Search People Result

Who are the most influential people in world?

Identify leaders in your chosen discipline, research top professors in your area of study, and search for schools based on the luminaries who most inspire you!

Note: These rankings dynamically change as our AI learns new things and new publications and citations are made. Academics are actively researching and publishing new insights, leaving our measure of more recent influence subject to continual adjustments. While we delay real-time changes for quality assurance reasons, be not surprised as you see our rankings change over time.

Methodology: How and Why We Rank by Influence …

Gender designations here are based off data sourced from Wikidata.

About our data on gender

List of the most influential people for the years 2010 – 2020

Edward Snowden
# 1
Edward Snowden

1983 - Present (37 years)

#119 person's overall influence

Richard Dawkins
# 2
Richard Dawkins

1941 - Present (79 years)

#13 person's overall influence

Richard Dawkins is an emeritus fellow of New College, Oxford and former University of Oxford’s Professor for Public Understanding of Science, but he is best known for his work in evolutionary biology. He studied zoology at Balliol College, Oxford, earning a bachelor’s degree, M.A., and Ph.D.

Bill Gates
# 3
Bill Gates

1955 - Present (65 years)

#81 person's overall influence

William Henry Gates III is an American business magnate, software developer, and philanthropist. He is best known as the co-founder of Microsoft Corporation. During his career at Microsoft, Gates held the positions of chairman, chief executive officer , president and chief software architect, while also being the largest individual shareholder until May 2014. He is one of the best-known entrepreneurs and pioneers of the microcomputer revolution of the 1970s and 1980s.

Mark Zuckerberg
# 4
Mark Zuckerberg

1984 - Present (36 years)

#308 person's overall influence

Mark Elliot Zuckerberg is an American media magnate, internet entrepreneur, and philanthropist. He is known for co-founding Facebook, Inc. and serves as its chairman, chief executive officer, and controlling shareholder. He also is a co-founder of the solar sail spacecraft development project Breakthrough Starshot and serves as one of its board members.

Elon Musk
# 5
Elon Musk

1971 - Present (49 years)

#449 person's overall influence

Elon Reeve Musk is a business magnate, industrial designer, engineer, and philanthropist. He is the founder, CEO, CTO and chief designer of SpaceX; early investor, CEO and product architect of Tesla, Inc.; founder of The Boring Company; co-founder of Neuralink; and co-founder and initial co-chairman of OpenAI. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2018. In 2018, he was ranked 25th on the Forbes list of The World's Most Powerful People, and was ranked joint-first on the Forbes list of the Most Innovative Leaders of 2019. As of September 2, 2020, his net worth was estimated by Forb

Paul Krugman
# 6
Paul Krugman

1953 - Present (67 years)

#185 person's overall influence

Paul Krugman is one of the most highly respected and well-known economists in the world. He is a professor emeritus of the Woodrow Wilson School of Princeton University, a distinguished professor of the Graduate Center Economics Ph.D program and scholar at the Luxembourg Income Study Center, both at City University of New York.

Stephen Hawking
# 7
Stephen Hawking

1942 - 2018 (76 years)

#134 person's overall influence

Stephen Hawking was born in Oxford, England in 1942 and died in March of 2018. He attended University College, Oxford where he received a BA in physics. Within his first year as a PhD student at Trinity Hall, Cambridge, Hawking’s speech became difficult to understand and he started to have difficulty walking. He was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease and predicted to only live another two years. Luckily his disease progressed much more slowly than anticipated. It’s a good thing, because he is widely considered one of the greatest physicists of the 20th century. Hawking was Lucasian Professo...

Noam Chomsky
# 8
Noam Chomsky

1928 - Present (92 years)

#40 person's overall influence

Noam Chomsky currently holds joint appointments at MIT as Institute Professor Emeritus, and the University of Arizona as Laureate Professor. Chomsky completed his university studies between the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard.

Salman Rushdie
# 9
Salman Rushdie

1947 - Present (73 years)

#109 person's overall influence

Sir Ahmed Salman Rushdie is an Indian novelist and essayist whose work, combining magical realism with historical fiction, is primarily concerned with the many connections, disruptions, and migrations between Eastern and Western civilizations, with much of his fiction being set on the Indian subcontinent.

Ajit Pai
# 10
Ajit Pai

1973 - Present (47 years)

#628 person's overall influence

Ajit Varadaraj Pai is an American lawyer who serves as Chairman of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission .

