Executives The Most Influential CEOs of All Time  

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List Rules Upvote your picks for the most important and inspirational CEOs in the history of business.

As business leaders, historical captains of industry and current CEOs inspire generations of entrepreneurs. They shape the commerce worlds of their day and beyond, influence political destinies - and make beaucoup bucks in the process. What does a CEO do, exactly? As a titan of the industrial revolution, Henry Ford perfected the assembly line to produce more affordable cars. Walt Disney brought "imagineering" to Hollywood with Disney animation studios, and later Disneyland and Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. Many contemporary "celebrity CEOs," aka famous CEOs, work out of Silicon Valley. Case in point: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who spun a social media and communications revolution from his Harvard dorm room to the halls of Congress.

While the leaders on this list are notable in their fields, not all fit the formal CEO definition in their time. What does CEO stand for? By strict standards, the CEO meaning is 'chief executive officer,' a relatively modern term that came into common parlance in the 1970s. Before then, company heads were more often referred to as 'Chairman' or 'President.' Some companies retroactively refer to their founders and figureheads as CEOs, while others do not.

For the purposes of this list, a person's stewardship and iconography are more important to consider when voting, rather than the formal title held during their tenure. Now that you know what a CEO is, share your opinions on the greatest CEOS of all time.

list ordered by

1
72 19
Steve Jobs is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Most Influential CEOs of All Time
Apple Inc., Pixar, Atari Steven Paul Jobs was an American entrepreneur, marketer, and inventor, who was the cofounder, chairman, and CEO of Apple Inc. Through Apple, he was widely recognized as a charismatic and ...more

2
62 19
Bill Gates is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Most Influential CEOs of All Time
Cascade Investment, Microsoft Corporation William Henry "Bill" Gates III is an American business magnate, philanthropist, investor, computer programmer, and inventor. Gates originally established his reputation as the ...more

3
57 17
Henry Ford is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Most Influential CEOs of All Time
Henry Ford Company, James F. Flower & Bros, Detroit Dry Dock Co Henry Ford was an American industrialist, the founder of the Ford Motor Company, and sponsor of the development of the assembly line technique of mass production. Although Ford did not invent ...more

4
61 21
Elon Musk is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Most Influential CEOs of All Time
SolarCity, Tesla Motors Elon Reeve Musk is a South African-born, Canadian-American entrepreneur, engineer, inventor and investor. He is the CEO and CTO of SpaceX, CEO and chief product architect of Tesla Motors, and ...more

5
51 17
Walt Disney is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Most Influential CEOs of All Time
Laugh-O-Gram Studio, Walt Disney Animation Studios, Kansas City Film Ad Company Walter Elias "Walt" Disney was an American entrepreneur, cartoonist, animator, voice actor, and film producer. As a prominent figure within the American animation industry and ...more

6
44 14
John D. Rockefeller is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Most Influential CEOs of All Time
Standard Oil, Exxon Mobil John Davison Rockefeller Sr. was an American business magnate and philanthropist. He was a co-founder of the Standard Oil Company, which dominated the oil industry and was the first great U.S. ...more

7
41 14
Warren Buffett is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Most Influential CEOs of All Time
Berkshire Hathaway, Buffett Partnership Ltd., Graham-Newman Corp Warren Edward Buffett is an American business magnate, investor and philanthropist. He was the most successful investor of the 20th century. Buffett is the chairman, CEO and largest shareholder ...more

8
38 12
Sam Walton is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Most Influential CEOs of All Time
Walmart, J. C. Penney Samuel Moore "Sam" Walton was an American businessman and entrepreneur best known for founding the retailers Walmart and Sam's Club.

