Who else beyond Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg on our hated tech CEO list?


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After criticism for failing to detect and purge election meddling in 2016, Facebook has made safeguarding elections one of its top priorities.
USA TODAY

If you were Mark Zuckberg, this was not a good week.

Politicians, fellow tech CEOs, journalists and an Oscar winning screenwriter are calling him out over his stance to allow politicians to spread untruths in political ads on Facebook. 

This follows controversy surrounding Facebook’s missteps with privacy and security breaches, his run-in with democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren over her call to have the social network broken up and his proposal to launch a new kind of digital currency, called Libra, that hasn’t been well received in D.C. or from former partners like PayPal, eBay and MasterCard, which have dropped out of the consortium. 

The brouhaha got us to thinking – is there currently a CEO who’s the focus of more animus than Zuckerberg? (He “has taken the lead, in both actual damage and dislikability,” wrote Paul Rodriguez on our Facebook page.)

So who else would make the list? And what are their hot-button challenges?

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before the House Financial Services Committee on Oct. 23, 2019. (Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Sundar Pichai

The Google CEO uses many of the similar people-tracking tools as Facebook – with the Google Maps app, it even follows you if the app is closed. But many of the bricks being thrown at Zuckerberg haven’t seemed to stick to him. There are loud complaints about how the success of companies like Google, Apple and Facebook have contributed to the homeless crisis in San Francisco, but Puchai’s face doesn’t usually show up in protests. Still, if you’re concerned about privacy evasion, the costs of rents in San Francisco, the decline of the journalism industry, since more readers turn to free searches for news instead of the newspaper, you’ve got another person to express rage at beyond Zuck. 

Apple CEO Tim Cook. (Photo: Apple)

Tim Cook

The Apple CEO has positioned his company as the anti-Facebook/Google on privacy, and on political ads, Cook is more likely to be supporting causes than enraging people for supporting an unpopular stance. But there are issues of long, grueling hours and low pay at factories in China, and the fact that the most popular tech product in the United States – the iPhone – has to be made elsewhere and not here.

Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, during a press conference in this September 06, 2012 file photo in Santa Monica, California. (Photo: JOE KLAMAR, AFP/Getty Images)

Jeff Bezos

The treatment of thousands of Amazon workers, many in low-paid shipping facilities dog Bezos, one of the world’s richest men. A British author went undercover at an Amazon shipping facility and found a toilet bottle system in place for urination because there weren’t enough bathrooms for employees. Beyond the warehouses, there’s traditional retail, no fan of Amazon, as the company undercuts pricing and encourages shoppers to comparison shop with its app and steal sales away. Just take a good look at Main Street and empty storefronts in the Amazon era. Notes Leslie Morgan Nakajima, a Northern California surfing enthusiast, on Facebook: “Bezos is often hated for destroying small businesses and Amazon not paying taxes despite their ridiculous earnings…at the expense of brick and mortar retail…which many folks rightly believe is wrong since they pay their taxes.”

168 (tie): Jack Dorsey; Twitter CEO; net worth: $4.2 billion Dorsey is the CEO of both Twitter and Square.  (Photo: Jack Gruber, USA TODAY)

Jack Dorsey

The Twitter CEO got in a dig at Zuckerberg this wewhen he announced that Twitter would no longer accept political advertising of any stripe. The only problem – he’s still CEO of Twitter, a platform where anything goes and where false statements and outright lies are not corrected. The President of the United States, for instance, regularly uses Twitter to lash out at rivals, often with falsehoods. Dorsey deserves blame “for the lack of discourse and the growth of racism off his platform and his mealy-mouthed responses,” said marketing consultant Jeremy Pepper on Facebook. “And the banning of political ads seems half-baked.” 

