Top 10 Most Influential Executives at Apple, Microsoft, Google and Other Large Tech Companies

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The biggest technology influencer at Apple (AAPL) isn't Tim Cook -- it is British designer Jony Ive. The creative force behind many of Apple's biggest hits in recent years, Ive has just been promoted to the position of chief design officer at the company. And chances are, you've never heard of him.

What's more, he probably isn't the only tech leader flying under your radar.

On Tuesday, Juniper Research released its latest ranking of the 10 most influential executives in the technology industry. While some on the list are shot-callers at some of the biggest tech companies in the world, others you probably couldn't pick out of a lineup.

Analysts used eight criteria in their assessment, including innovation, scalability, personal capital and outside impact. They identified 10 individuals they believe will have the greatest impact on the technology industry during the next 12 months.

While some of the picks are more obvious, others might surprise you. Here's a deeper look at tech's top 10 leaders and how they are influencing innovation.

10. Lei Jun, Xiaomi CEO

In 2010, Lei Jun co-founded Xiaomi with friend Lin Bin. The China-based mobile-phone maker has catapulted him to the international stage, and he is listed at No. 87 on Forbes' 2015 list of billionaires, ahead of Tesla's (TSLA) Elon Musk, who is ranked at 100.

Xiaomi is set to officially open for online sales in the U.S. and Europe on June 1; the launch, however, won't yet include phones. Thus far, the company has tested the waters with accessories and has experienced impressive results, with items selling out within 30 minutes.

Jun's influence can be felt in other companies as well. He's chairman of Chinese social platform YY Inc. (YY) and gaming company Kingsoft.

9. Elon Musk, Tesla Chairman & CEO

Elon Musk is an innovation home-run hitter, his business ventures including payment giant PayPal, spacecraft maker SpaceX and luxury electric carmaker Tesla. He also is a chairman at SolarCity (SCTY) .

This week, the U.S. Air Force certified Musk's SpaceX to launch satellites for the Pentagon; however, it is largely his work at Tesla that dominates headlines.

On April 30, the company unveiled the Powerwall, a home battery that charges using electricity generated from solar panels. It has also introduced the Powerpack, an industrial battery. Both form part of its larger Tesla Energy push to set the company up not only as a carmaker but as a provider of sustainable power.

8. Jeff Bezos, Amazon Founder & CEO

Ranked No. 15 on Forbes' 2015 billionaires list, Amazon (AMZN) CEO Jeff Bezos has amassed a personal fortune of $38.9 billion. Since launching the company in 1994, he has played a key role in developing the e-commerce and online retail businesses as we know them today.

Bezos has supervised Amazon's expansion into other businesses, including its cloud-computing division Amazon Web Services, the company's fastest-growing segment. It has also rolled out Amazon Prime, an annual membership program that entails enhanced services related to shipping and content.

"After two decades of risk taking and teamwork, and with generous helpings of good fortune all along the way, we are now happily wed to what I believe are three ... life partners: Marketplace, Prime, and AWS," Bezos wrote in his 2014 letter to shareholders.

7. Paul Eremenko, Google ATAP Director

According to Juniper Research, Google's (GOOG) (GOOGL) biggest tech influencer isn't CEO Larry Page, nor is it co-founder Sergey Brin or Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt. Instead, it is Paul Eremenko, director of engineering at Google's Advanced Technology & Projects organization (ATAP). He took on the position in March 2014.

Eremenko heads Google's Project Ara, a development effort to create a modular hardware ecosystem around smartphones. The project's goal is to deliver mobile Internet to "the next 5 billion people" and to enable users to create a smartphone that is tailored to their functional and aesthetic preferences.

The idea is to allow users to upgrade and exchange different parts of their phones when necessary and market to those who don't already have smartphones.

6. Jack Ma, Alibaba Founder & Chairman

Jack Ma built Alibaba (BABA) from the ground up and led the way in taking the company public in the largest global IPO ever last year.

Ma has served as the e-commerce giant's executive chairman since May 2013, when he stepped down to allow Jonathan Lu take the CEO post. But less than two years after taking the reigns, Lu was ousted in May in favor of Chief Operating Officer Daniel Zhang.

Though he no longer holds the chief executive title, Ma still runs a tight ship at Alibaba, which continues to evolve technologically. The company is working to gain a larger share in China's smartphone market and hopes handsets running on its mobile operating system will reach sales of 30 million units in the next 12 months. Alibaba also recently invested $590 million in Chinese smartphone company Meizu -- another indication of where its mobile strategy is headed.

