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Here are the World’s Most Innovative CEOs, According to Tech Executives

The heads of Tesla, Apple, Google and Alibaba are among the world’s most admired inventors, while Chinese cities have fast become leading innovation hubs.

GettyImages-506868328-compressorHe may not have achieved much in the way of profits, but that hasn’t stopped almost a thousand leaders in the tech sector from nominating Elon Musk as the most innovative among their brethren.

The CEO of both Tesla and SpaceX has many inventions to his name, including sleek and efficient electric sports cars, advanced commercial space rockets and solar-powered roofs. He’s also working on flying people around the moon and establishing human habitation on Mars, among other endeavors.

Musk came out on top according to 841 global technology leaders surveyed by KPMG, 86% at the C-suite level. “Elon Musk is universally known as a visionary leader and entrepreneur whose achievements are setting new standards in innovation and transformation,” the consultancy said.

The word “visionary” is apt, given that Tesla has only eked out a few small quarterly profits amid a sea of deep losses, as Musk invests heavily in developing a large-scale battery factory he hopes will eventually bring down production costs. In January, leaked financials from SpaceX showed a rocket explosion drove it to a billion dollar loss in 2015.

Still, Musk’s investments hold much promise, should his predictions of greater consumer interest in aerospace and other areas prove correct. That’s partly why Tesla has a market capitalization of around $40 billion, not far behind GM’s value of $56 billion.

“ELON MUSK IS UNIVERSALLY KNOWN AS A VISIONARY LEADER AND ENTREPRENEUR WHOSE ACHIEVEMENTS ARE SETTING NEW STANDARDS IN INNOVATION AND TRANSFORMATION.”

 

Coming in at number two this year was Apple CEO Tim Cook: a notable achievement, given he’s filling the shoes of Steve Jobs, one of the most innovative CEOs in history. Cook’s selection also comes amid criticism from some investors that he hasn’t brought much new to Apple, other than a few incrementally updated products and the hardly-ubiquitous Apple Watch.

“His high mark reflects respect for his job of leading Apple’s financial results and social responsibility, among many other successful areas,” KPMG said. Interestingly, Cook unseated Musk for the top spot among U.S. respondents.

Apple is certainly performing well in financial terms: in January it reported record quarterly revenue of $78.4 billion and record quarterly earnings per diluted share of $3.36.

Tied for third place were Alibaba’s Jack Ma and Google’s two head honchos, Larry Page and Sundar Pichai. Microsoft’s Satya Nadella came in sixth, followed by Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg in joint seventh.

For CEOs wanting to set up shop in a global innovation hub, Silicon Valley remains the place to be, the survey found. Outside the famous Californian hub, Shanghai and New York were found to be the top-ranked innovation cities.

Sharing third place were Tokyo and Beijing, while London came in at fifth. Washington D.C., Berlin and Chicago shared sixth place, while Tel Aviv and Boston shared ninth.

 

About Ross Kelly

Ross Kelly
Ross Kelly is a London-based business journalist. He has been a staff correspondent or editor at The Wall Street Journal, Yahoo Finance and the Australian Associated Press.