Why Jobs, Gates deserve top spots

No surprise here that Steve Jobs and Bill Gates topped the list of CNBC's 25 rebels, icons and leaders that have had the most profound impact on business and finance since 1989, the year CNBC was launched.

Back in January, when the list was first rolled out, I wrote that it was a toss-up between the two. I gave Gates the edge because of his groundbreaking philanthropy. As I wrote at the time:

Jobs is the easy and obvious choice, especially for the way he shook up music and mobile and the design aesthetic and general ease of computing.

While Gates may not have been as snazzy as Jobs, it could be argued he deserves equal billing because, as much as many of us love to hate Microsoft, Windows, Word and Office originally changed the game for most of us.

I clearly have quibbles with the list. I would have put Howard Schultz above Amazon's Jeff Bezos. Schultz, without question, is one of the most extraordinary CEOs for a simple reason: He has shown how to execute and evolve—and how to do it profitably.

While both Bezos and Schultz have helped revolutionize our lives, Starbucks has consistently made money; Amazon rarely has, though by forgoing a profit, Amazon has shaken up multiple sectors within retail and has changed the way most of us shop.

Not on the list? I'm surprised Michael Dell wasn't. Even though his company isn't what it was in the PC heyday, Dell made the tough transition from entrepreneur to revolutionize distribution and manufacturing.

And I would have loved to have seen Robert Kahn and Vint Cerf make a guest appearance. Without them Gates and Jobs wouldn't be there. Neither would Bezos. After all, they designed the code used to transmit data over the internet. They're widely regarded as the fathers of the Internet, a title they share. They may not be on the list, but on my list of rebels, icons and leaders, they're at the top.