OK, I know that magazines need to maximize online ad revenue, but it’s a bit ridiculous when you can’t print something out that you would like to read on the subway & have to basically click 50 X’s in order to see the entire list of subjects an article is reporting on. Anyway, I just spent 10 minutes copy and pasting 50 different slides on Business 2.0 so you don’t have to — to find out who the Top 50 people that “matter now” according to CNNMoney.com To do the same thing & click through 50 slides, just click on the link I just created before this sentence. Otherwise, just feel free to enjoy the fruits of my labor. 🙂
Also, if you don’t want to read to the end, the top 3 were Google’s founders & CEO, Steve Jobs and Private Equity. If you would like an actual person to be ranked #3, it would have to be instead Michael Moritz, Managing director, Sequoia Capital. He was #4 on the list.
The 50 Who Matter Now
In our second annual ranking, Business 2.0 has compiled an unabashedly subjective list of people, products, trends, and ideas that are transforming the world of business.
Chairman and CEO, Digg and Revision3
Why he matters: Kevin Rose may be the camera-ready face of news aggregator Digg and online video network Revision3, but Adelson is the quiet guy in the background who builds them into successful businesses.
Rose fronted the initial cash for Digg, but Adelson is widely credited with using his business savvy to transform Rose’s brainchild into an influential new way to compile the news. Adelson also runs the show at Revision3, which is racing to create TV-style online video programs. Without Adelson, the people-powered content revolution wouldn’t be quite so powerful.
Why He Matters: People love to hate Calacanis, but it’s hard to dispute that he’s an expert at generating buzz. The creator of Weblogs Inc. — an early blog network that he sold to AOL in 2005 — recently launched the human-driven search portal Mahalo after leading the media on a merry chase to guess what the site would actually do.
But when Calacanis talks, people listen. And now that he’s joined forces with Silicon Valley’s leading venture firm (see No. 4) to fund Mahalo, many are eager to see what he’ll do next and who he’ll antagonize in the process.
Why she matters: Facebook and MySpace get the attention, but Bianchini’s Ning might be the most exciting thing in social networking right now. Instead of simply encouraging people to join one ubernetwork, Ning lets users create their own mini communities, complete with customizable layouts, profiles, blogs, videos, and ads.
Just as blogs changed the Web by turning ordinary folks into pundits, Ning could do the same for community. Bianchini wisely kept Ning’s code mostly open, enabling it to add new features at will. Next up: helping Ning fans dress up their networks with group calendars and wikis.
Ed Iacobucci, Vern Raburn
Iacobucci: CEO, DayJet; Raburn: CEO, Eclipse Aviation
Why they matter: This year marks the dawn of the air taxi era, thanks in no small part to the efforts of Iacobucci and Raburn. The two computer industry veterans — Iacobucci co-founded Citrix Systems, while Raburn used to work for Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen — could revolutionize commercial aviation.
In April, Raburn’s Eclipse Aviation got final go-ahead from the FAA to begin full-scale production of its five-seat jets, 309 of which are slated to go to Iacobucci’s air taxi startup, DayJet, in the next two years. The combination will enable small groups of passengers to fly to and from small cities for slightly more than a typical business-class fare.
Founding partner, Y Combinator
Why he matters: It takes a true nerd to make a science of venture capital investing, but Graham specializes in turning complex theories into marketable businesses. In the 1990s he launched Viaweb, one of the first companies to help ordinary people build online stores. He also pioneered the use of esoteric Bayesian statistics to filter junk e-mail, effectively making him the father of today’s antispam tools.
Y Combinator, his new seed fund, takes a hands-on approach to nurturing startups by combining active mentor-ship with relatively modest dollops of cash. He may be onto something: Web 2.0 services Loopt, Reddit, and Justin.tv have prospered with funding from Y Combinator.
Web-enabled mass participation
Why you matter: Can we be blunt? You had a disappointing year. It began with great promise, when this magazine placed You in the No.1 slot on the 2006 edition of this list. “You’ve become an integral part of the action as a member of the aggregated, interactive, self-organizing, auto-entertaining audience,” we said, and we really meant it! A few months later, our corporate cousins at Time concurred and named You the 2006 Person of the Year.
Then You got lazy. All those YouTube videos of cats dancing, playing the piano, and drunkenly running into walls? So derivative. Then there was all the fawning over Snakes on a Plane. What was up with that? And don’t even get us started on Sanjaya. Look, we still think You have lots of potential. But if You’re really going to change the media landscape, it’s time to step up Your game.
