by Scott Ronalds

Mark Zuckerberg is a household name. The same goes for Steve Jobs and Elon Musk. Jeff Bezos is getting there too.

Corporate leaders have become celebrities. When did this happen? There’s always been a well-known business name or two from every generation (Henry Ford, John Rockefeller, Walt Disney, Warren Buffett, Bill Gates), but it seems like today’s CEOs are more in the limelight, more revered and villainized, and more talked about than ever.

Even kids seem to know more about corporate America’s big personalities these days. My 12-year old nephew could point out Zuckerberg and Bezos in a crowd as easily as he could Sedin and Crosby. Which gets me thinking, is there a market for CEO trading cards? I’ll trade you my rookie Tim Cook for your Larry Page.

Is this “celebrityfication” of the CEO due to the rise of social media, or are people just taking a greater interest in business? Are today’s superstar CEOs any different than those from 25 or 50 years ago? Are they more bold and brilliant, or just more quirky? Do we care more about them because the companies they run have become such a dominant part of our lives? Is all this attention a good thing? Are Zuckerberg et al using their elevated platform wisely? When business leaders are more frequently in the spotlight talking about their company, does it encourage short-term thinking by both investors and CEOs?

These are just some questions I’ve been asking myself. I’d be curious to hear your thoughts. Jump in on the conversation in the Comments section below.