Sports

The Bloomberg View CEO Challenge, Elite 8

Come on, admit it. You didn't pick Moonves over Page.

A day ahead of the NCAA men's basketball tournament, the Bloomberg View CEO Challenge has been whittled down to the Elite 8. There were a few upsets in this round, but the well-known names are asserting themselves. 1 Tell us whom you would have picked.

The Elite 8

Tim Cook's Apple is three-quarters of the way towards being the world's first company with a $1 trillion dollar market cap. Its quarterly profit of $18.4 billion in 2015 was the largest ever recorded by a public company. You've got a nice little business there at Goldman Sachs, Lloyd Blankfein, but it's no Apple.

It's all coming together for Salesforce's Marc Benioff. He was named to Fortune magazine's list of world's greatest leaders. He's gotten an enthusiastic response from President Donald Trump for an apprenticeship program he champions. And his company's stock has been on a tear. Though Indra Nooyi's Pepsico is selling healthier foods than it used to, it still needs those soda profits.

At IBM, Ginni Rometty has Watson. At Fox News, Rupert Murdoch has Sean Hannity. At this particular moment, Hannity is the one you want.

Nobody questions the job Mary Barra has done bringing General Motors back from scandal. But this is Howard Schultz's year. When he stepped down as Starbucks' chief executive at the company's annual meeting on Wednesday, shareholders gave him a sustained ovation. Of his future plans, he gave the Washington Post the quotation that clinched it: "I hope that I can work towards elevating the national conversation on a more compassionate society, on a more compassionate government."

Comcast's Brian Roberts can only wish he had the eyeballs at Mark Zuckerberg's command.

General Electric stock has barely moved over the last year, and corporate raider Nelson Peltz has been hinting that if Jeff Immelt doesn't start boosting profits, he won't be around much longer. At Netflix, Reed Hastings has made a half-dozen bet-the-company moves in the 20 years since he founded the company. Somehow, they always seem to work out.

Satya Nadella's Microsoft has Windows, which ain't nothing. But at Amazon, Jeff Bezos has built a company that's what Microsoft used to be: feared.

Les Moonves is a television executive who knows what he wants CBS to be. Larry Page's Google is an advertising company, but the things that really interest him -- autonomous cars, the internet of things, virtual reality -- have nothing to do with advertising. That could spell trouble.

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

  1. Special thanks to tournament consultant and Bloomberg Gadfly editor Dan Niemi.

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

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Jonathan Landman at jlandman4@bloomberg.net

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