Why he matters: When we say You have questionable judgment, Williams’s Twitter may be a case in point. Twitter gives each user a webpage, where short text updates (known as “tweets”) can be posted to the site via IM, SMS, or blogging tools. The result is a torrent of short notes and inane observations (from “Feeling sick today” to “I’m in the bathroom!”) pouring in from buddies throughout the day.
Fans say Twitter is an invaluable way to stay in the loop. We’re not so sure. Twitter is either a major new communications platform or the next overhyped Friendster. Which will it be? Ask us again next year.
Why he matters: After selling the PayPal online payment system to eBay for $1.5 billion, Musk has parlayed his estimated $334 million in personal wealth into three revolutionary ventures: electric cars, solar panels, and low-cost space travel.
As chairman and chief checkwriter at Tesla Motors (see No. 19), he hopes to give the electric car market a big jolt. Musk’s SpaceX has successfully launched its Falcon rocket, a bargain at $7 million per flight, with hopes of muscling its way into the multibillion-dollar satellite launch business. Then there’s Solar City, another Musk company, which encourages neighborhoods to share the cost of installing solar panels.
We assume Musk has his eye on a synergy play: humans driving solar-charged Teslas on the moon!
Co-director, Harvard Stem Cell Institute
Why he matters: For a while it looked as though the South Koreans were winning the race to find real-world uses for human stem cells. But when their research program melted down in a data-faking scandal, Melton emerged as the prime mover in a field that could someday offer treatments for everything from cancer to diabetes to Parkinson’s disease.
When the White House cut funding for experiments based on stem cells taken from human embryos, Melton used private donations to create 30 embryonic stem-cell lines and distribute them to labs around the world. His cells, and scientists he trained, are now driving the research agenda in this promising field.
Founder and CEO, O’Reilly Media
Why he matters: The man who coined the term “Web 2.0” has a talent for planting himself in the heart of the action. The Web 2.0 conferences produced by his publishing company, O’Reilly Media, have become the Internet industry’s biggest business and cultural happening of the year.
Through his O’Reilly Radar blog, he is also one of the most influential voices in the world of open-source software. Not that he always gets it right: His proposal earlier this year to curtail bad behavior by creating a bloggers’ code of conduct was met with scorn. But O’Reilly’s ideas got the blogosphere chattering — and, as always, he was smack in the middle of the conversation.
Real estate magnate and media kingpin
Why he matters: The Chicago billionaire is betting big against the Internet. Zell, 65, discovered his entrepreneurial spirit as a child, buying Playboy magazines downtown and reselling them for a profit in the suburbs. He went on to make a fortune in real estate, buying cheap and selling dear.
Today he’s looking at undervalued property in the most unlikely of places: print media. First, Zell bought the Tribune Co., which owns the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times. Then he picked a fight with Google News, suggesting that the headline aggregator might have to start working for a living if newspapers like his decide to shut off the spigot of free news. Apostasy! But what if he’s right?
Why he matters: The light-emitting diode is poised to become the new lightbulb, and for that, Edmond deserves much of the credit. At Cree, the LED manufacturer he helped start two decades ago in North Carolina, Edmond is pushing the technology into the mainstream.
At a time when 22 percent of the nation’s energy is spent keeping the lights on, an LED bulb can burn for almost six years before it needs to be replaced, and some consume even less energy than compact fluorescent bulbs. Edmond’s LEDs are beginning to replace outdoor lighting in parking garages and streetlamps, and the indoor lighting market is set to open up as well.
Co-founder, Huffington Post
Why she matters: In the year of the blogger, Huffington is the queen of the blogosphere. Her Huffington Post, launched just two years ago to snooty derision, has become one of the Web’s most influential political sites, attracting more than 800,000 unique visitors a month. A $5 million round of VC funding has given Huffington the heft to add more original reporting, investigative pieces, and videos to a site already brimming with A-list opinion makers.
HuffPo is the new model for Internet-bred news sites — a hybrid that combines the journalistic traditions of print with the immediacy and community of the Web. She also plans to launch a satirical site called 23/6 later this year. This time, nobody’s laughing.
Fake Steve Jobs
Author, Secret Diary of Steve Jobs
Why he matters: How could an anonymous satirist possibly matter enough to make this list? Simple. Not only is Fake Steve’s site one of the most closely read blogs in Silicon Valley, but FSJ has great sources and (apparently) a pretty good line on how RSJ feels about the world around him.
