In a nutshell: It’s not uncommon to find the most successful companies led by the most unliked bosses, but there are exceptions. According to a new survey of 13,171 verified US professionals, Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang has the highest approval rating (96%), while Apple chief executive Tim Cook also made the top five. The list includes CEOs with the lowest approval ratings, too: Western Digital’s David Goeckeler came in joint last with an approval rating of 0%.
Professional social network Blind carried out the survey to determine the approval rating of 103 CEOs, based on employees’ feedback in August 2023. The network asked workers: “Do you approve or disapprove of the way your CEO is handling their job?”
Sitting at the top of the approval ratings is Jensen Huang at 96%. Nvidia has been one of the biggest winners in this year’s AI boom, thanks to it holding an estimated 95% share in the AI servers market. The company’s share price has trebled since the start of 2023, and it now holds a $1.16 trillion market cap.
“He saw this AI mania coming 10+ years ago,” a verified Nvidia professional on Blind said of Huang. “I trust him completely.”
In the summer of last year, back when Nvidia missed earning expectations and the economy was even worse, Huang assured employees there would be raises, not layoffs, at the company.
Following Huang is Walmart’s Doug McMillon at 88%, with Palo Alto Networks’ Nikesh Arora (84%) in third.
Apple’s Tim Cook comes in at fourth place with an 83% approval rating. Since taking over from Steve Jobs in 2011, Cook has overseen Apple’s rise to become the largest company in the world by market cap, which is currently $2.81 trillion. Cook has long been reportedly liked by employees, despite Apple being one of the many companies telling workers to get back into the office at least three days per week. The CEO’s voluntary 40% pay cut this year could have increased his appeal, too.
The final top boss in the top five is Ali Ghodsi, CEO of data/AI company Databricks (83%).
AMD’s Lisa Su also scored high on the list, landing in eighth place with an approval rating of 79%.
Job security is a major influence on how much an employee approves of their boss. Only one CEO in the top ten has laid off staff in the last year or more. That was Autodesk, which cut 2% of global staff in February while continuing to hire throughout the rest of the year.
Overall, the CEOs’ approval ratings are far from impressive, with the average being just 32%. E-commerce, financial services, and the tech industry had the most popular bosses.
At the bottom of the pile were many companies who have seen big staff cuts this year. Linda Yaccarino, who Elon Musk appointed CEO of X/Twitter, has just 4%, slightly ahead of Snap’s Evan Spiegel (3%). John Riccitiello, who has just announced he is stepping down as head of Unity following the installment fee controversy, has 2%.
Two CEOs have the unwanted distinction of scoring 0%: Western Digital’s David Goeckeler and Nordstrom’s Erik Nordstrom. Western Digital laid off more than 200 employees in June, while Nordstrom is also cutting jobs.