Famous Entrepreneurs

Walt Disney – An influential innovator and entrepreneur in the mid 20th century, Disney is the man behind the Magic Kingdom, not to mention the hundreds of animated cartoons, countless feature films and endless toys that bear his name.

Oprah Winfrey -an American television host, actress, producer, and philanthropist, best known for her self-titled, multi-award winning talk show, which has become the highest-rated program of its kind in history. She has been ranked the richest African American of the 20th century, the greatest black philanthropist in American history, and was once the world’s only black billionaire. She is also, according to some assessments, the most influential woman in the world.

Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield – lifelong friends Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield completed a correspondence course on ice cream making from Pennsylvania State University’s Creamery in 1977 and a year later formed Ben & Jerry’s ice cream in Burlington, Vermont.  In 1988, the pair won the title of U.S. Small Business Persons Of The Year, awarded by U.S. President Ronald Reagan.

Richard Branson – a British industrialist, best known for his Virgin Group of over 400 companies. What started as a mail-order record business turned into Virgin Records, which was sold to EMI in 1992, giving Branson the capital to build Virgin Airways.

Simon Cowell – Best known as the obnoxious judge on the hit TV show American Idol whose cynical comments sent contestants running out the door in tears, but what most don’t know is that his work didn’t start there and most definitely won’t end there. His list of achievements is long and includes being a successful record producer and executive for the BMG UK record company to gathering wannabe entrepreneurs on his show, American Inventor.

Michael Dell – both Chairman and CEO of Dell computers, Dell started the road to success out of his University of Texas dorm room in with just $1000 and an idea in 1984. Dell now sells directly to the customer so to avoid middleman mark-ups.

Henry Ford – Founder of Ford Motor Company and manufacturing assembly line innovator, Ford was not the inventor of the automobile, but his innovations in assembly-line techniques and the introduction of standardized interchangeable parts contributed to making the United States a nation of motorists and produced the first mass-production vehicle manufacturing plant.

Bill Gates – Microsoft Corp. co-founder Bill Gates is perhaps the most famous entrepreneur of this era. He had the vision to predict the evolving importance of the personal computer. This allowed him to top Forbes magazine’s list of the world’s wealthiest individuals, with a 2006 estimated net worth of $50 billion.

Howard Hughes – once the most talked-about entrepreneur in the world – legendary for both his bold business tactics and his outlandish personal life. The recent popular movie “The Aviator” has prompted a new interest in this fascinating entrepreneur.

Wayne Huizenga – the only person in history to have founded three Fortune 500 companies, and six NYSE-traded companies. Huizenga is founder of the third largest U.S. waste disposal company, Republic Industries; the global leader in video entertainment, Blockbuster Entertainment; and the country’s first and world’s largest publicly-traded automotive dealership, AutoNation. He’s also currently the owner of the Miami Dolphins football team.

Ingvar Kamprad – IKEA Founder and one of the wealthiest man in the world, Kamprad still flys coach, takes the subway to work, and drives a ten-year-old Volvo. What started as a person-to-person business selling everything from pens to picture frames has grown to over 200 stores in 31 countries, employing over 75,000 people and generating over 12 billion in annual sales.

Donald Trump – Billionaire real estate tycoon and host of the apprentice, Trump has a long list of accomplishments and assets in real estate development, hospitality and entertainment. He was the outspoken star and producer of “The Apprentice” making him one of the world’s most famous entrepreneurs. With his rollercoaster track record, he demonstrates one of the most important entrepreneurial traits: the ability to stand back up when you fall down.

