Amazon’s Bezos to IndiGo’s Bhatia, Spanx’s Blakely to Editas’ Bosley … Gamechanger leaders, reinventing our world.
May 11, 2016
Forbes Magazine today publishes its own list of Global Gamechangers … focusing on the individual leaders behind some of the world’s most disruptive innovators. The list complements well with my own ranking of Gamechanger companies which you can explore in more detail here.
In particular its great to see some fabulous female leaders on this list, women like Sara Blakely of Spanx and Katrine Bosley of Editas. What Sara can do for your body shape and confidence, Katrine can do for your future health and wellbeing
Together these Gamechangers are great leaders and innovators – leveraging technology, finance and sheer brainpower to upend entire sectors and transform the everyday lives of billions. To compile their list, Forbes started by screening hundreds of companies for growth, innovation and global presence. They only considered for-profit entities with a market value of more than $1 billion, although we all recognise that smaller, focused business can be incredibly disruptive too. Although they sought balance in terms of industries and geography, inclusion was mostly determined, in the end, by the brilliance of their ideas and the audacity of their ambition.
Here’s the list, in alphabetical order:
Marc Benioff, 51
Founder, CEO, Salesforce.com
has upended the software business with its ubiquitous customer relationship software. Revenues, which were $6.7 billion in 2015, continue to grow at 30% annual clip.
“What we’re using today will be obsolete in a few years. The past is never the future.” Aug. 8, 2011
Jeff Bezos, 52
Founder, CEO, Amazon.com
First books, then retail. Now movies and data farms. Next: drones and grocery delivery. Bezos seems to remake an industry nearly every year, and Amazon has global sales of nearly $110 billion.
“We are comfortable planting seeds and waiting for them to grow into trees.” Apr. 23, 2012
Rahul Bhatia, 55
Brought the discount airline model to the developing world, supersized it and made it profitable. IndiGo is now India’s largest and most profitable carrier, with 29 million passengers in 2015, or 2 in 5 domestic fliers. Recently expanded to Dubai, Singapore, Bangkok, Kathmandu and Muscat.
“We keep asking ourselves: What other cost can we remove without losing a single customer? This is our religion, and it serves us well.” Oct. 20, 2014
Sara Blakely, 45
In just over a decade Spanx has become a byword for shapewear in the same way Kleenex is for tissues, spawning dozens of competitors and copycats. Blakely still owns 100% of the brand, which had estimated sales of $400 million last year, ships to 61 countries and is rolling out its own brick-and-mortar network (14 stores and counting).
“I’m game for anything. The company has to pull me back.” Mar. 26, 2012
Katrine Bosley, 47
CEO, Editas Medicine
Bosley is spearheading the push to turn CRISPR, a revolutionary gene-editing technology that has been called a word processor for DNA because of its low cost and ease of use, into new medicines. Its first treatment, soon to be tested in humans, is for Leber’s congenital amaurosis, a rare inherited eye disease. It is also developing cancer-killing cells with Juno Therapeutics of Seattle, Wash. After a successful IPO earlier this year, the company is already worth some $1.5 billion.
Brian Chesky, 34
Cofounder, CEO, Airbnb
The first smash hit of the share economy, Airbnb has provided beds for more than
60 million since 2008. The company offers accommodations in 34,000 cities in 190 countries, including Cuba.
“People providing these services in many ways are entrepreneurs or micro-entrepreneurs. They’re more independent, more liberated, a little more economically empowered.”
Feb. 11, 2013
Daniel Ek, 33
coFounder, CEO, Spotify
After Napster nearly destroyed the music business, Ek found a way to put Humpty Dumpty back together again, offering up millions of tunes and splitting the revenue (from a combo of subscriptions and ads) with the artists and labels. His service is available in 59 nations and has 75 million monthly active users.
“It disturbed me that the music industry had gone down the drain, even though people were listening to more music than ever and from a greater diversity of artists.” Jan. 16, 2012
Jay Flatley, 63
Not long ago it cost $200,000 to sequence one person’s genome. Now, thanks to Illumina, the cost is around $1,000 per person, opening up the possibility of truly individualized medicine. Sales increased 19% to $2.2 billion in 2015, and profits went up 21% to $490 million. Flatley has even greater ambitions: A new subsidiary, Grail, is working on inventing a simple blood test that can catch cancer in its earliest stages.
“If we remain the leader in sequencing we can grow our company with a much more fantastic return on investment than anything else.” Sept. 8, 2014
Ilene Gordon, 62
High-fructose corn syrup is cheap, plentiful and terrible for you. The stuff is still a part of Ingredion’s core business, but Gordon is focused on turning corn (and berries, fruits and potatoes) into ingredients for organic, gluten-free and non-GMO foods. It’s working. Specialty sales, which include gluten-free ingredients, have gone from 5% of revenue to 25% on Gordon’s watch, and could hit 30%, or more than $2 billion, by 2019.
