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Best and worst CEO buzz of 2009

Jessica Shambora 2009年12月31日


    Fortune commissioned a statistical analysis of blogosphere chatter to discover which chiefs of Fortune 500 companies garnered the most buzz this year, good and bad.

    By Jessica Shambora

    Best buzz: Steve Jobs
    Chairman and CEO, Apple

    It should come as no surprise that Jobs tops the list of company chiefs with the best buzz in 2009, according to Digital marketing agency Zeta Interactive, which mined millions of blogs, message boards, and social media posts for conversations referencing Fortune 500 CEOs, then used algorithms to measure both the volume and tone of the chatter.

    Online posts about the Apple chief totaled 16,218, more than any other CEO; and his 93% positive rating -- the percentage of comments about him that are deemed positive in tone -- puts him a full 10% above the next contender, Yahoo's Carol Bartz.

    Speculation about Jobs' ongoing health problems fueled much of the conversation, but the leader named Fortune's CEO of the Decade was also widely praised, with the words "genius" and "inspirational" as two of the most common descriptors.

    With a market valuation pushing $190 billion, a 73% share of the U.S. MP3-player market, and 33 million iPhones sold, Apple and its cult-of-personality CEO provide plenty to talk about.

    Best: Carol Bartz
    CEO, Yahoo

    During her first year at the helm of the lagging web giant, this outspoken CEO gave the online world plenty to talk about.

    When she forged a deal for Microsoft to power searches on Yahoo.com in July, tech watchers voiced their disapproval -- and there's no telling yet whether her plan to refocus Yahoo on display ads, content, and mobile capabilities will pay off. But given her 83% positive rating, the wider blogosphere seems to embrace her gutsy, unapologetic style.

    Best: Howard Schultz
    Chairman and CEO, Starbucks

    Nearly two years after reclaiming the reins of his coffeehouse empire, Schultz is still working to turn it around.

    Starbucks' stock has been marching steadily upwards towards its 2006 high, and the company reported improved profits for the most recent fiscal quarter.

    Despite major layoffs early this year, an 81% positive rating for Schultz shows public approval for his efforts, which include value-priced breakfast combos and its new VIA brand of instant coffee.

    Best: Eric Schmidt
    Chairman and CEO, Google

    With an 80% positive rating, Google's chief continues to draw approval for taking the company from promising tech startup to one of the world's most valuable and influential companies.

    Schmidt made headlines in early October when he claimed the worst of the advertising recession was over and declared Google "open for business in making strategic acquisitions."

    True to his word, Google bought mobile advertising startup AdMob in November for $750 million and in December reportedly bid for local-business-review site Yelp, though a deal never materialized.

    Meanwhile, the Mountain View monolith's home-grown projects -- like the much-hyped Android smartphone platform and the Chrome operating system, a challenger to Microsoft Windows -- are fueling lots of chatter, too.

    Best: Fritz Henderson
    Former CEO, General Motors

    Given that he was pushed out of GM on December 1 after only eight months on the job, Henderson may seem out of place on the "best" buzz list.

    He led GM out of bankruptcy in July, but didn't produce results fast enough for board members, many of whom were selected by the troubled automaker's majority owner, the U.S. government.

    The blogosphere, though, wasn't as hard on the 25-year GM veteran, awarding him a 78% positive rating.

    Henderson benefited from positive reviews of GM's new Chevrolets and Cadillacs and also scored with the popular GM "Reinvention" ad campaign, which Zeta Interactive found in a separate survey to be one of the top five most buzzed-about campaigns of the year.

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