What makes a person powerful? Is it the money? Is it the number of cars he drives? Is it the size of land he rules? There are myriad ways to judge and rank a person’s power. The very youngest powerful and influential people in the world are judged by Forbes in four key areas. The first area focuses on the power a person has over the general population. It’s no surprise that the person who pulls the strings of the world’s favourite social network – with over one billion users – wields significant influence far and wide.
The second contributor to power is, of course, the financial empire each person controls.
The third crucial aspect of power focuses on where the power of each person is centered. The more areas in which one wields power, the higher their overall power ranking.
Incredibly, the following fifteen people have some of the world’s greatest levels of power, and all at stunningly young ages. While one might expect a long-standing and influential empire to be the reserve of those in their twilight years, these fifteen people had already amassed power and glory long before they even hit the big 4-0. These are the youngest people to feature on Forbes’ most powerful people of 2015; what makes them so influential, and how did they go there so quickly? Read on to find out.
15. Jeff Bezos, 51
Jeff is the man behind the mighty e-commerce site Amazon. Born in 1964, this business mogul and investor briefly worked on Wall Street as a computer scientist after graduating from Princeton in 1986. Later, in 1994, Bezos made a drive from New York to Seattle. During his drive, he thoroughly wrote his business plan for Amazon. This soon-to-become monster company was then set up in his garage. Today, thanks to the success of his business, Bezos has a net worth of US $34.2 billion, making him the fifteenth youngest most powerful person in the world.
14. Jack Ma, 50
Jack Ma is yet another successful Internet mogul. He is the founder and Chairman of Alibaba, a group of highly successful and influential Internet businesses. These businesses include Alibaba.com, Tmall.com, Alipay and Yahoo! China. Jack Ma was born in 1964. He began building websites at a very young age; the first website he built was for his parents. He said that while building this website, he and his friends had to wait three and a half hours for it to load due to a poor Internet connection. This never deterred him, and today he’s worth a resounding US $20.4 billion.
13. Doug McMillon, 49
Doug is the youngest CEO to head the colossal Walmart Stores after its founder Sam Walton. McMillon started working at Walmart unloading trucks as a teen. He worked tirelessly through the ranks to the top. In 2013, he was elected to take over from Mike Duke as the President and CEO of the company.
Doug is by no means a billionaire, but he lands on the most powerful list due to the immense company he heads. With more than 11,000 stores worldwide, Walmart employs in excess of 2.2 million people and has annual revenues of over US $450 billion.
12. Satya Nadella, 48
Satya Nadella has been working at Microsoft as its CEO since February 2014. At only 48 years, Satya oversees the execution and operations of the largest software company in the world.
Not only does his company develop and sell computers and computer software, it also has interests in other companies such as Hotmail, CompareNet, Sendit, and 5th Finger. This worldwide company has annual revenues exceeding US $85 billion and employs just over 128,000 people.
What about Satya’s salary? Well, it’s reported that Satya gets an annual salary of US $84 million. And of course, his boss is the richest man on earth.
11. Enrique Pena Nieto, 48
Enrique Pena Nieto is the current president of Mexico. He became the nation’s president at the young age of 46. He came into power in 2012, having succeeded his predecessor Felipe Calderon.
Prior to his presidential appointment, Enrique served as governor of the State of Mexico for six years. He now controls one of the largest oil producers in the world with a population of 118,395,014. Mexico is also the largest independent country just under Saudi Arabia and has an estimated 2015 GDP of US $1.3673 trillion.
10. David Cameron, 48
Cameron is the good-natured Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Born in 1966 in Berkshire, Cameron ascended to the Prime Minister position after Gordon Brown tendered his resignation.
At the time the Queen asked David to form a government, he was only aged 43, making him the second youngest UK Prime Minister after Lord Liverpool. He now leads the United Kingdom, a country that includes England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland with a combined population of over 64 million. The country also has a GDP of US $2.435 trillion for 2014.
9. Robin Li, 46
At the age of 30, Robin Li founded what is now the largest search engine in China, Baidu. Today, Robin is one of the youngest most powerful figures in the world and the second most powerful person in China just under Jack ma. Li has a 2015 net worth of US $15.7 billion.
His company offers many services including the Baidu Encyclopedia, which is China’s largest encyclopedia by users; Baidu Image Search, Baidu Video Search, Baidu Legal and Patent Search and Baidu Love, where users can write messages of love to their nearest and dearest.
The company’s incredible growth has seen it employ over 40,000 people.
