Bloomberg Businessweek

The Bloomberg 50

Who defined this year? What if the people who are always on these lists weren’t on this one? These are the questions our reporters and editors around the globe sought to answer with the first Bloomberg 50: the executives, entrepreneurs, experts, and entertainers whose 2017 merits applause and recognition—or, in a few instances, just recognition. So if you don’t know who Yoshiaki Koizumi, Marty Chavez, Luhan Yang, Luisa Ortega Díaz, and Agnes Gund are, that’s OK, keep reading. And once you’re done with 2017, flip to page 80 for the people to keep an eye on next year.

Politics

NIKKI HALEY

U.S. ambassador to the United Nations

On Sept. 11, Haley pushed through a Security Council agreement to impose the toughest-ever sanctions on North Korea, limiting the country’s oil imports and banning its textile exports, which will deprive Pyongyang of what Haley estimated is 90 percent of its export revenue.

On her first day at the UN in January, Haley warned other diplomats: “For those who don’t have our back, we’re taking names.” Bold pronouncements have informed the rest of her tenure, too. At times, Haley has gone further than President Trump—she condemned Russia’s “aggressive actions” in Ukraine and Syria, using harsher language than he did—but the ambassador nevertheless has become the White House’s trusted voice in opposing the Iran nuclear deal. It’s fair to say that, more so than any other Trump appointee, when she speaks, Haley is speaking for him. Kambiz Foroohar

Business

BOBBY KOTICK

CEO, Activision Blizzard Inc.

Kotick raised $240 million selling 12 franchises for the first city-based professional esports league, testament to the seriousness with which the traditional sports universe is viewing competitive gaming.

When Kotick pitched New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft on an esports franchise this year, it wasn’t the first time. Sitting in the owner’s box at a Pats game with several other CEOs in 2016, Kotick described to them a league in which professionals play video games before live audiences. He said he was going to sell local franchises for a shooter game that Activision was releasing called Overwatch. He was bombarded with questions, but he didn’t have all the answers. So he began hiring executives with sports experience to advise him. In March, Kotick once again pitched Kraft and other execs in a meeting that ended with Kraft slapping Kotick on the cheek and saying, “We’re in.” The inaugural Overwatch League will feature teams from cities such as New York, London, and Seoul and owners including Comcast Corp. and Los Angeles Rams owner Stanley Kroenke. Matches will get under way on Dec. 6. Chris Palmeri

Politics

MOHAMMED BIN SALMAN

Crown prince, Saudi Arabia

In November, the prince ordered the arrests of 11 cousins and dozens of current and former officials and prominent businessmen in a play to consolidate power.

Although his endgame is far from certain, the prince’s most powerful tool for reshaping the Saudi economy remains his plan—set for next year—to sell a stake in state oil giant Saudi Arabian Oil Co., which could be the biggest initial public offering in history. He continued to upend tradition this year by pushing to allow women to drive, a decision that’s forecast to add $90 billion to the economy by 2030. The prince is also maneuvering to ensure that the Saudi sovereign fund is the world’s largest, agreeing to commit $20 billion to an infrastructure investment pool with Blackstone Group LP for projects mainly in the U.S. and $45 billion over five years to SoftBank’s Masayoshi Son’s $93 billion Vision Fund. Glen Carey

Business

KEN FRAZIER

CEO, Merck & Co.

By being the first executive to resign from Donald Trump’s American Manufacturing Council following the president’s divisive comments on Charlottesville, Va., Frazier all but ordained the group’s dissolution.

Frazier reminded the country that serving as a chief executive in 2017 is about more than just delivering quarterly returns: “As CEO of Merck, and as a matter of personal conscience, I feel a responsibility to take a stand against intolerance and extremism,” he said in a statement, after Trump failed to condemn white supremacists. And yet Frazier has delivered returns, too. In May, Merck’s blockbuster cancer drug, Keytruda, further widened its lead over rivals when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved it to be taken in combination with chemotherapy for previously untreated advanced lung cancer, one of the most lucrative markets for drugmakers. Jared S. Hopkins

Entertainment

Lilly Singh

YouTube star and author

Singh transformed herself from internet personality to media mogul with How to Be a Bawse, which hit No. 1 on the New York Times business book best-seller list in May while she was on an 11-country tour.

The 29-year-old’s witty and woke YouTube skits—whether observational (“What Really Happens in a Women’s Washroom”), boundary-pushing (“The Rules of Racism”), or goofy (“Drake Goes Trick or Treating on Halloween”)—have sparked a mini-empire beyond her 12.5 million subscribers. In addition to sold-out tour dates, Singh, whose username is ||Superwoman||, was tapped to be the first Unicef ambassador for the digital arena, and earlier this year she filmed a role in HBO’s adaptation of Fahrenheit 451, which will premiere in 2018. Partnerships with Coca-Cola Co. and Smashbox cosmetics helped rank her third on Forbes’s list of highest-paid YouTube stars in 2016, at $7.5 million, up from $2.5 million the year before—and that was before she became a multiplatform success story. Singh doesn’t draw distinctions among screens big, small, or laptop-size, however. “Those divisions are less relevant in today’s world, especially to kids,” she says. David Walters

Tech & Science

MASAYOSHI SON

Founder, SoftBank Group Corp.

Son raised $93 billion to create the largest-ever technology investment fund, a pool of capital that will let him bet on the future of ride-hailing, artificial intelligence, connected devices, satellites, and the integration of computers and humans.

Through the immodestly named Vision Fund—which he expects will grow to $100 billion by yearend—and SoftBank, Son engineered the top venture investments in China (ride-sharing company Didi Chuxing), India (e-commerce business Flipkart), and Southeast Asia (ride-hailing startup Grab), and he’s in talks for a stake in Uber Technologies Inc. Skeptics worry that his aggressive dealmaking will drive up acquisition prices in the already cash-rich tech industry and hurt returns for everyone, but Son isn’t fazed. “I’m so excited,” he said in July. “It really feels like sleeping is a waste of time.” Peter Elstrom

Entertainment

JILL SOLOWAY & PATTY JENKINS

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