Here's how we ranked the most powerful people in the world

Obama kaleidescopeChip Somodevilla/Getty ImagesUS President Barack Obama, the most powerful person in the world

We recently released our 2015 ranking of the 50 most powerful people in the world. Here’s how we ranked them.

We chose more than 100 of the most influential players in business, politics, and entertainment and evaluated their influence in four major areas.

  • Economic power: For businesspeople and entertainers, we looked at their individual net worth, collaborating with our partners at Wealth-X, a firm that researches ultra-high net worth individuals. With businesspeople, we also considered the overall financial assets of the companies they oversee. For world leaders, we considered the GDP of their countries. For other actors in the political sphere, like central bankers, we looked at the assets of the organisations they run.
  • Command: This was a measure of how many people are overseen or influenced by our power players. For businesspeople and the heads of large organisations, this was the number of their employees. For world leaders, we used the population of their countries. We estimated the influence of entertainers by their number of Twitter followers.
  • Newsworthiness: Our third main measure was how frequently our power players make the news, as measured by the number of Google News press mentions for each individual during the period between October 1, 2014 and October 1, 2015.
  • Impact: While the above three metrics do a pretty good job of capturing an individual’s influence in the world, there are often other factors at play. To capture those extra intangibles, Business Insider assigned a subjective “impact score” ranging from 1 to 5 for each of our power players, capturing how important they are in their respective spheres.

Each of the first three measures — economic power, command, and press mentions — spanned a very wide range. For example, among businesspeople, Steve Schwarzman’s private equity firm Blackstone only employees 2,190 while Walmart, owned by Jim and Rob Walton, has a workforce of 2.2 million.

Because these metrics spanned several orders of magnitude, we took the logarithm of each of these, and then mapped those logarithms to a standardised scale, allowing us to combine the different metrics. We averaged together those scores, and then added in bonus points based on the subjective impact scores to obtain our final ranking.

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