John Chambers // president and CEO, Cisco
Network World - Chambers spent 2005 on the prowl for Cisco's next growth market and found video - the last quadrant in networking's so-called quadruple play of data, wireless, voice
and video. Video on the corporate net is an obvious move for a router and VoIP gear maker. IP video to consumers is less obvious, but Chambers has been talking that up too. He'd like Cisco gear to be
as prevalent in the next-generation digital home as it is in the enterprise wiring closet. He's also pushing Cisco into young
technologies such as self-healing security and IP push-to-talk. His typical confident self, Chambers reportedly told analysts
in December that Cisco will continue to grow at 10% to 15% a year (see related story).
Larry Ellison // CEO, Oracle
PeopleSoft, check. Retek, check. Siebel Systems, check. With his unwavering ability to set a long-term strategy for growth and his dogged
determination to win a business battle, you get a CEO who resembles the Energizer Bunny - he keeps going and going (and growing
and growing). And beyond the outright acquisitions comes the opportunity to win customers for Oracle's own products. For instance, both Retek and Siebel have been known for their strong integration with IBM's DB2. With Oracle
now in charge, Ellison has two new crops of customers he can harvest. Even so, Ellison's most pressing enemy target is not
IBM but SAP, Oracle's largest competitor in the enterprise application market.
Bill Gates // Chairman and chief software architect, Microsoft
Gates doesn't have to do much to capture the limelight - a testament to his industry might. Most recently, all lights shone
on Gates sharing his vision of how Internet software services will revolutionize the world. With Gates hailing the software-as-a-service
concept, we can expect stepped-up development activity well beyond Redmond. Software and services competitors as well as entrepreneurs
will look to angle in on this Bill-blessed market.
Sam Palmisano // Chairman and CEO, IBM
Palmisano leads the world's largest network-industry company, No. 1 on the Network World 200, with 2004 revenue of $96 billion.
In '05 he pushed the company toward small and midsize enterprise projects (though not by forgoing high-end implementations).
With these targets in mind, he bought application service provider Corio and open source middleware maker GlueCode. Palmisano
says he's focused on keeping IBM's wares from the perils of the commodity drainpipe and the revenue sinkhole caused by commoditization.
He's doing so by creating a menu that stretches from free, à la carte offerings to classic supercomputers and multimillion-dollar
Joe Tucci // Chairman, president and CEO, EMC
In his five years as CEO, the straight-shooting Tucci has been recrafting EMC into one of the industry's megaplayers. In its '05 third-quarter earnings report, EMC showcased nine consecutive quarters
of double-digit growth. Alongside that happy news, EMC's board handed Tucci the chairman position, which takes effect Jan.
1, 2006. Tucci envisions expanding EMC beyond enterprise storage into a systems management company, as demonstrated by his
smart, hands-off approach to the ever more-successful VMware and his acquisition of network management vendor Smarts.
Ivan Seidenberg // Chairman and CEO, Verizon
In 2005, Seidenberg set himself on a big power trip - an $8.4 billion adventure that would land him atop a mountain of a communications
services provider with annual revenue of more than $90 billion. As the year closed, he waited on clearance from several states
so he could call MCI his own. But the true test of his power will come in '06 as he integrates the two companies. If successful, he'll launch
Verizon into a secure future framed by coveted broadband, wireless, advanced IP and business services.
Edward Whitacre // Chairman and CEO, the new AT&T
Whether you think SBC /AT&T a foolish lark or a masterful move, you've got to admit the guy's got gumption. Orchestrating the $16 billion acquisition
of an American icon - tarnished though it was - took guts, no matter how you look at it. Whitacre sees a big payoff in cost
reductions, scale and the all-important enterprise customer base. But like Verizon's Seidenberg, the biggest test of his power
will come in integration and next-generation strategizing.
> Next Power 50 section: Enterprise computing