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Published on April 8th, 2013 | by Zachary Shahan


Obama, Elon Musk, Michael Bloomberg, Bob Lutz, & Me On A Top 20 List

April 8th, 2013 by  

I know, I thought it was a joke at first, too. I actually received a tweet about the list on April 2, with a link to a slideshare (embedded below) and a note about me being on a list with some top automotive leaders. So, when I was looking at the list on slide 8 and saw myself on there with the likes of Obama, Steven Chu, Elon Musk, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Bob Lutz, and other bigwigs, I thought at first that it must be a carryover joke from April 1. Apparently, it’s not.

It seems that Appinions gave a presentation at the 2013 New York International Auto Show about an industry influence study it had conducted. Its study was based on a methodology developed using over a decade of Cornell University research. (For anyone not familiar with Cornell, it’s one of the US’ 8 Ivy League schools — others being Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Brown, Columbia, the University of Pennsylvania, and Dartmouth.)

So, this was apparently a real study that Appinions conducted.

Anyway, I’ll add more about the study at the bottom, but let’s cut to the chase. Here’s the tweet I received from Twitter friend Dean Frankel:

And if you skip to slide 8 of that slideshare, here’s what you find:

top fuel economy influencers

If it isn’t yet clear, I have to say that I’m a little shocked to be on that list. Besides the obvious, there are a few reasons why this still feels like an April Fools’ Day joke.

For one, aside from President Obama, exiting Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Mayor Bloomberg, a New York Times journalist, and a Washington Post journalist, I’m the only person on the list who isn’t focused on cars full time (my focus these days is essentially split between solar power, wind power, electric cars, and bikes).

Secondly, while most of those people on that list are out there writing or putting into law transportation policy, developing the next generation of cars, giving dozens of speeches a year, and appearing on national television, I spend almost all day (every day) simply reading and writing about cleantech. While the goal is to influence society for the better, it’s hard to believe my opinion has anywhere near the influence of political and business leaders who actually have to get dressed every day. But I guess that’s one of the wonders of the internet age, and of the decentralized media age that the internet has enabled. And, very importantly, it’s something that is enabled by the enthusiastic sharing of our content that you all do — imagine how little influence this independent, bootstrapped blog would have if you didn’t click all those colorful buttons on the tops and sides of our posts. Keep (or start) clicking those!

Thirdly, I hadn’t really covered green cars at all until the Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf came onto the scene. And the same goes for CleanTechnica as a whole. We’ve covered biofuels for a long time. (Particularly, CleanTechnica senior reporter Tina Casey and reporter Adam Johnston have covered that beat). But, for years, we didn’t cover much else in the clean transport space. Of course, as the electric vehicle revolution slowly got rolling, we made it a priority, and I have personally become somewhat obsessed with EVs. But that still feels like a rather recent development.

So, all I can say is, I’m happy Appinions showed the Top 20 list instead of the Top 10 list!

If you’re curious about the rest of Appinions’ presentation (which is quite interesting and goes far beyond fuel economy), here’s the full slideshare:

If you can’t view the slideshare for some reason, here’s a key quote about the study, followed by some key slides (in my somewhat influential opinion):

“Appinions is an opinion-based influence marketing platform designed to give companies the unmatched ability to identify, analyze, engage, monitor and measure influencers. Built on more than a decade of Cornell University research, Appinions extracts and aggregates opinions from more than 6 million sources including blogs, social networks, forums, and newspaper and magazine articles, thus providing a more complete picture of influence. By analyzing opinion, Appinions can focus on the thought-leaders most capable of impacting a conversation.”

tech trumps performance

top brands tech

top executives GM

efficiency is tops at the moment
OK, there are a lot of additional slides that I think are very interesting, so if you can’t view the slideshare above for some reason, check it out here or download it here.

Lastly (and perhaps this should have been first), I’d like to give a huge thanks to the many readers who have taught me probably more than half of what I know about fuel economy and clean cars. I think that, more than anything, I’m simply an agent for crowdsourcing the knowledge and ideas of the many cleantech experts, semi-experts, and thoughtful human beings whose work or views I get to read on a daily basis.

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About the Author

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species) with the power of the word. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor, but he's also the president of Important Media and the director/founder of EV Obsession and Solar Love. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, and Canada. Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in these particular companies and feels like they are good cleantech companies to invest in. But he offers no professional investment advice and would rather not be responsible for you losing money, so don't jump to conclusions.

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  • Rose Begonia

    Very cool! Congrats, dude 🙂

  • Congratulations. 🙂

  • exdent11

    Congratulations, Reading your blog is my morning gift to myself ;that there are good things happening in the world. J.O.

    • Totally understand that. I was focused on the “negative” stuff for awhile. Sort of got shoved into this role. Have to say that it is much more fun and upbeat! 😀 Inspiring stuff we get to read & write about every day. 😀

  • Tom G.

    This is really good news Zack. All of your hard work and determination is really paying off. If you remember it wasn’t all that long ago I recommended that you change your profile picture to something a little more formal. Just think of where you would be on the list if you had put on a tie. You will go far young man.

    • Haha, thanks! 😀 Maybe I’ll try the tie thing. This is from my CNBC interview ~1.5 years ago. Need to find a similarly good backdrop to put that tie in front of. 😀 (Perhaps a short trip across the border to Germany?)

  • Aaron Russell


  • Well done, Zach… I wonder if there is a peak oil list, would love to see who’s on it…


  • Scott Cooney

    This comes as no surprise to those of us that’ve followed Zach over the past few years. He’s built and led a team that has turned a simple blog into a powerful force for good. Over a million readers last month? Yes, you and CleanTechnica have come far, influenced many, and very probably shifted public opinion in a positive direction. And that’s what we do this all for, eh amigo? Kudos, you deserve it. Buy yourself an organic pint and send me the tab. 🙂

    • Thanks! 😀 And the stimulus and support of IM/GO is what made it all possible! Continues to make it possible. Looking forward to WOWing everyone with your coming plans. 😀

      It is reminders like these that really make me more aware that we are influencing things (for the better). Renewable fuel in our tank. 😀

  • Shiggity


    But seriously man, without you, that’s like 30% of the usual quality articles I read about cleantech a week. Articles like yours simply don’t exist in the mainstream news, anywhere.

    Keep writing, it is making a difference!

    • Thanks!! Greatly appreciate it. To use a bit of a girly phrase, that comment warmed my heart. That’s our big goal. We have to go through a lot of sources to find those top stories, and it is very sad that more of them don’t come from mainstream media!

  • Otis11

    Congrats Zachary! Quite the accomplishment!

    • Thanks! And thanks for all the help, corrections, thoughtful addendums, discussion balancing, and so on!

  • arne-nl

    Congratulations Zachary!

  • Ross

    You should be in the number 2 spot! Instead of he who we shalt not name.

    • Ha, yes, not heartening to see him as #2. But he obviously influenced a ton of people in that time period. At least we had the ability to influence a few through our responses. 😀

  • Bob_Wallace

    We’ll be able to say that “we knew him when”….


    • not sure sure about there being any need for that. 😀 (and you know you’ll always be my advisor anyway. ;D)

    • Ross

      I think Bob deserves some plaudits too as the top commenter on this site.

      • hear! hear! (and all of you other frequent commenters, too…)

  • ok_paulo_ok


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