Professor Finkelstein’s Best and Worst CEOs of 2013

First the Best ...

  1. Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon. In other hands, Amazon might seem to be a company with an identity crisis—is it UPS? A library? A warehouse? All of those things?—but under Bezos it has become one of the coolest, sexiest brands of all time. Watch the video
  2. Akio Toyoda, president and CEO of Toyota. The grandson of the company's founder, Toyoda started in 2009 and weathered many disasters, from the sudden acceleration problem in many of his cars to the financial crisis and the impact of the tsunami. He recovered though and turned 2013 into a stellar year because of his revolutionary strategy, culture, and management style. Watch the video
  3. Pony Ma, the creator and CEO of the Chinese Internet company Tencent. What Ma has done is nothing short of revolutionary: after gaining 800 million active users and amazing revenue through his desktop platform, two years ago he decided to change everything and make the leap from desktop to mobile, something very few companies in any country have accomplished. Watch the video
  4. John Idol, the chairman and CEO of Michael Kors. When Idol, along with partners Lawrence Stroll and Silas Chou, acquired the luxury fashion brand Michael Kors in 2003 for close to $100 million, it was struggling. Today, it's become one of the hottest stocks and brands, due in large part to Idol's strategy, providing runway fashion without the runway prices. Watch the video
  5. Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix. While at first it might seem surprising to see Hastings here—he was on Professor Finkelstein's worst list of CEOs in 2011—he accomplished an amazing transition. Willing to admit his mistakes and change direction when needed, Hastings has become an innovation machine, both with original Netflix content as well as on the back end with improving mechanisms to ensure customers get what they want. Watch the video

Then there are the Worst ...

  1. Eike Batista, CEO of the Brazilian conglomerate OGX, OSX, and multiple interlocking companies. Batista blazed onto the international scene a few years ago when he identified an enormous oil reserve off the coast of Brazil that, he claimed, promised to deliver more than 10 times the country's national output. Raising more than $20 million and building a string of interrelated companies to drill the oil, build platforms, build ships and so on, Batista ended up constructing a house of cards rather than a new empire when it turned out much of the aforementioned oil was unrecoverable. Watch the video
  2. Ron Johnson, the former CEO of J.C. Penney. Although he had experienced massive success at Apple developing its retail network, Johnson's attempt to recreate the high-end Apple strategy at J.C. Penney was nothing short of disastrous. Watch the video
  3. Thorsten Heins, the former CEO of BlackBerry. No one would disagree that Heins faced a daunting challenge in trying to save BlackBerry, once the shining star of its industry, from the downward spiral that had sent its two co-founders packing. Instead of rising to the occasion, however, Heins did the opposite, proving himself a poor communicator and even poorer executor of strategy when the survival of his company depended on his skill on both counts. Watch the video
  4. Eddie Lampert, the chairman and CEO of Sears Holdings. A hedge fund genius intent on realizing his vision of restoring the mega department store model, Lampert doesn't seem to realize that this model is sadly out of date. Despite 27 straight quarters of sales declines and hundreds of millions of dollars of losses each of those quarters, Lampert has spent more than $6 billion buying back the company's falling stock rather than remodeling stores. Watch the video
  5. Steve Ballmer, the CEO of Microsoft. Even though Microsoft will take in $20 billion this year, it has failed to capitalize on its monopoly position to become the true leader across the board. Watch the video