Microsoft?s Bill Gates, Oracle?s Larry Ellison and Apple?s Steve Jobs are among those to be feted as 'Time' magazine's 'Cyber Elite', in the unlikely company of director Steven Spielberg, professional hacker Mark Seiden and media tycoon Rupert Murdoch.
'Time' will next Monday host a special celebration in San Francisco, following the unveiling of the Top 50 individuals whom it claims make up the Cyber Elite - the so-called ruling class of the cyberspace era. The list was compiled following an extensive poll of Silicon Valley and Wall Street leaders.
Inevitably in a listing based on technology's contribution to the global economy, IT industry bosses feature very heavily, with a triumverate of Microsoft executives sharing the number one position and IT heavyweights occupying nine slots in the top 10. Chief executive Bill Gates and his two lieutenants Steve Ballmer and Nathan Myhrvold win their ranking for being "an unmatched collection of the best corporate knights and magicians".
America Online chief executive Steve Case is given third place for founding the world?s biggest online service provider, which IBM chief executive Lou Gerstner takes fifth place for putting IBM back on the map by "listening to the customers".
In sixth place Intel chief executive Andy Grove is dubbed "a father figure in the tech industry", while his personal friend and Oracle chief executive Larry Ellison takes eighth slot. "In the geek society of Silicon Valley, Ellison is a flamboyant exception," notes 'Time'. "His elegant Saville Roy garb however belies a violent competitive streak."
The top 10 is completed by John Chambers, chief executive of Cisco Systems - "who has perfected the technique of strategic swallowing" - in ninth place, and on 10, Eckhard Pfeiffer, Compaq chief executive, who is praised for his ambition to make Compaq bigger than IBM and "his European roots and Continental charm".
Just outside the top 10 is Jim Barksdale, president of Netscape, in twelfth place and Richard McGinn, chief executive of Lucent Technogies, while Apple?s Steve Jobs - "synonymous with the word vision" - comes in at 24.
European interest is maintained by the presence at 15 of Iain Vallance, co-chairman of Concert and head of BT, along with his US counterpart Bert Roberts. "Both seem to love the sight of a little blood, particularly when it belongs to AT&T," notes 'Time'. Meanwhile Deutsche Telekom?s chairman Ron Sommer comes in at 23.
But it?s not just the industry establishment that wins honourable mentions among the new elite. Mark Seiden, president of MSB Associates and a professional hacker, is ranked 38, while James Bidzos, chief executive of RSA Data Security, isn?t far behind on 41. Seiden gets paid to attack corporate networks and test their security, while Bidzos is a long established thorn in the side of the US authorities for his tough stance on relaxing encryption export laws.
According to 'Time'?s senior editor Joshua Ramo, it was a deliberate policy when compiling the Elite listing that attention should be paid to the grass roots of the industry, not just the Silicon Valley glitterati. "We haven?t just chosen folks because they run large corporations or control billions in investment capital," he said.
Other names on the list include film directors Steven Spielberg at 28 and George Lucas at 33 - the latter dubbed "the godfather of the modern special effects industry".
Also picked out are academics, analysts and Wall Street hi-tech brokers.
But the biggest cuckoo in the Silicon Valley nest is Rupert Murdoch, who takes the runner-up slot to the Microsoft trio. Murdoch is praised for his ambition, the scope of his empire and for "gazing intently at the future."
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