By its very nature, the tech industry is full of creative people working on amazing new things.Even so there are some people that stand out above and beyond.
These are the people who change the game. They create mind-blowing technology and startups that alter the industry.
Sometimes they do this over-and-over again.
Jony Ive is the star designer responsible for many of Apple's biggest, most important products including the MacBook Pro, iMac, MacBook Air, iPod, iPod Touch, iPhone, iPad and iPad Mini.
Word is, he's in charge of Apple's rumoured upcoming iWatch, too.
Don't call billionaire Gabe Newell the boss of Valve Software, the uber-successful gaming company he cofounded in 1996.
The company says it has 'no bosses, no middle management, no bureaucracy. Just highly motivated peers coming together to make cool stuff.'
But Gabe is clearly Valve's creative heart and soul. Valve became famous for its video games (like Half-Life and Portal). Then Newell launched Steam, an online social gaming site that serves nearly 2,000 titles to over 50 million gamers.
Valve's Source engine is also a wildly popular game development tool.
Julie Uhrman has been a game industry exec for a long time, at Vivendi Universal, IGN, GameFly, and other places.
Ouya is a new Android-based video game console running its own version of the Android operating system that Uhrman dreamed up last year, designd by legend Yves Behar.
She put Ouya on Kickstarter to gage interest and the project went crazy, raising $8.6 million from more than 63,000 people. It's due out in June.
Doug Cutting is an open-source developer who has contributed not one, but three really important free and open software projects to the enterprise world.
He's probably best known as the creator of Hadoop, the mega important 'big data' technology used by thousands of companies. But he also created a search engine called Lucene, (a search indexer), and Nutch, (a spider or crawler). These lead to Solr, a popular enterprise search engine that competes with Google Search Appliance.
All of that work lead him to role of chairman of the Apache Foundation, the keeper of some of the most important open source projects in the world.
Jack Dorsey, a self-taught programmer, cofounded Twitter and was its first CEO. That's enough of a career maker for anyone, but not for Dorsey.
He then turned around and created a brand new mobile payments industry with Square, a device that turns an iPhone/iPad into a cash register.
Eben Upton is the designer of a tiny $25 Linux computer that's changed the face of computers for all sorts of projects for hobbyist to developing nations.
In 2006, Eben Upton and his colleagues at the University of Cambridge's Computer Laboratory came up with an idea for a cheap and easy-to-program computer for kids.
Eben, who works full time for chip maker Broadcom, took two years to design the credit-card-sized computer.
He and his cofounders also created the Raspberry Pi Foundation. Proceeds from Pi are given away to charity.
Eric Migicovsky designed the Pebble E-Paper Watch when he participated in the Y Combinator startup incubator program.
The Pebble is a customisable watch that acts as an accessory to your smartphone. It links to your smartphone to display messages, control the phone and, though apps, adding extra features (like becoming a bike computer).
Migicovsky couldn't raise enough cash for Pebble through VCs, so he took the project to Kickstarter and broke records. Some 68,000 people donated $10.2 million to fund the project.
Thanks to Pebble, Apple is now reportedly chasing the smartphone watch market. And wearable computers of other types are the latest trend.
Through Makerbot, Bre Pettis is ushering in a new area of manufacturing called '3D printing'. Makerbot is basically a robot that builds stuff.
Previous 3D printers could run tens of thousands of dollars but the MakerBot Replicator 2 is $2,200 making it affordable for a lot of people. 3D printers could one day be found in every home.
Bre is also a founder of the New York hacker group NYCResistor and he produces a popular video/podcasting series for MAKE magazine.
Aaron Levie was born to be the CEO of a successful company. He launched 15 startups as teen and finally came up with the winning idea while in college, quitting school to launch his company.
Box is a collaboration file-sharing software-as-a-service that's become very popular with enterprise companies. That's because it offers IT departments more security and control than consumer file sharing apps like Dropbox.
Levie has now pushed Box into becoming a platform, with more than 17,000 developers building custom apps and using Box for the file sharing portion.
He's also a super funny guy who performs magic tricks when the mood strikes.
Martin Casado invented a breakthrough technology called OpenFlow which ushered in a whole new way to build corporate networks called Software Definied Networking.
SDN lets companies buy less networking hardware (routers/switches) while making networks easier to design and scale. It will overhaul the $40 billion network equipment industry.
Casado cofounded a startup, Nicira, which was bought by VMware for $1.26 billion last summer and he's now helping VMware do for the network hardware industry what it did for the computer server industry.
Casado's work has set off a firestorm of investment and acquisitions of other SDN startups, too.
It took Perry Chen seven years to get Kickstarter off the ground.
The idea came to him when he was trying to put on a concert and couldn't raise the funds to do it. He thought how much easier it would be if people could just fund the project by buying the tickets themselves.
Flash forward to today, where Kickstarter has proven crowdsourced funding not only works, it can raise millions. While Kickstarter isn't limited to tech, many of its tech projects have been game changers like the Pebble smartwatch and the Ouya game console.
Ben Kaufman, the 23-year-old founder of Quirky, has changed the way inventors get their products manufactured.
Quirky is actually Ben's third company. He started his first in high school to create a product that won Best of Show at Macworld in 2006. When he returned to Macworld in 2007, he asked the 30,000 attendees to suggest and sketch his next product. The Bevy was born, a case/bottle opener for the iPod Shuffle, and it was a big success, selling in 28 countries.
