 and its cloud service Azure.

That makes Scott Guthrie, who leads Microsoft's cloud computing efforts, extremely powerful. He's responsible for Azure as well as Dynamics, Microsoft's competitor to Salesforce, both of which continue to grow in 2017.

And his responsibilities within the company keep growing. Now that Microsoft has completed its $26.2 billion purchase of LinkedIn, Guthrie's is tasked with integrating LinkedIn with various Microsoft products. 

No. 21: Thomas Kurian, president of product development, Oracle

Thomas Kurian is one of the most powerful men behind Oracle's engineering and some say that he may be the real heir to become the next CEO of Oracle, should Larry Ellison ever decide to retire.

Kurian's influence has been even more on the rise in recent years, as he's responsible for building out the all-important cloud.

Cloud revenues were $3.2 billion for fiscal year 2017 — up 61% from 2016. With the success of this growing revenue stream, investors are getting excited, and Oracle is seeing the results on Wall Street. 

No. 20: Shantanu Narayen, CEO, Adobe

No. 20: Shantanu Narayen, CEO, Adobe
Justin Sullivan/Getty

Years ago, Shantanu Narayen made the big decision to stop selling software the old fashioned way and sell it only as a cloud product.

And he recently threw his enormous weight behind Microsoft for a mutually beneficial partnership, with Adobe software living on the Microsoft Azure cloud. 

Microsoft doesn't have a marketing software competitor, and Adobe doesn't have a sales software play. So together this partnership is a huge shot across the bow at his competitors Oracle and Salesforce.

Narayen, a native of India, was also honored earlier this year by Carnegie as a recipient of the Great Immigrants award.

No. 19: Tim Cook, CEO, Apple

No. 19: Tim Cook, CEO, Apple
AP

Perhaps Apple isn't the most obvious name in enterprise tech, but we'd be remiss if we didn't give a shout-out to CEO Tim Cook.

Cook has been working hard to push Apple deeper into the enterprise world. He's personally crafted partnerships with Cisco, Deloitte, IBM, and SAP. 

And he's doing this in Apple's usual, not-so-humble way. When he was a guest star at Cisco's big tech conference in June, giving an update the two-year-old partnership to make Apple devices work better on Cisco networks, Cook said:

"We thought, looking at the enterprise, people were spending tons of money. But when you looked at the user experience, it wasn't very good. So we thought we could bring Apple's legendary ease-of-use and simplicity to the enterprise and really change the way people work."

Touché. 

No. 18: Pat Gelsinger, CEO, VMware

No. 18: Pat Gelsinger, CEO, VMware
VMware

Pat Gelsinger is powerful for his leadership of VMware, which offers software that makes servers, networks and desktop computers more efficient.

VMware has now been swallowed by Dell as part of Dell's record-breaking acquisition of VMware's previous parent company EMC. And VMware is now Dell's crown jewel.

Gelsinger had to eat a little crow in late 2016 when he announced a partnership with Amazon Web Services, after spending years trying to best AWS. 

But if you can't beat 'em, join 'em and the partnership should turn VMware into a powerful player in AWS's growing world.

Gelsinger was also among the tech execs who have met with President Trump in recent months to discuss tech's policy concerns.

No. 17: Meg Whitman, CEO of Hewlett Packard Enterprise and chairwoman of HP

Meg Whitman is the leader of Hewlett Packard Enterprise, one of the largest IT companies in the world, next to the consolidated Dell/EMC entity, a competitor of whom she's highly critical.

Whitman, a Republican, is also not shy about wading into politics, no matter the political climate. While she didn't back the winner of the 2016 election (she stumped for Hillary Clinton instead), she consistently speaks her mind in national debates over issues like border taxes.

Meanwhile, she is still working on HP's turnaround. Lately she's been doing that through some high-profile acquisitions. In March, HP bought flash storage company Nimble Storage for $1 billion. In January, HP Enterprise bought SimpliVity, a storage startup, for $650 million.

No. 16: Brian Krzanich, CEO, Intel

No. 16: Brian Krzanich, CEO, Intel
Reuters/Beck Diefenbach

Having missed the boat on smartphones and with the PC industry in decline, Intel needed to find a new place to sell its chips, and ensure it won't miss the next big wave.

To CEO Brian Krzanich, that new place is self-driving cars.

Intel, in its second-largest acquisition in its 50-year history, spent a whopping $15.3 billion to buy the self-driving-car-tech company Mobileye.

If self-driving vehicles are the future – as Uber, Alphabet, and others believe – Intel wants to sell the bits that make them happen, and Krzanich is the one behind the wheel.

No. 15: Mark Hurd, co-CEO, Oracle

No. 15: Mark Hurd, co-CEO, Oracle
AP

Mark Hurd shares the CEO job with Safra Catz. He's responsible for the company's operations teams and its massive, legendary sales organization.

