The 50 most powerful people in networking

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The 50 most people we've selected as this year's most powerful network players are perennial favorites, rising vendor executives, users, government officials, those crafting standards and thought leaders

Power requires balance. The 50 people we've selected as this year's most powerful network players sometimes make it look easy, but deciding when to take risks and when to play it safe is a true art.

Our list covers representatives from the vendor community - both perennials and up-and-comers - users, the government sector, those who make standards come to fruition, and thought leaders. No two people's jobs are exactly alike. Neither are their hobbies. One power player relaxes at the gold mine he bought in California. Another is restoring a classic Corvette. A third escapes to his Montana ranch when it's time to put work aside. Once again, it's all about balance.


Chambers. Ballmer. McNealy. These names are as much a part of the network industry as the routers and switches moving the bits and bytes around the world. By virtue of the organizations they lead and the pervasiveness of the technologies over which they lord, they have become perennial figures on our power list.

John Chambers

President and CEO, Cisco

John Chambers is the only vendor executive to be ranked among Network World's most powerful since the Power Issue's inception in 1994. Back then, when he was vice president and president-elect, he earned his spot for his acquisition prowess, a skill he has demonstrated artfully throughout his stewardship of Cisco. In 2002, Chambers oversaw the acquisition of five more start-ups. Chambers' charisma continues to wow customers and bodes well for his visions of Cisco in new markets, such as storage and security (see story, "The 10 most powerful companies in networking" ).

Tim Berners-Lee

Director, World Wide Web Consortium

Next to icon Chambers, Berners-Lee is the only other person whose name has consistently graced the power list since 1994. His influence persists through his work with W3C - an organization that has grown in stature annually - and for his position as senior research scientist at the MIT Laboratory for Computer Science. He even continues to pile on the accolades as inventor of the World Wide Web: This year, Berners-Lee, a Brit, received the Albert Award from the acclaimed British Royal Society of Arts for his work with the Web.

Scott McNealy

Chairman, president and CEO, Sun

Sun was weaker in 2002 than it has been in a long time, but it has a history of rebuilding itself out of the sheer chutzpah of its leader, Scott McNealy. This stalwart retains his place among the industry's most powerful, a position he has enjoyed since 1995. Admittedly, McNealy faces bigger problems than ever before, with Sun's beleaguered stock price, fiscal losses, layoffs, mass executive exodus and market-share erosion to less-expensive Intel/Linux servers. Even so, the high-end server market is still Sun's to lose. And reasons abound to believe McNealy will shake Sun out of its troubles. Right now, he is duking it out with Microsoft for Web services, pushing into storage and helping shape future, intelligent infrastructures.

Larry Ellison

Chairman and CEO, Oracle

The flamboyant founder of Oracle lost none of his panache this year, even though his company has been taken down a few pegs. In November, he delivered his remarks to the OracleWorld conference from Auckland, New Zealand, where he was competing in the Louis Vuitton Cup sailboat racing series as a member of the Oracle BMW Racing team. Granted, his splashy lifestyle belies his company's problems. Once the undisputed leader of the database market, Oracle in 2002 lost chunks of that business to IBM on the high end and Microsoft on the low, researchers report. But Ellison will battle back with a loyal user base, plenty of business smarts and a cache of industry power, accumulated since his first appearance on this list in 1996.

Ed Whitacre

Chairman and CEO, SBC Communications

On the most powerful list since 1997, this tough-as-nails Texan has a nose for opportunity and the wherewithal to command what opportunity he finds. The series of acquisitions he led from 1998 through 2001 has set up SBC well for its role today - that of an up-and-coming national carrier. This month, SBC standardized pricing of data services nationwide. SBC also continues to deploy its national, OC-192 backbone, due for completion by mid-2003. As for long-distance, SBC already services five of its 13 local states, and Whitacre has been pushing hard to gain approval next for the lucrative $10 billion California market.

Steve Ballmer

CEO, Microsoft

As the official leader of Microsoft, and one of its two strongest personalities, Ballmer has indisputable power - even if he's only been named among the industry's most powerful since 2000. As his legendary story goes: He dropped out of Stanford University's business school in 1980 to join Bill Gates in his then-30-employee start-up. Ballmer now oversees 50,000 employees in more than 70 countries at Microsoft, which, no doubt, today's Stanford business students study. While Microsoft's antitrust troubles have amounted to a slap on the wrist, Ballmer wants people to know he's taking the reprimand seriously. In November, he admitted that Microsoft does have responsibility for affecting other industries and he's been proudly pointing out that Microsoft moved quickly to establish the board-level antitrust compliance committee that the case's settlement required.

Michael Dell

Chairman and CEO, Dell

Dell came to the most powerful list in 1998, credited then for his brazen success story and his entry into the server market. Since then, he has led his company to command server and PC sales. Within his choice of capable Kim Goodman (see story, "Setting Dell's network foundation" ), Dell also has seen his company quickly become a considerable contender in network gear. Next up, Dell hopes, is dominance in switching - and storage, PDAs and printers, among other hardware goodies (see story, "The 10 most powerful companies in networking" ).

