Technology has become one of the defining branches of knowledge for our times. The rapid speed of technological innovation is difficult to keep track of and shows no sign of letting up. Everything from home automation to telecommunication has undergone huge development in recent times and that is partly thanks to the forward-thinking ideas coming from individuals at the top of their fields. Tech leaders, especially those residing in Silicon Valley, are subject to the same glorification and respect paid to Hollywood’s finest actors, showing the importance of tech innovation in the information age we live in.
It’s because of those people we can feasibly think about the development of artificial intelligence, virtual reality, electric cars and all other aspects of future technology to improve the human species. The world’s problems are being considered by those at the top of the tech tree; death, global warming, social connectivity are all things that affect us and those around us daily and will take some careful consideration by those in power to control. The interaction between human and technology is becoming more and more profound and seamless as we go forward in the digitalization we have all become used to.
Here is a list of 15 influential leaders from across the tech landscape…
15. Tim Cook – Apple CEO
The current CEO of Apple, Tim Cook previously served under Steve Jobs during his reign. In August 2011, Cook was named Apple’s new CEO, taking over the position from Jobs, who died in October 2011 after a years-long battle with cancer. Cook continues to seek to achieve excellence at Apple, but he does so with a distinctly different management style than his predecessor. He’s made an immediate point to stress transparency and teamwork within the Apple organization. Cook is a hardened advocate for reformation in relation to domestic and international surveillance, a practical example of this was demonstrated when Apple refused to grant access to an encrypted iPhone the FBI wanted to use during a case.
14. Larry Page – Google Co-Founder
Co-founder of Google and the chief executive officer of Google’s parent company, Alphabet, Larry Page is no stranger to the higher echelons of technology business. Along with the other Google co-founder, Sergey Brin, together they developed the PageRank algorithm, and realized that it could be used to build a search engine far superior to existing ones. From that came Google and now Page is sits at number 12 on the list of richest people in the world in 2016. Responsible for a company that literally changed the way the world learned, Page continues to develop Google and other project including Google Maps, Android OS and YouTube.
13. Edward Snowden – Whistle Blower
After blowing the whistle on the NSA’s mass collection of data, Snowden became a controversial figure who took sole responsibility for the leaks. After a series of interviews with prolific journalist Glenn Greenwald and the Guardian, Snowden sacrificed his livelihood so people could put a face to the claims made on the leaked documents. Since then Snowden has been residing in Russia where he was granted asylum and the exposure of the NSA’s reach continues to be discussed today. Snowden continues to voice his opinions on cybersecurity and the surveillance state through his Twitter account and speeches via video links.
12. Ray Kurzweil – Author, Futurist
American author, director of engineering at Google, and futurist Ray Kurzweil is most notable for his predictions in technology. His book, The Age of Intelligent Machines published in 1990 discusses the history of computer artificial intelligence (AI) and forecasts future developments. His second book, The Singularity is Near, was published in 2006 and discusses the merging of human technology with human intelligence. His most notable predictions include wearable technology, cloud computing and Google glass. Bill Gates once described him as, “the best I know at predicting the future of artificial intelligence.”
11. Elon Musk – CEO Tesla and SpaceX
The poster-boy for modern space exploration and electric cars, Elon Musk is the highly-renowned CEO of SpaceX and Tesla Motors. Musk is held in high regard by a large stream of followers who keenly wait on his next big world-changing announcement. Musk has stated that his aim as a tech leader is to change the world for the better and has spent his money and time on attempting to reduce global warming through sustainable energy production and consumption, and reducing the risk of human extinction by making a human colony on Mars possible in the future.
10. Peter Theil – Co-Founder Paypal
Co-founder of PayPal and the first professional investor in Facebook, Peter Theil is an influential figure across the tech scene. Theil runs several firms that fund start-up companies and sits on the board at Facebook Inc. He was credited for arranging a meeting of the Silicon Valley luminaries at Trump Tower and is a close associate of Donald Trump after becoming a key member of the transition team. Theil is known for his outlandish opinions, especially regarding human immortality, financially encouraging start-ups working on anti-ageing medicine and spending a considerable amount of time and money researching therapies for his own personal use.
9. Tim Wu – Columbia Law School Professor
Professor at Columbia Law School, Tim Wu is an expert of media and technology . His academic specialties include antitrust, copyright and telecommunications law. Within the tech industry he is mostly known for the coining of the phrase ‘net neutrality’, a phrase defining a neutral stance on the treatment of all information equally by Internet Service Providers and governments. He also authored the highly successful The Attention Merchants: The Epic Scramble to Get Inside Our Heads, a book that discusses how the advertising industry is harvesting human attention through branding and sponsored social media.
