THEN AND NOW: What today's top tech CEOs were doing in 2010

Justin Sullivan/Getty ImagesFacebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg was named Time’s person of the year in 2010.
  • As the decade comes to a close, it’s worth looking at how far the biggest names in tech have come.
  • Some of today’s tech leaders, like Apple’s Tim Cook, were not yet CEOs of the companies they now lead.
  • Meanwhile, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg had just been named TIME’s person of the year.
  • See what 13 of the biggest figures in tech were doing 10 years ago.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Technology has come a long way in 10 years.

And so have the people leading the industry today.

As the decade of the 2010s comes to a close, it’s worth looking taking a look back at some of the biggest CEOs in tech today to see how far they have come in 10 years.

Some CEOs, like Apple’s Tim Cook, had not yet ascended to the tops of their companies yet. Cook was Apple’s chief operating officer 10 years ago under the late Steve Jobs.

Meanwhile, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg was likely enjoying a warmer public perception in 2010 – even if he was busy challenging his depiction in “The Social Network,” which was released in theatres that year.

Read on to see what 13 of the biggest names in tech were doing 10 years ago, and where they are now.


In 2010, relative unknown Tim Cook was serving as Apple’s COO.

MASON TRINCA / Reuters

In May 2010, then-Apple chief operating officer Tim Cook gave the commencement speech at his alma mater, Auburn University. In it, he described joining Apple as “without a doubt the best decision I ever made.” In a write-up on the speech, Fast Company described Cook as “an unknown.”

He wouldn’t be named CEO of Apple until a year later, just before the death of Steve Jobs in October 2011.


Under Cook’s leadership, Apple has solidified its position as one of the most powerful — and valuable — companies in the world.

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In 2011, Apple was No. 35 on the Fortune 500 list. Under Cook’s leadership, it’s now in the top five. The company is worth more than $US1 trillion, and Cook’s net worth is estimated to total more than $US600 million.


In 2010, Susan Wojcicki was named Google’s senior vice president of advertising and commerce.

AP Photo/Reed Saxon

Wojcicki, YouTube’s 16th employee, made a name for herself in 2006 when she advocated for the $US1.65 billion acquisition of YouTube. Wojcicki discovered the appeal of user-generated video content while working on Google’s own video-sharing platform, Google Video.


Today Wojcicki is the CEO of YouTube, which Morgan Stanley valued at $US160 billion in 2018.

Steve Jennings/Getty Images for TechCrunch

Wojcicki is ranked in the top 50 on Forbes’ list of self-made women, with an estimated net worth of $US490 million. In addition to her role at YouTube, Wojcicki sits on the board of directors for Salesforce.


In 2010, Sundar Pichai was working aggressively to capture market share with Google’s newly-launched Chrome web browser.

AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez

As Google’s vice president of product management, Pichai had set an ambitious goal of reaching 10% of internet users, or about 100 million people, by the end of the year. But Larry Page, then Google’s president of products, said the goal wasn’t high enough. Together they edged Chrome use upward and hit 111 million users just a few weeks into the fourth quarter.


As the CEO of Google, Pichai leads the highly profitable arm of Google’s parent company, Alphabet.

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Pichai oversees Alphabet’s reliable revenue drivers like digital advertising, cloud services, Android software, and devices, while Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin go all in on so-called “moonshot ideas” like self-driving cars and renewable energy under the Alphabet umbrella.


A decade ago, Satya Nadella already had nearly 20 years under his belt at Microsoft.

AP Photo2008

He came onboard in the height of the Bill Gates era and in 2010 was serving as the senior vice president of Microsoft’s online services division.


Now the CEO of Microsoft, Nadella is credited with leading the company’s resurgence as a major force in the cloud-computing world.

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Nadella was named Microsoft CEO in 2014. After years of stagnating revenue under Steve Ballmer’s tenure, Nadella spearheaded a shift away from its reliance on legacy products like Windows, and towards cloud services like Azure and Office 365. In October, the company beat out Amazon for a $US10 billion contract with the Pentagon.


Jack Dorsey debuted the mobile payment platform Square in 2010, two years after he left Twitter.

Chip East/Reuters

Dorsey was forced out from his post as CEO of Twitter in 2008 in favour of Evan Williams, cofounder of the social media platform. In 2010, with Jim McKelvey, Dorsey created and launched Square, a small, square-shaped device and complementary app to help small businesses accept credit card payments.


Now a dual-CEO leading both Twitter and Square, Dorsey has taken Twitter to new heights and is worth a reported $US4 billion.

REUTERS/Anushree Fadnavis

Dorsey rejoined Twitter in 2011 as executive chairman, and two years later, he became a billionaire when Twitter went public. Dorsey replaced Williams as CEO in 2015, and continues to lead Square as its CEO.


In 2010, TIME magazine had just named Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg its Person of the Year.

AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez

Zuckerberg was just 26 when he was named TIME’s person of the year in 2010. Though Facebook was already wildly successful, Zuckerberg was busy defending his public image after an unfavourable portrayal in the film “The Social Network,” which was released that same year.


Today, Zuckerberg is at the centre of a national debate on personal data, privacy, and political advertising.

Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images

Facebook is now worth more than ever before, but the reputation of Zuckerberg and Facebook have taken a hit in the past decade, especially in the wake of the 2016 presidential election. In 2018, it was revealed that political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica harvested personal data from millions of Facebook profiles without users’ consent during the election. Zuckerberg testified before Congress about the scandal, and Facebook would eventually pay the FTC $US5 billion to settle a probe into its handling of user data.

In October 2019, the CEO was grilled again by lawmakers on Facebook’s policy on running political ads without fact-checking them, and answered questions about concerns with Facebook’s upcoming cryptocurrency project.


