From Sheryl Sandberg to Ted Sarandos, here are the high-powered executives who are 2nd-in-command to some of the biggest CEOs in tech


Sheryl Sandberg Ted Sarandos Neal Mohan

  • Many CEOs at the world’s most valuable tech companies rely on No. 2 executives to help them get the job done. 
  • Some of these execs may go on to run the company one day, while others may leave for big opportunities somewhere else. 
  • For example, top executives like Sheryl Sandberg and Ted Sarandos are second-in-command at Facebook and Netflix, respectively. 
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Life at the top of the world’s most valuable tech companies isn’t easy. For CEOs at companies like Apple or Amazon, it means long days and a lot of pressure. 

Luckily, most CEOs don’t go it alone: they have a second-in-command, a high-level executive who may shoulder some of that burden. Some of these execs may go on to run the company one day — others may leave for big opportunities elsewhere. 

Some chief executives seem to run their companies singlehandedly, like Tesla’s Elon Musk. Others, like Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, appear to lean on the support of their No. 2.

Here’s a closer look at the people behind the CEOs of some of the world’s most valuable tech companies. 

SEE ALSO: The most unusual, extravagant ways tech executives like Larry Ellison and Elon Musk have spent their money

Apple CEO Tim Cook works closely with Jeff Williams, who is said to be his heir apparent.

Who he is: Apple’s chief operating officer

In current position since: 2015

What he does: Williams is widely considered the second-most important person working at Apple and “the closest thing at the company to Tim Cook.” He currently leads all of Apple’s operations globally and oversees its customer support. Williams was in charge of the development of the Apple Watch, and currently oversees Apple’s design team leaders after the departure of Jony Ive. 

There are two CEOs who report directly to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos: Andy Jassy and Jeff Wilke.

Who they are: Andy Jassy serves as chief executive of AWS; Jeff Wilke is the global consumer chief executive

In current position since: 2016 (both)

What they do: Jassy has been at Amazon since the company’s early days and currently oversees AWS, Amazon’s cloud computing business. Jassy is said to be one of Bezos’ most trusted advisers.

Wilke is considered the second-most-important person at the company, heading up Amazon’s entire retail side. He has also been at Amazon for about 20 years. 

Jeremi Gorman works closely with Evan Spiegel to run Snap.

Who she is: Chief business officer at Snap

In current position since: 2018

What she does: Gorman was considered a crucial hire when she joined Snap to build out Snap’s business strategy. She has worked to simplify the company’s approach to is ad business and refocused the company on its Gen Z audience. 

Gorman worked at Amazon for six years before joining Snap, overseeing the international expansion of the company’s ad business. 

Mark Zuckerberg relies on Sheryl Sandberg for most aspects of Facebook’s business that aren’t related to product.

Who she is: Chief operating officer at Facebook

In current position since: 2008

What she does: Sandberg was brought into Facebook in 2008 to be the “adult in the room,” charged with growing the company’s revenue and ad business — essentially, taking over everything that wasn’t product-related. Since then, Sandberg has become a public face of the company, using that to spread her message of women’s empowerment but also acting as an ambassador of sorts after Facebook has been rocked by scandal after scandal.

According to a new book by Wired’s Steven Levy, CEO Mark Zuckerberg now plans to take a more active role in aspects of the business that were formerly Sandberg’s domain, like policy and content moderation. 

Marc Benioff still leads Salesforce, but Keith Block and Bret Taylor have both risen through the ranks.

Who they are: Keith Block serves as co-chief executive; Bret Taylor serves as chief operating officer

In current position since: 2018 and 2019, respectively

What they do: Block joined Salesforce in 2013, and is widely considered one of the key forces behind Salesforce’s growth — CEO Marc Benioff promoted Block to be his co-CEO in 2018. Block oversees Salesforce’s strategy and operations, while Benioff leads the company’s “vision and innovation.”

Taylor joined Salesforce after his startup, Quip, was acquired by Salesforce in 2016. Since then, he’s worked his way through the ranks, becoming COO in 2019. Analysts are now wondering whether Benioff will step away from his day-to-day duties in 2020, allowing Block and Taylor to take on more responsibility. 

Ted Sarandos has become one of Hollywood’s most important moguls, and he’s paid as much as Netflix CEO Reed Hastings.

Who he is: Chief content officer at Netflix

In current position since: 2000

What he does: Sarandos has been at Netflix for 20 years and currently oversees acquisition and creation of movies and TV series for the streaming giant. He’s one of the highest-paid executives at Netflix, earning as much as CEO Reed Hastings did in 2019. These days, Sarandos is one of the most powerful people in the entertainment world, landing major deals with everyone from Shonda Rhimes to Ryan Murphy to Barack and Michelle Obama. 

Neal Mohan is YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki’s No. 2.

Who he is: Chief product officer at YouTube

In current position since: 2015

What he does: Mohan has been at Google since 2008, overseeing Google’s display and video ads business before becoming YouTube’s product head in 2015. These days, Mohan has perhaps the hardest job at the company: He’s in charge of clearing hate speech, exploitation, and extremism off of YouTube.

Mohan was reportedly tasked by Wojcicki with figuring out how to safeguard the service going forward, and appears to be taking on a bigger role in defining the future of the platform. 

IBM is going through a management shake-up, with CEO Ginni Rometty leaving the company and Arvind Krishna stepping into the role — James Whitehurst is taking over as president.

Who they are: Krishna is incoming chief executive; Whitehurst serves as president

In current position since: 2020

What they do: Krishna has been at IBM for nearly 30 years, and currently oversees the company’s cloud computing business. In April, he’ll take over as CEO, a position Ginni Rometty has held since 2012. 

Whitehurst joined IBM when his company, Red Hat, was acquired last year — he was named president in January. As recently as last August, analysts were predicting that Whitehurst would be a likely successor to the CEO role. 

Google just went through a shake-up of its own, with Sundar Pichai taking the reins of the whole company. Ruth Porat currently serves as the company’s CFO.

Who she is: Chief financial officer at Google

In current position since: 2015

What she does: Porat has served as Alphabet CFO since 2015, overseeing the finances of Google’s parent company. She guided the company through its corporate restructuring and helped get the company’s spending under control. Before joining Alphabet, Porat was widely considered the most powerful woman on Wall Street.

But in December, Alphabet dropped a bombshell when it announced that CEO Larry Page and President Sergey Brin, Google’s founders, were leaving the company and placing Google CEO Sundar Pichai in charge. Since then, no clear second-in-command has emerged, though Porat remains one of the most powerful people at the company.