Gamechangers who are remapping the digital landscape. View as a gallery.


Sergey Brin

Cofounder, Google

  • 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.

    Combined score: 83.6


Jack Dorsey

Cofounder and Chairman, Twitter; Founder and CEO, Square

  • Who would have thought 140-character text messages could help fuel citizen revolutions around the world? Jack Dorsey, cofounder and chairman of Twitter, specializes in "simple ideas with outsize impact," as Wired put it last year. His latest outsize venture, the mobile payment startup Square, centers on a small plastic square that fits into your smartphone's headphone jack. Square users already accept $2 billion a year in credit-card payments. Funded with cash from Sequoia Capital, Khosla Ventures, and Visa, as well as Richard Branson, Square is muscling in on larger companies like PayPal that are vying to run small-business transactions.

    Combined score: 75.2


David Karp

Founder, Tumblr

  • Even by the standards of tech founders, David Karp has an unusual backstory. He dropped out of high school after the ninth grade, lived in Tokyo while working as the CTO of parenting site UrbanBaby, and founded the über-popular blogging site Tumblr when he was just 20. The company, which attracted 75,000 users in its first two weeks, now hosts more than 50 million blogs. The growth has forced Karp to lead the company into new territory, launching a revenue model earlier this year that allows users to pay for content placement.

    Combined score: 63.8


Kevin Systrom

Cofounder, Instagram

  • As the cofounder of one of the Internet's biggest startup success stories—he started Instagram in 2010 along with fellow Stanford alum Mike Krieger—Kevin Systrom is in the money. In less than two years, and with only 13 employees, the photo-sharing app amassed 35 million users, leading to a $1 billion acquisition by Facebook in April. Systrom previously worked at Odeo, the podcasting service started by Twitter cofounder Evan Williams, and Google, where he spent two years in products and corporate development.

    Combined score: 63.8


Tim Cook

CEO, Apple

  • For more than 14 years, Cook was Steve Jobs' right hand man at Apple (Jobs once said that he searched for a chief operations manager for nine months before finding Cook, a man Jobs said he saw "eye to eye with"). Since Jobs' death last August, Cook has impressively filled his predecessor's shoes with hardly a stumble. The former IBM and Compaq exec, known in his own right as a visionary master of supply-chain intricacies and product distribution, has found ways to complement Jobs’ inspired sense of product design with a global manufacturing and delivery system so efficient that Apple's stock price has soared 50 percent on his watch.

    Combined score: 63.2


Salman Khan

Founder, Khan Academy

  • A Harvard Business School grad and former hedge-fund manager, Salman Khan in 2006 started Khan Academy as an informal series of tutorial videos on the then relatively new video-sharing site called YouTube. He got the idea to distribute the videos after tutoring family and friends virtually. Today, with more than 3,200 video tutorials covering math, science, finance and humanities, Khan Academy offers an innovative portal that could revolutionize the American educational system. Among Khan Academy's high-profile fans are Bill Gates and Silicon Valley investor John Doerr.

    Combined score: 60.2


Drew Houston

Founder, Dropbox

  • Drew Houston built Dropbox, the cloud-based file-sharing service, with his former MIT classmate and fraternity brother Arash Ferdowsi in 2007. The startup went through Y Combinator, Paul Graham’s prestigious program for new ventures, and remains one of its most successful investments. Dropbox now counts 50 million users, and, at 29 years old, Houston has become one of Silicon Valley’s wealthiest young innovators. He remains at the helm, while Ferdowsi is the company’s CTO.

    Combined score: 57.4


Niklas Zennström

Cofounder, Skype

  • Video calls used to seem like a fantasy for the distant future, but when Zennström and Janus Friis unleashed Skype in 2003, video phoning became low-cost and accessible. In 2005, eBay bought the company for $2.5 billion, then sold it to investors in 2009 for $2.75 billion. In 2011, Microsoft bought it for a whopping $8.5 billion. Zennström is a leading figure in tech venture capital via his firm Atomico—whose investment in Angry Birds parent Rovio is estimated to be worth more than $225 million, according to Business Insider.

    Combined score: 55.4


Daniel Ek

Founder, Spotify

  • With his wildly popular (and legal) music-streaming service, Ek may at last have cracked the code that Napster and a thousand of its clones could not. Specifically, Ek has convinced thousands of record labels and musicians to make their music available to users for free—the money comes in through advertisements and subscriptions. Spotify’s biggest challenge was apparently from Apple’s iTunes. At last month’s All Things Digital Conference, former Facebook rabble-rouser (and current Spotify director) Sean Parker said Apple was initially "threatened” by Spotify, which is part of why it took two-and-a-half years of negotiations to bring it to America.

    Combined score: 51.8


Jason Kilar

CEO, Hulu

  • What Skype did for talking to your loved ones, Hulu has done for watching your favorite TV shows. Initially free, Hulu continues to push the medium toward a seamless broadcast-to-Web experience. The site, which now offers subscriptions for extra content, has netted 2 million subscribers since its introduction in 2010. With the added revenue stream, Kilar has his sights set on expanding Hulu’s original content, potentially turning Hulu from a service for viewing television programming on the Internet into an online television network.

    Combined score: 49.4

Lifetime Achievement:

Tim Berners-Lee

Inventor of the Web

  • Al Gore may often be given the credit, but this British computer scientist is the actual inventor of the World Wide Web: in 1990, he made the first successful communication between a client and a server. In the whirlwind since, Tim Berners-Lee has joined the faculty of MIT and been knighted by the queen. But his passion is a free and open Internet, the cause to which he has dedicated his efforts in recent years. The programmer was an early and ferocious advocate of net neutrality: in 2009, Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced he would work with the British government to make data more open and accessible online. That same year, Berners-Lee launched a foundation dedicated to making the Web a place that would "empower humanity” and bring positive change.

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