The most powerful people under 30

Snapchat CEO Evan SpiegelMichael Kovac/Getty ImagesEvan Spiegel’s app Snapchat is in the hands of nearly every youngster with a smartphone.

These days more than ever, young people can do almost anything.

Business Insider ranked the most powerful people under 30 across all industries based on four criteria: how many people they formally command; how much they’re worth; how much they have shaped the world; and how much they are likely to shape the world in the future.

It may be subjective, but power is always subjective. And everyone on this list, from celebrities to tech moguls, has it in spades.

At the top of our first annual list is 24-year-old Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel. Although his company has only a few dozen employees, this guy has created an incredibly popular and extremely disruptive social media platform, and the sky’s the limit for his company, as seen by its soaring valuation. Spiegel himself is supposedly worth near $US2 billion.

28. Danielle Weisberg and Carly Zakin, cofounders of The Skimm

Keeping up with the hordes of news stories that break every day can be overwhelming, especially for the young professional on the go. Enter The Skimm, a daily email newsletter that brings easy-to-digest summaries of the day's biggest news stories straight to your inbox. And with more than a million subscribers -- including Oprah -- it's proven pretty effective.

Founders Weisberg and Zakin, both 28, started the service in 2012 as a way to keep busy young women informed, and it's caught on. They have recieved over $US7.8 million in funding, and they plan to continue expanding the subscriber base as wide as possible.

27. Alex Banayan, venture capitalist

During his first semester at USC, Banayan became obsessed with the careers of successful people like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. He set out to write a book on success and a year later came across Ernestine Fu -- then Silicon Valley's youngest-ever venture capitalist -- and sent her a cold email. Fu agreed to meet with him and set up an interview for him at Alsop Louie Partners where she worked. A few weeks later, Banayan joined Alsop Louie, becoming the youngest VC of all time at just 19 years old.

As a VC, Banayan, now 22, travels the country making pitches, attending conferences, and hosting events. He's also advised on projects for Lady Gaga and Zappos founder Tony Hsieh, according to Forbes. Banayan has written for both Tech Crunch and The Washington Post and is still working on his book about career success.

26. Veronica Roth, author

During her senior year of college, Roth, 26, a creative writing major at Northwestern, spent hours holed up in her room writing a novel instead of doing her homework. But her dedication paid off, and her book, 'Divergent,' a dystopian teen novel, became the first of a best-selling trilogy.

'Divergent' -- along with subsequent sequels 'Insurgent' and 'Allegiant' -- quickly became a national phenomenon, selling a combined 6.7 million copies in 2013 and nearly another 4 million in 2014, as well as spurring a series of films starring Kate Winslet and Shailene Woodley. The first film performed well at the box office, raking in $US288 million worldwide, and the second is set to release this spring.

25. Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting, actress

Though she plays struggling actress Penny on 'The Big Bang Theory,' Cuoco-Sweeting's own career has shaped up pretty nicely. As the highest paid actress on TV right now, the 29-year-old earns an impressive $US1 million an episode. Fans love her as well, voting her their 'Favourite Comedic TV Actress' at the People's Choice Awards in both 2014 and 2015.

In addition to her time on 'Big Bang,' you can also catch her endorsing Priceline opposite William Shatner.

24. Michelle Phan, YouTube star

Phan first gained popularity through her beauty tutorials on YouTube, a hobby she quickly turned into a viable business. The 27-year-old now has more than seven million followers and a billion pageviews on her YouTube channel and is worth $US84 million.

She's since branched out from YouTube, becoming a beauty mogul with several other ventures, including Ipsy, a beauty product subscription service she started in in 2012. The service is expected to garner over $US100 million in revenue this year, according to Forbes. Phan also collaborated on a makeup line with L'Oreal and released her first book, 'Make Up,' last fall.

23. Nick D'Aloisio, founder of Summly

Most teenagers spend their afternoons watching TV or playing video games. Not D'Aloisio. At 15, he developed news app Summly, and at 17, he sold it to Yahoo for upwards of $US30 million. Yahoo then brought him on as project manager to develop the Yahoo News Digest, an iteration of Summly. D'Aloisio's work for Yahoo earned him international recognition as a programming prodigy, as well as a coveted Apple Design Award in 2014.

