list | Forbes: the Era’s Most Influential • tech industry leader

no. 9 | Ray Kurzweil
January 1, 2020

— story —

publication: Forbes
story title: list — the Era’s Most Influential: tech industry leader
deck: 13 tech experts offer their opinions
deck: no. 9 | Ray Kurzweil
section: Forbes Technology Council
author: by panel
date: July 2019

note: This story is collected for the Kurzweil Library archive.

— about the list —

leaders in tech:

A select number of influential leaders in the tech industry have dominated headlines in the last few decades. From revolutionizing mobile tech, to bringing social media into the mainstream, to championing open source, and more — each has focused on and accomplished very different — and impactful — things in the tech space.

From Steve Jobs (Apple), and Mark Zuckerberg (Facebbok), to Elon Musk (Tesla + Space X) — there have been some great innovators + innovations. And there’s a variety of opinions when it comes to naming who has had the biggest influence.

our panel of judges:

We asked 13 experts from Forbes Technology Council to share their choices for the leaders who have done the most to revolutionize the tech industry over the past few decades.

The Forbes Technology Council is an invitation-only, fee-based organization of leading executives with first-hand insights on innovation + business. Through our selection process, we recruit + invite members — not just on the basis of career success — but on their diversity of perspective and willingness to give as much as they gain. We bring these members together in a community tailored to the industry.

— the list —

the Era’s Most Influential: tech industry leader
by Forbes

no. 1 |  Elon Musk

I believe Elon has been the most influential tech leader because his innovation extends far beyond just social networks or consumer technology. Elon has completely disrupted the aerospace and automotive industries. He is leveraging technology and entrepreneurship to find solutions to massive problems such as clean energy and interplanetary travel.

Swish Goswami | Trufan

no. 2 |  Larry Ellison

Looking at Larry Ellison’s career and the other companies he’s helped (Salesforce and Apple), it’s pretty hard to leave him off the list. His tactics might not be embraced by everyone, but he’s shaped business-to-business technology. Even AWS uses Oracle’s database.

Tarek Alaruri | Fairmarkit

no. 3 |  Torvalds

I consider Linus Torvalds to be a tech leader. Linus came up with a concept of open source and though he is not as rich as Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos or Mark Zuckerberg, he has made significant contributions to the tech community. The whole notion of open source has grown significantly and continues to grow, and several businesses have prospered from open source.

Naresh Soni | Tsunami XR

no. 4 |  Ryan Hoover

As the founder of Product Hunt, Ryan Hoover has the pulse on new products and innovations worldwide. Product developers submit new products to the platform every single day in the hundreds. Venture capitalists use the platform to pick their next investments, tech reporters seek stories from the presenting startups and the tech ecosystem gets products and product ideas to use from it.

Masha Sharma | RealAtom

no. 5 |  Bill Gates

Bill Gates pioneered the feasibility of commercialization of personal computers. His vision was for everyone to have a PC when this concept seemed a fallacy. The fact that now everyone is computer literate and the digital age has blossomed should be credited to Gates. He is also the first billionaire who dedicated himself to donating a significant portion of his wealth. He is a true leader.

Afshin Doust | Advanced Intelligent Systems

no. 6 |  Marc Benioff

Under Marc Benioff’s stewardship, Salesforce brought us software-as-a-service and cloud computing. Previously, every business app was a customized, bespoke installation and configuration, often with unique source code modifications. By creating multitenant environments, he brought his customers and the industry forward into high-quality engineered systems designed to run efficiently at scale.

Bret Piatt | Jungle Disk

no. 7 |  Reed Hastings

Reed Hastings, CEO and founder of Netflix, is definitely a tech leader. Netflix began as a DVD vending machine with mail-order DVDs that almost brought the company to a close. But after a meticulous pivot strategy, Netflix is one of the world’s more recognizable and ever-growing content-delivery brands. At the end of the day, they have a flawless service, an epic offering and endless ways to onboard and entertain billions of people.

Alon Muroch | Blox

no. 8 |  Steve Jobs

The most influential leader isn’t necessarily the most talented or have the most knowledge. Having influence is a unique ability that extends far beyond ability. It reaches into style and intangibles. It’s indisputable that Steve Jobs has defined tech leadership since the early 1990s. No other person has had multiple books, movies, and debate surrounding their life + story. His contributions exceed all others.

Tom Roberto | Core Technology Solutions

no. 9 |  Ray Kurzweil

The uncanny accuracy of Ray Kurzweil’s predictions in his books — as well as his vision for what is still to come — has inspired many in our industry. His current work on artificial intelligence, his educational efforts at Singularity University and his most recent book — Danielle: Chronicles of a Superheroine — continue to demonstrate his relevance as well as his ability to inspire the next generation of innovators.

Paul Blough | BloughTech

no. 10 |  Seth Godin

Tech leaders come from very diverse backgrounds. Most of them eschewed programming and architecture building early on. The most influential tech leader is Seth Godin because of how he influences the next generation. He learns, shares and teaches the process behind building something useful and great — even on a small scale. While others influence by gravitas, Seth influences by doing, then teaching.

Alan Price | Vision Critical

no. 11 |  Bill Joy

By just listening to Bill Joy talk about the early days of the internet you can see that “this” (e-commerce, cloud, internet-of-things, AI, virtualization and even most advanced networking) simply would not be what it is without him. It’s often the ones on “page 2” — just out of the headlines — who end up changing the world. The gravity of his words when he speaks enshrines him as my tech hero and top influencer.

J. Tyler Rohrer | Liquidware

no. 12 |  Mark Zuckerberg

Even though he comes with his fair share of controversies, Mark Zuckerberg is still one of the most influential tech leaders of our era. He’s the perfect example and inspiration for aspiring tech professionals who want to create the next big thing from their dorm rooms. Plus, Facebook now owns mega-companies such as: Instagram, WhatsApp, Oculus VR, and more.

Thomas Griffin | OptinMonster

no. 13 |  Jeff Bezos

Jeff Bezos has changed retail, and now he is working on changing media and other areas like space transport. He has the potential to reinvent many areas and has already changed how we live, shop and work in many ways.

Jon Bradshaw | Calendar

— notes —

AI = artificial reality
VR = virtual reality

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story title: list | Forbes: the Era’s Most Influential • tech industry leader
deck: no. 9 | Ray Kurzweil
year: 2019

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