Terry Gou, 65
Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. (Foxconn)
Without Gou you probably couldn’t afford that iPhone in your pocket. Marrying a low-cost workforce with high-precision assembly has transformed Foxconn from a small plastics supplier into the largest electronics maker in the world. Its most famous customer is Apple: It has made about 80% of all iPhones on the planet. Over the past five years revenues have increased 20% to $141.2 billion, and profits have grown to $4.6 billion. The company recently agreed to buy Sharp, the venerable Japanese consumer-electronics concern.
Reed Hastings, 55
Cofounder, CEO, Netflix
Whether you want your entertainment delivered in the mail on a DVD or prefer to stream it on your phone, Netflix is there for you. Having conquered distribution, Hastings’ company is now gunning for network status, producing critically acclaimed binge-watchable blockbusters like House of Cards and Orange Is the New Black. In January Netflix made its service available in 130 more countries, effectively doubling its footprint. The number of subscribers has expanded by 30% since 2014.
Jen-Hsun Huang, 53
Cofounder, CEO, Nvidia
Nvidia is best-known for making the high-end graphics chips used by gamers to soup up their PCs. Its single-minded pursuit of creating better-looking aliens has also led the company to a slew of related technological advances. Some of the fastest supercomputers in the world run on its Tesla chips, and the firm has a portfolio of 7,300 patents used in virtual reality, artificial intelligence and autonomous driving.
“The more content there is, the more visual interest there can be, the more processing horsepower people need.” Jan. 7, 2008
Wang Jianlin, 61
founder, Dalian Wanda Group, China
Wang became China’s richest man by shrewdly playing the high-stakes Beijing real estate market. Now he is making an equally shrewd move to hedge his bets by diversifying globally. Most recently he purchased the AMC movie theater chain for $2.6 billion in 2012 and earlier this year spent $3.5 billion for Legendary Entertainment, maker of Godzilla and Straight Outta Compton. Group revenue was up 19% in 2015 to $44 billion.
“Legendary is a gateway to cultural and financial alignment between the Hollywood moviemaking world and the rapidly expanding Chinese marketplace.” Feb. 29, 2016
Travis Kalanick, 39
Cofounder, CEO, Uber
Hailing a taxi often used to mean overpaying for a ride in a dirty jalopy. No more. Uber’s rides are affordable, clean and, because of its rating system for both drivers and passengers, nearly always pleasant. Uber is available in 405 cities around the world and in some markets is also available for food and other deliveries. The company has raised more than $10 billion, valuing it above $62 billion.
Alexander Karp, 48
Cofounder, CEO, Palantir Technologies
Big brother meets big data. Karp’s secretive firm is the go-to partner for central governments, law enforcement agencies and multinationals trying to glean actionable intelligence from massive data sets. Palantir has helped capture terrorists, thwarted sex traffickers and identified rogue traders. The CIA was an early investor (and client), but customers now include foreign governments, the NYPD, JPMorgan and Hershey. Its last round of funding, in December 2015, valued the company at $20.5 billion.
“The only time I’m not thinking about Palantir is when I’m swimming, practicing Qigong or during sexual activity.” Sept. 2, 2013
Osman Kibar, 45
Founder, CEO, Samumed
The new biotech billionaire is backed by a deep purse of international money that has raised $270 million from investors gambling that the Turkish-American scientist has discovered a real fountain of youth (read the full story).
Jorge Paulo Lemann, 76
CoFounder, 3G Capital
With the backing of Warren Buffett, Brazil’s richest man (whose firm is headquartered in New York City) has become the undisputed master of the megadeal, transforming mature brands–from Budweiser and Burger King to Heinz ketchup and Jell-O–into gigantic profit centers. The secret is razor-sharp cost-cutting implemented by forcing managers to justify every single number on their budgets, every single year. Anheuser-Busch InBev's 32% operating margin is now the envy of the industry, and it wants to spread the gospel by spending more than $100 billion to buy global rival SABMiller.
Jack Ma, 51
The biggest Internet company in China is a one-stop e-commerce shop, combining the functions of Amazon, eBay and PayPal under the same roof. Now it’s pushing deeper into financial services through Ant Financial and opening new offices in places like London and Milan. In 2014 Alibaba raised $25 billion in the largest initial public offering of all time. The company has been clocking sales growth in the range of 50% per year, with 2015 revenues at $12.3 billion and profit margins of around 45%.
John Milligan, 55
CEO, Gilead Sciences
By diving more deeply into the science of viruses than any other company, Gilead has managed to create meds that put HIV in check and cure hepatitis C 95% of the time. Harvoni, its hep C drug, is already one of the world’s bestselling, and the market could even be bigger: The disease still afflicts 150 million people and kills 500,000 every year. Annual sales have tripled to $33 billion in three years.
