CNBC25: Rebels, Icons and Leaders

Who matters more: Warren Buffett or Carlos Slim?

CNBC 25 faceoff: Battle of the billionaires

As part of its 25th anniversary, CNBC is creating a definitive list of people who have had the greatest influence in business over the past quarter century. Determining who belongs on this list—and who should rank higher—has led to some spirited debates. Today, we pit Warren Buffett against Carlos Slim. After reading, cast your vote.

Carlos Slim (left) and Warren Buffett.
Susana Gonzalez and Scott Eells | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Warren Buffett

In the world of big-name investors, it doesn't get much bigger than Warren Buffett. The "Oracle of Omaha" has been one of the most storied wealth creators in modern history. He took a failing textile company called Berkshire Hathaway and transformed it into one of the biggest financial and industrial companies in the world. That has translated into a 3,600 percent stock return over the last 25 years. His successes have created a huge cult of personality, with company shareholder meetings that attract thousands of attendees and media. And let's not forget, he's also the one that companies like Goldman Sachs, General Electric and Bank of America turn to when they need help raising capital.—Dominic Chu

Carlos Slim

When you look at fortunes made from investing, nobody has been as successful as Carlos Slim. Currently the world's second-richest man, the Mexican tycoon has been building companies and wealth since he was in his 20s. His winning formula: buy when crisis strikes. During Mexico's near economic collapse in the mid-1990s, Slim scooped up Mexican companies across several industries—food, tobacco, telecom, mining, chemicals and others, along with the Mexican subsidiaries and rights owned by foreign companies. He revolutionized Mexico's telecom industry and controls operator America Movil, the largest mobile phone network operator in the Americas, which dominates 80 percent of Mexico's landline phone market and 70 percent of the wireless market. He also is one of the top shareholders of The New York Times Co. He famously loaned $250 million to the then-struggling paper in 2009—again putting into action his trademark move of finding opportunity during crisis.—Sara Eisen