Sports

The Bloomberg View CEO Challenge, Round of 16

Benioff upsets Musk. Moonves surprises Iger. How's your office pool?

Here’s who advanced to the Round of 16. To help pick them, I brought in some ringers: the gang from Bloomberg Gadfly. Gadfly folks give close coverage to companies and industries, making them to CEO commentary what Dick Vitale is to college hoops. Our post-game analysis is below. Tell us what your picks would be in the comment section.

If there is one thing Eddie Lampert has proven with Sears over the years, it’s that hedge-fund managers shouldn't run companies. Apple’s Tim Cook in a cakewalk.

Steve Schwarzman, the CEO and co-founder of Blackstone, has the ear of President Donald Trump. So what? There are five top administration officials who came out of Lloyd Blankfein’s Goldman Sachs, including the Treasury secretary. No wonder its stock has been on a tear since the election.

Sorry Ian Read, it ain’t easy running Pfizer. Your pricing is under attack, generics are undercutting you, and you have to spend billions to keep your pipeline full. Pepsico’s Indra Nooyi sells sugar water and sponsors the Super Bowl halftime show. You never had a chance.

Is there a more high-flying, flamboyant CEO than Elon Musk? No. But sometimes high flyers can crash and burn. Marc Benioff is a pretty flamboyant dude himself, but his company, Salesforce, is steady. Benioff in a squeaker.

Brash upstart sneaker makers from Baltimore like Kevin Plank of Under Armour don’t beat Rupert Murdoch. They just don’t.

All Ginni Rommety does at IBM is manage an $80 billion (in revenue) company with gross margins of 48 percent from continuing operations. For all the hundreds of millions of dollars Charles Koch has poured into Republican elections, he was so dispirited this time around that he said Hillary Clinton might be preferable to Trump.

Kenneth Chenault has done a fine job managing the American Express brand. But when Howard Schultz returned a few years ago to revive his beloved Starbucks, it guaranteed him a spot in the CEO Hall of Fame.

Jamie Dimon started out with a big lead: Few CEOs are more closely associated with their companies than he is with JP Morgan Chase. But after a rough start, Mary Barra has got General Motors on the comeback trail, making her the current darling of the business-magazine set.

Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer should have stayed at Google. And Mark Zuckerberg is a tough opponent.

Meg Whitman has done a solid job at Hewlett Packard. And Brian Roberts’ Comcast is the Duke Blue Devils this tourney, the company people love to hate. But in this era of cord-cutting, the king of cable is gaining subscribers. And is there anybody who isn’t watching Saturday Night Live these days?

Andrew Liveris of Dow Chemical was talking about the revival of manufacturing long before Donald Trump was. But when your own auditor zings you for using company funds to help finance your extravagant lifestyle, well, you’re not going to win against Jeff Immelt.

What was it that Time Warner’s Jeff Bewkes said about Netflix in 2010? "It’s a little bit like, is the Albanian army going to take over the world?" Thanks to Reed Hastings’ savvy, that appears to be exactly what’s happened.

For all his trash-talking, Uber’s Travis Kalanick was no match for Jeff Bezos, who’s turned Amazon into the internet’s 800-pound gorilla. And it’s unlikely that he ever will be.

In the battle of the morale-boosters, Doug McMillon has raised worker pay and talked up Walmart’s commitment to U.S.-made goods. But when Satya Nadella took over Microsoft, it was confused and dispirited. He has made it a force to be reckoned with again.

In his spare time, casino mogul Sheldon Adelson spends millions to get presidents elected who will do what he tells them to do. In his spare time, Google’s Larry Page tries to create autonomous cars and other world-changing innovations. No contest.

The coastal elite scoff at Les Moonves’ programming at CBS, but he does one thing really well: make shareholders money. Disney’s Robert Iger used ESPN like a cash machine -- until it ran out of cash.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.

    To contact the author of this story:
    Joe Nocera at jnocera3@bloomberg.net

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    Jonathan Landman at jlandman4@bloomberg.net

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