8. Mark Zuckerberg – Facebook Creator
One of technology’s highest achievers and earners, Zuckerberg made his fortune coming up with the idea for Facebook. An idea that has had a significant impact on the world by connecting with people all over the globe. Zuckerberg runs one the most powerful companies on the planet, one that has the capability to change the way we live our lives. There is rumors that Zuckerberg will eventually run for office in the coming years which a reflection of how much of a mainstream figure he has become and how seriously leading tech figures are being taken on the political stage.
7. Jeff Bezos – Amazon CEO
Best known as the founder, chairman, and chief executive officer of Amazon.com, Jeff Bezos runs the world’s largest online shopping retailer. The ambition demonstrated by Bezos is admirable, he is also responsible for investing through his venture capital firm, Bezos Expedition, in services such as Twitter, Uber and Airbnb. Besoz is currently the third richest person in the world with an estimated net worth of US$72 billion. Like Elon Musk, Beszos shares an interest in space exploration and started up his own aerospace manufacturer and spaceflight services company, Blue Origin.
6. Satya Nadella – Microsoft CEO
After working for Sun Microsystems for a brief period, Satya Nadella made the move Microsoft in 1992. He started climbing the corporate ladder steadily and was one of the first employees to put forward the concept of cloud computing. After a twenty-two years stint, Nadella was promoted to CEO in 2014. In the short time frame he’s been here, Nadella has transformed Microsoft into a company that embraces vertical integration, one that builds it own data centres and designs it own hardware as well as developing the software it is renowned for. Microsoft’s web-based platform Office365 is something Nadella will look to improve as subscription numbers rocket.
5. Daniel Ek – Spotify CEO
Responsible for the music streaming giant Spotify, Daniel Ek found an answer to getting people to pay for music without the hassle of charging for each song. Spotify is one of the most popular online services available right now, supported by an expanding group of paying subscribers and advertising the companies estimated value stands at $4 billion. In the current tech landscape, where Google provides the search, Facebook the identity and Amazon the retail, Spotify is supplying the music. Easy access through phone, tablet and computer, Ek has come up with a streaming service usable by all audiences with only an internet connection required.
4. Travis Kalanick, Uber CEO
The ride sharing service Uber has come under fire in recent times with reports of company-wide misogyny and mistreatment of the drivers they solely depend on. Trevor Kalanick, co-founder and front man for Uber, transformed the car-hailing business by pushing traditional taxi services out of the market and replacing them with a system that utilizes both smartphones and the internet. Uber is now active across the globe in 81 counties and 581 cities and shows no sign of decreasing in popularity. Kalanick, hailed as Silicone Valley’s newest rising stars, has managed to earn himself a net worth of $3 billion.
3. Reed Hastings – Netflix CEO
With over 93 millions users, Netflix has trumped the competition and put video rental companies in the ground. Hastings co-founded the streaming streaming service back in 1997 along with his partner Marc Randolph. Credited with coming up with the idea after misplacing a copy of Apollo 13 and incurring a late fee, Hastings saw the television via the internet as the future. And with that idea Hastings revolutionized the way we watch shows and movies and continues attract thousands of subscribers every year.
2. Susan Wojcicki – YouTube CEO
Current CEO of Google subsidiary YouTube, in 1999 Wojcicki became Google’s first marketing manager following a stint working in marketing at Intel. Google Images and Book were both a focus of Wojcicki, who took part in overseeing and contributing to both sections of the Google umbrella. Wojcicki oversaw the purchase of YouTube, a key acquisition that helped Google engulf its closest rival for video streaming. Having handled two of Google’s largest acquisitions: the $1.65 billion purchase of YouTube in 2006 and the $3.1 billion purchase of DoubleClick in 2007, in February 2014, Wojcicki became the CEO of YouTube and is now labelled the “the most powerful woman on the internet.”
1. Jack Dorsey – Twitter CEO
Current CEO of Twitter, Jack Dorsey, has seen the idea he co-founded change into one of the websites that receives the highest amount of daily traffic. Twitter was once described as a tool for the shallow and self-centered to broadcast short descriptions of their lives to the universe. And although there’s no disputing that aspect of it, no one could have predicted the influence it has had on pop culture and the politics in relation to youth movements and a tool used by those in power to broadcast messages to large audiences daily. Dorsey is worth $1.67 billion and will remain a key figure in the tech industry in the foreseeable future.
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