FSJ is not so much Jobs’s alter ego as his id, free-associating about everything from “frigtards” like Eric “Squirrel Boy” Schmidt to the “MicroTards” in Redmond. Peace, FSJ. Namaste.
Managing director of renewable energy, GE Energy Financial Services
Why he matters: $4 billion. That’s how much Walsh’s division plans to spend on renewable-energy investments by 2010. In March he flew to Portugal to open one of the world’s largest photovoltaic solar power plants. In May he announced that GE will invest $180 million in two giant Texas wind-farm projects. The company will also invest $50 million a year in promising startups — making Walsh perhaps the leading sugar daddy of the green-tech boom.
Chairman and CEO, DraftFCB
Why he matters: Behavioral targeting, analytics, and data mining are all the rage in online advertising, but Draft, who made his name in direct-mail marketing, has been doing all three for decades.
Yes, he won and lost the $500 million Wal-Mart account in a matter of weeks earlier this year. But he quickly recovered by landing a $200 million account with Kmart and a bite-size $40 million deal with Kraft Lunchables. His direct-mail firm merged with 133-year-old ad agency Foote Cone & Belding in 2006, and Draft now runs the company, presiding over 9,000 employees worldwide at an agency that bills an estimated $350 million a year. Results-oriented, indeed.
Founder and CEO, Facebook
Why he matters: Zuckerberg was a 19-year-old Harvard student when he launched a social-networking site called Facebook for the in-the-know college crowd. Three years later Facebook is the sixth most visited site on the Internet, with some 24 million active users and enough clout to turn down a reported billion-dollar buyout offer from Yahoo (and to make us regret our decision to put him on our online-only list of the 10 Who Don’t Matter last year).
In September, Facebook opened its doors to anyone with an e-mail address, and in May it announced plans to add free classified ads. It also gave outside developers access to Facebook’s underlying code. In a matter of days, one application, iLike, had attracted nearly half a million users.
Founder, Virgin Group
Why he matters: Branson has made billions from Virgin Atlantic Airways, Virgin Trains, Virgin Limousines, and some 200 other Virgin brands. Having done his part to deplete the ozone layer, he’s now trying to make amends.
In September he announced that he will donate all profits from Virgin’s transportation businesses during the next decade — a sum that could exceed $3 billion — to combating global warming. Then he and Al Gore set up a $25 million prize for the first inventor who develops a cost-effective way to extract greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. Now he’s partnered with Boeing and General Electric to produce a biofuel to power the jets of the future. It’s the least he could do.
Why she matters: She may be selling sugar water, but she’s one heck of a role model. When PepsiCo tapped Nooyi to become chief executive of the $35 billion company, the snack and beverage giant became the biggest U.S. company run by a woman — and a foreign-born one at that.
Nooyi, a 13-year Pepsi veteran and its former CFO, knows all about the bottom line. She helped forge the $14 billion acquisition of Quaker Oats and its Gatorade unit in 2001, led the $2.2 billion IPO of the Pepsi-Cola bottling group, and positioned Pepsi for rapid growth in the really big markets: China, the Middle East, and her native India. Do you think John Sculley could have done that?
Mukesh Ambani, Anil Ambani
Mukesh: Chairman, Reliance Industries
Ambani: Chairman, Reliance ADA Group
Why they matter: These billionaire brothers from India are locked in a bitter intrafamily rivalry, and each seems intent on leading the group of companies he inherited from their late father in a different direction.
Elder brother Mukesh is building one of the world’s biggest oil refineries and has embarked on a bold plan to revolutionize Indian agriculture. Not to be outdone, flashy younger brother Anil is building one of the world’s biggest power plants using clean-burning natural gas. He has also created Reliance Communications, the world’s fastest-growing CDMA mobile-phone network, and has announced plans to invest billions in India’s enterprise broadband network. Imagine what these two could do if they just saw eye to eye.
Why he matters: Hyperion. Tangosol. AppForge. Lodestar. What do these software companies all have in common? Each was acquired by Oracle this year. CEO Larry Ellison gets the credit for setting Oracle’s course — before he set sail on his quest to capture the America’s Cup — but now it’s Phillips who’s actually steering the ship.
