Forget 25 years—Facebook changed our lives in 10
CNBC is in search of the 25 most influential leaders, icons and rebels of the last 25 years. From the initial list of 200, which entertainment and social media names should make CNBC's final list of 25?
Given the media industry's transformation over the past quarter century, including the birth of the multimillion-dollar social-media industry, it's no surprise that there a good three dozen names from media and entertainment that are among the contenders.
What's particularly remarkable to me, is just how fast, and recently, so many of these three dozen have overhauled media — both traditional and online.
Twenty five years ago Mark Zuckerberg, was not even five years old, and the fact that Facebook's only a decade old makes his accomplishments that much more impressive. The most compelling argument in favor of Zuckerberg is Facebook's massive scale — 1.23 BILLION people use Facebook monthly, and 757 MILLION people use Facebook every single day. That's over 10 percent of the world, and an estimated 2/3 of the world's population doesn't have access to the Internet. How many other products invented in the past decade have that kind of global appeal?
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Zuckerberg's pushing his plan to increase Facebook's potential audience, co-founding and backing Internet.org to make Internet access more widely available. Then there's the fact that Facebook effectively invented social advertising and created a direct communication line from businesses that has changed the way nearly all consumer-facing businesses of any scale communicate with consumers.
I'd also pick Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, an iconoclast in both media distribution and corporate communication. He created an entirely new business — renting DVDs through the mail — then reinvented it with the introduction of streaming video. Most recently, he made streaming video a real alternative to premium cable channels, with the introduction of original content — his "House of Cards" is just as critically acclaimed and expensive, as the shows on HBO. And despite a total PR disaster when he split the DVD-by-mail and streaming businesses and jacked up prices — many said the business would never recover — he totally turned things around by taking responsibility for his mistakes, earning back consumers' trust.
Hastings has also pushed for big changes in how companies communicate with investors. His Facebook post a few years ago, announcing Netflix viewers had logged 1 billion viewing hours in a month, sparked a regulatory change. It made social-media disclosure an official way companies can disseminate information.
Disney CEO Bob Iger is gaining ground after an unprecedented quarter. Iger's strategy is one that likely couldn't be replicated at any other company—building, tapping into, and buying iconic brands that thrive across all of Disney's divisions, from movies and TV to theme parks and consumer products. Iger is responsible for a series of massive acquisitions: Pixar Animation Studios in 2006, Marvel Entertainment in 2009, and Lucasfilm in 2012. The companies naturally fit with Disney's family-friendly brands and Iger's brand-focused strategy and global-expansion plans.
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In an increasingly fragmented media landscape, Disney's focus on iconic characters, like those on the Disney Channel, in "Star Wars" movies, or even on ESPN, allows its content to stick out from the crowd. And when it comes to what's perhaps Disney's crown jewel, ESPN, the appeal of its unmatchable live events is even more valuable. And whether it's with ESPN's live sports coverage, streaming live TV, or selling movies through iTunes, Iger has pioneered digital distribution, and been willing to push the limits of how media companies use technology. This can be traced back to Iger's close relationship to Steve Jobs, who as Pixar's former chairman, sat on Disney's board before his death. Iger has been on Apple's board of directors since 2011.
—By CNBC's Julia Boorstin. Follow her on Twitter: @JBoorstin