The New York Times obituaries section is the city’s toughest club to get into. First, you have to die. Second, of the 150,000 people each day that are eligible, The Times selects only one or two people to get in. Given these long odds, who from our industry might eventually make it past the Times’ grey velvet rope and be immortalized? Some likely candidates include:
Tim Berners-Lee. Invented the World Wide Web. Enough said.
Michael Bloomberg. Bloomberg’s eponymous company now controls one third of the $16 billion financial data market. He’s the seventh richest person in the world and is the three-term mayor of New York.
Steve Case. As the founder of AOL, Steve Case provided Americans with their first onramp to the internet. His company deluged millions with CD ROMs of his software. Case also took part in the largest (and worst) merger in corporate history when AOL merged with TimeWarner in 2000.
Irwin Gotlieb. Gotlieb popularized the standalone media agency model and, by doing so, ended the Mad Men era of advertising. By splitting media from creative, Gottlieb gained control of 90% of client advertising budgets.
Reid Hoffman. Hoffman founded the most boring web site imaginable—an open source database of resumes. But LinkedIn would later become one of the most powerful B2B media websites in the world.
Rush Limbaugh. Love him or hate him, Limbaugh changed radio, news and politics. His loud mouth, opinionated style became a template for countless other conservative media personalities.
Lorne Michaels. The creator of Saturday Night Live, executive producer behind shows like 30 Rock and countless movie comedies.
Larry Page. Co-founder and CEO of the world’s most dominate search engine, Google. Self-driving cars and wearable technology are just the icing on the cake.
Sir Martin Sorrell. The former Saatchi & Saatchi bean counter put dozens of ad agencies inside his UK-based holding company, Wire and Plastic Products (WPP). In the process he consolidated a service-based industry, made a number agency founders and executives wealthy, and caused great consternation among people who preferred the industry the way it was.
Howard Stern. Like Limbaugh, Stern changed radio forever. The gangly, outspoken host authored a best selling book that was turned into a hit movie starring… himself.
Martha Stewart. The former model and domestic goddess built a media empire. She also spent time in jail for insider trading.
Ted Turner. The mouth from the south, Turner’s sheer force of will helped to create the cable television industry.
Jimmy Wales. The founder of Wikipedia, Wales created the greatest single compendium of (mostly) accurate human knowledge.
Oprah Winfrey. The biggest media personality of our time came from nothing and accomplished everything.
Anna Wintour. Vogue’s longtime editor-in-chief is the high priestess of fashion. The antagonist in the book (and movie) The Devil Wears Prada is widely assumed to be based on the Wintour.
Lester Wunderman. Wunderman literally wrote the book on direct marketing. Catalog businesses like LL Bean were built using his techniques. He and his global agency continues to thrive today.
Mark Zuckerberg. Assuming that The New York Times still exists upon his passing, Zuckerberg will be immortalized by the grey lady for creating the world’s most popular social network.
Who from media and advertising do you think The New York Times will choose to immortalize?
This column was written by Matt Straz, publisher of The Makegood, and CEO and founder of Namely, the people management platform.