Bezos Grabs Time Top Spot From Gates

SEATTLE - In what can only be called a dot-com coup d'etat, founder Jeff Bezos bumped Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates as Time Digital Magazine's "Digital Man of the Year" in the publication's annual ranking of the 50 most important figures in technology.

Bezos knocked Gates to third place, with Steve Case, America Online chairman and chief executive, coming in second. Programmer Linus Torvalds, creator of the Linux operating system, a dark horse challenger to Microsoft Windows, was fourth, and Meg Whitman, president and CEO of the eBay auction Web site, was fifth.

Family values were obviously not a judging category, as Seth Warshavsky, whose Seattle-based Internet Entertainment Group has a number of porn ventures, landed at No. 40.

Wealth also was not the determining factor, as Bill Gates, with $85 billion in his virtual pocket, could have bought the entire top 10. Bezos is worth $7 billion and Case a paltry $650 million.

The rankings appear in the magazine's Oct. 4 issue.