# 11
Jimmy Wales

1966 - Present (54 years)

#582 person's overall influence

Jimmy Donal "Jimbo" Wales is an American-British Internet entrepreneur. He is a co-founder of the online non-profit encyclopedia Wikipedia and the for-profit web hosting company Wikia .

George Soros
# 12
George Soros

1930 - Present (90 years)

#357 person's overall influence

George Soros, Hon is a Hungarian–American billionaire investor and philanthropist. , he had a net worth of $8.3 billion, having donated more than $32 billion to the Open Society Foundations.

Julian Assange
# 13
Julian Assange

1971 - Present (49 years)

#804 person's overall influence

Julian Paul Assange is an Australian editor, publisher, and activist who founded WikiLeaks in 2006. WikiLeaks came to international attention in 2010 when it published a series of leaks provided by U.S. Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning. These leaks included the Baghdad airstrike Collateral Murder video , the Afghanistan war logs , the Iraq war logs , and Cablegate . After the 2010 leaks, the United States government launched a criminal investigation into WikiLeaks.

Steven Pinker
# 14
Steven Pinker

1954 - Present (66 years)

#186 person's overall influence

Cognitive scientist, linguist, and author, Steven Pinker currently holds the title of Johnstone Family Professor of Psychology at Harvard University. Previously, Pinker taught at Stanford University at MIT. Pinker earned his bachelor’s in psychology from McGill University in 1976, and his Ph.D. in experimental psychology in 1979 at Harvard.

Glenn Greenwald
# 15
Glenn Greenwald

1967 - Present (53 years)

#869 person's overall influence

Glenn Edward Greenwald is an American journalist, author, and former attorney. He is best known for publishing a series of reports detailing previously unknown information about American and British global surveillance programs. These reports were based on classified documents provided by Edward Snowden.

Warren Buffett
# 16
Warren Buffett

1930 - Present (90 years)

#330 person's overall influence

Warren Edward Buffett is an American investor, business tycoon, philanthropist, and the chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway. He is considered one of the most successful investors in the world and has a net worth of US$78.9 billion as of August 2020, making him the world's seventh-wealthiest person.

Margaret Atwood
# 17
Margaret Atwood

1939 - Present (81 years)

#197 person's overall influence

Margaret Eleanor Atwood is a Canadian poet, novelist, literary critic, essayist, teacher, environmental activist and inventor. Since 1961, she has published 18 books of poetry, 18 novels, 11 books of non-fiction, nine collections of short fiction, eight children's books, and two graphic novels, as well as a number of small press editions of both poetry and fiction. Atwood has won numerous awards and honors for her writing, including the Booker Prize , Arthur C. Clarke Award, Governor General's Award, Franz Kafka Prize, Princess of Asturias Awards, and the National Book Critics and PEN Center

Neil Gaiman
# 18
Neil Gaiman

1960 - Present (60 years)

#374 person's overall influence

Neil Richard MacKinnon Gaiman is an English author of short fiction, novels, comic books, graphic novels, nonfiction, audio theatre, and films. His works include the comic book series The Sandman and novels Stardust, American Gods, Coraline, and The Graveyard Book. He has won numerous awards, including the Hugo, Nebula, and Bram Stoker awards, as well as the Newbery and Carnegie medals. He is the first author to win both the Newbery and the Carnegie medals for the same work, The Graveyard Book . In 2013, The Ocean at the End of the Lane was voted Book of the Year in the British National Book...

Eric Schmidt
# 19
Eric Schmidt

1955 - Present (65 years)

#788 person's overall influence

Eric Emerson Schmidt is an American businessman and software engineer. He is currently chair of the US Department of Defense's Defense Innovation Advisory Board. He is known for being the CEO of Google from 2001 to 2011, executive chairman of Google from 2011 to 2015, executive chairman of Alphabet Inc. from 2015 to 2017, and Technical Advisor at Alphabet from 2017 to 2020. In 2017, Forbes ranked Schmidt as the 119th-richest person in the world, with an estimated wealth of US$11.1 billion.

