US President Barack Obama might be the world’s most powerful person, according to Forbes, but there’s a handful of entrepreneurs on this year’s list for start-ups to draw inspiration from.
Forbes’ 2012 list of the world’s most powerful people is, unfortunately, dominated by men. German chancellor Angela Merkel is the only female in the top 10, while the next is ranked 18th.
However, the list has a relatively strong entrepreneurial flavour. Here is a snapshot of some of the standouts:
Bill Gates (no. 4)
Gates’ legacy as the co-founder of Microsoft has been well documented. But his real power in recent years has come from his efforts as a dedicated, passionate philanthropist.
His post-Microsoft mission includes eliminating the many infectious and deadly diseases that grip third world countries.
Having given away more than $28 billion of his fortune, Gates is now encouraging others to do the same through his “Giving Pledge” campaign, whereby participants promise to give away at least half of their wealth.
More than 20 people signed the Giving Pledge this year, bringing the total to 92.
Sergey Brin and Larry Page (no. 20)
Brin and Page are the founders of Google – one of the world’s most valuable and powerful tech companies. They own about 16% of the company’s stock.
Together, they have helped build the world’s most visited website, surpassing one billion visitors each month.
Page says he spends more than half this time on Google Glass; the wearable computer set to hit the market in 2014.
Mark Zuckerberg (no. 25)
At 28, Facebook founder and billionaire Mark Zuckerberg is the youngest person on the list.
This is impressive given the majority of people on it are in their 50s and 60s, with an overall average age of 60.
Facebook’s initial public offering was a disappointment, and its stock remains far below the original $38 a share. Zuckerberg’s personal fortune declined from $17.5 billion to less than $14 billion.
But Zuckerberg hasn’t let them deter him. In October, Facebook hit one billion monthly users.
Rupert Murdoch (no. 26)
Murdoch is the founder, chairman and chief executive of News Corporation – the world’s second largest media conglomerate.
Despite the News of the World phone hacking scandal, the company has seen a sharp rise in profits, and there are now plans to split up its entertainment and publishing businesses.
In the meantime, Murdoch has taken to Twitter with great gusto.
Jeff Bezos (no. 27)
Bezos is the founder and chief executive of Amazon – the biggest retailer on the web.
Bezos, who recently spoke to US talk show host Charlie Rose, founded Amazon in 1994 after making a cross-country drive from New York to Seattle, writing up a business plan on the way.
After leaving his job at a New York hedge fund, Bezos set up Amazon in his garage. Today, it reels in more than $48 billion, while Bezos has a net worth in excess of $23 billion.
Tim Cook (no. 35)
Cook knew he had some large shoes to fill when he became chief executive of Apple following the death of Steve Jobs.
One year on, Apple is not only the most valuable company in the world but a major player in design, technology, publishing and music.
Cook is believed to be the highest paid chief executive in the world.
This article first appeared on StartupSmart.