9
38 14
Andrew Carnegie is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Most Influential CEOs of All Time
Homestead Steel Works, Pennsylvania Railroad, Keystone Bridge Company Andrew Carnegie was a Scottish American industrialist who led the enormous expansion of the American steel industry in the late 19th century. He is also well known as a leading philanthropist. ...more

10
43 18
Jeff Bezos is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Most Influential CEOs of All Time
D. E. Shaw & Co., Kosmix, Fitel Jeffrey Preston "Jeff" Bezos is an American business magnate and investor. He is a technology entrepreneur who has played a key role in the growth of e-commerce as the founder and CEO ...more

11
34 13
J. P. Morgan is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Most Influential CEOs of All Time
J.P. Morgan & Company John Pierpont "J.P." Morgan was an American financier, banker, philanthropist and art collector who dominated corporate finance and industrial consolidation during his time. In 1892, ...more

12
30 12
Larry Page is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Most Influential CEOs of All Time
Google, Alphabet Inc., PageRank Larry Page was Google's founding CEO and grew the company to more than 200 employees and profitability before moving into his role as president of products in April 2001. He continues to share ...more

13
16 8
Jack Warner is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Most Influential CEOs of All Time
Warner Bros.-Seven Arts Jack Warner was a film producer and a business person.

14
18 11
Ray Kroc is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Most Influential CEOs of All Time
McDonald's Raymond Albert "Ray" Kroc was an American businessman. He joined McDonald's in 1954 or 1955 and built it into the most successful fast food operation in the world. Kroc was included in ...more

15
23 17
Richard Branson is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Most Influential CEOs of All Time
Virgin Broadband, Virgin Mobile UK, Virgin Mobile France Sir Richard Charles Nicholas Branson is an English businessman and investor. He is best known as the founder of Virgin Group, which comprises more than 400 companies. At the age of sixteen his ...more

16
17 12
Sakichi Toyoda is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Most Influential CEOs of All Time
Sakichi Toyoda Toyota Boshoku Corporation, Toyota Industries Sakichi Toyoda was a Japanese inventor and industrialist. He was born in Kosai, Shizuoka. The son of a poor carpenter, Toyoda is referred to as the "King of Japanese Inventors".

17
17 12
Ted Turner is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Most Influential CEOs of All Time
Turner Broadcasting System, World Championship Wrestling Robert Edward "Ted" Turner III is an American media mogul and philanthropist. As a businessman, he is known as founder of the Cable News Network more popularly known as CNN, the first ...more

18
14 10
Estée Lauder is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Most Influential CEOs of All Time
Estée Lauder Companies Estée Lauder was an American businesswoman. She was the co-founder, along with her husband, Joseph Lauter, of Estée Lauder Companies, her eponymous cosmetics company. Lauder was ...more

19
13 9
Cornelius Vanderbilt is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Most Influential CEOs of All Time
New York Central Railroad, Grand Central Depot Cornelius Vanderbilt, also known by the sobriquet Commodore, was an American business magnate and philanthropist who built his wealth in railroads and shipping. He was also the patriarch of the ...more

20
25 22
Mark Zuckerberg is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Most Influential CEOs of All Time
Facebook, Inc. Mark Elliot Zuckerberg is an American computer programmer and Internet entrepreneur. He is best known as one of five co-founders of the social networking website Facebook. Zuckerberg was made ...more

21
18 15
Jack Ma is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Most Influential CEOs of All Time
Alibaba Group Jack Ma or Ma Yun is a Chinese entrepreneur and philanthropist. He is the founder and Executive Chairman of Alibaba Group, a family of highly successful Internet-based businesses. He is the ...more

22
17 15
Rupert Murdoch is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Most Influential CEOs of All Time
News Corporation, Fox Television Stations, DirecTV Group Keith Rupert Murdoch, AC, KCSG is an Australian American business magnate. Murdoch became managing director of Australia's News Limited, inherited from his father Sir Keith Arthur Murdoch in ...more

23
12 11
Asa Griggs Candler is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Most Influential CEOs of All Time
Coca-Cola Asa Griggs Candler was an American business tycoon who made his fortune selling Coca-Cola. He also served as the 44th Mayor of Atlanta, Georgia from 1916 to 1919. Candler Field, the site of the ...more

24
9 9
David Geffen is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Most Influential CEOs of All Time
DreamWorks, Asylum Records, Geffen Records David Lawrence Geffen is an American business magnate, producer, film studio executive, and philanthropist. Geffen created or co-created Asylum Records in 1970, Geffen Records in 1980, and DGC ...more

25
13 14
Lee Iacocca is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Most Influential CEOs of All Time
Ford Motor Company, Chrysler Corporation Lido Anthony "Lee" Iacocca is an American businessman known for engineering the Ford Mustang and Ford Pinto cars, being let go from Ford Motor Company, and his revival of the Chrysler ...more