At Business Insider, we believe capitalism can and should be a force for good. With this inaugural edition of Business Insider 100: The Creators, we are celebrating leaders who embody this spirit.
Many rankings focus only on those who have achieved great financial success. Our CEO Henry Blodget sums up the drawbacks of such a focus:
“The more money you make, the implication is, the better and more successful you are. We believe this cheapens the mission and sense of purpose that many great business leaders bring to their companies and products. And it certainly undersells their inspiring accomplishments.”
Over the course of several months, we scoured the business landscape for inventive leaders making bold moves to create value for four constituencies: shareholders, employees, consumers, and society.
We found companies from around the world, both public and private, across many industries. We considered not only what they have created, but how. We consulted a variety of databases, including Glassdoor to gauge employee sentiment and Wealth-X to chart noteworthy philanthropic missions.
Not every company is a standout in each criteria. Companies with a questionable record with their employees, for example, weren’t necessarily eliminated, but they rank lower than similar companies that make employee welfare a priority. Size wasn’t a deciding factor. Small companies adding great value to the world, like Toms, outranked many multinational conglomerates, such as IKEA. Other entrants, such as Uber and Snapchat, make the list primarily because they have created dramatic economic or cultural impact, attracting millions of customers daily.
To celebrate many of these inspiring people and success stories, we’re pleased to present Business Insider 100: The Creators.
Edited by Alex Morrell.
Additional editing and reporting by Matthew DeBord, Diane Galligan, Mo Hadi, Ashley Lutz, Lydia Ramsey, Matt Rosoff, Sara Silverstein, Dave Smith, and Matthew Turner.
100. Andras Forgacs
Cofounder and CEO, Modern Meadow
Modern Meadow's cofounder and CEO, Andras Forgacs, believes that as our population grows to 10 billion people in the next few decades we will need 100 billion animals to sustain our meat, dairy, and leather needs. Modern Meadow has found a way to grow food and leather in its lab using biofabrication, which takes small biopsies from animals, leaving them unharmed.
Modern Meadow says its solution will mean 99% less land required for animals, 96% less water to create the meat, 96% fewer greenhouse gases emitted, and 45% less energy needed to produce the meat.
Forgacs, who also cofounded the 3-D organ printing company Organovo, says he meat takes about a month to produce, and the leather takes a month and a half. Compared to the years it takes to raise animals, that's almost like no time at all, Modern Meadow just needs to figure out how to commercialize it first. Forgacs told Crain's he sees the products hitting the market in 2018.
99. Jessica Alba
Cofounder, The Honest Company
In 2011, Jessica Alba pivoted from entertainment to entrepreneurship, launching The Honest Company — a startup dedicated to producing eco-friendly household and beauty products. The idea came to her years before, when she was starting a family and tested a baby detergent that caused her to break out in a rash. Alba was frustrated to find dubious ingredients and safety records for many other household products, so she took matters into her own hands, starting The Honest Company with entrepreneur Brian Lee.
Though it began as an online shopping site, The Honest Company’s products eventually hit the shelves in stores like Costco, Nordstrom, and Whole Foods. As it has expanded, its dedication to creating sustainable products and making a social difference hasn’t wavered, earning it B Corporation certification in 2012. Alba also takes care of her more than 500 employees, announcing this year a benefit of up to 16 weeks paid parental leave for new parents, up from 10 weeks.
But the brand has hit a few bumps in the road. It has faced a spate of lawsuits alleging its products — including baby formula, shampoo, detergent, and sunscreen — contain the same nonorganic, unsafe ingredients the company was created to avoid. The Honest Company has denied the accusations and is fighting the lawsuits.
Alba hasn’t let the flap slow it down. The budding retail operation, which has raised over $200 million in funding and is estimated to be worth $1.7 billion, has been flirting with an IPO this year.
98. David Reis
The world's largest 3-D printing company, Stratasys develops and manufactures professional printers and materials capable of building everything from factory parts to dental equipment to personal projects. The company also encompasses smaller ventures such as MakerBot, known for leading the charge in desktop 3-D printing.
In 2012, Stratasys merged with Objet, another leader in the 3-D printing space, to become a dominant firm worth an approximate $3 billion at the time. Objet CEO David Reis also came over with the acquisition, taking over as chief executive of the new, larger company.
