He is a vaunted figure in the world of venture capitalism, but Andreessen was a manager and founder first. He was co-creator of the Mosaic browser that launched the modern Internet era in 1993, and went on to hold leadership roles at Web browser Netscape, social network Ning, and software maker Opsware. He cofounded the VC shingle Andreessen Horowitz with Ben Horowitz in 2009; the firm has invested in Skype, Twitter, and LinkedIn. He also serves on the boards of such high-profile tech companies as Facebook, eBay, and Hewlett-Packard.
#5 in Angels Combined score: 72.8
This group of hackers and Internet activists operates without a centralized structure or leadership and is open to anyone who pledges allegiance to it. The cyberactivists cum cyber-terrorists have declared war on pedophilia, Scientology, the FBI, San Francisco’s public transit system, Sony, and the Vatican. With the growing discontent surrounding Internet censorship as well as social and economic inequality around the world, Anonymous became a central player in some of the biggest movements of the past two years, from Arab Spring to Occupy Wall Street.
#8 in Revolutionaries Combined score: 50.2
The Australian who turned a precocious hacking habit into an activist crusade for freedom of information founded WikiLeaks in 2006. Julian Assange and his site rose to prominence with the release of classified documents revealing government corruption, civilian casualties in the Iraq and Afghan wars, and the full text of Sarah Palin’s emails. The organization’s most recent coup: publishing internal emails from global intelligence firm Stratfor. For his part, Assange remains holed up in Ecuador to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he’s accused of sexual misconduct. He launched a talk show in April.
#1 in Revolutionaries Combined score: 55.6
Jeff Atwood is a man unafraid of choosing his own path. In March 2008 he left his job as technical evangelist at a software company, where he also ran a popular coding blog, to build something of his own. Seven months later, Stack Overflow was launched. The site, a Q&A for professional and enthusiast programmers, quickly became a favorite for developers, and now hosts 1.2 million users. But in February of this year, four months after the death of Steve Jobs, Atwood walked away from it all. "I finally realized that success at the cost of my children is not success," Atwood wrote in a blog post detailing his reasons for leaving the company. "It is failure." The tech community overwhelmingly supported the move. “Kudos to @codinghorror for not only building a great product,” one designer tweeted, “but for knowing what’s truly important and acting on it.”
#10 in Builders Combined score: 49.6
Andrew Baron is a musician, artist, and Web visionary best known as the creator of daily-news site Rocketboom, as well as the spinoff KnowYourMeme and, most recently, video aggregator Magma. Baron sold KnowYourMeme to the Cheezburger network in a low-seven-figure deal in 2011, allowing Baron a “secure position with my own personal finances.” Rocketboom is still Baron’s bread and butter, with more than $1 million in yearly sales and plans for more Rocketboom spinoffs, including a New York City travel guide. The site relaunched in April with its newest host, Keghan Hurst, following an established practice of digging through YouTube to find hosts.
#9 in Virologists Combined score: 55.8
A German computer engineer, Bechtolsheim staked his claim to fame as a cofounder of Sun Microsystems. He left Sun to found several other ventures, including server vendor Kealia, which was acquired by Sun in 2004. With two Sun colleagues, he founded HighBAR Ventures in 1995. He was among Google’s first investors; His $100,000 initial investment was worth nearly $2 billion in 2010.
#9 in Angels Combined score: 63.2
Like Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard before him, Bezos started his venture from his garage. Amazon redefined retail, creating a new way for consumers to shop. Launched in 1994, Amazon is one of the most successful startups to weather the dotcom bust, but its efficiency and expansion haven’t been without friction from competitors, as allegations of poor factory conditions and e-book price collusion have challenged the company’s reputation recently. Bezos also launched Blue Origin, whose goal is to make travel to outer space accessible and safe for all of us nonastronauts.
#1 in Visionaries Combined score: 99.0
Breyer’s firm owns an 11 percent stake in Facebook, making it the largest stakeholder next to Mark Zuckerberg. Also a Facebook director, Breyer favors ventures that focus on technology’s development of media and entertainment. But Breyer’s board allegiances are just as noteworthy, with perches at Walmart, Dell, News Corp., and Etsy.
#10 in Angels Combined score: 59.6
Sergey Brin’s seemingly obscure work with Larry Page on search-engine development turned both men into billionaires and profoundly changed the way information is accessed and disseminated online. While the company they built has transformed itself into a behemoth that defines most users’ experience of the Internet, Brin, who emigrated from Russia at age 6, developed a side interest in gene mapping after his mother was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Since finding out he has a genetic mutation that matches his mom’s, he has donated more than $50 million to the study of the disease.
#1 in Innovators Combined score: 83.6
As a venture capitalist, Brad Burnham backs disruptive companies—and has spoken out against large corporations that lobby for new regulations to thwart their growth. An industry vet, he began his career at AT&T in 1979. “When I first got into the venture-capital business in the early ’90s, it seemed to me that half of the deals I brought to the partnership were dismissed with the line, ‘Sure it’s cool, but what the heck do they do if Microsoft decides to enter this business?’ Today the role of the dominant player is played by Google.”
#7 in Navigators Combined score: 64.4
return to top ^