Managing Oracle’s increasingly unwieldy product portfolio, the result of 31 acquisitions since 2005, is not an easy job. But if the company can maintain its momentum (17 percent profit growth in 2006) without screwing up its massive installed base, Ellison will know who to thank.
Chairman, One Laptop Per Child
Why he matters: The MIT Media Lab co-founder’s nonprofit group, One Laptop Per Child, has created an inexpensive notebook computer for children in developing nations. The goal is to make a machine that sells for $100.
For now, however, the first laptops will cost $175, and even then, One Laptop Per Child needs orders for 3 million units to get started. Though cheap, the Linux machines come with free e-books, learning software, and a Web browser. A windup crank permits use off the electric grid, and rabbit-ear antennas create long-distance Wi-Fi mesh networks so entire villages can share a single Internet connection.
Vice chairman, Frontline Wireless
Why he matters: As chairman of the FCC during the go-go 1990s, Hundt oversaw the process of auctioning off billions of dollars’ worth of wireless spectrum. Today, as vice chairman of startup Frontline Wireless, he’s hoping to lay claim to the last major tract — the 700-MHz band being given up by UHF TV broadcasters — when it’s sold off sometime in the next year.
Frontline wants to use the spectrum to create an open wireless broadband network that would be accessible to anyone with any device, much like the wired Internet today. Current FCC chairman Kevin Martin has already signaled his support.
Janus Friis and Niklas Zennstrom
Co-founders, Skype and Joost
Why they matter: Call them the Disruptive Duo. First they undermined the music industry by unleashing the Kazaa file-sharing network. Then they rattled the telephone industry by creating Skype, a free Internet phone network.
Now Friis and Zennstrom are ready to reinvent the TV industry with Joost, a full-screen, peer-to-peer TV network that you can watch on your laptop. With 150 channels available and more on the way, Joost is the anti-YouTube: All the video, from anime to CSI, is created by entertainment pros. More than 500,000 beta users signed up before Joost even opened its doors to the general public, and big-name advertisers — Coca-Cola, Nike, Sony — are lining up to become sponsors. TV may never be the same.
Chief project engineer, Boeing
Why he matters: It’s not just that Boeing’s all-new 787 Dreamliner helped the company regain the upper hand in its rivalry with Airbus; the 787 is the most successful new aircraft launch in the history of commercial aviation. With the first delivery on track for May 2008, more than 550 787s are already on order at roughly $160 million apiece.
Cogan and his team deserve much of the credit for this, because the 787 is ideally suited to the lean realities of the post-9/11 airline industry. The jet can fly as many as 330 passengers on long-range flights while delivering 20 percent better fuel efficiency and 10 percent lower operating costs than older models like Boeing’s 767 and the Airbus A330.
Founder and CEO, Linden Labs
Why he matters: Virtual worlds, like real nations, are starting to generate significant economic activity, and Rosedale’s Second Life is the most formidable virtual world of all. Not only is it home to nearly 2 million active “residents,” but it has spawned an online economy where more than $1.5 million worth of digital goods and services are traded every day.
Second Life is no longer just a game; it may also be the precursor of a more visual, three-dimensional Internet. Instead of looking at a flat e-commerce webpage, imagine dropping by a 3-D virtual store. Sound far-fetched? In Second Life, it’s already routine.
Senior vice president, Apple
Why he matters: It’s an open secret that Fadell is the real engineering genius behind the iPod. In fact, he was already well on his way to building a hard-drive-based MP3 player that could store thousands of songs (sound familiar?) when Apple hardware chief Jon Rubinstein tapped him to lead the original iPod engineering team.
By 2006, when Fadell was given the reins of the entire iPod division, it was generating more revenue for Apple than the Mac. What’s he done for us lately? Glad you asked. Have you heard of this new thing called the iPhone?
Co-founder and CEO, Garmin
Why he matters: Kao has built a $1.8 billion business heeding the old axiom of location, location, and location. The world’s largest manufacturer of GPS devices, his company is spearheading a revolution in location-based computing.
The company, which does its own design, manufacturing, inventory, distribution, and customer service, sold about 5.6 million units last year, grabbing more than 50 percent of the U.S. market. When the day comes that every phone, computer, and iPod has a built-in GPS device, chances are the technology will be Garmin’s.
Why he matters: In tech circles, it’s become a verb, as in “We got TechCrunched.” Everyone knows what it means: Your phone starts ringing, and traffic to your website explodes.
