Happy Chinese New Year!
What do 1912,1924, 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008 and 2020 all have in common?
These multiples of 12 are all Years of the Rat. The rat is the first of the 12 animal profiles which make up the Chinese Zodiac cycle.
To mark the start of this New Year, we have pulled together a mischief of tech rats. All our tech rats are notable, successful and have achieved high performing tech notoriety.
According to Chinese astrology, each of the animal profiles can be identified by particular characteristics. Individuals born within each year share these attributes.
So what about Rats? Which attributes do they exhibit? Can we assign the success of our tech rats to these characteristics?
Commonly, rats are believed to be industrious, thrifty, diligent and positive. They have a keen sense of intuition and can use this to foresee danger and avoid risk. They are also thought to be good with money and enjoy financial luck. As a result, rats are often successful business people.
Perhaps this is why we have three high flying CEOs on our list.
The first of our tech rats is Sundar Pichai, CEO of Alphabet and Google.
Pichai started his career at Google back in 2004 when he joined the team as a management executive. He has since worked his way through the company, becoming Product Chief and then Google CEO in 2015. This was as part of the restructuring process which saw Alphabet Inc become Google’s parent company. Not content with being Chief Executive Officer of just one tech giant, when Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin announced they were stepping down from roles at parent company, Alphabet in 2019, Pichai became head of both.
His hard-working and industrious nature has certainly paved the way toward “financial luck”. It was reported back in December that Pichai was granted a $240 million stock package on top of his $2million annual salary when he was granted the aforementioned promotion of his life!
The second of our tech rats needs no introduction, Tim Cook is the CEO of Apple.
Cook joined Apple in 1998 as Senior Vice President of Worldwide Operations. Proving that Rats do indeed, make highly skilled business people, he used his expertise in supply chain management to rise to second in command. He became Chief Operating Officer in 2005.
When Steve Jobs retired as a result of his illness in 2011, Cook took on the top spot at Apple and was appointed CEO. Since his appointment, Cook has led Apple to become one of the valuable and influential companies ever to exist.
He is not a stranger to big brands. Before his time at Apple, he worked in high-level positions at IBM and Compaq. On top of this, he has sat on the board at Nike.
According to the Chinese Fable that decides the order in which the animals place within the Chinese Zodiac cycle, the rat won a race, hence its ‘year 1’ position. One adaptation of the story (of which there are many) attributes the win to the fact that the Rat was the first to the starting line, and so had a head start on his competitors.
Tech rat, Cook too, is an advocate of early starts! He is well known for his productive morning routine. He begins his days responding to emails at 4.30 am, and has been known to hold Sunday evening staff meetings to set his team up for the week ahead.
The third of our tech rats in Andrew Grove. Andrew Grove wasn’t always known as Andrew Grove.
Born in Hungary in 1936, András István Gróf was a Hungarian-born American businessman, engineer, author and a pioneer in the semiconductor industry.
He landed in the United States after fleeing Communist-controlled Hungary at the age of 20, where he finished his education.
Industrious definitely. Grove was only the third employee of a small start-up that manufactured semiconductors. That company was called Intel. You may have heard of them!
Grove eventually became the CEO of this huge multi-national. A company that now employs over 110 thousand people and is the world’s second-largest, and second highest valued semiconductor and chip manufacturer. Only Samsung Electronics tops it.
Grove has written a wealth of books and professional articles. These, alongside his work at Intel, have led him to be heralded as the man that “drove the growth phase” of Silicon Valley. Echoing that sentiment, “Time Magazine” crowned him Man of the Year in 1997 in recognition of his being “the person most responsible for the amazing growth in the power and the innovative potential of microchips”.
Zodiacal Rats are adept at foreseeing danger and avoiding risk. Grove was well known for encouraging a certain level of paranoia in business and believed that complacency led to failure.
He says: “Success breeds complacency. Complacency breeds failure. Only the paranoid survive”.
He later went on to pen a management book entitled “Only the Paranoid Survive”.
Perhaps it was his theories about paranoia in business that led him to foresee danger, avoid making risky decisions and lead Intel to their eventual success.
Sadly, in 2000 this incredible leader was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease and later died in 2016.
The fourth of our tech rats is Angela Ahrendts. Ahrendts is a hugely successful American business person, and up until last year was Senior Vice President of Retail at Apple, working alongside fellow Rat, Tim Cook.
She hasn’t always worked in tech. Ahrendts spent most of her career in fashion retail. She moved to New York to work in the fashion industry, after earning a degree in Merchandising and Marketing in 1982. She worked in a series of positions before joining Donna Karan International, 7 years later.
Her industrious and diligent nature, saw her work to develop the luxury brand internationally through wholesale and licensing.
After several high-level appointments across some notable brands, Ahrendts joined Burberry in January 2006. After just 6 months, she replaced Rose Marie Bravo as CEO.
