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Wall Street’s 3 Most Valuable CEOs

Leaders at AMZN, HANS and GMCR have presided over tremendous growth

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Jeff BezosBigwigs in corner offices have been on the move in recent weeks.

In the “tearful goodbye” category, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) announced that its iconic founder Steve Jobs is stepping down from his CEO role.

In the “don’t let the door hit you on the way out” category, Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO) canned CEO Carol Bartz (via telephone, no less) with a year left on her contract.

In “laughing all the way to the bank” news, Robert Kelly, CEO of Bank of New York Mellon (NYSE:BK), resigned in August over “differences in approach” and could get severance that approaches $37 million.

Even Regis Philbin said recently he will be retiring. Leadership vacuums seem to be the order of the day.

So just how important is good management and a strong CEO? And who are some of the best in the business — especially now that Silicon Valley lion Steve Jobs is departing for good?

Here are three winning CEOs that have led their companies to extraordinary success in recent years and still are playing an active role in the future. What’s more, these publicly traded stocks have all outperformed Apple since guru Steve Jobs returned in 1997 — so they have delivered stunning gains to shareholders as well as building their corporate legacy.

Here are three of Wall Street’s most valuable CEOs:

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos

Name this stock: This tech giant is one of the biggest names in technology and has single-handedly redefined an entire industry. Thanks to its founder and current CEO, shares are up about 12,500% since 1997.

Did you guess Apple? You’re wrong. While all those earlier statements apply, Apple stock is “only” up 8,800% since 1997. The company I’m talking about is Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN), led by Jeff Bezos.

Bezos deserves as much of the spotlight as Steve Jobs. After all, the Amazon honcho was witness to the birth of e-commerce as we know it. And lest our grandchildren assume Apple is responsible for every tech innovation, the Kindle was here in 2007 — just a few months after the iPhone was born and before the iPad was launched or the viability of “e-books” was a foregone conclusion.

Just how influential is Amazon? According to comScore, in June 2011, Amazon was visited by 282 million people, or 20.4% of the world’s online population. Think about that: 1 in 5 folks with an Internet connection visit the site each month.

Bezos isn’t done, either, focusing on upgrading Amazon Prime to make it a streaming video destination akin to Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) and redesigning its homepage for the first time in a decade to maximize engagement (and sales, of course).

Amazon owes much of its past success to founder and leader Jeff Bezos, and he continues to play a part in its future growth.

Article printed from InvestorPlace Media,

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