13 Industry Experts On The Most Influential Tech Leaders Of Our Era
In today’s digital world, there are many thought leaders and innovators who have had a hand in shaping the technologies that have made our daily lives easier and more connected. Inventions such as the smartphone and social media apps give us the ability to immediately and easily reach out to others. Developments in industries such as healthcare and home security have introduced multiple life-saving products. And myriad hardware and software innovations enable many professionals to work from anywhere at any time.
While there are many great leaders pioneering change across industries, there are a few who stand out for their achievements and creations. Below, 13 Forbes Technology Council experts share their picks for the most influential tech leaders of our era and why their work has been so important.
While he certainly hasn’t done it alone, the cultural and technological impact Jeff Bezos made through Amazon cannot be overstated. His Day 1 philosophy has continually pushed the boundaries of innovation, and through his company’s efforts, redefined consumer shopping expectations. He’s also sparked the cloud revolution with AWS, which has touched nearly every aspect of day-to-day life. – Neil Lampton, TIAG
Sir Timothy Berners-Lee
Without Tim Berners-Lee, the modern internet we know and cannot do without today would not exist. Without the consumerization of the internet, we would not have cloud computing, technology delivered as a service, social media or a digital society existing in a hyperconnected technology space. Quite literally, together with Vint Cerf, Tim Berners-Lee connected the world through technology. – Mark Brown, British Standards Institution (BSI)
Brian Chesky And Joe Gebbia
With a simple yet genius idea, Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia, co-founders of Airbnb, succeeded in disrupting a notoriously traditional industry—real estate. Their overnight success marked the beginning of the tech revolution in this trillion-dollar industry. Since the establishment of Airbnb, we’ve seen accelerated adoption of technology in all aspects of residential and commercial real estate. – Peter Abualzolof, Mashvisor
The technologies we all rely on daily, from our iPhones to the satellites above us, were made possible by Irwin Jacobs, the co-founder of both LINKABIT and Qualcomm. He is the pioneer of the CDMA technology that underpins wireless communication as we know it. The new generation of mobile communication he helped standardize and commercialize was the dawn of our digital lifestyles. – Mikael Berner,Edison
With Apple, Steve Jobs literally started at the bottom. He learned how to be in front of a crowd and sell his products—products that have shaped the future we are in today in technology. He has innovated and cultivated the industry. His imagination and forward-thinking were unparalleled. – Brandi Ward, Reagan Family of Companies
If I were to name just one founder, it’s Travis Kalanick, the co-founder of Uber. I’d choose Kalanick for a simple reason: Uber has revolutionized transportation accessibility. A simple KPI to measure Uber’s social impact would be the accessibility of an alternative to engaging in dangerous driving. – Kyle Pretsch, Leslie’s Poolmart
Dean Kamen is my favorite inventor because of the breadth of his work. He created an innovative gyroscopic stabilizer that led to better wheelchairs and the Segue. He also invented the first drug infusion pump and a portable dialysis machine. His work with prosthetics is groundbreaking. Now, he is encouraging future inventors with his nonprofit organization, FIRST, which builds students’ interest in STEM subjects. – Laureen Knudsen, Broadcom
I think there’s more than one influential tech leader of our era. IBM CEO Arvind Krishna, for example, is impressive because of his pivot of the company to hybrid cloud. In addition, IBM’s leaning into the mindset that skills matter today more than degrees and demonstrating a commitment to upskilling and reskilling is very impressive—it’s exactly what we need in today’s rapidly evolving business landscape. – Shelly Kramer, Futurum Research
Dr. Fei-Fei Li
Dr. Fei-Fei Li is an unstoppable force in tech who’s shaped the future of artificial intelligence and broken barriers for female leadership. Her AI/ML research is transforming healthcare, and as co-founder of AI4ALL, she is a champion for diversity in STEM to drive stronger, more inclusive solutions. It truly has been an honor to work with and learn from her over the years. – Jeff Wong, EY
Dame Ellen MacArthur
Through her leadership and work at the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, Dame Ellen MacArthur has been driving the transformation from a linear economy to a circular economy, which is based on three principles driven by design: Eliminate waste and pollution; circulate products and materials at their highest value and regenerate nature. – Philip Samson,ericsson.com
I’d say Elon Musk, but not for the usual reasons. It’s because of his courage in handling extremely tough problems that other people at the time had deemed impossible to crack. It’s his determination, professionalism and tenacity that make him an inspirational figure, as well as his skill in provoking mass discussion through his (sometimes polarizing) opinions. He has inspired millions of people to create, to solve and to improve the world by dreaming really big. – Boyan Ivanov,StorPool Storage
Satya Nadella, the third and current CEO of Microsoft, would be my choice. It is amazing how much of a difference a change at the top can have on an organization. Prior to Satya, Microsoft was gaining a reputation as a “has been” technology company. He used a unique brand of empathy and collaboration to “Hit Refresh” (as detailed in his book of the same name). A great pool of talent was already in place at Microsoft—they just needed the spark. – Tishampati Dhar, Aerometrex LTD.
Peter Thiel, who helped found PayPal, led it as CEO and took it public, also made the first outside investment in Facebook. He has provided early funding for services including LinkedIn and Yelp and helped dozens of startups grow from ideas into big companies. – Margarita Simonova, ILoveMyQA
Previously published on Forbes.