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The Most Powerful Entrepreneurs In Modern History

Rutger Bruining, CEO of personal biography-writing service StoryTerrace, offers perspective into the origin stories of some of the biggest entrepreneurs of the 2000s.

Entrepreneurs are not only people who build massively successful companies, but they are responsible for creating new ideas and products that have crafted and curated the world we live in today. The entrepreneurial spirit is one that has pushed the last two decades to the limit and has impacted just about every aspect of our lives, from technology to entertainment.

We know the products and services that the major entrepreneurs of our time have created intimately, but many of us don’t know the personal details of the people that have shaped and transformed our worlds so dramatically. The start of 2020 represents a brand-new chapter, and with each new year comes new stories of entrepreneurialism that will engage and inspire millions across the country.

Rutger Bruining is CEO of personal biography-writing service StoryTerrace, which launched in 2015 and has since scaled massively across both the UK and US. As an entrepreneur himself and professional storyteller, Rutger now takes a look at the stories of some of the most impressive entrepreneurial figures in modern history.

Jeff Bezos – Founder of Amazon

(Image: Flickr – Dan Farber)

Jeff Bezos has been in the news frequently as of late with the recent reports of the alleged hacking of his phone by a Saudi prince and his high-profile divorce. These might not be the best reasons to be in the press, but Bezos’ rise to prominence as the leader of one of the largest e-commerce empires in the world is undeniable, and the news in December 2019 that Amazon prime subscriptions alone had totalled over $5bn quarterly is a testament to his continued success.

Born in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in 1964, Bezos studied computer science and electrical engineering at Princeton. After graduating, he made his way to Wall Street and, while still in his 20s, became a Senior Vice President at D.E. Shaw. Four years later, in 1994, he quit to start Amazon. Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler have called Bezos an “exponential entrepreneur”— his business rapidly expands each year.

Natalie Massenet, Founder of Net-A-Porter

Natalie Massenet is now the Chairman of the British Fashion Council, investor, and Founder of Imaginary, a new VC fund investing into early-stage retail and tech companies.

Born in Los Angeles in 1965, Massenet was a writer for Women’s Wear Daily then moved on to Tatler before going out on her own in 1998 to set up Net-a-Porter, the world’s first website for purchasing designer clothes. It launched in 2000. She is also Head of the British Fashion Council, a group that evangelises British designers around the world.

Bill Gates – Co-founder of Microsoft

(Image: Flickr –
The Henry Ford/OnInnovation)

Bill Gates is arguably one of the most influential, and certainly wealthy, people on this list. Having made an estimated $110bn with Microsoft, Gates is an entrepreneur-turned-philanthropist, spending millions every year on charitable endeavours and sustainability initiatives.

Gates has jostled for first place on the list of the richest people in the world for decades, and, most of the time, he’s come out on top. Born in Seattle in 1955, Gates co-founded Microsoft with Paul Allen in 1975. The company revolutionised the world in a few short years by making computer technology massively accessible to ordinary people.

Arianna Huffington – Founder of The Huffington Post

(Arianna Huffington of the Huffington Post. (CC) JD Lasica,

Arianna Huffington is the Founder of one of today’s most influential news outlets, the Huffington Post, but is now working full time on her new company, Thrive Global, which aims to help improve sustainability and health-first workplace practices.

Born in Greece in 1950, Arianna Stasinopoúlou studied at Cambridge, where she headed the debate club the Cambridge Union. After graduating and writing in London, she moved to America where, in 1986, she married Ronald Reagan’s deputy assistant secretary of defence, Michael Huffington. The two divorced in 1997. Known for her conservative views, she became more liberal through the 90s. In 2005 she founded the Huffington Post as a progressive answer to the conservative Drudge Report. AOL bought HuffPo in 2011 for $315 million.

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Today’s Message

A limitless number of things are possible, but your time and resources are limited. Choose one, and don’t look back.