J. K. Rowling
# 20
J. K. Rowling

1965 - Present (55 years)

#419 person's overall influence

Joanne Rowling , better known by her pen name J. K. Rowling, is a British writer and philanthropist. She is best known for writing the Harry Potter fantasy series, which has won multiple awards and sold more than 500 million copies, becoming the best-selling book series in history. The books are the basis of a popular film series, over which Rowling had overall approval on the scripts and was a producer on the final films. She also writes crime fiction under the pen name Robert Galbraith.

Rupert Murdoch
# 21
Rupert Murdoch

1931 - Present (89 years)

#235 person's overall influence

Keith Rupert Murdoch, is an Australian-born American media mogul. Through his company News Corp, he is the owner of hundreds of local, national, and international publishing outlets around the world, including The Sun and The Times in the UK, The Daily Telegraph and The Australian in Australia, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Post in the US, book publisher HarperCollins, and the television broadcasting channels Sky News Australia and Fox News . He was also the owner of Sky , 21st Century Fox , and the now-defunct News of the World.

Richard Branson
# 22
Richard Branson

1950 - Present (70 years)

#642 person's overall influence

Sir Richard Charles Nicholas Branson is an English business magnate, investor, author and former philanthropist. He founded the Virgin Group in the 1970s, which controls more than 400 companies in various fields.

Stephen King
# 23
Stephen King

1947 - Present (73 years)

#230 person's overall influence

Stephen Edwin King is an American author of horror, supernatural fiction, suspense, crime, science-fiction, and fantasy novels. His books have sold more than 350 million copies, and many have been adapted into films, television series, miniseries, and comic books. King has published 61 novels, including seven under the pen name Richard Bachman, and five non-fiction books. He has also written approximately 200 short stories, most of which have been published in book collections.

John Green
# 24
John Green

1977 - Present (43 years)

#1371 person's overall influence

John Michael Green is an American author and YouTube content creator. He won the 2006 Printz Award for his debut novel, Looking for Alaska, and his fourth solo novel, The Fault in Our Stars, debuted at number one on The New York Times Best Seller list in January 2012. The 2014 film adaptation opened at number one at the box office. In 2014, Green was included in Time magazine's list of The 100 Most Influential People in the World. Another film based on a Green novel, Paper Towns, was released on July 24, 2015.

Joseph E. Stiglitz
# 25
Joseph E. Stiglitz

1943 - Present (77 years)

#384 person's overall influence

Joseph Eugene Stiglitz is a Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences winner, public policy analyst, and professor at Columbia University. He earned his B.A. in Amherst College and his Ph.D in Economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Stiglitz is another of the most highly esteemed economists in the world, having been awarded a Nobel Prize in 2001, for his work analyzing markets with asymmetric information.

Oprah Winfrey
# 26
Oprah Winfrey

1954 - Present (66 years)

#409 person's overall influence

Oprah Gail Winfrey is an American talk show host, television producer, actress, author, and philanthropist. She is best known for her talk show, The Oprah Winfrey Show, broadcast from Chicago, which was the highest-rated television program of its kind in history and ran in national syndication for 25 years from 1986 to 2011. Dubbed the "Queen of All Media", she was the richest African American of the 20th century and North America's first black multi-billionaire, and she has been ranked the greatest black philanthropist in American history. By 2007, she was sometimes ranked as the most influe...

Toni Morrison
# 27
Toni Morrison

1931 - 2019 (88 years)

#264 person's overall influence

Chloe Anthony Wofford Morrison , known as Toni Morrison, was an American novelist, essayist, book editor, and college professor. Her first novel, The Bluest Eye, was published in 1970. The critically acclaimed Song of Solomon brought her national attention and won the National Book Critics Circle Award. In 1988, Morrison won the Pulitzer Prize for Beloved ; she gained worldwide recognition when she was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1993.

Muhammad Yunus
# 28
Muhammad Yunus

1940 - Present (80 years)

#629 person's overall influence

Muhammad Yunus is a Bangladeshi social entrepreneur, banker, economist, and civil society leader who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for founding the Grameen Bank and pioneering the concepts of microcredit and microfinance. These loans are given to entrepreneurs too poor to qualify for traditional bank loans. In 2006, Yunus and the Grameen Bank were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize "for their efforts through microcredit to create economic and social development from below". The Norwegian Nobel Committee said that "lasting peace cannot be achieved unless large population groups find way

Steven Spielberg
# 29
Steven Spielberg

1946 - Present (74 years)