My Media Heroes

I’d like to share who some of my heroes and inspirations in the publishing business (bloggers, media moguls, and Internet marketers) have been and are:

  • Nick Denton: President and founder of Gawker Media, an online publishing group which puts out titles such as Gawker, Gizmodo and Lifehacker. Nick has been involved in internet media since 1996, first writing on the subject for the Financial Times of London, and then founding two companies in the late 1990s. First Tuesday, an internet-era events business with branches in 80 cities, was sold in 2000. Moreover Technologies, which is headquartered in London, provides news search technology to Fortune 500 companies and portals such as MSN. After graduating from Oxford University, Nick began his career as a foreign correspondent for the FT during the revolutions in eastern Europe. Later, while investment banking correspondent, he co-authored All That Glitters, the definitive account of the collapse of Barings Bank.
  • J. Michael Arrington: Founder and co-editor of TechCrunch, a blog covering the Silicon Valley technology start-up communities and the wider technology field in USA and elsewhere. Magazines such as Wired and Forbes have named Arrington one of the most powerful people on the Internet. In 2008, he was selected by TIME Magazine as one of the most influential people in the world. Wired magazine also included him in a flowchart of “internet blowhards” citing his obsession with “Web 2.0”.
  • Walt Disney: During a 43-year Hollywood career, which spanned the development of the motion picture medium as a modern American art, Walter Elias Disney, a modern Aesop, established himself and his product as a genuine part of Americana. David Low, the late British political cartoonist, called Disney “the most significant figure in graphic arts since Leonardo DaVinci.” A pioneer and innovator, and the possessor of one of the most fertile imaginations the world has ever known, Walt Disney, along with members of his staff, received more than 950 honors and citations from every nation in the world, including 48 Academy Awards and 7 Emmys in his lifetime. Walt Disney’s personal awards included honorary degrees from Harvard, Yale, the University of Southern California and UCLA; the Presidential Medal of Freedom; France’s Legion of Honor and Officer d’Academie decorations; Thailand’s Order of the Crown; Brazil’s Order of the Southern Cross; Mexico’s Order of the Aztec Eagle; and the Showman of the World Award from the National Association of Theatre Owners.
  • Rupert Murdoch: An Australian-born American media magnate and the founder, chairman, and chief executive officer of News Corporation, often called News Corp. Beginning with one newspaper in Adelaide, Murdoch acquired and started other publications in his native Australia before expanding News Corp. into the United Kingdom, United States and Asian media markets. Although it was in Australia in the late 1950s that he first dabbled in television, he later sold these assets, and News Corp.’s Australian current media interests (still mainly in print) are restricted by cross-media ownership rules. Murdoch’s first permanent foray into TV was in the UK, where he created Sky Television in 1989. In the 2000s, he became a leading investor in satellite television, the film industry and the Internet.  Murdoch and News Corp now own MySpace, Fox, and the Wall Street Journal.
  • Alan Webber: An award-winning, nationally-recognized editor, author and columnist, he launched Fast Company, the fastest growing, most successful business magazine in history and winner of two national magazine awards, one for excellence and one for design. He was named Adweek’s Editor of the Year in 1999, along with co-founding editor William Taylor. Webber understands the important characteristics of a “fast company”: the ongoing competition for the best people, for great ideas, and for the right way to think about leadership.
  • Biz Stone: Co-founder, Twitter Inc. Stone helped found things besides Twitter: Xanga, Blogger and Odeo. He worked for Google with Blogger. He once won a debate at Oxford Union.
  • Mark Elliot Zuckerberg: An American entrepreneur best-known for co-founding the popular social networking site Facebook with fellow Harvard classmates, Dustin Moskovitz, Eduardo Saverin, and Chris Hughes where Zuckerburg is now CEO. He is currently one of the youngest billionaires in the world with personal wealth of US$4 billion in 2010 due to his 24% share of Facebook.
  • Matt Mullenweg: The founding developer of WordPress, the blogging software that runs much of this site and millions of other sites around the world. He wrote the foreword to WordPress for Dummies and the French WordPress book. Matt worked at CNET Networks, but left in 2005 to found Automattic, which is the company behind WordPress.com, Akismet, Gravatar, bbPress, IntenseDebate, and BuddyPress. Matt is or has been an adviser to Sphere, WeGame, Rescuetime, and Foodzie.