His teams are pushing Oracle's customers into its all-important cloud computing services as fast as they can. And he's having good success. Investors have been driving Oracle's stock to all-time highs this summer.

Internally, Hurd is leading a pet project to hire young grads and train them up to be great cloud salespeople and take on other roles within the company. That includes Oracle's expansion into the Austin area, a campus that also includes luxury housing for employees.

No. 14: Safra Catz, co-CEO, Oracle

No. 14: Safra Catz, co-CEO, Oracle
Oracle

Safra Catz has been the company's financial genius for decades.

She's the brains behind Oracle's massive success through mergers and acquisitions. But she's also helping the company come up with the cash to build out a bunch of new data centers to house its cloud computing aspirations. 

Catz has said she won't ever be in the running to become sole CEO of Oracle and will retire from her job as right-hand woman to founder and chairman Larry Ellison if and when Ellison ever retires.

As that doesn't look like it will happen anytime soon, she's also pursuing her passion: education for kids. She spearheaded a project to build a high school, with a slate of cutting edge STEM courses, right on the campus Oracle's main Redwood City, California, headquarters.

No. 13: Michael Dell, CEO, Dell Enterprise

No. 13: Michael Dell, CEO, Dell Enterprise
Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images

In 2016, Dell's blockbuster $67 billion acquisition of one-time rival EMC finally closed, in the biggest high-tech deal ever.

It makes industry stalwart Michael Dell the leader of one of the world's biggest IT companies—and one of the last big holdouts against the rise of Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and other cloud-computing platforms.

Billionaire Dell has been a powerhouse in the tech world for decades but this move made him even more powerful.

No. 12: Ginni Rometty, CEO, IBM

No. 12: Ginni Rometty, CEO, IBM
IBM

For the entire time Ginni Rometty has been CEO of IBM, the company has been going through a slow and painful transition as its old-school businesses decline.

But she's determined to drive IBM into the future by investing in up-and-coming technologies like cloud computing, AI and blockchain.

IBM Watson is well-known for its AI technology. In 2017, Rometty has put IBM in a leadership position in the young area blockchain, which allows information about transactions to be spread across many computers in many locations. IBM and Walmart are already showcasing blockchain to track food as it ships around the country.

Rometty was also one of the first tech execs to join the Trump administration as an advisor. While other CEOs left their advisory positions over the President's unpopular policy decisions, like leaving the Paris Agreement on climate change, Rometty has remained committed to her advisor role.

No. 11: Linus Torvalds, fellow, Linux Foundation

Linus Torvalds is one of the world's most famous developers thanks to creating Linux, the operating system that rules everything from tiny devices to supercomputers, 26 years ago. 

As of 2017, his life's work has won so thoroughly that its one-time arch rival Microsoft now claims that Linux makes up 33% of the virtual machine running on Microsoft Azure.

And, thanks to him and a weekend's worth of work, he created a change-management tool called Git, which has since led to an entire industry of software development startups, including the $2 billion startup Github.

No. 10: Urs Hölzle, SVP of Technical Infrastructure for Google Cloud, Google

Urs Hölzle was Google's eighth employee and is the genius who built much of Google's infrastructure and data centers across the world.

Today Hölzle is the technical wizard spearheading Google's aggressive push into cloud computing. He believes that Google's cloud revenue could one day overtake advertising revenue at the $631 billion company. 

On top of that, he's trying to make Google's part of the internet greener, vowing that Google's data centers will one day run on 100% renewable energy.

 

No. 9: Werner Vogels, CTO, Amazon

Amazon Web Services is far and away the leader in the fast-growing cloud computing market, where companies rent computing and storage, paid for by the hour and delivered as a service across the Internet.

It's already on pace to be at least a $14 billion business for Amazon this fiscal year, and the retail giant's most profitable unit.

So much of that success is because of Amazon CTO Werner Vogels, whose team keeps adding new features while driving down costs.

And as Amazon keeps building its cloud under Vogels' direction, it just keeps the pressure on the legacy IT world and startups alike to drop prices and up their game.

No 8: Bill McDermott, CEO, SAP

No 8: Bill McDermott, CEO, SAP
SAP

SAP remains the world's biggest enterprise app company and under Bill McDermott's leadership it is slowly but surely finding its way to cloud computing.

Revenues rose in the last quarter, up 10% thanks to the cloud computing.

McDermott's personal story has been a Horatio Alger tale full of incredible ups and downs. Born a working class kid, he bought his first business, a deli, at age 16. He joined SAP in 2002 and became CEO in 2014, the first American ever to run the giant German-based company.

In 2015, he lost one of his eyes in a freak accident. But nothing stops his can-do attitude. "I am living proof that vision is not just what you see," he recently told CNBC.

