The Most Underrated CEO in Tech: IBM's Samuel Palmisano

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IBM-and-palmisano.jpg

Today, IBM surpassed Microsoft as the second most valuable technology company in the world. They are led by Samuel Palmisano, who must be the most underrated CEO in America.

How many profiles have you read of Steve Jobs, Eric Schmidt, Lee Scott, and Jack Welch? Too many, I'm sure. They are recognized as the brilliant CEOs who led their companies at massively successful times. No such recognition is heaped on Palmisano. Many people in the technology industry have a hard time remembering or naming him. Outside of the tech industry, he's unknown.

Take a look at the chart above. (I came up with it to illustrate that Steve Jobs is far and a way the best CEO of at least the last 30 thirty.) The Y-axis shows the net income increase in millions of dollars from the first quarter of a CEO's tenure and the last. The x-axis shows the total income of the CEO's company in that last quarter. Basically, it shows both growth per quarter and the absolute size of the bottom line.

We'd love to gather more information about what it's like to work for Palmisano, given that he's something of a private figure. If you're interested in talking with me, get in touch.

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Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is the deputy editor of TheAtlantic.com. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer has called Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at Wired.com, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science website in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

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