Kaufman realised that crowdsourced design was a game changer. He sold his first company and launched an online collaboration company. Then he sold that and launched Quirky, which brings at least three new crowdsourced consumer products to market each week.
The beautiful, programmable Nest thermostat is changing the way people think about smart homes and saving energy.
That's thanks to Tony Fadell, who came to fame by leading the Apple team that created the iPod and the first three iPhones.
Before Apple, Fadell built products for Philips Electronics and has more than 100 patents to his name.
In 2005, at age 31, Bryan Cantrill set the IT world on fire by inventing something called 'DTrace' a realtime way to test software problems that changed diagnostics forever.
He was working for Sun Microsystems at the time. After Oracle acquired Sun, Cantrill moved to cloud company Joyent.
There he became the face of 'node.js' another technology setting the programming world on fire. Jode.ns is used by Microsoft, Uber, LinkedIn, Yahoo, eBay and many others to build online apps.
Pinterest has proven that Facebook isn't the be-all of social media sites.
Pinterest lets people share stuff through posting photos and links. It came from Silbermann life-long love of collecting things, from insects to stamps.
Silbermann did a short stint at Google where he learned to think big. But he left that job to launch his own company. With his friend Paul Sciarra he created a few failed iPhone apps before they launched Pinterest.
Pinterest struggled at first, but because Silbermann couldn't face another failure, he doubled down on improving the site. Today it has more than 40 million users
Clara Shih cut her teeth as an engineer for Microsoft and then moved on to roles with Google and Salesforce.com before developing the first social business application for Facebook, called Faceforce, in 2007.
The she penned the bestselling business book, The Facebook Era, now used as a marketing textbook at Harvard Business School.
Today she runs Hearsay Social, a popular enterprise social marketing tool used by JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs and Allstate, among others.
Shih is also on the board of Starbucks.
Self-driving cars have the power to change the world and Sebastian Thrun is at the centre of making them a reality.
Thurn has been a god in the field of artificial intelligence and robotics for a long time, leading Stanford's AI department since the early 2000's and building self-driving vehicles since 2004.
Thrun founded Google X, the group lead by Sergey Brin and home to Google's self-driving car and Google Glass.
He also cofounded startup Udacity, which offers free interactive college classes to make college more interesting and affordable to everyone.
And he still teaches at Stanford.
Alex Kipman led the development team that spent several years building Kinect, which is arguably the coolest product Microsoft has ever produced.
Kinect is a gesture-based game controller for Microsoft's Xbox game. But it has also lead to truckloads of 'Kinect hacks' where people find creative uses for the controller.
Kipman has worked on other important products at Microsoft, too, from its software developer tools to Windows.
Min-Liang Tan cofounded Razer in 1998 with the goal of building the best gaming PCs and accessories, designed by scientists and tested by top gamers.
His PCs and tablets won awards and became popular but that wasn't enough. Tan decided to experiment with the design process itself. He launched the Project Fiona PC which was built through crowdsourcing. Some 10,000 people participated in choosing features, weight/thickness, chipsets, even price.
And that's how Tan created Razer's newest gaming tablet, the Edge.
Stephen Wolfram is the scientist behind the Wolfram Alpha 'computational search engine' which aims to do nothing less than 'to make all systematic knowledge immediately computable and accessible to everyone.'
It's like morphing Google and a scientific calculator. The site created buzz this year at the SXSW conference as one great example of the big data trend.
Wolfram has been an acclaimed physicist and scientists for decades, known in that world for creating Mathematica, a popular language for scientific software development.
23andme is a biotech company that makes it easy and affordable for consumers to do home genetic testing.
It is literally saving lives by helping people discover if they are at risk for genetic diseases like breast cancer, diabetes and Parkinson's.
Biologist Anne Wojcicki may have saved her own husband's life with this company. She's married to Google cofounder Sergey Brin, who is at risk for Parkinson's. Her team of biologists made a huge discovery about a gene that reduces the risk of getting Parkinson's.
Garrett Camp's resume says it all. He's a cofounder and chairman of Uber, the car service that's turning the ancient taxi-cab business on its ear.
He had previously founded Stumbleupon, the addictive social sharing site used by 25 million people.
He recently launched a third company, BlackJet, that aims to do for private jet travel what Uber did to taxis. It lets you book individual seats on private jets at business-class prices.
He's also the founder of SeriesG, for angel investments.
TaskRabbit is a service for outsourcing small jobs and errands. Leah Busque, conceived of TaskRabbit when working as a software engineer at IBM.
She wanted to build a Web and mobile site where neighbours could arrange to do simple tasks for each other.
TaskRabbit has raised nearly $25 million, including participation from Tornante Company, former Disney CEO Michael Eisner's new investment firm and has lead to a cottege industry of other task-running sites.
Robby Walker's first company, Zenter, was snapped up by Google in 2007 before it even launched. Zenter, an online 'PowerPoint killer' app became part of Google's Apps presentation software. Then Walker stuck around Google for three years improving the presentation software used by Apps.
He's now working on a cool Ycombinator startup called Cue launched with a teenage cofounder, Daniel Gross. Cue is a mobile app that turns all of your email, calendars, social media streams into a manageable day planner.
Like Gross, Walker was a child coding prodigy. He began attending college at age 9, earned a doctorate by 22 and sold Zenter to Google at the ripe old age of 23.
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