Elon Musk, 44
Tesla Motors, SpaceX
The world’s most innovative businessman has stratospheric ambitions: He’s reimagining the electric car as more of a rocket ship than a golf cart and reimagining the rocket ship as more of a car (i.e., reusable). Tesla’s newest car, the more affordable Model 3, booked $7.5 billion in preorders the first day it was offered, and the vertically integrated company has a three-year sales growth rate of 114%. Tesla’s “Gigafactory” in Nevada will soon produce more lithium batteries than all the other factories in the world.
“Life sucked in the old days. People knew very little, and you were likely to die at a young age of some horrible disease. You’d probably have no teeth by now.”
Apr. 9, 2012
Peder Holk Nielsen, 60
Novozymes’ enzymes replace nasty chemicals in places like refineries and food factories, making the industrial world run cleaner and more efficiently. The company’s products could save 100 million tons of carbon dioxide by 2020. Research is a religion at the company: Scientists spend 10% of their time pursuing personal projects.
Larry Page, 43
Cofounder, CEO, Alphabet (Google)
Not content with just being the Ma Bell of the Internet, the parent company of the world’s most knowing search engine is busy pursuing dozens of “moon shots.” These high-risk, high-reward (and often high-minded) projects include self-driving cars, computers that create original art and a network of balloons that deliver high-speed Internet access to rural areas in the developing world. Google, far and away the largest subsidiary of Alphabet, raked in $74.5 billion in revenues in 2015, up from $65.7 billion in 2014 and $10.6 billion a decade ago.
Cyrus Poonawalla, 74
Founder, Serum Institute of India
The world’s largest vaccine-maker by volume produces 1.3 billion doses annually, which have immunized close to two-thirds of the world’s children. Serum’s revenues, estimated to be some $620 million, have been growing at about 30% compounded and profits about 40%. It supplies low-cost vaccines to 140 countries through agencies such as UNICEF and the Pan American HealthOrganization. New vaccines are being developed for diarrhea, cervical cancer, pneumonia and tuberculosis.
Hakan Samuelsson, 65
CEO, Volvo Cars
Safety-first Volvo has publicly pledged that no one should die or be seriously injured in its cars by 2020. Now owned by China’s Geely Holding Group, Volvo tripled its operating profit to $780 million in 2015 on revenues of $20 billion. Worldwide, Volvo sold 503,127 vehicles last year, the highest in the company’s 89-year history.
Howard Schultz, 62
Schultz has turned a commodity product into a high-margin lifestyle brand that represents everything from digital savvy and green living to progressive politics. The coffee-shop social experiment resonates on a global scale: Starbucks now has more than 24,000 stores in 70 countries, 6,000 opened in the last five years. Sales grew 17% to $19.2 billion in 2015.
“We can elevate citizenship and humanity.” Mar. 21, 2016
Sunny Varkey, 59
Founder, GEMS Education
United Arab Emirates
He never went to college, but Varkey is building the largest network of private K?12 schools in the world, many focused on providing education to girls in places where they would otherwise have no access. GEMS has 250,000 students enrolled in 240 schools in 17 countries across the globe. Over the next four years Varkey plans to invest $200 million in expanding in Africa and his native India.
“We adopted the airline model of economy, business and first class to make top-notch education available based on what families could afford.” Apr. 14, 2014
Frank Wang, 35
Founder, CEO, DJi, China
Chances are if you own a drone, it was made by Wang’s company: His Shenzhen-based DJI has an estimated 70% share of the consumer drone market. And unlike most Chinese tech companies, which tend to be fast followers of their Western counterparts, DJI is blazing the trail in this entirely new electronic category. Nearly 1,500 of its 4,000 employees are focused on R&D. It doubled its sales to an estimated $1 billion last year, evenly distributed among Asia, North America and Europe.
“All you need to do is to be smarter than others–there needs to be a distance from
the masses. If you can create that distance, you will be
successful.” May 25, 2015
Tadashi Yanai, 67
Founder, CEO, Fast Retailing
In a business where choking on inventory is commonplace, Yanai’s flagship, trendy Uniqlo, is a master of speed-to-market. In-store sales are tracked obsessively, and slow-selling products are yanked and replaced by new ones. In addition to Uniqlo’s 1,700 stores spread across 17 countries, Fast Retailing runs the denim-focused J Brand and, in February, introduced a popular line of clothing for Muslim women in America. Revenues are up 15% annually over the last five years.
Mark Zuckerberg, 31
Cofounder, CEO, Facebook
Five words: one billion active daily users. That’s roughly one out of every seven humans alive today and nearly a third of all people who have Internet access. Eighty-four percent of Facebook’s users hail from outside the U.S., and sales have grown at an average annual rate of 49% over the past five years to $18 billion, generating 2015 profits of $3.7 billion. Zuckerberg is leveraging that financial success to buy his way into hot new markets. In 2014 he acquired the pioneering virtual-reality firm Oculus for $2 billion and messaging giant WhatsApp for $22 billion.