Of those, 32 are chief executives. Most are Americans; followed by a few Asians, one European and one African. Below are the top 10 CEOs, who helm businesses worth a combined $5 trillion, or about as much as Japan’s GDP (Japan is the world's third-largest economy).
Topping the list is the world’s richest man, and the only person in the world with 12 digits next to his name, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, who at the time of publication was worth an astonishing $133 billion. His internet retailing giant bought supermarket chain Whole Foods in August, started opening physical bookstores, and is seeing massive growth in its cloud business. Amazon is worth north of $780 billion, and the stock price is up 70% over the past year.
The only other CEO in the Top 10 Most Powerful people on Earth is Larry Page, the CEO of Google’s parent, Alphabet. Aside from running the world’s biggest search engine, the Michigan native has invested in a self-piloting flying taxi company called Kitty Hawk, which recently tested its vehicles in New Zealand.
Mark Zuckerberg dropped from the top 10, primarily due to the Cambridge Analytica scandal. In March it was revealed that Facebook shared users’ data with the political consulting firm. Though the stock took a hit, Zuck’s widely publicized testimony in Congress appeased shareholders—that day the share price went up 4.5%. The second-most-famous Harvard dropout runs a company worth more than half a trillion dollars.
Warren Buffett recently retired from the board of Kraft Heinz, but the 87-year-old (second-oldest on the Most Powerful List, behind Li-ka Shing) shows no sign of slowing down at Berkshire Hathaway, the company he acquired in 1963. In May, the Oracle of Omaha announced that Berkshire had bought 75 million shares of Apple, raising its stake in the tech giant to just under 5%.
The most powerful person on Wall Street, Jamie Dimon, ranks number 19 on the overall list. The CEO of JP Morgan, the largest bank in the world with over $2 trillion in assets under management, recently announced that he will stay at the helm for “approximately five more years.”
The most powerful non-American CEO is Jack Ma, head of Alibaba, one of the world’s largest e-commerce sites. Like Amazon, Alibaba has found a lot of success in its cloud arm, Alibaba Cloud, in addition to increased revenues from its core commerce businesses. Ma has also found the time to dabble in acting, taking on the lead role in the short Chinese kung fu film Gong shou dao.
As the CEO of Walmart, the world’s largest private employer, Doug McMillon manages 2.3 million workers (roughly the number of people in China’s army). The Arkansas native captains the retailing giant as the company announced changes in its identity: It plans to open fewer supercenters over the next year and to focus more on e-commerce and in-store technology.
Under Tim Cook's leadership, Apple, the world’s most valuable company, is patiently climbing toward the coveted trillion dollar valuation. The native Georgian recently responded to concerns about slow sales of the iPhone X, which was released in November 2017 and costs $999, claiming that it is "the most innovative product on the market." In April, Apple’s music arm reached 40 million users.
Elon Musk, one of the major tech revolutionaries of our time, had a (traditionally) busy year. In February, his company SpaceX successfully launched the world’s most powerful rocket. He used the opportunity to prove his marketing savvy when the Falcon Heavy rocket released Musk’s red Tesla Roadster into Earth’s orbit, producing one of the most iconic space images of our time. Not everything is rosy, though. In May, Musk had a bizarre earnings call for his electric car company, during which he rebuffed analysts' "boring, bonehead questions."
The last person on this list is Asia’s richest man, Ma Huateng. Popularly known as Pony Ma, the founder of Internet-business company Tencent led his firm to a nearly 60% stock climb this year, primarily due to swelling revenues in its social network and online game businesses.