The 25 Most Influential Of 2014

A Treacherous Year For Tech CEOs

Combine a technology market that is tearing up old business models like an out of control tornado and throw in the market damage done by rogue former government contractor Edward Snowden and you have what may well be the most treacherous terrain ever faced by technology CEOs.

With the market shaking implications of the Snowden scandal seeping into every nook and cranny of the marketplace, CRN's Most Influential list this year is topped by not a technology CEO – but an outsider who turned the technology market upside down.

Snowden's hand grenade makes the impressive results driven by this year's class of the most influential technology executives even more impressive. Here then is our list of the 25 Most Influential individuals in the technology industry.

25. Alain Monie

Ingram Micro

Alain Monie has done the impossible—making the $43 billion Santa Ana, Calif., behemoth more agile and indispensable to solution providers with a raft of strategic new cloud services including Ingram Micro's own hosted cloud service from its SoftCom acquisition. It's no surprise that Monie has fashioned a rebranding with a new logo touting Ingram as bringing the "promise of technology" to partners.

24. Thomas Richards

Chairman, CEO

Thomas Richards continues to make all the right moves, powering the $11 billion Vernon Hills, Ill.-based company to higher ground with new offerings such as the CDW App Marketplace and an expanded Google Apps partnership. Services revenue for the last fiscal year was up 15 percent, with CDW adding nearly 120 new customer-facing employees in 2013 and planning to add another 150 to 200 this year.

23. Mark McLaughlin

Chairman, President, CEO
Palo Alto Networks

Mark McLaughlin has made Palo Alto Networks what may well be the best-run and most partner-friendly security company in the business. That's no small matter in a speed-of-light market where channel commitment can change at the drop of a hat. Partners say McLaughlin and his team at the Santa Clara, Calif.-based company have consistently delivered technology, incentives and marketing support to power big gains in sales and profits for them.

22. Paul Maritz


Looking for another VMware-like, market-shaking paradigm shift? Look no further than Pivotal where Paul Maritz, software visionary and former VMware CEO, is sowing the seeds for a big data services powerhouse. One sign of the confidence in Maritz's technical and business smarts is a General Electric's $105 million investment for a 10 percent stake in Palo Alto, Calif.-based Pivotal.

21. Mark Slaga

Dimension Data Americas

Mark Slaga is giving rivals fits by leading the charge on blockbuster deals such as Dimension Data's acquisition of $471 million solution provider Nexus IS, No. 78 on CRN's Solution Provider 500 list. It's all part of the South Africa-based global solution provider's bid to double sales over the next five years driven with best-in-class complex managed services and outsourcing. He's the right executive with the right stuff at the right time.

20. Ginni Rometty

Chairman, President, CEO

Ginni Rometty knows what needs to be done to make IBM a leader in the cloud, big data and analytics. And she's getting it done. Case in point is Armonk, N.Y.-based IBM's SoftLayer acquisition, which is paying off in big cloud computing gains with 86 percent year-over-year growth in the second quarter. Other big bets: the Apple partnership, the acquisition of Cloudant and an ambitious bid to commercialize IBM's famed Watson cognitive computing platform.

19. Marc Benioff

Chairman, CEO

Marc Benioff continues to keep one step ahead of competitors in the fast-moving cloud computing market. That means tailoring enterprise solutions for specific industries with equal industry and technology expertise and delivering new tools for the mobile CRM platform. Fifteen years after founding the San Francisco-based company, Benioff is still running hard to reshape the cloud computing landscape.

18. Satya Nadella


When Satya Nadella took the top Microsoft job six months ago, he said the Redmond, Wash., giant must rediscover its soul. Microsoft is indeed a more imaginative, creative and focused company with Nadella at the helm. His mobile-first, cloud-first productivity and platform offensive already is paying off with a 147 percent increase in commercial cloud revenue in the company's fourth quarter ended June 30.

17. Zach Nelson

President, CEO

Zach Nelson is the most underrated cloud computing executive in the business. No one has delivered more cloud computing apps that act as the financial backbone of more companies than NetSuite, San Mateo, Calif. And no one has backed it up with a more consistent and concentrated partner program. Nelson's latest move: the acquisition of Venda, an e-commerce provider that boosts NetSuite's presence in online retail.

16. Larry Ellison


Larry Ellison proves once again that nobody makes databases faster and more powerful. His latest creation from Redwood Shores, Calif.-based Oracle: a 12c in-memory database that powers 100 to 1,000 times faster queries. The database is so fast that some beta customers thought the database was somehow "broken," boasts Ellison. Broken? No. Breaking the mold for databases and software entrepreneurs? Yes.

15. Lowell McAdam

Chairman, CEO

Lowell McAdam is turning the heat up on the competitors with big partner plays, including a move to open up 1,700 top enterprise accounts to channel partners. That's no small matter in a market where competitors put off-limits signs on the largest accounts. The partner offensive combined with a world-class network makes New York-based Verizon tougher than ever to beat.

14. William Stemper

Comcast Business Services, Comcast Cable

He's the telecom executive with the Midas touch. William Stemper continues to drive astronomical growth in Philadelphia-based Comcast Business Services year in and year out with a partner program that has been recognized as a CRN Channel Champion. All in all, he has taken business services from $265 million to a whopping $3.2 billion in just seven years.

13. John Chambers

Chairman, CEO
Cisco System

Don't look now, but John Chambers is doing it again: taking Cisco to new heights with what is his biggest and boldest bet yet: the Internet of Things. Chambers says Cisco, San Jose, Calif., is the "disrupter" going on the offensive to make sure customers and partners get huge benefits from the Internet of Things revolution. His ability to drive a partner-centric culture that helps partner continually cross one technology chasm after another may be his ultimate contribution.

