The 25 Most Influential Executives Of 2012

Spheres Of Influence

CRN's annual ranking of IT's 25 most influential executives includes the leaders who have had the greatest impact on the IT channel and the solution provider business in the last year. Here's a look at who made the cut in part 1 of our Top 100 Executives Of 2012.

25. Kevin Kennedy

President and CEO

It's been a big year for Kennedy. Avaya filed a $1 billion IPO this spring, and the company also completed a $230 million acquisition of Radvision to expand its videoconferencing offerings, which it's now rolling out to channel partners. Plus, Kennedy added some key ex-Cisco executives to his team.

24. Kevin Johnson

Juniper Networks

Under Johnson's leadership, Juniper has emerged as a serious challenger to Cisco's networking dominance in recent years. And this year Juniper made a no-holds-barred channel push with its first-ever global partner conference and the introduction of the company's revamped channel program, dubbed Partner Advantage.

23. Mark Zuckerberg

Chairman and CEO

Yes, Facebook's long-awaited IPO tanked. But the social networking behemoth is one of the biggest websites on the Internet, and Zuckerberg's company is changing the way we communicate in the 21st century. His name is synonymous with social media, and Facebook is expected to branch out beyond it, possibly into mobile computing or business class software.

22. Meg Whitman

President and CEO

Whitman inherited a daunting challenge when she was tapped as HP's CEO. Faced with cleaning up the turmoil of predecessor Leo Apotheker, Whitman is now trying to remake HP, and everything -- from tablets and smartphones to PCs and enterprise services -- is on the table. However HP transforms itself, Whitman is the chief architect.

21. Brian Roberts

Chairman and CEO

As CEO of the largest cable operator and third-largest telephone service provider in the world, Roberts is at the forefront of the convergence between the telecom carrier industry and information technology, and Comcast has emerged as one of the staunchest advocates of the IT channel.

20. Pat Gelsinger


After a lengthy career at Intel, Gelsinger joined EMC as the heir apparent to Joe Tucci. But Gelsinger was hand-picked to succeed Paul Maritz as the CEO of VMware, and now the IT veteran is tasked with continuing VMware's virtualization dominance while also building up the company's Cloud Foundry business.

19. Ursula Burns

Chairman and CEO

One of the most powerful women in the technology industry, Burns has helped reshape Xerox with the introduction of the eConcierge platform offering for partners. Under Burns' leadership, the company also has increased its channel offerings and expanded its ACS services unit into the cloud market.

18. Zach Nelson

President and CEO

Few companies have been as successful in the new world of cloud computing as NetSuite, which has carved out a strong position as a business SaaS leader and upped its channel presence significantly in the past year. And few CEOs have been at the helm of their companies for more than a decade as Nelson has.

17. Ginni Rometty

Chairman, President and CEO

It's been a big year for Rometty. In January she became the ninth CEO in IBM's storied history, and its first female chief executive. A 30-year IBM veteran, Rometty is charged with accelerating the company's expansion in growth markets such as business intelligence, cloud computing and IBM's Smarter Planet initiatives.

16. Lanham Napier


Napier is shaping the cloud services and hosting market at Rackspace, thanks to his company's stellar growth and RackSpace's OpenStack, an open-source cloud platform co-developed by NASA. Napier has established Rackspace as the chief rival of tech behemoth Amazon and its cloud services business.

15. Alain Monie

President and CEO
Ingram Micro

Monie took over as Ingram Micro's CEO earlier this year after previously serving the world's largest IT distributor as executive vice president and, most recently, president and COO. Now Monie is tasked with pushing the distributor's new ventures such as the Ingram Micro Cloud Platform and Ingram Micro Mobility divisions.

14. Marc Andreessen

General Partner
Andreessen Horowitz

With his Netscape days well behind him, Andreessen now is a partner in one of the most influential venture capital firms in Silicon Valley. He's funding the companies that are shaping the next generation of enterprise and consumer technology, including, Bromium, Twitter and Instagram.

13. Paul Otellini

President and CEO

After introducing new chip architectures, entering the security market with the McAfee acquisition and introducing the Ultrabook, what's next for Intel? Otellini is pushing the world's largest chip maker into new avenues such as tablet and smartphone processors and making big investments in cloud computing.

