Time’s “Most Influential” List Snubs Zuckerberg, Googlers, Includes Tim Cook, Marc Andreesen

People love rankings, lists — and awards. And publishers love them too because the sell issues and drive page views. Lists and awards inspire jealousy and envy and they’re often controversial accordingly. This is also part of the appeal.

The new Time “100 Most Influential People in the World” is kind of ridiculous. Or perhaps it’s quaint and recalls a time when the publication was at the center of the culture.

This is in no way intended as a slight against the individuals chosen, rather it’s a statement about the self-importance of the project itself. However, if we treat it purely as fashion then we can have fun with it. Today Time Magazine is much more like TimeWarner sibling People Magazine than the serious news publication it was a couple of decades ago.

The list should probably have been called, “The 100 most interesting people according to our editorial staff and some other folks we consulted.”

In the tech category, no Google executives were listed. In terms of “influence,” Larry Page probably should have made the list. Love it or hate it, Google continues to be the most significant internet company on the planet, notwithstanding Facebook’s effort to usurp Google’s position. For that matter Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who unilaterally drove the $1 billion acquisition of Instagram, was also snubbed. His deputy, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, did make the list.

Nobody from Twitter made the list. But Apple CEO Tim Cook is there; so is VC Marc Andreessen. Though smart, successful and worthy as individuals, neither of these gentlemen probably should be on the list at this moment. Cook has managed a smooth transition for Apple after the death of Steve Jobs — a significant achievement indeed. But it’s questionable that he’s having tremendous “influence” on the world at large (unless we focus on Foxconn workers or Apple stockholders).

Pete Cashmore, founder of the blog Mashable is on the list, with an appreciation by actress Alyssa Milano. Cashmore should perhaps have made the list a couple of years ago but probably not this year. Nothing at all against Cashmore as an individual, but Mashable’s quality and influence have faded over the past year if anything. Rumor has it that he’s been trying to sell the site for a couple of years.

And why is SNL comedienne Kristen Wiig on the list? Sure, she’s funny and had a successful film (Bridesmaids) but is she truly “influential”? I’m not so sure. That goes for talk show host Chelsea Handler too: funny, successful but not necessarily “influential.”

All of these people are interesting and stand out in one way or another but they’re not all great “influencers” or worthy of the “influential” title. What Time might consider doing next year is soliciting nominations in different categories (e.g., politics, entertainment, industry, etc.) and letting its audience vote.

Then again, maybe it doesn’t matter.

Related Topics: Apple | Channel: Mobile Marketing | Facebook | Google | Top News


About The Author: is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes a personal blog Screenwerk, about SoLoMo issues and connecting the dots between online and offline. He also posts at Internet2Go, which is focused on the mobile Internet. Follow him @gsterling.

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  • http://twitter.com/TimCohn Tim Cohn

    The casting appears to have been ripped from a Mark Burnett / Donald Trump Celebrity Apprentice script.

  • zato

    “In the tech category, no Google executives were listed. In terms of “influence,” Larry Page probably should have made the list.” 

    Why pay any attention to “Time”? 
    MarketingLand – SearchEngineLand should just name Page and Brin the two greatest human beings ever created in the history of the universe, and be done with it. You know you want to. 

  • http://www.afmarcom.com/ Angelique

    Has Zuckerberg been on the list in the past?

  • JohnDoey

    The idea that Tim Cook should not be on the list does not fly. He is the CEO of the world’s largest publicly-traded company, which has just created the first successful mobile PC, and before that redefined the smartphone, dominated high-end computing with the Intel Mac, redefined the music industry, and as an aside revolutionized both online and brick-and- mortar retail. And he has been CEO for most of the last few years, and before that was COO, and contributed greatly to the Apple comeback.

    Whether Tim Cook outranks the Google guys? Apple could almost buy Google with cash. But they don’t need to, because Apple has already started replacing Google (search engine) with Siri (answer engine.) Meanwhile, Google has lost about $20 billion so far attempting to clone iPhone. They are in different leagues.

    And what is an “Internet company?” How is Apple not an Internet company? The World Wide Web was created with Apple’s developer tools. Most Web developers are on Macs, including most employees at Google.

    So your scale is off. As big as Google is, Apple is much bigger.

  • gregsterling

    @JohnDoey: I have great respect for Tim Cook and actually believe that he’ll turn out to be a much better CEO than Jobs was in several respects. Apple is a great company but I don’t think Cook personally is one of the most influential people on planet earth at this point. My opinion of course. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000586876452 Arvin Alba

    The list is “most influential” not “who owns the biggest company.” Steve Jobs is influential, the Googlers are pretty influential. Tim Cook is really great at being CEO, but he’s not influential. People still think Jobs when they think Apple.

  • http://www.sparkminute.com/ David Spark

    Zuckerberg made TIME’s man of the year. I think they’ve recognized him enough.

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