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