25 most powerful people in business

Some are empire builders. Others are hired guns. But if they truly have world-class oomph, they're on Fortune's subjective - yet really quite accurate - list of the most powerful businesspeople in the world.

Bill Gates
7. Bill Gates
Founder, chairman of Microsoft; founder and co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Bill Gates remains the iconic technologist, entrepreneur, and business leader of his generation. He invented the software industry, masterminded the rise of the PC, and has hung in there as a force on the Internet. Still intent upon transforming how people work and communicate, now Gates is pushing software to handle all aspects of office communications, from your phone to e-mail to instant messaging. His software powers smartphones and will show up soon in television set-top boxes. And he has hooked up with upstarts like Facebook to channel the energy and advertising potential of social networks.

Since 2000 he's had a new kind of power through the charitable activities of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Gates is expected to retire from Microsoft next year and devote most of his time to the foundation, which has an endowment of $33 billion - and the promise of tens of billions more from his close friend and occasional bridge partner Warren Buffett (No. 5). The foundation has global aspirations to improve health care and reduce poverty. His other goal: reinventing philanthropy itself, much as he did information technology. --Brent Schlender

Steve Jobs

Rupert Murdoch

Lloyd Blankfein

Eric Schmidt, Larry Page, and Sergei Brin

Warren Buffett

Rex Tillerson

Bill Gates

Jeff Immelt

Katsuaki Watanabe

A.G. Lafley

John Chambers

Li Ka-shing

Lee Scott

Lakshmi Mittal

Jamie Dimon

Mark Hurd

James McNerney

Marius Kloppers

Steve Schwarzman

Carlos Slim

Steve Feinberg

Indra Nooyi

Ratan Tata

Bob Iger

Bernard Arnault
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