Since Arrington launched TechCrunch two years ago, the site has become a must-read in the fast-growing Web 2.0 world. When Arrington reviews a company’s product — typically before others get word of it — VCs often begin pitching the startup with funding offers. Arrington says he plans to stay independent, and why shouldn’t he, given that his 10-person outfit brings in $200,000 a month. Look for him to begin buying up other blogs as he seeks to expand his reach as Silicon Valley’s reigning kingmaker.
Chairman and CEO, AT&T
Why he matters: Stephenson hopes to transform a company rooted in yesterday’s technology — telephone landlines — into a multiplatform provider of telecom services. AT&T’s decision to rebrand the Cingular network with Ma Bell’s 122-year-old moniker got a big boost with the news that AT&T would become the exclusive carrier of Apple’s iPhone.
But Stephenson must also find success with the U-verse — a long-delayed IP-based television system that will put AT&T in direct competition with cable companies. In May, AT&T announced that it will spend $6.5 billion ($1.4 billion more than previously announced) to roll out the system in 20 cities. If the effort fails, Stephenson could go the way of the rotary dial.
Senior managing director, Nintendo
Why he matters: If you recognize the name Donkey Kong, Mario, or Zelda, you’re familiar with Miyamoto’s work — and if you’ve come within shouting distance of a 14-year-old lately, you’ve probably heard about his latest creation: the Nintendo Wii.
The Wii’s motion-sensitive controller has injected a physical dimension into the videogame business, but the real genius of the Wii may be that it appeals to people outside Nintendo’s traditional middle-school demographic. By marketing the Wii aggressively to 25-to 49-year-olds, Miyamoto is breathing new life into a $30 billion industry that was starting to stagnate.
Co-founder and CEO, Tesla Motor
Why he matters: Eberhard’s high-tech, battery-powered electric car is less about bland eco-consciousness than about sex and speed. The Tesla Roadster does zero-to-60 in a whiplash-inducing four seconds, reaches over 130 mph, and goes more than 200 miles on a single charge.
And oh, yes, it’s also helping to save the earth. No surprise that the likes of Larry Page and Arnold Schwarzenegger have lined up to buy the six-figure supercar. Next up, Eberhard will take aim at the mass market by introducing a four-door sedan, the WhiteStar, that’s slated to debut in 2009 at half the price.
Agile Software Development
A new approach to Web-based code
Why it matters: It started as a rebellion against overwrought, Dilbert-style software development projects. Today the set of practices known as agile software development is reshaping the way coders and entrepreneurs create Web-based services.
Agile teams work very quickly — sometimes in as little as a week — to create small chunks of code. Once a component is finished, additional features are added, with the process repeating indefinitely. Agile also has a reputation for enabling managers to deliver products on time and under budget, which helps explain why it has become a methodology of choice at companies like Google and Lockheed Martin.
Co-founder and CEO, Baidu.com
Why he matters: Since founding Baidu.com, his Chinese-language search engine, in 2000, Li has left everyone — including Google — in the dust. Baidu leads China’s search market with a commanding 62 percent share and lots of long-term potential: With a current online population of 150 million users among its 1.3 billion people, China may eventually become the world’s most lucrative Internet market.
Reaching the top hasn’t been easy — Li has taken heat for tolerating censorship, piracy, and lax advertising standards — but he argues that search is a different game in China. He may be right. With profit booming, Li’s story is a timely reminder that even on the World Wide Web there’s such a thing as home-field advantage.
Why he matters: Chances are you’ve passed through one of Diller’s portals without even knowing it. His IAC/InterActiveCorp owns dating site Match.com, event organizer Evite, mortgage company LendingTree, and search engine Ask.
But Diller isn’t putting all his chips on the Web: Most of IAC’s revenue is generated by HSN (formerly the Home Shopping Network) and Ticketmaster. What’s next? Diller has hired longtime television producer Michael Jackson to develop niche sites like CollegeHumor.com, while a joint venture with the Huffington Post (see No.38) will produce Daily Show-style satirical news for the Web.
Why he matters: Chizen isn’t a flashy guy. Sure, his company made Photoshop a household word and helped bring Internet video into the mainstream, but the Brooklyn native, who never lost his tough-talking accent, is positioning Adobe’s PDF and Flash technologies at the center of the online content revolution.
