Shai Agassi: CEO of Better Place
Why We Picked Him: He was building a system of charging stations that would make electric vehicles more practical.
Report Card: Today, his company has three test vehicles on the road as part of Tokyo's taxi system, and expects to launch electric vehicles commercially in Israel and Denmark next year. It also recently inked a partnership with GE enabling the two companies to harmonize their work on electric vehicle infrastructure. But, as Agassi admitted to The Wall Street Journal in July, he's had trouble getting support for his charging stations in the U.S.--investors don't want to put money into electric vehicle-charging stations in a country where gas is still a comparatively cheaper fuel.
Ben Bernanke: Chairman of the Federal Reserve
Why We Picked Him: He was using almost every tool in the box--and creating some new ones--in order to stop the economy from falling apart in 2008 and 2009.
Report Card: By all accounts, quantifying Bernanke's success requires proving a negative: the true measurement of his ingenuity isn't how well the economy is doing, but how much worse it could have been if he hadn't acted as he did. He helped to bring the recession to its official end in June 2009, but no one--least of all Bernanke--claims the recovery will be quick and easy. He will continue to oversee U.S. monetary policy for the next few years, as he was nominated by President Obama to a second term as chairman and confirmed by the Senate in January.
Iftikhar Chaudhry: Chief Justice of Pakistan's Supreme Court
Why We Picked Him: He was serving as an important counterweight to executive power in Pakistan. After opposing Pres. Gen. Musharraf's declaration of a state of emergency in 2007, he was deposed and jailed.
Report Card: Since his reinstatement in 2009, Chaudhry has been tough on Pakistan's politicians: in December, the Supreme Court revoked an amnesty that thousands of politicians had received from corruption charges. To popular acclaim, the cases against them were reopened, reaching all the way through the cabinet up to the president, Asif Ali Zardari. Chaudhry has also gone head-to-head with Zardari over the appointment of a justice to the Supreme Court and come out the winner.
Montgomery McFate: Senior Social Scientist at the Human Terrain System
Why We Picked Her: She was building a program to help soldiers learn more about the culture and social fabric of the places they're deployed. Among the methods used: embedding teams of anthropologists and social scientists with military units.
Report Card: McFate resigned her post with HTS this summer after a colleague was let go. The program will soon be reviewed by the House Armed Services committee, but remains in place for now and may even soon expand. It has a backer in General David Petraeus, commander of coalition forces in Afghanistan, who recently told The Virginian-Pilot, "I hope it's here to stay."
Barack Obama: President of the United States
Why We Picked Him: He'd decided to bail out auto giants GM and Chrysler--forcing them to make major institutional changes in the process.
Report Card: GM's changes have reaped rewards: the company has repaid an $8.2 billion U.S. and Canadian government loan and posted profits for two quarters. In August, it filed for an initial public offering, in which the Treasury Department plans to sell around 20% of its stake. Chrysler has been taking losses overall in 2010 due to payments on its government loans, but--after selling a stake to Fiat, shuttering dealerships, reducing incentives to buyers, and beginning an overhaul of all its brands--its automotive production is once again profitable.
Jeff Zucker: President and CEO of NBC Universal
Why We Picked Him:He decided to move Tonight Show host Jay Leno to prime time on NBC.
Report Card: Zucker is now out of a job. Leno lasted at his 10 pm slot only 5 months before NBC moved his show to a half-hour at 11:35 pm. This pushed The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien to 12:05 am--a move which caused O'Brien to quit. O'Brien got a surge of fan support, a summer comedy tour, and a fall 11 pm show on TBS; Leno got The Tonight Show back at its old 11:35 time slot; and Zucker--in the face of Comcast's purchase of NBC Universal--got shown the door.
Mark Zuckerberg: Founder and CEO of Facebook
Why We Picked Him: He had built a stunningly popular product that was changing the way people communicate.
Report Card: Facebook has, of course, continued to extend its reach on the Web, passing 500 million users in July. The company has integrated Facebook for use with other websites, spreading "Like" and "Recommend" buttons across Pandora, CNN, and over 100,000 other sites--including this one. However, Zuckerberg's company continues to demonstrate that "popular" and "liked" aren't the same thing: the 2010 American Customer Satisfaction Index found that Facebook's customer satisfaction ranked with that of airlines and cable companies, below even IRS e-filing.