#267 person's overall influence

Steven Allan Spielberg is an American film director, producer, and screenwriter. He is considered one of the founding pioneers of the New Hollywood era and one of the most popular directors and producers in film history. Spielberg started in Hollywood directing television and several minor theatrical releases. He became a household name as the director of Jaws , which was critically and commercially successful and is considered the first summer blockbuster. His subsequent releases focused typically on science fiction/adventure films such as Close Encounters of the Third Kind , Raiders of the

Thomas Piketty
# 30
Thomas Piketty

1971 - Present (49 years)

#1325 person's overall influence

Thomas Piketty is Professor at École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) and at the Paris School of Economics. He earned his Ph.D from the London School of Economics – at the age of 22, even winning an award from the French Economics Association for his thesis.

Daniel Dennett
# 31
Daniel Dennett

1942 - Present (78 years)

#175 person's overall influence

Currently appointed as the Austin B. Fletcher Professor of Philosophy at Tufts University (and co-director of the Center for Cognitive Studies) Daniel Dennett is a philosopher concerned with questions of the mind and cognitive science, and is colloquially known as one of the “Four Horsemen of New Atheism.” As an undergraduate, Dennett studied at Wesleyan University and Harvard University before earning his PhD in philosophy at Oxford University in 1965.

Tim Berners-Lee
# 32
Tim Berners-Lee

1955 - Present (65 years)

#408 person's overall influence

Tim Berners-Lee (also called “TimBL” or “TBL”) is a Professorial Fellow of Computer Science at the University of Oxford and a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Berners-Lee is best known for inventing a markup language, the Hyper Text Markup Language (HTML) that has (of course) become the basis for Web pages. In a very real sense, Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web! And more. In 2016, Berners-Lee received the prestigious Turing Award for “for inventing the World Wide Web, the first web browser, and the fundamental protocols and algorithms allowing the Web to sc...

Craig Glenday
# 33
Craig Glenday

1973 - Present (47 years)

#905 person's overall influence

Jim Butcher
# 34
Jim Butcher

1971 - Present (49 years)

#471 person's overall influence

Jim Butcher is an American author. He has written the contemporary fantasy The Dresden Files, Codex Alera and Cinder Spires book series.

Stephen Colbert
# 35
Stephen Colbert

1964 - Present (56 years)

#883 person's overall influence

Stephen Tyrone Colbert is an American comedian, writer, producer, political commentator, actor, and television host. He is best known for hosting the satirical Comedy Central program The Colbert Report from 2005 to 2014 and the CBS talk program The Late Show with Stephen Colbert beginning in September 2015.

Chelsea Manning
# 36
Chelsea Manning

1987 - Present (33 years)

#1606 person's overall influence

Chelsea Elizabeth Manning is an American activist and whistleblower. She is a former United States Army soldier who was convicted by court-martial in July 2013 of violations of the Espionage Act and other offenses, after disclosing to WikiLeaks nearly 750,000 classified, or unclassified but sensitive, military and diplomatic documents. She was imprisoned from 2010 until 2017 when her sentence was commuted. A trans woman, Manning stated in 2013 that she had a female gender identity since childhood and wanted to be known as Chelsea Manning. She also expressed a desire to begin hormone replacem...

Reza Aslan
# 37
Reza Aslan

1972 - Present (48 years)

#1976 person's overall influence

Reza Aslan is an Iranian-American scholar of religious studies, writer, and television host. A convert to evangelical Christianity from Shia Islam as a youth, Aslan eventually reverted to Islam but continued to write about Christianity. He has written four books on religion: No God but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam, Beyond Fundamentalism: Confronting Religious Extremism in the Age of Globalization, Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth and God: A Human History.

Jon Stewart
# 38
Jon Stewart

1962 - Present (58 years)

#838 person's overall influence

Jon Stewart is an American actor, comedian, activist, writer, producer, director, political commentator and television host. He hosted The Daily Show, a satirical news program on Comedy Central, from 1999 to 2015.

Peter Thiel
# 39
Peter Thiel

1967 - Present (53 years)

#1456 person's overall influence

Peter Andreas Thiel is a German-American billionaire entrepreneur and venture capitalist. A co-founder of PayPal, Palantir Technologies, Founders Fund, he was the first investor in Facebook.