12. Larry Page


Larry Page has made Google a more focused and partner-friendly company. Think of partners' big gains with Google Chromebooks, Google Apps software and the unstoppable Android operating system. Page is the ultimate cloud computing alchemist, combining software advances with market-changing dynamics to continually deliver bigger and bigger profits for partners and Mountain View, Calif.-based Google.

11. Tim Cook


Thinking outside the box is part and parcel of the culture at Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple. That's what Tim Cook has done with a blockbuster deal with IBM to help drive Apple product deeper into the enterprise market. Cook believes the deal will triple Apple's penetration in the enterprise market from 20 percent to 60 percent. Look for more out-of-the-box thinking with the iPad and smartphone refreshes later this year.

10. Pat Gelsinger


Thanks to Pat Gelsinger, VMware is stronger than it has ever been from a product, services and partner standpoint. Signs of the Gelsinger effect: strong adoption of Palo Alto, Calif.-based VMware's NSX software-defined networking platform, Virtual SAN offering and its vCloud Hybrid Service. And his blockbuster AirWatch and Desktone acquisitions are providing more end-user computing firepower for partners.

9. Joe Tucci

Chairman, CEO

Joe Tucci has put together what may well be the best end-to-end technology portfolio in the business under what is referred to as the EMC Federation. His track record for buying the outright best technology—think VMware and Nicira—is unprecedented. Now he's set to change the game by combining mobile, big data, cloud and social media to deliver what EMC, Hopkinton, Mass., calls the ’third platform’ of IT. Get out of the way: Tucci is rewriting the rules of computing yet again.

8. Randall Stephenson

Chairman, CEO

Randall Stephenson has made better and bigger investments in technology and partnerships than many other telecom CEOs. Those bets include Dallas-based AT&T's $48.5 billion deal to buy DirecTV and a channel program that has partners fired up to take AT&T into every market segment with a partner program that enables partners to sell data plans, voice plans and a range of mobile devices.

7. Brian Krzanich


A little more than a year after taking the helm as CEO, Brian Krazinich surprised Wall Street by revising Intel's full-year sales estimates from flat to up 5 percent. Partners credit Krzanich's aggressive push to bring the Santa Clara, Calif.-based company into new markets, including tablets backed up with new partner investments. A major achievment: Intel is on track this year to meet its 40 million tablet unit goal. Look for further gains in tablets and smartphones under Krzanich's steady hand.

6. JK Shin

CEO, President, IT and Mobile Communications Division

JK Shin's leadership has paved the way for South Korea-based Samsung to deliver more smartphone and tablet innovation faster and more consistently than Apple. One sign of that innovation: the new waterproof Samsung Galaxy S5 with biometric fingerprint scanning that can be used for e-commerce. Combine great products with the biggest change in its partner program in a decade and you have a company that is hard to beat when it comes to mobile computing.

5. Michael Dell

Chairman, CEO

What do you do for an encore after pulling off the world's largest leveraged buyout? If you're Michael Dell, you celebrate the 30th birthday of the Round Rock, Texas-based company you founded with big, bold bets aimed at making Dell an enterprise and channel power. Signs of progress include hot new enterprise products such as a purpose-built appliance for Oracle 12c and a sharp uptick in channel sales in North America.

4. Bill McDermott


Transforming a onetime direct sales behemoth into a nimble channel power is no small task. But that is just what Bill McDermott has done at SAP, Walldorf, Germany. His latest channel game-changer is a new division focused on small and midsize business with 500 or fewer employees. Competitors beware: McDermott gets the channel and has partners in the sales trenches fired up.

3. Yang Yuanqing

Chairman, CEO

Looking for evidence of just how fast the technology landscape is changing? Look no further than Yang Yuanqing, CEO of the Beijing-based company, who in just six days in January unveiled two blockbuster deals: a $2.3 billion pact to purchase IBM's x86 server business and a $2.91 billion purchase of Google's Motorola Mobility smartphone business. Key to the success of the big deals: partner engagement.

2. Meg Whitman

Chairman, President and CEO

No one has done more over the past year to drive partner profits. The secret to her success has been accelerating the pace of technology innovation at the Palo Alto, Calif., company and backing up those big bets with lucrative partner incentives and investments. Her reward: a vote of confidence from HP's board of directors, which gave her the chairman title this year.

1. Edward Snowden

Each year CRN selects an individual whose actions have had the biggest impact on the channel and the technology industry at large. That individual usually is hard at work within the channel ecosystem—a vendor executive, a solution provider, a technology innovator. But this year no one person has rattled the tech market, its vendors, vendors' partners, and business owners more than Edward Snowden. The controversial former government contractor at the NSA ignited a firestorm with a stream of leaked NSA documents, ensnaring major U.S. technology providers along the way as part of a global surveillance dragnet. Regardless of one's views on Snowden, the documents he leaked have forced Congress to rein in the government's surveillance activities, prompted business owners to consider stronger measures for data protection and control, and revealed the amount of contextual data employees and consumers are leaking to service providers. The documents may have helped educate business owners on data protection in the short term, but could have significant longer-term implications on business growth for U.S. technology firms operating in certain countries, said Dean Drako, president and CEO of cloud-based video surveillance management platform Eagle Eye Networks. "Large infrastructure vendors already are bracing for negative fallout that complicates international growth in some regions." The cloud industry could lose billions over the next three years as a result of the leaks, but the impact could be far broader, according to a report issued in July by The New America Foundation's Open Technology Institute. The report found the NSA disclosures put a variety of U.S. companies at risk of being excluded from proposal requests. New data privacy rules and other restrictions could slow the growth of the U.S. technology services industry by as much as 4 percent, the report found.