During her tenure and under her strategic leadership, the company rose in value from £2 billion to over £7 billion. She enjoyed significant financial reward for her success. CNN Money reported that during 2012, Ahrendts was the highest-paid CEO in the UK, making $26.3 million.
Ahrendts’ career in tech
In October 2013, it was announced that Ahrendts would join tech giants, Apple. On May 1st 2014, new SVP of Retail and Online Stores, Angela Ahrendts was placed on the Apple Leadership roster – signalling her official entry into the company.
Apparently, according to Apple’s 2015 proxy statement, Ahrendts earned over $70 million in 2014, more than any other executive at Apple, including CEO Tim Cook. Significant financial success was to follow. It has been reported that she has a net worth of $230 million.
Quite apart from her financial prowess, Ahrendts has some other accolades to her name. Forbes ranked her at number 25 in their 2015 list of the most powerful women in the world. BBC Radio 4 placed her at 9th in their ‘Women’s Hour 100 Power List’, and she was 29th in Fortune’s 2014 list of the world’s most powerful women in business. She was also a member of the UK’s Prime Minister’s business advisory council until it was disbanded in 2016.
Zuckerberg is the youngest of our tech rats. He is only 35 but arguably, one of the most notorious names in tech.
He is, of course, co-founder and leader of Facebook, Inc. It’s title product, Facebook is probably the best known social network in the world.
He and co-founders, Eduardo Saverin, Andrew McCollum, Dustin Moskovitz, and Chris Hughes started Facebook from their shared dorm room in 2004. Originally intended to help students select college campuses, the site boomed. In 2012, the site reached 1 billion users. Last year, the site registered 2.45 billion monthly users.
In 2012, Zuckerberg took the company public with majority shares. Today, Facebook has a net worth of $631.49 billion.
SInce 2010, Time Magazine has named Zuckerberg among the 100 wealthiest and most influential people in the world as a part of its Person of the Year award. In 2016, he was listed as 10th on Forbes list of The World’s Most Powerful People.
Over its years, the enterprise has grown and has an impressive portfolio. Its products include Instagram, Messenger, WhatsApp, Watch, Portal, Oculus and Calibra.
It hasn’t all been plain sailing
These successes have been a little overshadowed in recent years. Criticisms of Facebook and Zuckerberg himself have led to international media scrutiny, particularly regarding its legal troubles and the outsize influence it has on the lives and health of its users and employees. In particular, it has come under fire for its influence on the way media, specifically, the news is reported and distributed. Notably, issues include internet privacy such as the use of a widespread “like” button on third-party websites tracking users, possible indefinite records of user information, automatic facial recognition software, and its role in the workplace, including employer-employee account disclosure.
In April 2018, Zuckerberg himself was called before US Congress.
Zuckerberg testified before the United States Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation on the usage of personal data by Facebook in relation to the Facebook–Cambridge Analytica data breach. He has refused requests to appear to give evidence on the matter to a Parliamentary committee in the United Kingdom, however.
Aside from tech, Zuckerberg also has a long history of philanthropy. Among many other charitable pledges, he and his wife Priscilla Chan started the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative with a view to “advancing human potential and promoting equality”.
In 2015, the tech couple announced they would eventually give 99 % of their Facebook shares (worth about US$45 billion at the time) to the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.
Zuckerberg splits opinion…Love him, or hate him, you can’t argue with Zuckerberg’s track record. Facebook is an icon of the social media age.
Last on our list, but certainly not least, we would argue that Alan Turing is the most notable, influential and pioneering tech rat of all.
Turing was a highly esteemed computer scientist and cryptanalyst who developed The Turing Machine; one of the most important theoretical models of computer. In this regard, he is considered to be the father of computer science and artificial intelligence.
During World War II, Turing worked at the UK’s code-breaking headquarters, Bletchley Park. He played a pivotal role in breaking coded German messages through the Enigma machine. It is thought that his work helped the Allies win several crucial battles, with one estimate putting the number of lives saved by Turing’s efforts to be as many as 14 million.
Tragically, Turing was not recognised for his work during his lifetime, due to his homosexuality which was still a crime at this point in history. In 2009, the British government issued a formal public apology to Turing. In 2013 Queen Elizabeth II granted him a royal pardon.
Just like his animal sign, Turing embodies ‘firsts’ and his pioneering spirit has informed so much of tech in the modern-day. In 1999, Time Magazine heralded Turing as one of the 100 most important people of the 20th Century. The publication puts in best when they write that;
“The fact remains that everyone who taps at a keyboard, opening a spreadsheet or a word-processing program, is working on an incarnation of a Turing machine.”
There a certainly a lot of tech rats who have been highly successful in the world of tech! Are you a rat zodiac sign? Let us know in the comments!