10/2/19 10:02:07 AM — New York, NY — Microsoft unveiling event. – Satya Nadella is Chief Executive Officer of Microsoft. Photo by Robert Deutsch, USA TODAY staff ORG XMIT: RD 138286 Microsoft unveil 10/2/2019 (Via OlyDrop) (Photo: Robert Deutsch, USA TODAY)

Satya Nadella 

The maker of Windows had a great week, nabbing a $10-billion software contract with the U.S. Defense Department. It was controversial, though, and loudly opposed by a group of employees called Microsoft Workers 4 Good. Earlier this year, Nadella was called to task over the company’s treatment of women and various claims of discrimination against women and sexual harassment. 

epa06040302 (FILE) Travis Kalanick, founder and CEO of Uber, delivers a speech at the Institute of Directors Convention at the Royal Albert Hall, Central London, Britain, 03 October 2014 (reissued 21 June 2017). According to reports on 21 June 2017, Kalanick has resigned as CEO of Uber amid pressure from shareholders. EPA/WILL OLIVER ORG XMIT: FIL (Photo: WILL OLIVER, EPA)

Travis Kalanick

The former Uber CEO had been the poster child as the most hated man in tech, before Zuck took over the post, noted several of our respondents to the daily Talking Tech text feature. He’s blamed for creating a “bro” culture that saw many women complain of harassment at the firm, he was caught on video berating a driver who complained of low pay and was forced to resign in June 2017. As Uber has struggled to revive itself, Kalanick himself has been pretty quiet, founding a new company, Cloud Kitchens, for online food delivery. 

YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki at the VidCon conference in Anaheim, California. (Photo: Sean Fujiwara)

Susan Wojcicki

The CEO of Google-owned YouTube oversees Google’s cash cow, a unit that helped Google reap $40.5 billion in revenues in the most recent quarter and is the world’s most popular video network. But she’s leading a minefield of controversy. YouTube has been dogged by complaints. In February it deleted many channels that were found to be exploitive of children, this year is also said it would pay a $170-million fine from the Federal Trade Commission for violating children’s privacy, a group of LGBTQ creators said their videos were being sidelined unfairly and conservatives also have attacked YouTube for suppressing their content. 

Elon Musk. He’s lauded as an innovator, dreamer and doer who helped popularize electric vehicles with Tesla, is a proponent of solar power through his Solar City company, and is itching to start sending people to Mars with his SpaceX company. But then there are the run-ins with the Securities and Exchange Commission, smoking marijuana on a video podcast, product announcements that generate much excitement only to see massive delays. “I’ve always admired Elon’s vision, but he rarely backs up his bold claims especially in regards to his timeline predictions,” notes Glenn Dew of Spring Hope NC

Netflix users can get “Inside Bill’s Brain” by watching a new documentary about Bill Gates. (Photo: Netflix)

Bill Gates

Once upon a time, back in the 1980s, the Microsoft co-founder was considered a ruthless competitor that was under attack from the U.S. government, which sought to break up the company, and rivals. Today, he’s better known for a foundation he runs with wife Melinda, donating time and resources to help combat disease and helping poor people get better education and opportunities. 

Now that’s hard to hate. 

Readers: Who’s No. 1 on your list, and why? Let the discussion begin on Twitter, where I’m @jeffersongraham

Amazon’s Echo Buds in the ear of Jan Schrieber (Photo: Jefferson Graham)

In other tech news this week

Apple finally debuted its long-awaited streaming service, TV+, with a handful of original shows starring the likes of Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston and the return of Oprah Winfrey’s Book Club. 

Amazon said online grocery deliveries would now be free for members of its $119 Prime expedited shipping and entertainment service – but only if you’ve used Prime for delivery before. The rest of us have to submit a request for an invite.

In the battle of the wireless earbuds, Amazon released its budget priced offering, Echo Buds, selling for $129, while Apple unveiled an upgrade from the original $159 AirPods, the AirPods Pro, selling for $249.

Google parent Alphabet said it would acquire wearable fitness company Fitbit in a $2.1 billion acquisition. “With Google’s resources and global platform, Fitbit will be able to accelerate innovation in the wearables category, scale faster and make health” data more accessible,” said James Park, co-founder and CEO of Fitbit. 

This week’s Talking Tech podcasts

Apple TV + preview

Review: Amazon Echo Buds

HBO Max: what about cable?

No succotash? Amazon Fresh delivery. 

Subscribe to iPhones?

Readers: 

Listen to the daily Talking Tech podcasts on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts. 

Follow me (@jeffersongraham) on Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. 

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