Down to the Final Four: Oprah, Gates, Schultz and Branson
All of the Elite Eight contenders in Inc’s Greatest Living Entrepreneur Tournament are iconic leaders in their fields. But the ones who got the most votes tended to be those with more than one trick up their sleeve. Branson—the music/airline/mobile/space travel magnate—beat out Martha, whose sole empire is the home. Howard Schultz, now known for social entrepreneurship as well as $4 cappuccino, outlasted the billion-dollar social media star Zuckerberg. This sets up a Final Four that is a clash of true business titans.
This was a competition of management styles-Bezos with his goofy, infectious laugh, and the intellectual Gates with his flame-mail temper-as well of business strategies. Both brilliantly exploited their first-mover advantage, but Gates built his edge into a virtual monopoly. Love him or hate him, that's single-minded devotion to a goal, and voters rewarded him.
Richard BransonVirgin Group
Martha StewartMartha Stewart Living Omnimedia
Martha made herself into a brand juggernaut. But Branson became a brand, too, one that stood for adventure and informality. In the end it was his brand that proved more notable to brackets voters, since he has applied it with equal success to music, airlines, cellular phones, and now space travel. Both Stewart and Branson had brushes with the law-Stewart for insider trading and Branson for tax evasion-but the conviction arguably was a bigger blow to Stewart's Ms. Perfection image.
Schultz created a whole new kind of place for people to hang out in the physical world, while Zuckerberg did the same thing online. On the merits, Zuckerberg has probably will have a bigger global impact before he is through, but voters may have felt that he is still too young to have compete in a contest that is, at heart, a lifetime achievement award. Schultz has also earned managerial kudos for making Starbucks a great place to work, no small feat in the fast-food world.
Larry Page and Sergey BrinGoogle
Oprah WinfreyHarpo Productions
By understanding the hearts and minds of ordinary American women, Oprah turned herself into one of the most powerful media brands ever. By grasping the potential of search, the Google founders created a company that has become to the online world what Microsoft was to the PC. In sheer business terms, Google is by far the more successful entity, but Oprah is the better story. And in this case, voters went for the story, preferring the mastery of air waves by an up-from-poverty entertainer over mastery of algorithms by couple of Stanford brainiacs.
To fill out Inc's Greatest Living Entrepreneur brackest and potentially win valuable prizes, follow the link to Inc's Greatest Living Entrepreneur Tournament homepage. Register with your name and email, and fill out the brackets just as you did your basketball brackets at the office, advancing the entrepreneur you think is greater in each matchup to the next round. The voter whose picks most closely match the consensus picks of fellow gamers will win two free tickets to Inc's Leadership Conference on June 6th through the 8th in Miami.
Your goal in filling out the brackets in Inc's Greatest Living Entrepreneur Tournament is to anticipate the voting of all participants in the contest and to map your choices to that. To paraphrase John Maynard Keynes' famous comment about the stock market, your job is not necessarily to pick the greatest entrepreneur but the one you think most judges will think is the greatest.
Inc will announce winners for each round starting March 26th. Note that you can continue to enter your brackets after that, although you won’t get credit for winners already announced. (Because the scoring is weighted to later entries, it’s possible, but not easy, to win even with a late entry.) If more than one entrant matches the consensus, the winner will be selected by lottery. The winner will be announced on April 2nd, and we’ll notify you by email if it's you. (If you don't hear from us, you didn't win.) Good luck and enter early for the best chance to win!