No. 7: Chuck Robbins, CEO, Cisco

No. 7: Chuck Robbins, CEO, Cisco
Cisco Live/Business Insider

After six straight quarters of falling revenues, and yet another big annual layoff, CEO Chuck Robbins finally revealed Cisco's big save: "the Network Intuitive"— which embeds AI into networks.

This is Robbins' big bet to Cisco's networks to the new age of software-controlled, programmable hardware. He promises it will do things other networks can't, like Encrypted Traffic Analytics, which can detect malware in encrypted files without having to open the files.

Meanwhile, Robbins is also trying to shift Cisco from its hardware roots into the world of cloud software, with cloud's recurring revenues. These aspirations inspired the big surprise $3.7 billion acquisition of AppDynamics right before it was set to start trading on the public markets.

Recently, Wall Street has started to buy this turnaround vision and the stock is on the rise.

No. 6: Bill Gates, founder & technology advisor, Microsoft

No. 6: Bill Gates, founder & technology advisor, Microsoft
Eric Vidal/Reuters

Although Bill Gates' is no longer at the helm of Microsoft, he continues to be heavily involved in the company as an advisor to CEO Satya Nadella and a thought-leader across the industry.

As the richest person in the world, with a whopping net worth of $90.4 billion, Gates can't help but be powerful.

He's also trying to push the world forward with his philanthropic investments making an impact inside and out of tech.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation funds science, technology, health care, education and is trying to solve poverty, even for some of the most impoverished places on the planet.

 

No. 5: Diane Greene, SVP of Google Cloud, Google

No. 5: Diane Greene, SVP of Google Cloud, Google
Google

Diane Greene was a legend in the enterprise tech world as a founder of VMware, long before she joined Google to lead its cloud computing efforts.

And now that she's at the helm of Google's cloud, she wants Google to beat Amazon in this brave new world.

The Google Cloud leader has said publicly that she plans to be ahead of Amazon by 2022, and the scuttlebutt inside Google is that she's well on track to get there.

In 2017, Google has already seen a $2 billion deal with IPO sweetheart Snap, as well as giants like eBay and Disney, proving that under Greene, Google is slowly but surely becoming a force in enterprise IT.

 

No. 4: Larry Ellison, CTO & chairman, Oracle

No. 4: Larry Ellison, CTO & chairman, Oracle
Rich Fury/AP Images

Oracle had blow-out Q4 2017 earnings in large part thanks to Ellison's pursuit of a major new rival, Amazon Web Services, the massively profitable cloud-computing arm of the Amazon retail empire.

Oracle saw 58% YoY growth in cloud for Q4 2017.  

While the jet-setting billionaire has formidable rivals at Microsoft and Amazon, Ellison is keeping Oracle in the game, and shareholders are responding accordingly.

No .3: Marc Benioff, CEO, Salesforce

No .3: Marc Benioff, CEO, Salesforce
Kimberly White/Getty

Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff has literally altered the landscape of San Francisco.

Benioff's $1 billion Salesforce Tower, set to open in 2018, is the tallest and most expensive building in the city.

As cloud computing has become the hottest thing in the enterprise world, Salesforce has come into its own. It more or less owns customer-relationship management (CRM) software, which helps sales people organize their work, find leads and keep track of customers.

Thanks to a partnership with IBM that has Watson powering Salesforce's AI product Einstein, Salesforce is now moving into the next big thing artificial intelligence. Benioff even uses his own version of AI to run the company.

No. 2: Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft

No. 2: Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft
ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images

Under CEO Satya Nadella, Microsoft has found its groove again.

Microsoft has become a formidable competitor to Amazon Web Services and become the No. 2 biggest cloud computing player. With its acquisition of LinkedIn it is also challenging Salesforce.

Although Nadella has overseen a steady stream of layoffs at the company, some of them downright enormous, his approval rating among employees is quite high.

Nadella, a long-time Microsoft veteran, has been systematically trimming the fat, making the company leaner and less bureaucratic and preparing the company for the lower-margin world of cloud computing. And so far, it's working. 

No. 1: Andrew Jassy, CEO, Amazon Web Services

As CEO of Amazon Web Services, Andrew Jassy runs one of the most aggressive and dominating forces in the enterprise tech industry today.

AWS is setting the tone in the enterprise IT world and forcing the big established giants to jump to its tune. Companies like Cisco, Oracle, IBM and Microsoft must change their products and business models, or they'll face demise just like the one-time mighty EMC that got swallowed by Dell last year.

Since being promoted from his role as senior vice president in spring 2016, Jassy has overseen an AWS that had a 43% bump in Q1 profits year-over-year. And because AWS has been seeing so much growth since its carnation, that 43% bump was actually a slowdown.

No matter. AWS is Amazon's most profitable business unit. And with Jassy is at the helm, by all accounts, he is steering the ship in the right direction.


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