Skip to main content

These are the most-despised tech CEOs in the Bay Area

Linda Yaccarino, X CEO, speaks onstage during Vox Media’s 2023 Code Conference. She got a 4% approval rating, according to a recent Blind poll. | Source: Jerod Harris/Getty Images for Vox Media

Amid mass layoffs, controversial return-to-office mandates and a flurry of concerning strategic moves, tech workers’ trust and support in Bay Area CEOs has reached a low ebb. 

Around 13,171 workers surveyed in a Gallup-style poll were asked a simple question by the anonymous job forum Blind: “Do you approve or disapprove of the way your CEO is handling their job?”

Of the 103 CEOs measured—largely in tech, but also across other sectors like finance and retail—more than 60% of all workers surveyed disapproved of their bosses’ performances. The average approval rating in the survey was 32%.

However, one Bay Area tech CEO came in far ahead of the competition: the leather jacket-clad Nvidia head Jensen Huang, who had an overwhelming 96% approval rating. The CEO who ranked second—Walmart’s Doug McMillon—was a full 8 percentage points lower than Huang.

A man gestures during a presentation, with a large computer server next to him.
Jensen Huang, president and CEO of Nvidia, speaks at Computex 2023. He received a 96% approval rating in a recent Blind poll. | Source: Walid Berrazeg/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The chipmaker has been a major winner of the AI boom, with its stock price more than tripling from the start of the year. That, coupled with Huang’s early boosterism of artificial intelligence, has led workers to seemingly have faith in his vision for the company’s future.

Silicon Valley tech CEOs rank highly in the list, taking up six of the other slots in the top 10: Palo Alto Networks’ Nikesh Arora (84%), Databricks’ Ali Ghodsi (83%), Autodesk CEO Andrew Anagnost (82%), ServiceNow’s Bill McDermott (81%), AMD’s Lisa Su (79%), and notably, Apple’s Tim Cook (83%)—one of the few Big Tech company leaders to receive glowing praise from their workers. (As a point of comparison, Google CEO Sundar Pichai received a 26% approval.) 

Then there’s the other side of the coin. Four Bay Area tech CEOs have placements near the bottom of the list, most of whom have received recent bad press for their decision-making or public statements. 

There’s Zoom CEO Eric Yuan (7%), who got heat for forcing workers back into the office after essentially enabling the remote work revolution, and X CEO Linda Yaccarino—who received a huge flurry of bad press following a disastrous interview last month at the Code Conference—and received a rough 4% approval rating. 

Two CEOs of San Francisco-based tech firms ranked in the bottom 10, Nextdoor’s Sarah Friar (4%) has presided over an 80% decline in the social media company’s share price since its 2021 IPO. And, of course, there’s Unity’s John Riccitiello (2%), who recently launched a new, universally panned pricing model that prompted a backtracking.

The survey was conducted from Aug. 18 to 28—before Code Conference and the Unity price changes but coincided with Yuan’s return-to-office mandate.

Still, even those despised CEOs can take solace in how they compare to Western Digital’s David Goeckeler, who, despite limited layoffs and steady stock growth for the Bay Area data storage firm, received a 0% approval rating from workers.

Blind spokesperson Rick Chen told The Standard that Western Digital staffers have been dismayed by lower-than-average pay and reported cuts to bonuses, raises and 401(k) matching. A Western Digital spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.

Blind noted that CEO approval ratings correlated to job security among the company’s workers. Chief executives with the worst CEO approval ratings tended to cut jobs in 2023—while only one member of the top 10 laid off employees.

Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff speaks at Dreamforce in San Francisco. He received a 29% approval rating in a recent Blind poll. | Source: Justin Katigbak/The Standard

Other noteworthy San Francisco chief execs on the high end include Affirm’s Max Levchin and Uber’s Dara Khosrowshahi (both at 68%), DoorDash’s Tony Xu (67%), Airbnb’s Brian Chesky (64%) and Okta’s Todd McKinnon (54%).

On the low end are Lyft’s newly appointed CEO David Risher, Cruise’s Kyle Vogt and Reddit’s Steve Huffman (all at 34%), Salesforce’s Marc Benioff at 29%, Block CEO Jack Dorsey at 25%, Pinterest CEO Bill Ready, Twilio’s Jeff Lawson and Roblox’s David Baszucki both at 17%. 

Airtable CEO Howie Liu barely missed out on the bottom 10 of the list, snagging a mere 8% approval score.