12. Charles Phillips


A longtime Oracle executive, Phillips became CEO of Infor in 2010 and is helping to turn the company into a brand name. The ERP software maker, which boasts nearly $3 billion in revenue, launched a major reseller recruitment effort this year for its overhauled partner program.

11. Marc Benioff

Chairman and CEO

In a relatively short time, the outspoken Benioff established himself and his company as the face of the SaaS market and shook up the traditional software industry. Now is a $2 billion company that's branched out into social media and real-time collaboration technologies.

10. Mark Templeton

President and CEO

Citrix carved out a dominant share of the desktop virtualization early on and has managed to maintain that share despite challenges from VMware and other players. Templeton has presided over one of the industry's strongest channel programs, and Citrix's close alliance with Microsoft has helped the vendor attract a loyal set of partners and customers over the years.

9. Yang Yuanqing

Chairman and CEO

Who says you can't make money in the PC business? Quarter by quarter, Yang is proving conventional wisdom wrong as Lenovo racks up impressive market-share gains. And he's showing a generous side, too, by recently giving away his $3 million bonus to his 10,000 employees.

8. Oh-Hyun Kwon

CEO and Vice Chairman
Samsung Electronics

Samsung has replaced Sony as the most powerful technology company outside the U.S. and is the vendor best positioned to knock Apple off its mobile throne. Kwon took over as Samsung's newest CEO this summer after a successful turn as the head of the company's semiconductor and components business.

7. Larry Ellison


One of the true kings of the technology world (he bought his own island), Ellison is transforming his enterprise software company into a diversified data center player with complete hardware-software stacks. Ellison is also leading Oracle into the world of cloud computing, SaaS and IaaS.

6. Jeff Bezos

Chairman and CEO

He turned e-commerce into big business with Amazon. Now Bezos is transforming his website empire into an IT powerhouse on two fronts: cloud computing and mobility -- only two of the biggest markets in tech -- with the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud and Kindle Fire tablets. What's next for Amazon?

5. Steve Ballmer


Microsoft has been under the microscope lately, but you can't accuse the software giant of lying still. Ballmer is placing big, make-or-break bets with Microsoft's Surface tablets and its new Windows 8 operating system, while also attacking new markets such as virtualization and cloud computing.

4. Michael Dell

Chairman and CEO

Ten years ago, Dell the company was known for its rapidly expanding PC business and supply chain excellence. Today, Michael Dell has successfully transformed his company into a data center and enterprise software player, with notable acquisitions such as Force 10 Networks, SonicWall and most recently Quest Software.

3. Joe Tucci

Chairman and CEO

Few IT executives have had the foresight and vision than that of EMC CEO Joe Tucci, who has taken the storage giant from a pure-play storage company to a cloud computing leader with game-changing acquisitions including VMware. Don't look now, but EMC is becoming the center of the cloud computing universe with software from VMware and its other software units, including Vmware's $1.05 billion acquisition of network virtualization kingpin Nicira.

2. John Chambers

Chairman and CEO

Chambers has led Cisco a number of times through major industry changes. But his biggest management makeover was his most audacious, pulling the networking giant back from the brink by doubling down on its core networking business. Chambers himself took the lead by in the turnaround, driving major restructuring changes, improving the company's partner relations and building up a stronger presence in the data center and virtualization markets -- all while keeping competitors such as HP and Huawei at bay.

1. Tim Cook


Apple will always be Steve Jobs' company. No IT executive was more deeply entrenched in the success and identity of his company than Apple's late founder and CEO. So you can imagine the pressure that Cook is under now that he is at the helm of the most valuable technology company of all time. That said, you've got to give Cook credit for putting his own kinder, gentler stamp on Apple, while at the same time keeping the creative fires burning. Jobs would never have -- as Cook did -- paid out a cash dividend to Apple investors or apologized for the iO6 Maps disaster.

Cook is not Jobs. And he certainly has a big challenge in ensuring that Apple's next generation of products measure up. Everyone is watching, because as Apple goes, so goes the industry. Whether it's the rise of the tablet, the dominance of the App Store or the focus on cool, sleek design, every rival seems to be following in Apple's footsteps.