And he’s been so successful that Adobe now finds itself in Microsoft’s crosshairs. Is Chizen worried? Fugghetaboutit. In fact, he’s launching Adobe’s most ambitious project yet: a platform called Apollo that helps Web developers build desktop software to engage customers even when they’re not online. Take that, Steve Ballmer.
CEO and president, Hewlett-Packard
Why he matters: Wonder what happened to Michael Dell’s mojo? Look no further than Mark Hurd. This year the chief of Silicon Valley’s top-selling company stole not only Dell’s crown in the PC business but also his reputation for ruthless efficiency. What’s more, under his unflappable leadership, HP’s stock price has doubled, and the company has emerged largely unscathed from its embarrassing reporter-spying scandal.
There’s still plenty of tough sledding ahead; to achieve revenue growth of just 5 percent, HP would have to add a whopping $5 billion a year in sales. But then again, that’s exactly what it did last year.
Founder, Wikipedia; Chairman, Wikia
Why he matters: It may not be 100 percent accurate, but Wales’s user-generated Wikipedia has become the first place we go to learn the basics of just about anything. Yet as the scope and influence of Wikipedia continue to expand, Wales has been concentrating on Wikia, his for-profit company — backed by a reported $14 million in venture funding — that seeks to extend the wiki concept into ad-supported, user-generated community sites.
Wales is also working on a people-powered search site that would rely on human intelligence to do what Google’s proprietary algorithms can’t. Some think Wales is nuts to challenge Google, but the notion of building an online encyclopedia with an army of unpaid volunteers once seemed crazy too.
Why he matters: Bezos has run a wildly successful Web company for more than a decade, but he’s not resting on his laurels: Having built the world’s largest online bookstore, he’s now trying to become the largest provider of back-end support and services for fledgling Internet companies.
Amazon’s Simple Storage Service seems far removed from its core retail business, but Web 2.0 companies have embraced the pay-as-you-go product as an alternative to building their own server farms. Nevertheless, analysts worry that despite the company’s pioneering roots and massive technology infrastructure, it lags behind competitors like Google and Yahoo. But don’t count the Web’s old man out just yet; Amazon’s first-quarter profit of $111 million was up 118 percent from last year.
Why he matters: Does Microsoft still matter? The Vista operating system was greeted with a yawn, and the Zune MP3 player hasn’t fared much better. But things may get interesting now that McAndrews has sold digital ad firm aQuantive to Redmond for $6 billion and will come aboard to help Gates & Co. take on Google in the online-ad game.
At Microsoft, McAndrews will be armed with a new weapon: Riax, a cutting-edge system for tracking the effectiveness of ads on rich-media sites. It’s a proprietary tool he developed at aQuantive — and something Google can’t yet match.
Why he matters: Toyota will become the world’s biggest automaker on a volume basis this year, but that’s not the statistic that counts. What counts is the fact that, while GM and Ford lost $2 billion and $12.6 billion last year, respectively, Toyota reaped a profit of $13.2 billion — its seventh record-smashing year in a row.
A Toyota lifer, Watanabe rose to the top job in 2005 thanks to his talent for eliminating inefficiency, but he’s also bolstered the company’s reputation for innovative thinking. While the Prius remains a high-profile success, rumor has it that Toyota plans to release a next-generation hybrid that you can recharge by plugging it into your home’s electrical system.
CEO, Cisco Systems
Why he matters: Thanks to the white-hot market for video content, which drives up bandwidth demand, sales of Cisco’s switches and routers are booming. But Chambers is positioning the networking giant to be more than a Silicon Valley merchant of picks and shovels.
He also wants Cisco to increase its visibility with consumers, and to do that he’s launched a targeted acquisition spree, buying, among others, TV set-top-box maker Scientific-Atlanta, e-mail security company IronPort Systems, and Internet conferencing leader WebEx Communications. Will it pay off? The jury’s still out, but in truth, it might not matter. When you’re in a gold rush, owning the market for picks and shovels isn’t such a bad thing.
Why he matters: Officially, the Governator presides only over the Golden State. Unofficially, Schwarzenegger is also setting the national agenda when it comes to big issues like climate change and universal health care.
The five-time Mr. Universe is transforming the state into a green giant, launching a series of wide-ranging initiatives to improve air and water quality and reduce carbon emissions. Along the way, Schwarzenegger is prompting many of his fellow Republicans to conclude that good environmental stewardship is also smart economic policy. Al Gore may still be the green movement’s favorite spokesman, but Schwarzenegger has emerged as the environment’s real-life action hero.