Today, the self-made millionaire attends Oxford University while managing Yahoo News Digest part-time.

22. Kendall Jenner, model and reality TV star

With a modelling career on the rise, a collaboration with PacSun, and a contract with Estee Lauder, it's safe to say that 19-year-old Jenner is no longer overshadowed by her famous Kardashian sisters. She continues to prove her influence, earning Estee Lauder over 50,000 new Instagram followers the day her contract went public, and walking in runway shows for fashion heavyweights such as Diane Von Furstenberg, Givenchy, and Chanel. And with nearly 20 million Instagram followers herself, her popularity is undeniable.

21. Ryan Israel, partner at Pershing Square Capital

With only five years of experience, 29-year-old Israel is already a partner at Pershing Square Capital, an $US18 billion hedge fund that proved one of the most successful of 2014. Israel works alongside the famous Bill Ackman and represents Pershing Square on the board of publicly-traded chemical producer Platform Specialty Products, according to Forbes.

Before he signed on with Ackman in 2013, Israel worked as an investment banker at Goldman Sachs in the technology, media, and telecom division.

20. Sam Smith, musical artist

Watch out music world -- Sam Smith has arrived. No one can deny that the 22-year-old singer killed it at the Grammys this year, taking home an impressive four awards for best new artist, song of the year, record of the year, and best pop vocal album. His debut album, 'In The Lonely Hour,' released last June, saw record-breaking sales its first week out, moving over 166,000 copies.

Today, he's sold more than 5 million records and counting and continues to play sold-out shows across the country. Smith's also been a voice for gay rights, speaking out against homophobia and featuring a gay marriage ceremony in his recent video for 'Lay Me Down.'

19. Bethany Mota, YouTube star

Bethany Mota, 19, started creating short videos on her YouTube channel in 2009 and now has 7 million subscribers hanging on her every word. More than web famous, Mota has a line through clothing retailer Aeropostale and has appeared on the most recent season of 'Dancing With the Stars.'

Mota is beloved to a wide young audience, and she was recently invited to the White House. After the most recent State of the Union address, she got to interview President Obama in front of all her fans.

17. Brennan Potts, cofounder of Titanium Exploration Partners

Even as oil prices fall, Potts has found a way to grow a lucrative business out of it. In 2014, the 29-year-old co-founded Titanium Exploration Partners, which drills for oil and gas using horizontal drilling methods, a practice more commonly referred to as fracking. Since its genesis, the company has raised $US300 million in private equity funding and gained control over 100 shale wells in Texas, according to Forbes.

For a company that originally started in Potts' kitchen, it's certainly come a long way -- but Potts sees his business growing even more. 'I'm still in building mode, it's the early innings,' he told Baylor, his alma mater.

16. Ariana Grande, musical artist

She got her start as Cat on Nickelodeon's 'Victorious,' but Grande was quick to shed her child-star image. The 21-year-old topped the charts last year with several hits, including 'Problem,' 'Break Free,' and 'Bang Bang.' Her sophomore album, 'My Everything,' became her second No. 1 album in under a year, following 2013's 'Yours Truly,' and selling 169,000 copies its opening week.

Looking ahead, she's taking her album on the road this summer with her first official headlining tour and plans to release her first fragrance in September.

15. Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, cofounders of The Row

If you still picture the Olsen twins of the '90s with matching outfits and straight-to-video films, think again. The elusive sisters now helm two powerful fashion labels -- The Row and Elizabeth & James -- and are worth a combined $US300 million.

Luxury line The Row, which they founded in 2004, not only established the pair as bona-fide designers but also has become a respected fashion powerhouse, bringing in millions of dollars per year for the twins. Mary-Kate and Ashley, now 28, aren't coasting on their success either -- they oversee every detail for both lines, from fabric choices to runway venues.

14. Lorde, musical artist

At just 17 years old, native New Zealander Lorde won two Grammy awards for her hit song 'Royals,' including Song of the Year. Now 18, Lorde is building an impressive resume with her curating the entire soundtrack to the 'Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1' movie.

