Top 100 Influencers in Social Media

Written by Bonnie Boglioli...January 27, 2012
Social Media

10.    Jaakko Iisalo- Ok, so he doesn’t take all of the credit for the enormous influence he has exerted over just about every smartphone user since 2009. But it was Iisalo’s initial concept and ultimate creation of the world’s most successful mobile game that puts him high on our list, symbolizing the power of the developer in 2012. That’s right, you have Iisalo to thank for all those wasted hours chucking birds at pigs. With over 12 million purchases of Angry Birds in the Apple App Store alone, Iisalo played a key role in saving Finnish game development house Rovio Mobile from bankruptcy while instigating a cottage industry of angry bird paraphernalia. Iisalo says he was inspired to create an easy to pick up and play game that wouldn’t consume too much time or cash from his employer… my did he succeed. Love or loathe Angry Birds, there’s no denying it’s Finland’s biggest export since Marimekko.

9.    Guy Kawasaki- This blogger, author and Silicon Valley big wig earned his stripes at Apple, marketing the original Macintosh in the early 80s. He is a successful venture capitalist and Managing Director of Garage Technology Ventures, a venerable Silicon Valley seed stage fund. Kawasaki is an enthusiastically embraces (and invests in) technologies that make positive changes in the world. He co-founded AllTop, an online “magazine rack” that serves up the latest social and technological news by the minute.

8.    Robert Scoble- This geek celebrity has found a wide audience in and outside of tech circles with his all-access mentality to blogging and v-logging.  Scoble has made a career of video blogging and evangelizing technology (he has personally interviewed some 3200 influencers and players). Previously serving as an evangelist and blogger for several key organizations including Microsoft and FastCompany, Scoble is currently with Rackspace. When not documenting the latest tech startup, speaking on distinguished panels or blogging on his famous blog, Scobleizer.com, Scoble tends to his quarter million Twitter followers or to his new crop of Google+ followers which earned him a top spot on the new platform.

7.    Brian Solis- Anyone with their own iPhone app must be someone worth noting. Solis’ app is just a tidy tip of the iceberg for this principal at the research-advisory firm Altimeter Group. Recognized as a new media expert and global thought-leader, he is a powerful voice on topics such as PR in the age of Web 2.0, change management and the so-called consumer revolution. Solis is the author of numerous books and articles that have earned him militant disciples and his website is a treasure trove for marketers and digital media enthusiasts alike.

6.    Sheryl Sandberg- Facebook COO Sandberg is one of the most powerful and prominent women in the industry. Prior to Facebook, Sandberg climbed the ranks at the US Department of the Treasury and Google, where she served as VP of Global Online Sales. She is credited with identifying ways to make Facebook profitable and has succeeded in her endeavor. She is also charged with overseeing the behemoth social network’s communications, marketing, business development and public policy. In her ‘spare’ time, Sandberg can be found among the ranks of those attending the World Economic Forum and giving talks on TED about why we have too few female leaders.

5.    Wael Ghonim- If there was ever a guy who encapsulated the so-called ‘democracy of the web’, it’s Ghonim. When pro-democracy demonstrations broke out in early 2011 in his native Egypt, he (then the Head of Marketing for Google’s Middle East and North Africa regions) wasted no time galvanizing the movement in the way he knew best: via the Internet. A computer engineer, he became an activist and a persuasive force (some say rock star) of the Egyptian revolution. Named to Time’s annual Top 100 list in 2011, Ghonim took a sabbatical from his prior role with Google to work on an upcoming book titled “Revolution 2.0” and fund an NGO to fight poverty in Egypt. We can rest assured we have not yet seen all there is to see of Ghonim.

4.    Reid Hoffman- Oftentimes successful entrepreneurs possess a savvy business acumen but lack academic knowledge. Hoffman is a rarity who has both. Earning a B.S. in Cognitive Science from Stanford before tackling an M.A. in Philosophy from Oxford, Hoffman was unsatisfied with the thought of writing academic books for a small intellectual crowd. Instead, he decided to utilize his extensive knowledge for a broader good that would have an impact on more people. He began climbing the ladders at Apple and PayPal and co-founded an online dating service, SocialNet. But it was his vision for an online professional networking site that took him into the Silicon Valley stratosphere when he co-founded LinkedIn. Since the network’s IPO in 2011, Hoffman’s financial worth is estimated in the billions (yes, with a B). A Partner with Greylock Ventures, he is considered to be one of the most successful angel investors of Silicon Valley, as well, and was involved in the very first investment rounds of Facebook and Zynga.

3.    Yuri Milner- Successful Internet companies don’t exist without some big wallets padding their coffers. And Milner has some deep pockets despite being born in the U.S.S.R. when Krushchev was still presiding over the Central Committee. A Russian entrepreneur and VC, he makes fortunes on his Russian Internet ventures (it helps to have the backing of an oligarch, too) and founded Digital Sky Technologies. Today, DST is known as Mail.ru Group and is the largest Internet company in the entire Russian-speaking world with equity stake in key players like vKontakte (a Russian Facebook equivalent that dominates the social networking market). Though the average Facebook user may not be acquainted with Milner’s behind-the-scenes presence, he was an early investor in 2009 when he bought in at nearly 2% (approximately $200M big ones). Oh yeah, Twitter, Zynga, Spotify and Groupon are also included in his investment portfolio. Most interesting looking ahead is Milner’s 2011 investment in the Silicon Valley startup firm Y Combinator. By investing $150,000 USD’s in each of the fund’s seed startups with very favorable terms (the kind he’s known for), Milner once again puts his chips on the table and bets on innovation. It’s often said that he “bought his way into Silicon Valley” but one thing’s for certain: his money is making serious dents in some exciting Internet companies that Americans rely on more and more with each passing day.

2.    Pete Cashmore- Skipping over the whole ‘paying your dues’ and ‘climbing the ladder’ bit, twenty-something Scotsman Cashmore went straight to the top following secondary school. The founder and CEO of the immensely popular Internet news site Mashable has steely good looks and a personal fortune quickly turning into an empire. But don’t let appearances fool you when you can prove his value with statistics. His site boasts some 50+ million prodigious monthly page views and we fully expect to see much, much more from the savvy phenom. For the latest news related to anything remotely nearing the social sector, join some 2 million devoted Cashmore followers on Twitter. 

1.    Mark Zuckerberg- You knew it was coming, and sure enough the ‘Z man’ inevitably makes our list by rounding out the top business influencers. Not yet thirty, Zuckerberg’s face is known around the globe as the co-creator and CEO of Facebook. As you’ve no doubt seen The Social Network and read the articles by now, we’ll skip the intro to Facebook’s fledgling origins in Zuck’s Harvard dorm room. Lesser known, perhaps, is that he was a programming prodigy, privately tutored by a software developer while in middle school. His late-night Facebook developer hack-a-thons are well known, as is his enormous wealth which some put at $17Billion which he more recently began spending on philanthropic initiatives. He has been named Time Magazine’s Person of the Year (2010) and has received numerous other such distinctions in the press. Most importantly, however, is that Zuckerberg sits at the helm of the social network Goliath that is intricately (and brilliantly) tied into every area of the Internet from search and chat to content sharing and advertising. Yes, we’ll be seeing him on these lists for many, many years to come.

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