Why she matters: If Yahoo is ever to regain the upper hand in its rivalry with Google, Decker will be the one who makes it happen. After a long stint as Yahoo’s CFO, Decker was tapped in December to take a new job as head of the company’s advertising and publishing division, which generates most of its revenue, and in June as the company’s president.
In the new role, her not-small task is to reposition Yahoo by tweaking its Panama ad system to deliver more customers to advertisers and more profit to publishers. Amid growing nervousness about Google’s dominance, Decker has a real opportunity to succeed. If she does, she’s a shoo-in to follow Terry Semel as Yahoo’s next CEO.
CEO, News Corp.
Why he matters: Never bet on what Murdoch will do next. His 2005 purchase of MySpace for $580 million was widely mocked — until traffic kept increasing and Google shelled out nearly three times as much to buy YouTube.
Now Murdoch is trying to buy Dow Jones, publisher of the Wall Street Journal, for $5 billion. A foolish play when everything seems to be migrating to the Web? As we said, betting on Murdoch’s next move is risky business. But betting on his long-term success often pays off.
Why he matters: Qualcomm is the Wintel of wireless — the company that controls the underlying technology for the device that everyone has to have. In Qualcomm’s case, that technology is code division multiple access, or CDMA, and it’s become the bedrock of high-speed mobile communications.
Now Jacobs hopes to expand Qualcomm’s reach by launching MediaFlo, a national TV network for mobile devices. Verizon and AT&T have signed on as carriers. If the media gambit works, Qualcomm won’t just be the Microsoft and Intel of wireless — it’ll be the Fox and NBC too.
Managing director, Sequoia Capital
Why he matters: Sequoia has edged out Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers in Silicon Valley’s venture capital hierarchy, and Moritz is the chief reason. Every VC outfit has money, but under Moritz’s leadership, Sequoia has shown that it has the connections, the smarts, and the cojones to build large, lasting companies.
Google? Sequoia was an early investor. PayPal? Sequoia was there. YouTube? Yup, that one too. Thanks in no small part to Moritz’s track record, Sequoia often gets first dibs on hot new startups. “Always available for thoughtful, hungry, and imaginative people” is how Moritz describes himself on his LinkedIn profile. Believe it.
The new Masters of the Universe
Why They Matter: Ask any MBA student what she wants to be when she grows up, and chances are she’ll gush about landing a job at a private-equity firm like Blackstone, Carlyle, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, or Texas Pacific Group.
And why not? Private-equity shops raised a record $217 billion in new capital in the United States alone during 2006 and are now busy buying up everything from massive REITs like Zell’s Equity Office Partners (purchased by Blackstone for $20 billion) to tiny startups like visual effects firm the Mill.
With so much private money flowing into every sector of the economy, some foresee a train wreck. Perhaps. But in the meantime, PE firms announced more than a quarter-trillion dollars’ worth of deals in the first five months of this year — which means that, for better or worse, private equity will make its presence felt for a long time to come.
Co-founder and CEO, Apple
Why he matters: Apple’s co-founder has started to channel his inner Wayne Gretzky. “I skate to where the puck is going to be,” Jobs said as he introduced the iPhone in January, “not to where it’s been.”
Given the continuing strength of both the iPod (100 million sold) and the iTunes store (2.5 billion downloads), it’s a credible boast. But will millions of Americans really pay $500 to replace their Razrs and Treos with iPhones? And will they come around to the Apple TV, a device so far ahead of its time that nobody’s quite sure what it’s for?
Jobs’s genius as a designer, product manager, and pitchman is that he’s never comfortable unless he’s pushing the envelope. And like an athlete at the top of his game, it’s hard to take your eyes off him
Eric Schmidt, Larry Page, Sergey Brin
Schmidt: CEO, Google; Page and Brin: Co-founders, Google
Why they matter: For consumers, Google is one of the world’s most beloved companies. For competitors, it’s a force to be feared. The task of maintaining that balance of love and fear falls to the triumvirate of Schmidt, Page, and Brin. The trio has steered Google past $10 billion in revenue with nary a financial hiccup — and with profit still growing an average of 40 percent every quarter, they’ve more than earned their place at the top of this list.
But what makes Schmidt, Page, and Brin really matter is the fact that they seem determined to disrupt every digital business in existence, from software to video to telecommunications. When Google eyes a new market, it always tries to change the rules of the game.