She may have missed out on a best original song Oscar nomination for 'Hunger Games'-featured song 'Hanging Tree,' but word has it she's working on a new album already.

Named to TIME's list of the 25 most influential teenagers last year, Lorde is also a role model for her generation in promoting healthy body image; last year she tweeted two side-by-side photos of herself -- one Photoshopped, one not -- to show that even famous people suffer from conditions like acne, and 'flaws are ok.'

13. Kevin Durant, NBA player

Durant, 26, was named NBA MVP last season and has emerged as the best player after (30-year-old) LeBron James. His on-court accolades include last season's a 51% shooting rate, 41.6% three-point shooting rate, and 90.5% free throw shooting rate, which made him the youngest player to join the 50-40-90 club, taking the record from Michael Jordan.

He's a sweetheart, too, with his MVP speech about his mum bringing people to tears.

Add it up, and you'll see why he's marketing gold, spurring a bidding war for his endorsement between Under Armour and Nike that Nike won with a reported $US300 million plus deal, among many other product sponsorships.

12. Emma Watson, actress and activist

Emma Watson is more than just the girl who brought Hermione Granger to the big screen. The 24-year-old is the new face for gender equality through her involvement in HeForShe, a campaign that seeks to bring all people, not just women, into the conversation.

A UN Goodwill Ambassador, Watson brought an audience to its feet last fall at the UN introducing the campaign, and again at Davos in January with the next phase of HeForShe.

While HeForShe is probably her biggest priority right now, Watson hasn't given up acting altogether either; she plans to play Belle in Disney's live action version of 'Beauty and the Beast.'

11. Jennifer Lawrence, actress

Lawrence, 24, was the highest-grossing actor of 2014, with 'X-Men: Days of Future Past' and 'The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1' alone pulling in $US1.4 billion. She's also made her mark as an actress for award-winning roles in 'Silver Linings Playbook' and 'American Hustle.' With one more 'Hunger Games' instalment to go, she's also got a number of other title character projects on her plate, including 'Serena,' which came out this past fall, and 'Joy,' due out this year.

Most notably, she's incredibly popular, seen as relatable to fans as she trips at award shows, makes fun of herself, and talks about loving food.

10. PewDiePie, YouTube star

Felix 'PewDiePie' Kjellberg is the millions-earning, best-known, and most popular, YouTube star on the video sharing site today. At just 24 years old, he already rakes in over $US4 million a year in ad sales from his video-format video game commentary.

And with more than 34 million subscribers to his channel, his opinions reach far and influence wide: His recent criticism of Nintendo's new revenue sharing plans is getting a lot of attention in the news, which could mean some rocky times ahead for the video game company. Kjellberg hopes to someday start his own video network.

9. Lena Dunham, creator of HBO's 'Girls'

Lena Dunham entered Hollywood already a triple threat: The writer/director/actress gained fame with 'Girls,' the runaway hit HBO show that's like the 'Sex and the City' of Brooklyn.

Dunham, 28, has been nominated for a Golden Globe or an Emmy every year since the show's debut, and she already has one Golden Globe under her belt. Her recent memoir-slash-advice book, 'Not That Kind of Girl,' was made a New York Times bestseller and named one of the best books of the year by The New York Times, Buzzfeed, The Globe and Mail, and Library Journal. As one of very few women behind the scenes in Hollywood, particularly in a directing or writing role, she's a role model in what still remains a male-dominated industry.

Dunham keeps coming up with ideas that wow her fans: Her next project involves adapting one of her favourite young adult novels, 'Catherine, Called Birdy,' into a full-length movie.

8. David Karp, CEO of Tumblr

Karp founded successful blogging platform Tumblr when he was just 20 years old, attracted millions of users, and sold the company to Yahoo in May of 2013 for over a billion dollars. Karp remains the CEO of the company, and the company continues to grow in both traffic and revenue.

The 28-year-old Brooklyn resident has a net worth close to $US200 million and is using his power and fame to speak with President Obama about education in America. Lately he's also been doing 'a tiny bit' of investing.