5. Reed Hastings, Netflix Co-Founder & CEO

Reed Hastings co-founded Netflix (NFLX) in 1997 and now serves as the company's CEO. He has led Netflix in maneuvering the evolving technological landscape and making the transition from a DVD mail-delivery service to the on-demand Internet streaming giant it is today.

Hastings has worked to expand Netflix's original content offerings and has supervised its forays into international markets.

Moreover, Netflix isn't the only tech company over which Hastings has influence. He joined the Facebook (NFLX) board in 2011 and served on Microsoft's (MSFT) board from 2007 to 2012.

4. Travis Kalanick, Uber CEO

Uber appears to be on its way to a $50 billion valuation, and an IPO for the company still doesn't appear to be on the near horizon. If and when it does go public, investors will have co-founder and CEO Travis Kalanick to thank for much of its success.

Kalanick launched ridesharing app Uber alongside Garrett Camp in 2009 and has watched his creation skyrocket since. But the company's explosive takeoff hasn't been without friction, as taxi companies have been less than welcoming to Uber's city-by-city rollout. Most recently, Kalanick has become the subject of a lawsuit claiming he stole the original Uber idea.

Despite obstacles, Kalanick remains confident and continues to forge ahead. Uber is currently testing out driverless cars in Pittsburgh.

3. Min-Liang Tan, Razer Co-Founder & CEO

Min-Liang Tan launched the games-products company alongside Robert Krakoff in 1998. Shortly after, they released the Razer Boomslang, the world's first gaming mouse.

Razer has come a long way since then, as has Tan, who serves as the company's CEO and creative director. He is a founding member of the Open Source Virtual Reality Alliance, which aims to push the virtual reality gaming experience forward and create an ecosystem to set up an open standard for the space.

Tan has also been involved in Razer's clampdown on counterfeit product sales online. "Counterfeit goods put a huge toll on innovation and growth across many industries worldwide," he said recently. "By investing in bringing down these operations, Razer hopes to set an example that that kind of criminal activity will not be tolerated.

2. Jony Ive, Apple Chief Design Officer

Jony Ive has been responsible for leading Apple's design team since 1996. Until being promoted to chief design officer this week, he served as the company's senior vice president of design.

Juniper Research notes Ive's work on the Apple Watch that is now being emulated by other smartwatch designers, including doodle functionality, near-field-communications and Wi-Fi capabilities and hardware features. Of course, he has left his mark on numerous Apple products in the past.

Following Ive's promotion, Richard Howarth and Alan Dye will lead the way on hardware and software design at Apple. Ive will oversee the team; however, some have suggested that Ive's promotion is actually a transition away from the company.

1. Satya Nadella, Microsoft CEO

Satya Nadella succeeded Steve Ballmer as CEO of Microsoft in early 2014 and has a more than 20-year trajectory with the company, which he first joined in 1992.

One of Nadella's most anticipated maneuvers since arriving at the helm of Microsoft has been the rollout of Windows-as-a-Service, much of which is still taking shape. The company's Windows 10 release will be its last version of Windows, and instead of launching major new releases in the future, Microsoft will make regular improvements and have updates.

Nadella is also moving Microsoft in a more device-neutral direction. He said in a recent interview with Fortune magazine that Windows 10 is the beginning of a new generation of Windows. "Windows has gone way beyond the PC," he said. "It's one core, one store, one platform."

This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stocks mentioned.

More from Stocks

REPLAY: Jim Cramer on How to Navigate the Stock Market Amid Tariff Worries

REPLAY: Jim Cramer on How to Navigate the Stock Market Amid Tariff Worries

Jim Cramer: 4 Stocks Could Get Throttled By a 'Knock Down Drag Out' With China

Jim Cramer: 4 Stocks Could Get Throttled By a 'Knock Down Drag Out' With China

3 Warren Buffett Stock Picks That Could Be Perfect for Your Retirement Portfolio

3 Warren Buffett Stock Picks That Could Be Perfect for Your Retirement Portfolio

50 Stocks That Could Be Shredded If a U.S. Trade War With China Ignites

50 Stocks That Could Be Shredded If a U.S. Trade War With China Ignites

Why Starbucks Latest Data Reveal Should Worry Investors

Why Starbucks Latest Data Reveal Should Worry Investors