The 50 people who matter now
A Business 2.0 exclusive list: Meet the executives, entrepreneurs, and cutting-edge innovators who are setting today's business agenda.

SAN FRANCISCO (Business 2.0 Magazine) - Any list of the most important people in business has to start with Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, and a bunch of folks named Walton, right? They're the richest people on the planet, for Pete's sake. Just break out the rubber stamps and be done with it.

Sorry, not this list. The names presented here weren't selected on the basis of fame, net worth, or the accomplishments of yesteryear.

Photo GallerylaunchSee more photos

(Click here to see a photo gallery of the full list.)

Instead, our goal was to identify people whose ideas, products, and business insights are changing the world we live in today - those who are reshaping our future by inventing important new technologies, exploiting emerging opportunities, or throwing their weight around in ways that are sure to make everyone else take notice.

In assembling this list, we emphasized one key question: What have you done for us lately? We also considered its important corollary: What will you do for us tomorrow?

To nominate and ratify the 50, we drew on the collective wisdom of our entire editorial staff: people with deep knowledge of the important players and latest trends in management, entrepreneurship, biotech, big iron, and just plain counterintuitive thinking. It was a contentious exercise marked by the frequent raising of voices and much stamping of feet.

But when the dust settled, our highly subjective exercise revealed a remarkable who's who of contemporary business. Many of the names and rankings will be surprising. Some will no doubt be controversial.

But in the end, we hope you'll agree that the people profiled here tell us a lot about the world we live in today, and the challenges and opportunities we'll all confront in the years ahead.

See the full list and a photo gallery.

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Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer.

Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved.

Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved.

Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2014 and/or its affiliates.