Tucked away in a far corner of the country, Seattle hasn’t always been considered an epicenter of global influence. But it certainly is now.
The success of the region’s tech titans — Amazon and Microsoft — has had enormous ripple effects and the city’s fiercely liberal political institutions are gaining international attention in the era of Trump.
That’s how Seattle came to be well-represented on Time magazine’s annual list of “The 100 Most Influential People.” Melinda Gates earned a spot under the “Leaders” category, Jeff Bezos is one of this year’s “Titans,” and Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson is listed as a “Pioneer.”
Continue reading for excerpts from their profiles in Time.
Melinda Gates was recognized this year for her work promoting contraceptives as a tool for emancipating women in poverty.
“Contraceptives begin the cycle of unlocking poverty for women,” she said in a video produced by Time. “We know it. We know it from great research and data now.”
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg wrote a glowing profile of Gates in Time.
“Her vision for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has helped lift the lives of millions of people,” Sandberg writes. “Its work reflects her impatient optimism. Her ability to think big and move fast. Her love of numbers. (Bill’s not the only data geek in the family.) Her passionate commitment to empowering women and girls, seen in the foundation’s support for increasing access to contraceptives in developing countries.”
In 2015, Gates established a new organization, called Pivotal Ventures, to fight for gender equity and women’s empowerment. She remains co-chair of the Gates Foundation.
Buzz Aldrin penned the Time tribute to Bezos, in what’s surely a dream-come-true for the billionaire entrepreneur and self-proclaimed space geek.
“In my recent visit to his Blue Origin rocket company near Seattle, nearly 50 years after my moonwalk, I was heartened to see a space-geek extraordinaire become a passionate patron of helping to shape the future of America’s space program via his entrepreneurial spunk, imagination and, yes, willingness to put dollars where his dreams are,” Aldrin writes.
Bezos was recognized for his broad range of ground-breaking enterprises, as Amazon CEO, owner of the Washington Post, and of course his space venture Blue Origin.
“For me, it is his zeal for helping humanity return to the moon, settle Mars and reach destinations beyond that is the most thrilling,” Aldrin writes.” Just as Bezos watched my journey half a century ago, I am watching his today.”
Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson has been quietly making a name for himself in his community, as a champion of LGBT rights and progressive politics. But he was thrust into the national spotlight in January when he sued President Donald Trump over a now-defunct travel ban on citizens of a handful of majority-Muslim countries.
“As that scene played out, I was reminded of when I was five-years-old and imprisoned behind American barbed-wire fences in a Japanese-American internment camp in Arkansas,” George Takei writes in his profile of Ferguson in Time. “Every morning at the school, in a black, tar-paper barrack, we began the day by pledging allegiance to the flag: ‘With liberty and justice for all.’ Bob Ferguson clearly believes everyone deserves those guarantees, no matter their background.”
Ferguson’s work didn’t just land him on Time’s radar. He’s a nominee for Geek of the Year in our annual GeekWire Awards.