8. Jay Y. Lee, 47
Jay Yong Lee is the son of Lee Kun-hee, the Chairman of Samsung. Samsung is a huge and successful company in South Korea. It is so successful that it fuels 23% of South Korea’s US $1.4 trillion economy.
Jay is currently the vice-chairman of Samsung Electronics but is widely seen as the successor to his father. As such, the media calls him the Crown Prince of Samsung. Lee’s net worth is US $5.1 billion (not too shabby either). His father’s company employs 427,000 people worldwide and has annual revenue in excess of US $425 billion.
7. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, 43
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is one of the most sought after criminals in the world with a $10 million bounty on his head, second only to the leader of Al-Qaeda. Abu Bakr is the Caliph of the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant. This is a rebel group that controls significant portions of Iraq and Syria, while also operating in Libya, Egypt, and other Middle Eastern areas.
Its military strength is just over 50,000, with the Kurdish claiming that the number is well over 200,000. Abu Bakr also mints a lot of money; try US $1 million, from the group’s black-market oil sales.
6. Ma Huateng, 43
Ma Huateng is a self-made Internet Magnate who hails from Shenzhen, China. Also known as Pony Ma, Huateng founded Tencent Inc. in 1998. His company has transformed since then to include subsidiaries such as QQ Instant Messenger, QQ International, Dididache Taxi, SOSO, and Tenpay and includes services such as social networks, web portals, antivirus software and online games. His company employs just under 30,000 employees, and it is the fifth largest Internet company behind the likes of Amazon, Alibaba and eBay. He is currently worth US $16.8 billion at only 43 years of age.
5. Elon Musk, 43
Elon Musk is an inspiration to many entrepreneurs. His success story is refreshing. He started with Zip2, a company that offered an Internet city guide for newspapers. Compaq later acquired this company for US $307 million. He then founded X.com, an online financial and payment service that later became PayPal. EBay later acquired the company for US$1.5 billion.
He would then go on to found SpaceX – which develops space vehicles – and Tesla Motors, which focuses on developing and selling electric cars. Elon’s net worth in 2015 stands at US $8.4 billion.
4. Larry Page, 41
Lawrence “Larry” Page is one of the two people behind the most influential search engine and Internet Company in the world, Google. His net worth is a gargantuan US $29.2 billion, at only 41 years old.
He is the famous co-founder and CEO of Google and leads a team of 55,000 people across 40 nations. In 1998, Larry came up with a billion-dollar idea to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible. Helped by co-founder Sergey Brin, he raised US $1 million from family and friends and set up shop in a rented garage in Menlo Park.
Today, Google has US $59.825 billion in annual revenues with Page having been named a World Economic Forum Global Leader for Tomorrow.
3. Sergey Brin, 41
Sergey Mikhaylovich Brin is the second of the pair responsible for the Internet giant Google. Born in 1973, Sergey’s 2015 networth is a staggering US $28.7 billion. He currently works at Google as the Director of Google X and Special Projects, which focuses on making advanced technological projects. After graduating from the University of Maryland, he enrolled at the Stanford University for his PhD. Here, he met Larry Page and both went on to develop Google.
The search engine giant offers advertising services such as AdWords and Adsense, productivity tools such as Gmail, business tools such as Google Apps and other products such as Google Goggles, Google Translate and Google Chrome. But its services are secondary to the simple fact that, well, Google sort of runs the internet. And therein lies its co-founders’ immense power.
2. Kim Jong-un
Kim Jong-un is the dictatorial leader of North Korea. He assumed office in 2011 at the age of 28 following his father’s demise. This young ruler makes it to our list given his absolute power over the US $14 billion North Korean economy and its 25 million citizens. Kim is as controversial as they come.
In 2012, while mourning his father’s death, he got wind that one of his army ministers was drinking and having fun. Since he’d declared an official mourning period for his dad during this time, Kim was pretty mad. So mad, in fact, that he ordered that the army minister be executed with a mortar round.
1. Mark Zuckerberg, 30
Mark Zuckerberg transformed the world into a social world. Along with that came a lot of money and power. At 30 years of age, Zuckerberg is the Chairman and CEO of his own company, Facebook, Inc.
He has a net worth of an overwhelming US $33.3 billion. His company employs over 8,000 people and has annual revenue in excess of US $7.87 billion. Facebook has over 1 billion users, with over 80% of them being active on a daily basis, and owns Whatsapp, Instagram, PrivateCore and Oculus VR. In 2010, Time Magazine named Mark among the 100 most influential people in 2010.