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 Steve Jobs against Bill Gates. After reading, cast your vote.
Twenty-five years ago, Inc magazine named Apple Co-founder Steve Jobs entrepreneur of the decade, despite the fact that his board had tossed him out. He had recently bought a little special effects shop from George Lucas, Pixar, that seemed to be going nowhere.
But Jobs wasn't done. Over the next quarter century, he would return to a near-dead Apple as CEO, and build it into one of the most valuable companies on the planet with a market cap today near a half trillion dollars. He would launch the iMac, the iPod, the iPhone, the iPad. iTunes and Apple retail stores would redefine commerce.
And Pixar? He turned it into a hit-making studio and sold it to Disney for a cool 7.4 billion dollars. For turnarounds, talent retention, shareholder value and sheer cultural impact, you don't get any bigger than Steve Jobs..—Jon Fortt.
The founder of Microsoft has changed the world through technology and charity.
He brought personal computing to the masses. Windows was affordable, device agnostic, and welcomed outside partners. It still has over 90 percent market share.
Gates also saved Apple with a $150 million infusion from Microsoft in 1997 when a returning Steve Jobs needed cash. There might be no iPod, iPhone,or iPad if Gates hadn't stepped in.
His charitable foundation has saved untold lives with an endowment estimated at $38 billion.
And if the bottom line is the bottom line, Bill Gates made more money, and has given more of it away.—Jane Wells.