The 10 Most Important and Influential people in Technology Today

This article was originally written December 2008.

In assembling the list I understand that some of the names, and indeed their rankings will be surprising to some, you might think why include X but not Y, you might even think who the heck is X?

But before you read the list just think yourself who deserves to be included; names like Bill Gates will crop up, probably near the top, right? Sure they’re some of the richest and most well known people in the world but you won’t see their names included because of that fact. Income or fame have nothing to do with this list!

However, this list will have famous names, and some not so famous but they all share common grounds: they and their ideas are influencing our future, that and it’s a safe bet to presume that they are all very, very rich.

10. Jimmy Wales (Wikipedia)
Wales developed Wikipedia, now the world’s largest encyclopedia. The site is fully user edited and user created and set the benchmark for the new web 2.0.

9 and 8. Sergey Brin/Larry Page – Co-founders, Google
After meeting at University and co-creating the largest search engine on the net, Google, the pair have gone on to be the youngest billionaires in the world. The majority of the companies income comes from advertising yet they still rake in more than $16bn a year enabling them to make acquisitions like that of Youtube in 2006. The pair even have their own scheme in the company whereby employees spend 20% of their time on ‘innovation time off’, where they can pursue ideas that interest them which has lead to Gmail and Google News being created.

7. Mike Morhaime – President and Co-Founder, Blizzard Entertainment
World of Warcraft is the most played online game on the planet, with 11 million players around the globe and more than 60% of the gaming market share playing WoW. Every player pays a monthly subscription fee to play with an estimated 40% of the players thought to be dangerously addicted. Despite the game making Blizzard and its parent company Vivendi hundreds of millions of pounds each year, the game also allows players to make money, by having its own fully fledged economy with many players earning a living on the game by selling their creations or even working for other players.

6. Steve Jobs – CEO, Apple Computer
Full of creativity and style, Jobs and Apple are the leaders in their fields. It would be hard to overlook how significant the Ipod and Itunes were in revolutionizing MP3’s to the mass. Apples products look better, sound better and perform better than their competition and they are continuing this trend with the Iphone. What’s next is anyone guess, more variations on Ipods and Iphones is a given but be prepared for their next big invention as going by their track record it could be anything.

5. Richard Branson – Chairman, Virgin Group
Branson’s empire now expands across every imaginable medium: music, internet, air/land travel, telecoms, and the list goes on. Branson is expanding his businesses further by launching Virgin Media this year and is leading the pact with his new travel service, Virgin Galactic, that will take passengers to space for a measly £100,000 a person.

4 and 3. Janus Friis/Niklas Zennstrom – Co-founders, Skype
Friis and Zennström came out of nowhere to creat Kazaa in 2000, a hugely popular peer-to-peer download site. Three years later the duo launched Skype whereby users can make free calls over the internet. 5 years later and there are over 200 million registered users. The pair recently sold off Skype for $2.6bn and are now putting all their attention to Joost, a site to distribute TV shows and videos over the internet.

2. Rupert Murdoch – CEO, News Corp.
Murdoch’s empire spreads across the globe owning nwspapers and satellite services in Asia, Europe and North Amrica. But Murdoch’s plans are evolving and now he’s headed to the internet. First Murdoch acquired Myspace, one of the most popular social-networking site with millions of users worldwide. He then followed this by buying IGN, the leading entertainment and gaming site. He’s continuing to prove that despite his age he can satisfy every demographic.

1. Oprah Winfrey – Entertainment mogul
When Oprah tells her audience to buy a book, the next day it will have gone to the top of the charts (she recently signed the biggest book deal of all time), if she tells you to watch a show it’ll be the biggest hit of the week. She has a midas touch that extends across every possible medium. Oprah’s show still pulls in more than 30 million viewers an episode influencing everyone that watches it, with her audience hanging on every word she says. She’s an unstoppable force who will continue as one of the most influential people, not just in technology but the world.

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