Real estate magnate and media kingpin
Why he matters: The Chicago billionaire is betting big against the Internet. Zell, 65, discovered his entrepreneurial spirit as a child, buying Playboy magazines downtown and reselling them for a profit in the suburbs. He went on to make a fortune in real estate, buying cheap and selling dear.
Today he's looking at undervalued property in the most unlikely of places: print media. First, Zell bought the Tribune Co., which owns the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times. Then he picked a fight with Google News, suggesting that the headline aggregator might have to start working for a living if newspapers like his decide to shut off the spigot of free news. Apostasy! But what if he's right?