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Gary Shapiro

President and CEO, Consumer Electronics Assn.

Impact: Before Shapiro took over as head of the CEA, the organization didn’t have much of a voice inside showbiz — the very industry with which TVs, radios, PCs, DVD/CD players and all manner of gizmos are highly interdependent. Shapiro’s impact is obvious not only in the fact that, under his stewardship, the consumer electronics show has grown tremendously, but also by the increasing participation of content owners and distributors in the annual event.

Observers credit Shapiro with having opened constructive dialogues with the entertainment industry, though the results haven’t always been so positive. A passionate advocate, Shapiro has been criticized for casting arguments in unnecessarily polarizing terms.

Some have also taken him to task for slowing the development of new platforms by pushing his political agenda in Washington too often. Shapiro’s spirited defense of personal recording rights, for example, has often put him at odds with copyright holders and sometimes strained relations among some CEA members.

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POV: “Anyone who says I’m too passionate needs to know I’m just reflecting the will of the industry I represent,” Shapiro says. “They are very serious about what they want and need. We are what we are, and we try to do things the best we can, honestly and openly.”