The Fabulous 15: Top Digital Influencers in 2013

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Reed Hastings, Founder and CEO, Netflix

Brynko notes that Hastings "changed the digital landscape of ecommerce and movie rentals, and most of all, the concept of late fees." Netflix changed how people view entertainment, providing them the flexibility to watch where, when, and how they want.

McLaughlin credits Hastings "for teaching marketers some valuable lessons about customer insights, product branding, distribution, and pricing. There are positive lessons here as well as some painful lessons learned."

Lee Rainie, Director, Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project

"As head of the Pew Internet, he continues to enrich our understanding of how consumers are acclimating to the digital environment," says Brynko. Ahava Leibtag, president and owner of AHA Media Group, LLC, notes that Rainie has earned a place on the list "because The Pew Research Internet & American Life Project consistently gives us insight into the way the American public accesses information using digital communication technologies."

Larry Page, Co-founder and CEO, Google

What list of digital media influencers would be complete without Page, who has helped revolutionize how we find ... well ... everything? As the years pass, Google continues to be a dominant force in the search space. It has expanded its relevancy by launching Google+, its own social media platform that continues to increase in popularity. And then there is the Android operating platform, which has battled Applie's iOS for mobile domination. McLaughlin credits Page "for developing the most widely used search engine and for owning and developing Android." Page still runs the company's day-to-day operations.

Tim O'Reilly, Founder and CEO, O'Reilly Media, Inc.

O'Reilly leads O'Reilly Media, which first established itself as a technology book publisher. It has evolved and embraced digital media, in part through its on-demand digital library, Safari Books Online. Brynko identifies O'Reilly as a "forward-thinker in terms of free software, open source movement, and matching users with continuing education/career growth through digital libraries."

Andrew Sullivan, Political Blogger, The Dish

Graubart notes that Sullivan has been influential in digital media since he was editor of The New Republic, when he created The Dish blog. The blog went on to be part of The Daily Beast. Back in January, however, Sullivan announced plans to use the blog as the cornerstone of an independent publishing company. "Beyond proving that readers would pay to access a blog and its community, Sullivan has shown how an individual columnist can create a brand that can be moved from publisher to publisher, while retaining its audience," says Graubart.

Arianna Huffington, President and Editor-in-Chief, The Huffington Post Media Group

While Huffington's company is now part of AOL, she became a powerful name in digital media with the site that bears her name, The Huffington Post. Huffington "gave news a new and captivating spin," says Brynko. The Huffington Post became well known as a reliable news and blog website and serves as a model for many news sites coming into the marketplace.

Mike McCue, Co-Founder and CEO, Flipboard, Inc.

Through Flipboard, McCue has helped advance how people consume electronic content. "With virtually every publisher scrambling to develop their tablet strategy, the one common theme is that they're all saying ‘we need to create something that looks like Flipboard,'" says Graubart. "While at its heart it's simply a newsreader, Flipboard has focused on great design and typography and has become the standard for consuming news content on tablets and mobile."

Ethan Zuckerman, Director, Center for Civic Media at MIT

Because the future of digital media is as important as its current state, Zuckerman's influence is crucial. Jeff Moriarty, vice president of digital products at The Boston Globe and general manager of, notes that Zuckerman is "turning out ideas and students with ideas that will change how we think about digital media." Zuckerman is also the co-founder of Global Voices, an international blogging community.

Clay Shirky, Writer, Consultant, Teacher

Shirky is known for his observations regarding social and cultural impacts related to the internet and is the author of two books about social media-Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age and Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations. Moriarty nominated Shirky "because content and social media are forever intertwined." Shirky teaches the next generation of digital media experts as an arts professor for New York University's graduate Interactive Telecommunications Program in the Tisch School of the Arts. He is also a Distinguished Writer in Residence at the NYU Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute in the Faculty of Arts and Science.

Chris Mayer, Publisher, The Boston Globe

Moriarty is, of course, very familiar with Mayer; he credits his colleague with "enabling a 140-year-old institution to think differently, experiment and create innovative new digital products. [He is] setting the standard for a regional news business trying to navigate the future." Mayer introduced a new digital strategy at the newspaper, launching the subscription-based, which contains the content featured in the print publication. The publication's previous site,, remains as a free site, offering general news and information.

Without the courage and talent these innovators have shown, digital media as we know it today definitely wouldn't exist. They have forever changed the way in which we communicate and share content and ideas.

Fortunately, there is plenty of room left for more innovations. We are truly only at the beginning of the digital media revolution. We hope and expect that these digital media influencers will continue to make contributions in the space and lead us to technologies and offerings we never could have imagined, but will find we can't live without.

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