In 2010, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos was a mere multi-billionaire.

Associated Press

Forbes estimated Bezos’ net worth to be $US12.3 billion in 2010.

That year, the Kindle e-reader was the must-have item on holiday shopping lists, with the retailer announcing the Kindle 3 had surpassed “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” as the platform’s best-selling item ever.


Today, Bezos is the world’s richest person, with an estimated net worth of $US110 billion.

Reuters

Amazon is now one of the most valuable companies in the world. In addition to holding onto a near 12% stake in the e-commerce giant he founded, Bezos owns The Washington Post and Blue Origin, an aerospace company working to pioneer commercial space travel.


In 2010, Tesla CEO Elon Musk hadn’t yet debuted the Tesla Model S sedan.

AP Photo/Mark Lennihan

In 2010, Elon Musk’s company Tesla was hard at work producing the Model S sedan, which would debut in 2012.

That year, Musk’s other company, SpaceX, launched its first Falcon 9 rocket. Falcon 9 was the company’s first foray into making rockets that were reusable, which Musk believes is key to making space travel affordable.

In a TIME magazine profile, the director of Marvel’s “Iron Man” said Elon Musk provided real-world inspiration for the character of Tony Stark.


Musk now has interests in a wide variety of tech pursuits, including renewable energy and artificial intelligence.

Mike Blake/Reuters

Tesla is now regularly manufacturing and shipping 3 different Tesla vehicles: The Tesla Model S, 3, and X. SpaceX has now launched over 75 test flights of rockets.

The outspoken entrepreneur remains dedicated to advancing transportation on Earth, with his companies Tesla, the Boring Company, and the high-speed transit venture Hyperloop, and in space through SpaceX. Musk has a net worth of $US22.8 billion.


As Google’s vice president of search products and user experience, Marissa Mayer championed the minimalist homepage Google is known for.

AP Photo/Wally Santana

Mayer played a major role in developing the platform’s local and contextual search functionalities and was part of the three-person team that created Google’s advertising platform. Mayer became the youngest CEO of a Fortune 500 company when she took the helm as the CEO of Yahoo in 2012.


Mayer left Google for Yahoo, which she led as CEO from 2012 to 2017, and now oversees her tech incubator Lumi Labs.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Mayer left Google to become the CEO of Yahoo in 2012. She left Yahoo in 2017 after a long period of decline in traffic and advertising revenue.

After leaving Yahoo, Mayer launched Lumi Labs, an incubator focusing on companies in consumer media and artificial intelligence.

In May, CNN reported she was part of a $US2 million seed funding round for The Wonder, a members-only club for families in Manhattan. Mayer has largely stayed out of the public eye since her departure from Yahoo, but her new venture is currently operating out of the building that Googled called home in its early days.


In 2010, Google cofounder Larry Page was preparing to take the reins as the company’s CEO for the second time.

He previously yielded the position to Eric Schmidt, who was brought on to build a world-class management team and help the company successfully navigate its rapid expansion. Page stepped back into the role until 2015 when the company restructured to form parent company Alphabet.


Though he’s the CEO of Alphabet, Page has withdrawn from the spotlight in recent years.

Reuters

Page has avoided public appearances and shareholder meetings and has reportedly started spending more time on his private Caribbean island. He holds the No. 6 slot on Forbes’ list of the wealthiest Americans with a net worth of approximately $US55 billion.


A short 12 years after Google’s incorporation, cofounder Sergey Brin was already dreaming up moonshot ventures like self-driving cars and smart contact lenses.

AP Photo/Paul Sakuma

Brin was also a major proponent of Google Glass smart glasses. In 2010, he placed a $US5 million down payment to be among the first to travel into orbit with space tourism company Space Adventures.


Brin is now president of Alphabet.

Kimberly White/Getty Images

Like Page, Brin keeps a low profile. In 2018, he quietly married tech startup founder Nicole Shanahan, with whom he has a daughter.


In 2010, Evan Spiegel was a student at Stanford University.

AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

Spiegel dropped out a few credits shy of graduating to work full-time on an app that could send self-deleting photo messages. Three years later, he turned down an offer from Facebook to buy his messaging service, Snapchat, for $US3 billion.


Snapchat’s parent company, Snap Inc., is now valued at $US21 billion.

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Spiegel’s decision to turn down Facebook seems to have paid off, as Snapchat’s parent company Snap Inc. is now valued at $US21 billion, according to Investor Place. The company has also branched into hardware with its Spectacles smart sunglasses.

Spiegel caught flak for championing a 2018 redesign of the app that was not well received. But in November, the company reported better-than-expected earnings and an 8% increase in daily active users.

In 2018, Spiegel returned to Stanford and completed the required credits to finally earn his degree.


Ten years ago, Dara Khosrowshahi was at the helm of travel giant Expedia.

AP Photo/Paul Sakuma

As the company’s CEO, Khosrowshahi oversaw a period of major expansion in online travel bookings, acquiring Travelocity, Orbitz, and HomeAway. During his tenure, the company’s pretax earnings more than doubled.


Khosrowshahi was eventually hired as Uber’s CEO and led the company through its 2019 IPO.

Reuters/Carlo Allegri/File Photo

He was hired as CEO in 2017 after a scramble to replace cofounder and then-CEO Travis Kalanick.

While Khosrowshahi has helped repair Uber’s damaged image since taking over, he recently drew widespread criticism for describing the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi as a “mistake” by the Saudi government. He later voiced regret for the remark and said it was not something he believed, but Uber continues to face criticism over its continued close ties to the Saudi government, which is the fifth-largest investor in the company.

In November, Khosrowshahi told CNBC he anticipates the company will turn a profit for the first time ever by the end of 2021.

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