Jennifer Doudna
# 40
Jennifer Doudna

1964 - Present (56 years)

#1374 person's overall influence

Jennifer Doudna is a Li Ka Shing Chancellor Chair Professor for the Department of Chemistry and Department of Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of California, Berkeley. In addition, she has been a professor at the University of California at San Francisco and an investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and senior investigator at the Gladstone Institutes. She earned a B.A. in biochemistry from Pomona College and a Ph.D. in biological chemistry and molecular pharmacology from Harvard Medical School.

# 41
Giannina Braschi

1953 - Present (67 years)

#220 person's overall influence

Giannina Braschi is a Puerto Rican poet, novelist, dramatist, and scholar. Her notable works include Empire of Dreams , Yo-Yo Boing! and United States of Banana .

Rush Limbaugh
# 42
Rush Limbaugh

1951 - Present (69 years)

#575 person's overall influence

Rush Hudson Limbaugh III is an American radio personality, conservative political commentator, author and former television show host. He is best known as the host of his radio show The Rush Limbaugh Show, which has been in national syndication on AM and FM radio stations since 1988.

Bill Nye
# 43
Bill Nye

1955 - Present (65 years)

#1434 person's overall influence

William Sanford Nye , popularly known as Bill Nye the Science Guy, is an American science communicator, television presenter, and mechanical engineer. He is best known as the host of the PBS and syndicated children's science show Bill Nye the Science Guy , the Netflix show Bill Nye Saves the World , and for his many subsequent appearances in popular media as a science educator.

Tom Cruise
# 44
Tom Cruise

1962 - Present (58 years)

#589 person's overall influence

Thomas Cruise Mapother IV is an American actor and producer. He has received various accolades for his work, including three Golden Globe Awards and three nominations for Academy Awards. With a net worth of $570 million as of 2020, he is one of the highest-paid actors in the world. His films have grossed over in North America and over worldwide, making him one of the highest-grossing box office stars of all time.

Bill O'Reilly
# 45
Bill O'Reilly

1949 - Present (71 years)

#1191 person's overall influence

William James O'Reilly Jr. is an American journalist, author, and former television host. During the late 1970s and 1980s, he reported for local television stations in the United States and later for CBS News and ABC News. He anchored the tabloid television program Inside Edition from 1989 to 1995. O'Reilly joined the Fox News Channel in 1996 and hosted The O'Reilly Factor until 2017. The O'Reilly Factor was the highest-rated cable news show for 16 years, and he was described by media analyst Howard Kurtz as "the biggest star in the 20-year history at Fox News" at the time of his ouster. He

Jeffrey Epstein
# 46
Jeffrey Epstein

1953 - 2019 (66 years)

#1025 person's overall influence

Jeffrey Edward Epstein was an American financier and convicted sex offender. He began his professional life as a teacher but then switched to the banking and finance sector in various roles, working at Bear Stearns before forming his own firm. He developed an elite social circle and procured many women, including underage girls, who were then sexually abused by Epstein and some of his contacts.

Amartya Sen
# 47
Amartya Sen

1933 - Present (87 years)

#360 person's overall influence

Amartya Sen is the Thomas W. Lamont University Professor and Professor of Economics and Philosophy at Harvard University. He earned a B.A. in economics from the University of Calcutta and a B.A., M.A., and Ph.D from Trinity College in Cambridge.

Chris Hadfield
# 48
Chris Hadfield

1959 - Present (61 years)

#1031 person's overall influence

Chris Austin Hadfield is a Canadian retired astronaut, engineer, and former Royal Canadian Air Force fighter pilot. The first Canadian to walk in space, Hadfield has flown two Space Shuttle missions and served as commander of the International Space Station .

George R. R. Martin
# 49
George R. R. Martin

1948 - Present (72 years)

#1054 person's overall influence

George Raymond Richard Martin , also known as GRRM, is an American novelist and short story writer, screenwriter, and television producer. He writes the series of epic fantasy novels A Song of Ice and Fire, which was adapted into the HBO series Game of Thrones .

Richard Lewontin
# 50
Richard Lewontin

1929 - Present (91 years)

#160 person's overall influence

Richard Lewontin is a geneticist, evolutionary biologist, mathematician, and commentator. He earned a B.S. in biology from Harvard College, a master’s degree in mathematical statistics, and a Ph.D. in zoology from Columbia University. Lewontin is best known for his work in theoretical and experimental population genetics.