Under the leadership of Reis, who will step down as CEO this summer, the two companies' histories abound with milestones for the industry, including introducing the first 3-D printer available for under $30,000 in 2002, launching the world's first multimaterial 3-D printer in 2007, and building the first printer to combine more than 100 materials in 2012.
In April, Stratasys added one more milestone to that list. It debuted a new printer than can seamlessly switch between 360,0000 colours and up to six materials. To put the technology into perspective, an OtterBox phone case would previously take three full days to prototype, but using the new printer, it can be made in a mere 30 minutes. The technology will help cut down production time -- and cost -- on everything from stop-motion animation to aeroplane parts.
Despite year-over-year revenue losses and a slowdown in the 3-D printing industry at large, Stratasys beat Wall Street expectations for its fourth-quarter earnings, and its stock surged nearly 30% in March.
97. Frank Wang
Founder and CEO, Dajiang Innovation Technology (DJI)
A decade ago, when the consumer technology market was just gaining momentum, Frank Wang founded Dajiang Innovation Technology (DJI), now the world's leading drone manufacturer with more than $1 billion in sales and a valuation topping $8 billion.
As a child in China, Wang dreamed of creating a flying camera. By the time he was in college studying electrical engineering, Wang was prototyping his designs out of his dorm room until his inventions became promising enough to move to Shenzhen, the tech mecca of China. In 2006, he established DJI and created the modern-day drone, selling about 20 controllers per month, mainly to hobbyists abroad. By 2013, DJI released the Phantom, the first ready-to-fly, GPS-enabled quadcopter for consumers.
Since then, interest has moved beyond drone enthusiasts and spread across the world. As of 2015, 90% of DJI's revenue is divided equally from the US, Europe, and Asia, with the remaining 10% coming from Latin America and Africa.
The company, which commands 75% of the US commercial drone market and employs more than 3,000 people globally, now offers dozens of products drone varieties. Though the cost of the aerial-imaging quadcopters is steep -- the latest Phantom 4 model starts at $1,400 -- DJI's drones have been lauded as remarkable pieces of technology with advanced autonomy features and object-sensing capabilities. The product furthers Wang's aim to revolutionise the way industries like agriculture, filmmaking, and energy infrastructure use drones to gather information and produce creative material.
96. Jonah Peretti
Cofounder and CEO, BuzzFeed
Known for its ubiquitous and highly shareable cat slideshows, quizzes, and timelapse cooking videos, BuzzFeed's stories and videos have incredible reach on the internet. 'With BuzzFeed, I always felt like, let's have as big an impact as we can,' founder Jonah Peretti told Fast Company. 'Let's grow this into something giant.'
BuzzFeed's numbers speak for themselves. Each month, the site generates more than 7 billion global content views across all of its platforms and brings in over 200 million monthly unique visitors. Leaked documents show that it's been growing at around 200% annually since 2013, and despite a recent failure to hit revenue goals, BuzzFeed's amplification is remarkable. The site earned a $200 million investment from NBCUniversal last summer, valuing the company at $1.5 billion.
That's because BuzzFeed knows what readers want -- especially the coveted millennial generation. Instead of sticking to longform pieces housed solely on its own site the way traditional media companies did upon entering the digital space, Peretti pushed the company to adapt to readers' tastes. In 2014, BuzzFeed started publishing content directly to social media, tailoring it to each platform -- and it worked. The site earns more traffic than The New York Times, despite the majority of its content first appearing somewhere else.
95. Michael Preysman
Founder and CEO, Everlane
When 12,000 people are on the waitlist for the launch of your latest product, you must be doing something right. For Michael Preysman, that product is Everlane, an online clothing shop he launched in 2011 with a single T-shirt that has quickly gained a cult following.
On the surface, Everlane seems like any other online clothing retailer. But the brand wows customers with its timeless, well-made basics, dedication to sustainability, and prices half those of competitors. It doesn't advertise and has no physical storefronts, but it has reached over 350,000 customers in a mere four years. When Everlane announced the release of its first-ever pair of pants last year, over 12,000 people signed up to buy them.
Committed to a motto of 'radical transparency' and sustainable business practices, Everlane breaks down its exact costs for customers, from materials to labour to transportation. Preysman, who started in private equity before deciding to launch a company of his own, only uses ethically sourced materials and vets all facilities himself to ensure that workers are treated fairly. This dedication appeals to millennial customers' desire to know exactly how their clothing is made, and other (much larger) fashion houses, including H&M and Forever 21, have followed suit by launching sustainability initiatives themselves.