6. Malala Yousafzai, activist

The world first learned 17-year-old Malala Yousafzai's name when she was shot by the Taliban in 2012. She's known for her peaceful opposition to the Taliban's oppression of women and girls, especially when it came to education. And her work has had a ripple effect in other countries, like Nigeria, where other girls like Yousafzai look to her for inspiration in making their own voices heard.

The teenage activist came out with her tell-all memoir, 'I Am Malala,' in 2013, and was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. She won the prize in 2014, making her the youngest Nobel Prize laureate in history. In another turn, she also won a Grammy Award for Best Children's Album for the audio recording of her book.

Malala's namesake fund aims to boost the opportunities for women and girls to learn around the world, with over $US3.5 million committed to projects through 2016.

5. Nat Turner and Zack Weinberg, cofounders of Flatiron Health

Nat Turner and Zach Weinberg received about $US130 million in funding from Google Ventures last year to continue their work collecting and analysing cancer-related clinical data through Flatiron Health. What they're doing is streamlining a very data-heavy, complicated field and making it more accessible.

Turner and Weinberg, both 28, believe that by organising and standardising data from clinical trials for cancer treatment and making it available to physicians, researchers, and patients, it could help doctors come up with more effective treatment options by seeing what's worked so far and what hasn't.

4. Taylor Swift, musical artist

Swift's latest album, '1989,' which was the best-selling album of 2014, made her the first woman to have three albums sell more than a million copies in a single week. When she pulled her album off Spotify -- even when the streaming service begged her not to -- it was the talk of the internet and inspired a larger conversation about how much musical artists are compensated for their work.

With a net worth around $US200 million, 25-year-old Swift is powerful in more than just the music industry; retail brands like Victoria's Secret use her to boost sales. She's also a frequent guest on TV shows, like SNL, which has had her in to host an episode, and also gave her a major part in its 40th anniversary episode.

Fans love her as she interacts with them directly and demonstrates a new way of keeping it real as a celebrity.

3. Matteo Achilli, founder of Egomnia

Hailed as the 'Italian Zuckerberg,' Achilli has amassed more than 250,000 users and 700 partner companies on his online job recruiting network, Egomnia. While the company started only in Italy, it's now available in Brazil and has been requested in Korea, the UK, Spain, Colombia, Greece, Germany, South Africa, Nigeria, and Nepal.

His youth, combined with his ambition, makes him popular in the media. 'Sometimes I forget I'm 22,' he told the BBC. Achilli recently brought on companies like Ericsson and Vodafone, and is also reportedly finalising deals with Google and Microsoft, among others.

2. Palmer Luckey, founder of Oculus VR

At age 19, Luckey had completed his sixth virtual reality headset prototype which he called the Rift, in honour of his desire to close a rift between virtual reality and actual reality. In the next two whirlwind years that followed, Luckey found funding to start his company Oculus VR, create a consumer prototype, and sell the company to Facebook for over $US2 billion -- all without a final, ready-for-market product.

Luckey, 22, now remains on as founder, working under Facebook's auspices. Forbes estimates his net worth to be well over $US500 million. Luckey's consumer product is changing the way people experience the video games they once knew and in the future could potentially allow architects to 'tour' their building blueprints or let historians 'relive' big moments in history. A retail version is expected to roll out this year.

1. Evan Spiegel, cofounder and CEO of Snapchat

Right at the fingertips of almost every young person with a smartphone, Spiegel's fleeting photo messaging app has garnered at least 100 million users around the world, making 24-year-old Spiegel a dominant force in tech and in general.

Currently valued at around $US10 billion (with Spiegel himself at $US1.5 billion), Snapchat keeps evolving to keep up with users' changing wants and needs. In addition to offering disappearing photos and videos, it has added a new feature called Discover, which plays video clips from ESPN, CNN, and other content partners, and which poses a big threat to other media platforms. Already more people watched college football games via Snapchat 'mega-stories' than people who watched the same games on TV.

The red-hot app also threatens other social media platforms. No wonder Facebook tried to buy it for more than $US3 billion, and it's looking like a smart choice that Spiegel said no.

Now see who has the most power in entertainment.

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