Main image of article Do Employees at Big Tech Companies Actually Like Their CEOs?

At some of the nation’s largest tech companies, CEOs are struggling for approval. That’s bad news at tech giants trying to keep general morale up—but potentially a good sign for smaller companies that want to poach top talent from the big players.

Blind, which surveys anonymous-but-verified tech professionals on a variety of issues, recently asked its community whether they approved of how their CEOs were handling their respective jobs. The resulting data showed that everyone likes a winner: Jensen Huang, CEO of Nvidia, which has enjoyed explosive growth and profits over the past several months thanks to its push into A.I.-optimized chips, topped the resulting list with a 96 percent approval rate.

Tim Cook, who’s guided Apple to exponentially higher valuations over the past decade, ranked fourth. Below is the breakdown of the top 20 names on the list; it’s an eclectic group, with a mix of industries and companies that aren’t tech companies per se, even if they rely heavily on cutting-edge technologies as part of their overall operations (such as Walmart):

What boosts a CEO’s approval rating? Putting money in tech pros’ pockets, of course. “Company stock performance may have benefited some chief executives’ approval scores,” read a note accompanying Blind’s data. “Top bosses with the highest CEO approval ratings have generally led their companies to higher valuations in 2023 despite economic uncertainty propelled by rising interest rates, persisting inflation, a pullback of investor capital and more.

Sparing tech pros from layoffs also makes them feel better about their fearless leader: “Except for Autodesk, each of the top 10 CEOs in Blind’s CEO approval rating index has not laid off employees in the last year or more. Autodesk cut about 250 jobs, or fewer than 2 percent of the tech company’s global workforce, in February 2023 but continued to hire throughout the year.

In light of that, and given the financial difficulties and massive layoffs at some of the biggest tech companies, it’s no surprise that many CEOs’ approval ratings are totally underwater:

Companies such as Amazon and Microsoft unleashed sweeping layoffs earlier this year, and some employees have expressed reservations about strategy. It’s hard to be happy when you don’t agree with your CEO’s decisions.

For those team leaders and managers who work at smaller tech companies, this is perhaps the moment to consider extending an offer to tech pros currently working at the tech giants. Yes, the biggest tech companies can offer superior salaries (and stock options), along with the chance to work on products that potentially impact the lives of millions or even billions of customers. But if their employees are unhappy about their leadership and current direction, it’s an opportunity for a smaller company with a great culture and mission to step up with an offer.