Big Tech CEOs: Likability vs. Shareholder Returns

Employees' attitudes about their CEO generally shift with the company's stock price—but there are variations. When Hewlett-Packard’s shares were on a tear in 2009, Mark Hurd’s approval ratings were in the dumper, according to employee survey data. When John Chambers unwound an unpopular organizational structure in 2011, his popularity rose even as the profits fell. Here's a look at how tech CEOs' approval ratings with employees, provided by employee surveying company Glassdoor, line up with shareholder returns.

Published May 15, 2014

Photo: Tony Avelar/Bloomberg
Q4 2008 | Steve Jobs
Even amid the stock market crash, Jobs' rep with Apple employees remained rock-solid. He created a hard-edged, secrecy-driven culture with relatively few perks and mediocre pay. Yet with sales of its new iPhone taking off, it was clear that Apple was the place to be if you wanted to make products that changed the world.
Photo: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg
Q4 2009 | Mark Hurd
HP's stock more than doubled in this year of recovery for the markets, but the good mood did not penetrate HP's Palo Alto headquarters as much of the improvement came from cost-cutting, including salary cuts. Hurd would resign the following year in the wake of a sex scandal with a former contractor.
Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg
Q4 2010 | Eric Schmidt
Schmidt, who would hand the reins to Larry Page a year later, presided over a company on the move on many fronts. Its Android mobile software leapt from nascent to nearly a quarter of all mobile, racing past Apple, and the company launched plans to take on Facebook in social networking, and Detroit with plans for a driverless car. Very nearly a Nerd Nirvana.
Photo: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg
Q4 2011 | John Chambers
Ever the optimist, Chambers had implemented a radical management system based on interlocking councils in the mid-2000s that was designed to help Cisco buck the law of large numbers and maintain fast growth despite its huge size. Instead, the system had led to confusion and frustration. In the months after he unwound the experiment in late 2011, his approval ratings rose even as profits slipped.
Photo: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg
Q4 2012 | Joe Tucci
Once known only for its data storage products, EMC moves from being a potential takeover target for one of tech's corporate computing giants into a member of the club. A series of acquisitions had already improved its position in areas such as security software, but its purchase of tiny Nicira Inc. puts it in clear competition with longtime partner Cisco.
Photo: Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg
Q4 2013 | Steve Ballmer
It's a big year for CEO transitions at large corporate tech companies struggling with slowing growth and the rise of the cloud. Intel and Juniper name new tech-savvy chief executives, and Steve Ballmer announces he'll step down as Microsoft looks to carve out a leading role in a Post-PC world before its too late. In February, the company announced that he would be replaced by long-time engineering manager Satya Nadella.

Source: Glassdoor CEO Ratings, Bloomberg