This year’s edition of the “World’s Most Powerful” list compiled an impressive 75 names, a representation of one for every 100 million people on earth. Out of these, a substantial 35 are business executives.
The majority of this elite group hails from America, followed by a smattering of Asians, a lone European, and a single African. These top 10 executives, who command businesses worth a staggering combined total of $5 trillion, approximately equivalent to Japan’s GDP (the world’s third-largest economy), are the embodiment of influence and power.
Leading the pack is the world’s second richest man, one of only a handful of people on the planet with 12 digits next to his name, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos (@JeffBezos). At the time of publication, Bezos’s net worth was a mind-boggling $125 billion. Bezos’s internet retail giant Amazon, worth over $780 billion, has been expanding its empire, acquiring supermarket chain Whole Foods, launching physical bookstores, and experiencing substantial growth in its cloud business. The company’s stock price has surged by 70% in the past year.
Larry Page, the CEO of Google’s parent, Alphabet, is the only other CEO to make the Top 10 Most Powerful people on Earth. Aside from helming the world’s most extensive search engine, Page has ventured into futuristic transportation, investing in a self-piloting flying taxi company called Kitty Hawk, which recently ran tests in New Zealand.
Warren Buffett (@WarrenBuffett) may have recently stepped down from the board of Kraft Heinz, but the 87-year-old (the second oldest on the Most Powerful list) shows no signs of slowing down at Berkshire Hathaway. In May 2022, Buffett announced that Berkshire had purchased an additional 75 million shares of Apple, increasing its stake in the tech giant to just under 5%.
Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JP Morgan, the world’s largest bank with over $2 trillion in assets under management, is the most powerful person on Wall Street and ranks 19th on the overall list. He recently announced that he would continue to lead the banking behemoth for “approximately five more years.”
The most influential non-American business leader is Jack Ma, executive chairman of Alibaba. Like Amazon, Alibaba has experienced significant success with its cloud division, Alibaba Cloud, and has seen increased revenues from its core commerce businesses. Ma, ever the Renaissance man, has even found time to dabble in acting.
Doug McMillon, the CEO of Walmart, the world’s largest private employer, manages an astounding 2.3 million workers. Under his stewardship, the company has announced plans to shift its identity, focusing more on e-commerce and in-store technology while opening fewer supercenters.
Tim Cook, (@tim_cook) at the helm of Apple, the world’s most valuable company ($2.7 trillion as of May 2023), is steering the tech giant to ever higher sums, recently having launched their first banking products.
Elon Musk @elonmusk the tech revolutionary, continues to make headlines with his acquisition of Twitter and the growth of SpaceX, which continues to push the boundaries of space travel including its launch world’s most powerful rockets.
However, it’s not all about flashy headlines and photo ops. Musk’s companies are pioneering revolutions in multiple industries, from electric vehicles and clean energy at Tesla to high-speed travel with The Boring Company, and even a bold vision of colonizing Mars through SpaceX.
Back in 2021, Musk’s compensation from Tesla alone exceeded $10 billion, earned through performance-based stock options. His overall net worth is estimated to be around $190 billion, making him one of the wealthiest individuals in the world. And while Musk’s pay packet is indeed eye-watering, it’s important to remember that much of his wealth is tied up in the companies he runs, indicating his belief in their long-term success.
Similarly, the rest of the CEOs on the list have proven their worth by leading some of the most successful and influential companies in the world. While their compensation may seem exorbitant, it’s often tied to the performance and success of their companies. Their wealth is a testament to their ability to innovate, adapt, and guide their teams in an ever-changing, increasingly competitive business landscape.
As we look towards the rest of 2023, these CEOs will undoubtedly continue to make headlines. Whether it’s through introducing innovative new products, making strategic business moves, or influencing global economic trends, their actions will have a broad impact on our lives.
From Elon Musk’s vision of a future on Mars to Jeff Bezos’ ambition of a world where everything is just a click away, these leaders are not just shaping their companies—they’re shaping our future. And while they’re at it, they’re proving that the sky is not the limit, but just the beginning.
Ian Wright is the CEO and Founder of Virtualnonexecs.com, the global boardroom advisor network for non-executive directors and boardroom advisors. Join at https://virtualnonexecs.com/join
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