#2 in Builders Combined score: 66.8
With his wildly popular (and legal) music-streaming service, Ek may at last have cracked the code that Napster and a thousand of its clones could not. Specifically, Ek has convinced thousands of record labels and musicians to make their music available to users for free—the money comes in through advertisements and subscriptions. Spotify’s biggest challenge was apparently from Apple’s iTunes. At last month’s All Things Digital Conference, former Facebook rabble-rouser (and current Spotify director) Sean Parker said Apple was initially “threatened” by Spotify, which is part of why it took two-and-a-half years of negotiations to bring it to America.
#9 in Innovators Combined score: 51.8
Once one of America’s most famous “lifecasters” (those fearless souls who chronicle their entire lives through Web videos), Justine Ezarik is a true Internet celebrity, drawing legions of new followers each year through her website, iJustine, as well as via her YouTube videos and Twitter feed. The daughter of a Pittsburgh coal miner, Ezarik has gone from viral hero to personal brand, parlaying her online success into mainstream success, guesting on television shows, serving as a panelist at numerous tech conferences and, most recently, was signed to develop an untitled project for the CW’s Digital Studio.
#6 in Personalities Combined score: 63.0
The Egyptian blogger is considered a pioneer in the region for voicing his political discontent and aggregating other voices of dissent on the blog he runs with his wife. He was vocal in the 2011 Tahrir Square revolution, traveling to Egypt from South Africa and eventually becoming a face of the movement. Last October, he was arrested and charged with inciting violence in connection with the Oct. 9 Maspero demonstrations in Egypt, in which 28 died and 212 were injured. He was released in late December.
#4 in Revolutionaries Combined score: 52.8
Remember those “seven-minute abs” videos from the 1990s? Tim Ferriss took the concept to a new level with his bestselling book The 4-Hour Workweek, followed by The 4-Hour Body and the forthcoming The 4-Hour Chef. Ferriss, named the Greatest Self-Promoter of All Time by Wired.com, has clearly hit on something big (and very profitable) as the leader of the new, Web-savvy generation of “lifestyle-design” (a.k.a., self-help) gurus. Ferriss also holds the world record for most tango spins in a minute and he claims to speak five languages.
#7 in Personalities Combined score: 57.2
Ze Frank is the performance artist behind the popular Web series the show with zefrank, which from 2006 to 2007 invited viewers to join his wacky mix of commentary and audience participation. This past February, Frank turned to crowdfunding site Kickstarter in search of money to revive the show. “If Newt can do it, so can I,” Frank wrote. “So can we.” The campaign, which raised $146,752 in 11 days, caught the attention of power VC Marc Andreessen and viral entrepreneur Jonah Peretti, who kicked in another $200,000, which Ze says he will put toward “a new kind of media company” built upon audience participation.
#4 in Virologists Combined score: 63.0
Some call our own David Frum a conundrum: a Canadian former George W. Bush speechwriter and longtime Republican who has since broken with a wide swath of the conservative world. “Some of my Republican friends ask if I’ve gone crazy,” he wrote in a blockbuster New York magazine piece during the nomination circus. “I say: Look in the mirror.” He’s kept his conservatism and his independence during a tough time for the GOP. From TV to Twitter to his blog and website, FrumForum, Frum has provided a platform for conservative thinkers to do some serious soul-searching.
#10 in Opinionists Combined score: 59.6
Last spring Lady Gaga closed out her 18-month Monster Ball tour, which grossed more than $200 million, and released Born This Way, which topped more than 1 million in sales its first week. Her friend Elton John recently told the press he was concerned that Gaga’s frenetic touring schedule was taking a toll on her health (and she did recently suffer an on-stage injury), but the Mother Monster’s social-media domain has never been stronger. In late May she became the first person to amass more than 25 million Twitter followers.
#10 in Personalities Combined score: 48.8
Wael Ghonim’s story has become legend. He was chief of marketing at Google in the Middle East in 2010 when rising frustrations in Egypt caused him to leave his post and focus on fomenting protest. He subsequently launched the Facebook page that initiated the Tahrir Square demonstrations. He withstood threats and arrest to become one of the driving forces behind the overthrow of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. As a result, he is one of the most prominent examples of the power of Internet activism and a symbol of the Egyptian revolution.
#2 in Revolutionaries Combined score: 54.6
Though he launched his career as a computer programmer, creating the first application service provider, Viaweb, in the mid-’90s, Graham developed a fan base as an author: his essay “How to Start a Startup” is required reading for wannabe tech entrepreneurs. In 2005 he cofounded the seed-capital firm Y Combinator with his Viaweb partners and future wife. The firm’s program, recently dubbed “an unmatchable entrée into the otherwise closed world of high stakes Internet entrepreneurship,” has nurtured startup darling hosting service Dropbox, news site Reddit, and social publishing site Scripd.
#1 in Angels Combined score: 83.4
A righteous, controlled, and razor-sharp fury runs through a great deal of Glenn Greenwald’s writing. The staunch civil libertarian and former constitutional lawyer was questioning the surveillance state before it was cool—and as Salon’s most prolific commentator, he has taken the Obama administration to task over Bradley Manning, John Brennan, and, most recently, its secret “kill list.” His writings, almost exclusively online, aren’t traditionally tweety or bloggy—but they go viral anyway. His independent persuasion can make him a danger or an asset to both sides of the aisle.
#8 in Opinionists Combined score: 62.6
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