The Young and Influential: The Most Influential Americans Under 40


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With age comes wisdom, but not necessarily success. Let’s look at some of the most influential people in this country under 40.

Mark Zuckerberg
Age: 28
Founder and CEO of Facebook
In less than a decade, Zuckerberg has taken the social network he started in a Harvard dorm to a ubiquitous part of life.
1 billion
Global Facebook users; that’s 1 in 7 people on Earth

Sergey Brin
Age: 39 (turns 40 in August 2013)
Co-founder, Google
Co-founder of a search engine originally called BackRub, half of Google’s leadership team recently turned his attention to the company’s ne pet project, Google Glass, an augmented reality device that users wear on their faces. Brin is worth about $22 billion just over a decade removed from working out of a garage.
Nearly 1 in 2
Internet users who visit Google daily

Marissa Mayer
Age: 37
President and CEO, Yahoo
The 20th Google employee (and its first female engineer) became CEO of Yahoo! in July 2012. Whether the board’s latest move (the company had four CEOs in five years) is paying off remains to be seen, but the company’s stock is steadily rising
June 2012 15.83
July 2012 15.84
August 2012 14.65
September 2012 15.98
October 2012 16.84
November 2012 18.77
December 2012 19.90
January 2013 19.63
February 2013 21.31
March 2013 23.53
April 2013 24.20

Frank Ocean
Age: 25
Ocean started his career in music writing songs for Justin Bieber, Brandy, John Legend and Beyonce. He makes music for himself now, and also makes history, last year revealing attraction to men. He recently was voted the most influential gay man in music in response.

Ben Silbermann
Age: 30
Co-founder and CEO, Pinterest
A site launched in 2010 has grown slowly at first then all at once, exploding from a few thousand users at first to 48 million. That’s nearly 700,000 new users every month.

Jared Polis
Age: 37
U.S. representative, Colorado 2nd District
The Democrat from Boulder was the first openly gay freshman congressman when he took the oath of office in 2009. With public opinion rapidly shifting and many of his fellow members of Congress “evolving” on the issue of marriage equality, Polis is in the center, opposing the Defense of Marriage Act and supporting other measures to extend protections and rights to gays and lesbians.

Perry Chen
Age: 36
Co-founder and CEO of Kickstarter
Charles Adler
Age: 38
Co-founder of Kickstarter
Yancey Strickler
Age: 33
Co-founder of Kickstarter
Kickstarter’s trio of founders are responsible for forming the world’s largest fundraising platform. The success of crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter has even had an impact on government, with recent changes in law expanding the power of crowdfunding.
Pebble $10 million+
Ouya $8.5 million
The Veronica Mars movie project $5.1 million
Amanda Palmer album and tour $1.2 million

Brendan Steinhauser
Age: 31
Author, Tea Party organizer
A Texas native, Steinhauser has been a driving force in tea party candidates’ rise to power all over the country. He trains potential volunteers and candidates in social networking, voter outreach and grassroots organizing, a few hallmarks of tea party candidates.
About 1 in 3
Tea party-backed candidates elected in 2010, considered a watershed moment for the movement

Kevin Systrom
Age: 28
Co-founder and CEO, Instagram
More than just a place for people to post pictures of their food, Instagram rapidly became the primary photo sharing service among smartphone users, surging to more than 100 million users just three years after it was founded and being snapped up by Facebook for a cool $1 billion.
40 million
Photos posted or shared per day

Lena Dunham
Age: 26
A divisive figure among TV critics and fans alike, Dunham burst onto the scene in 2012 with her HBO series “Girls.” For her work on “Girls,” Dunham won two Golden Globe awards in 2013 and was named Time Magazine’s Coolest Person of the Year.

Jeff George
Age: 39
Global head of Sandoz
Leading Sandoz, a subsidiary of generics giant Novartis, since 2007, George has helped steer the company into annual sales of $9.5 billion and emergence in generic biologic drugs. It’s estimated Sandoz has 50% market share of generic biologics.

Jimmy Fallon
Age: 39
Comedian, Late-night host, actor
A “Saturday Night Live” alumnus and heartthrob, Fallon has been hosted his own late-night NBC show since 2009, and in 2014, he will take the biggest chair in late night, becoming the host of the “The Tonight Show” when Jay Leno steps down.

Lady Gaga
Age: 27
Singer, musician
Born Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, Lady Gaga’s 2008 single “Just Dance” helped announce her presence to the music work, garnering critical and commercial acclaim and earning her a Grammy Award nomination. Her fame and influence have grown since then: She boasts more than 30 million followers on Twitter, is an activist for LGBT causes and was named by Time Magazine as one of the most influential people in the world.

Time Magazine
The Huffington Post