The smartest people in tech

What constitutes tech savvy today? An alchemy of intellect, ambition, and that uncanny ability to peer around corners. Some of our choices may surprise you.

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Smartest CEO: Steve Jobs
CEO, Apple

When Steve Jobs returned to Apple in 1997 after a 12-year exile, the company was close to bankruptcy. Thirteen years later it has a market cap of $250 billion and is the world's most valuable tech company, transforming whole industries along the way. iTunes reinvented music. Pixar, now part of Disney, elevated animated films. The iPhone changed telecom. And the new iPad has other computer makers scrambling to respond. Rocking one industry could be luck, but upending four? That's smart.

He is a visionary, a micromanager, and a showman who creates such anticipation around new products that their releases are veritable holidays. And Jobs is a pop culture icon like no other business executive: An episode of The Simpsons a few years ago featured a Jobs-like character named Steve Mobs.

His dictator-like control can cause havoc for partners: Jobs, 55, has decided, for example, that Apple products won't support Adobe Flash, the code most video-heavy websites depend on, leading designers to switch to new tools. But Jobs' vision is also what gives these devices their elegance, causing consumers' hearts to flutter. --Jessi Hempel
NEXT: CEO runner-up: Jeff Bezos
Last updated July 09 2010: 1:19 PM ET
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