Ivan Seidenberg

CEO, Verizon

In March, Seidenberg assumed the title of CEO, leaving his former co-CEO, Charles Lee, to the company's chairmanship. As Verizon's sole chief, Seidenberg boosts his already considerable power, first noted on this list in 1999 as Bell Atlantic head. Going forward, Seidenberg will continue to elevate the carrier from its regional foundation to the truly national status he wants. With a flurry of approvals in the fall to offer long-distance in the northeast, Verizon has gotten clearance for long-distance services in all of its 15 local service areas except three - Maryland, West Virginia and Washington, D.C. Seidenberg is counting on adding those to the company's roster in 2003 (see story, "The 10 most powerful companies in networking" ).


Sure, they have their challenges to surmount: fewer customers, smaller-size deals, mounting market competition and internal cost-cutting requirements, to name a few. But these corporate leaders handle the obstacles with aplomb, thanks to their business savvy and product guidance.

Betsy Bernard

President, AT&T

Bernard downplays her role as a female executive, but Fortune magazine considers her one of the most powerful women in business. And rightly so. As AT&T president, Bernard calls the shots for 55,000 employees. These hail under AT&T Business - the unit on which AT&T is pinning its future - and AT&T Labs, the company's network services group and international ventures (see story, "At the heart of a new AT&T" ).

Gary Bloom

Chairman, president and CEO, Veritas Software

Veritas is the only company to be ranked on Deloitte & Touche's list of the 500 fastest-growing technology companies for eight straight years - and Bloom is the one driving this sustained growth at the storage software management company. After 14 years with Oracle, where he ascended to No. 2 status behind chief Larry Ellison, the self-effacing Bloom left for the opportunity to be his own boss at Veritas. His challenge today is helping customers cut through the complexity of managing distributed, heterogeneous storage devices and solve interoperability issues. New to Bloom's arsenal of management tools are SANpoint Control, which supports network- and direct-attached storage; and analytic and modeling software Veritas gained through its November acquisition of NTP Software's Storage Reporter technology to fill out SANpoint Control.

Doug Burgum

Senior vice president, Microsoft; president, Microsoft Business Solutions

Microsoft has its sights set on the enterprise software market - the lucrative playing field of companies such as Oracle, PeopleSoft and SAP - and long-locked Burgum is tasked with leading the charge. Burgum heads Microsoft Business Solutions, the division created through the April 2001 acquisition of Great Plains Software, the merger of that operation with Microsoft bCentral in the fall of 2001 and Microsoft's July 2002 acquisition of Navision. The division carries about 3,800 employees - 8% of Microsoft's workforce - and a portfolio that includes customer service, financial, human resources, inventory and manufacturing software for small and midsize businesses. The business-software playing field is crowded, but Burgum doesn't shy from a challenge. The North Dakota native arrived at Microsoft via Great Plains, a company he mortgaged his family's grain elevator business to invest in and which he eventually led as CEO.

Craig Donato

President and CEO, Grand Central Communications

Donato clearly has a cutting-edge side. He runs Grand Central with its Web-services network, meant to help companies securely and reliably link Web-services applications to those run by business partners and customers. The idea is gaining traction among companies that want to exploit Web services, but also want to rely on a middleman to broker the connections and handle security. Donato also has an old-fashioned side: He bought an old gold mine in California where he works the land with a pick and shovel.

David Dorman

Chairman and CEO, AT&T

Although Dorman didn't officially take on the top spots at AT&T until after C. Michael Armstrong exited the company, with the completion of the AT&T Broadband sale to Comcast last month, he got his power base in order beforehand. In October, he had longtime ally Betsy Bernard appointed president-elect. He'll need good internal support, as he's got some proving to do. Once lauded as a telecom wunderkind, becoming Pacific Bell CEO at age 39, he's since been knocked off his horse a few times: Dorman was CEO of the expensively failed Concert Communications venture between AT&T and British Telecommunications, and at one time led push vendor Pointcast, which never converted the hype of that technology into anything nearing reality. Dorman has squared his shoulders against naysayers, especially those who think AT&T remains on a crash course for a merger. AT&T is executing according to plan these days, and with chief competitor WorldCom far worse off, Dorman's future could be downright sunny.

Carly Fiorina

Chairman and CEO, Hewlett-Packard

Fiorina won the biggest fight of her career to earn her spot among the 2002 power elite, but the industry is holding its collective breath to see if she can meet her fiscal promises and turn this patched-together giant into a winning competitor. She's got to act quickly, as HP rivals - particularly Dell and IBM - have used this time of post-merger disarray to win business away by the truckloads. With no announced plans to fill the second-in-command president job left vacant when former Compaq CEO Michael Capellas left in November to lead WorldCom, Fiorina is a one-person show. So far, she's shown the strength to shoulder - alone - the massive company she built.

Paul Flessner

Senior vice president, .Net Enterprise Servers division, Microsoft

A self-proclaimed "product guy," Flessner described himself in a customer address earlier this year as a builder - the "D" part of research and development. A Microsoft employee since 1994, he now applies his product-building expertise to the company's e-business, database and collaboration businesses, which he heads. Flessner drives technical and business development of the .Net server family - a complex, 13-product lineup that includes Exchange Server, SQL Server, BizTalk Server, Content Management Server, Host Integration Server, Commerce Server and Mobile Information Server. Flessner's charter is to simplify Microsoft's convoluted .Net strategy and to reduce the complexity and cost of operating Microsoft software. Among the efforts he oversees are a project code-named Jupiter, which will consolidate Commerce Server, Content Management Server and BizTalk Server, and a project code-named Greenwich, which will incorporate instant messaging and conferencing in the upcoming Windows .Net Server 2003.

Daniel Frye

Director, Linux Technology Center, IBM

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