TIME Tech 40: The Most Influential Minds in Tech

by Sam Gustin

June 17, 2013

Over the last decade, technology executives, startup founders, and venture capital investors have become America’s new rock stars. Tech titans like Apple and Google have become some of the most profitable and respected companies in the country, and their leaders have been celebrated as icons of American innovation. Millions of people use their products every day. Internet-based startups like Facebook and Twitter have grown to become central players in American life. In cities across the country, thousands of young people are launching their own companies, perhaps hoping to become the next Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg.

In a series called the TIME Tech 40, we’re highlighting the most influential figures in technology. From the top CEOs and startup entrepreneurs to the most respected venture capitalists and tech “big thinkers,” we’ll call out the individuals changing the landscape of American business.

Susan Crawford, Cardozo Law School

Susan Crawford, a professor at Cardozo Law School, has become one of the most respected and authoritative U.S. voices on technology and telecom policy. Beloved by public interest groups and feared by industry giants, Crawford was the subject of an intense campaign to replace Julius Genachowski as chair of the Federal Communications Commission. (Venture capitalist and former cable and wireless industry lobbyist Tom Wheeler was eventually nominated, with Crawford’s backing.) Crawford, who has been a visiting professor at Harvard, Yale and Michigan, spent a year on the National Economic Council as a top telecommunications advisor to President Obama.

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Crawford is the author of the recent book Captive Audience: The Telecom Industry and Monopoly in the New Guilded Age, in which she criticizes the federal government for allowing cable and telecom giants — particularly Comcast — to grow too powerful, stifling competition. Crawford is widely admired for her courage in taking on one of the most powerful industries in the United States, but her candidacy for the FCC job would have been intensely opposed by deep-pocketed cable and telecom giants that feared she would have pushed for increased government regulation. “I’m not going to be on their Christmas card lists this year,” she recently told TIME.