Elon Musk and Bob Iger are the most overrated

Elon Musk and Bob Iger are the most overrated

Fortune‘s annual list of most admired companies is out. The survey, now in its 26th edition, has been sent to thousands of executives, businesses, directors, and industry analysts to measure big businesses’ reputations, as told by their rivals and friends. In addition to ranking companies, we also asked CEOs to rank which of their peers are overrated and which don’t get enough credit.

The most overrated CEO, according to 399 voters? Tesla and SpaceX head Elon Musk, who was also named No. 1 on the “overrated” list last year.

Elon Musk’s goals vs. approach

Musk’s aggressive goals, like his otherworldly ambitions for a Mars civilization and self-driving cars within the decade, combined with his dislike for public transit, could explain why about 59 more voters shared this view on Musk than in 2019.

On goals, Musk clearly delivers. He’s marketed Mars as a habitable planet that’s “a little cold, but we can warm it up,” and with a day length “remarkably close to that of Earth.” He plans to send his rocket, Starship, on an unmanned journey to the red planet in a few years, and then wants to send people to colonize and build factories there, according to Business Insider. Mars people would live in glass domes, the outlet reported, since the planet’s air, with high levels of carbon dioxide and nitrogen, would be unbreathable. He then wants to warm the planet enough for people to live on.

According to NASA, arguably the authority on the topic, present-day technology is incapable of terraforming, or creating an Earth-like environment, on Mars.

Business leaders including Neal Lachman, the CEO of space tourism company Titans Space, have called Musk’s dream to colonize Mars delusion. In an analysis of Musk’s Mars ideas, Lachman wrote that rockets are “the most dangerous method of transportation ever invented,” which NASA had to discover the hard way after at least three exploded. Due to the laws of physics, Lachman wrote, “vertically launched rockets will always remain extremely dangerous—no matter how advanced our technologies, engineering, and materials will be.”

For now life on Mars is still just a song, but it’s one of many that Musk hums without the goods to fully back it up. Last summer, he spoke of self-driving Teslas that would arrive by the end of the year—essentially moving the goalposts since first promising “full self-driving” capabilities for the cars back in 2016.

One study found that while autonomous cars promise benefits, especially in isolated medical transport in the case of another pandemic, “laws and regulations are not yet ready for this change” and that legal sectors are “following the development of autonomous vehicles instead of taking the lead.”

AI experts think the timeline for a self-driving car is still decades away, according to the Washington Post.

Musk, who also seeks to design a city, faced criticism on his social platform X, formerly known as Twitter, when transit planner and blogger Jarrett Walker said letting the billionaire “design cities is the essence of elite projection.” Another reason pitted against Musk might also be the insults he doles out, like in his reply to Walker: “you’re an idiot.”

And then there’s Tesla. The company has faced increased competition from cheaper Chinese EVs, and it predicted “notably slower” growth on its earnings call this month, even after cutting car prices multiple times. The revelation sent its stock plunging 25% since the start of the year, a wipeout that erased $82 billion in market value for Tesla.

Disney dips to its lowest ranking in two decades

The No. 2 most overrated CEO, according to 302 votes, is Disney’s Bob Iger—showing that businesses, directors, and analysts may not think Disney’s treasures are worth their weight in gold.

For the first time since 2012, Walt Disney’s entertainment company fell short of the top 10 All-Stars list, instead securing the 12th spot. The empire of Mickey Mouse has been busy: There was a battle of Bobs between former CEO Bob Chapek and his predecessor—and successor—Bob Iger; the company’s $10 billion losses on its streaming product since 2019; and a lack of cultural shifts that have left workers and viewers feeling ostracized by clichéd or superhero-driven storylines. Iger, like Clint Eastwood’s character in the Universal Pictures film The Eiger Sanction, returned to work out of retirement to help steady Disney’s sails to profitability, quickly cutting 7,000 jobs to try to save about $7.5 billion in costs.

Still, Disney’s shares keep falling, declining 9% year over year, and hit a nine-year low in stock price last summer.

It’s not all bad news for big companies. Executives also shared their thoughts on which of their peers didn’t get enough credit. For the eighth year running, Microsoft’s Satya Nadella topped the list, with 274 votes, for most underrated chief executive officer. Last year was a particularly visible one for the CEO, who expanded Microsoft’s investment partnership with OpenAI, mediated the firing and rehiring drama of OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, and closed Microsoft’s $69 billion acquisition of video game publisher Activision Blizzard despite opposition from U.K. and European regulators.

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