Things look just as bright for Everlane on the business side as well. The company's 2015 sales are estimated at around $35 million -- more than double the $12 million it reported in 2013.
94. Ben Harvatine and Jonathan Lin
Cofounders, Jolt Athletics
While Ben Harvatine was a wrestler at MIT, he unknowingly suffered a concussion and played through it. As a result, he ended up in the hospital several times over the course of the next few months with dizziness and nausea, and to this day he remembers little from that time period.
A growing body of research shows concussions and brain trauma can pose disastrous effects in the short-term and long-term. The moment immediately after a hit to the head is when people are most at risk, and many competitive athletes like Harvatine stubbornly fight to keep playing. Inspired by his own experience, Harvatine and two MIT fraternity brothers began developing a sports-friendly wearable sensor and companion software in 2014 to track the toll taken on the brain.
Harvatine and cofounder Jonathan Lin now run Jolt Athletics, a tiny operation out of Boston, which is supplying young athletes and their parents a system to monitor head trauma in real time. The Jolt Sensor -- small, light, and suitable for an array of sports -- can immediately alert parents and coaches if a player suffers a significant blow to the head so they can intervene and get them treatment. But the software also tracks moderate and mild hits over time, mapping trends and comparing the data with other players.
The company's focus is the youth market, though it's been in talks with Division I college athletic programs, and trainers and doctors for professional teams have been testing out the Jolt as well, according to Harvatine.
93. Tadashi Yanai
Founder, chairman, and CEO, Fast Retailing
Tadashi Yanai is the chairman, president, and CEO of the fourth-largest apparel company in the world, Fast Retailing. Subsidiaries include apparel company Uniqlo and jean retailer J Brand.
In 1984, Yanai took over his father’s clothing chain, which had 22 stores at the time, and opened the first Uniqlo store in Japan. The name stems from an abbreviation of 'Unique Clothing Warehouse.' Yanai wanted to create simple, high-quality clothing that lasts. Today, the brand has more than 1,700 stores in 17 countries. Fast Retailing has brings in more than $14 billion in annual sales.
Uniqlo differs from competitors like Zara because of Yanai’s emphasis on technology instead of fashion. In 2004, Uniqlo announced its Declaration on Global Quality, in which the brand would prioritize quality over price. The announcement led to the addition of its widely popular Heattech items, which trap the wearer's body heat to keep them warm, to stores.
Yanai, one of the richest men in Japan, also promotes social responsibility. In the past year, the company has asked its customers to donate lightly worn clothing to help refugees worldwide, and it recently delivered emergency clothing items to victims of a Japanese earthquake.
92. Brad Katsuyama
Cofounder and CEO, IEX Group
To many, Brad Katsuyama and his upstart financial enterprise IEX Group are best known as central figures in Michael Lewis' 2014 book, 'Flash Boys,' in which Katsuyama and others railed against the advantage high-speed traders hold over the common Joe.
IEX launched as an alternative-trading system, a trading venue where investors and brokers can trade stocks, and turned profitable in 2015. In September, it filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission to become a stock exchange. The new exchange would implement a controversial 350-microsecond 'speed bump' intended to level the playing field between the rapid traders and ordinary traders. Katsuyama, whose company has raised more than $100 million in funding and is likely to be worth in excess of $250 million, hopes it can become the go-to exchange for long-term investors, including the mutual funds and pension systems that manage money for millions of Americans.
Its application, pending with the SEC, has become an industry flash point. The Nasdaq and New York Stock Exchange, as well as high-speed trader Citadel, have claimed that the speed bump is either illegal, dangerous, or both, and they are clamoring for the application to be denied. Meanwhile, giants like JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, and a spate of hedge fund bosses like Bill Ackman favour the increased market competition and have lobbied for approval. The SEC is scheduled to settle it by June 18.
91. Craig Venter
Cofounder, CEO, and executive chairman, Human Longevity Inc.
For more than two decades, scientist Craig Venter has been at the forefront of genome research. In 2000, Venter led the groundbreaking project at Celera Genomics which, along with the US-government-sponsored Human Genome Project, mapped the entirety of the human genome -- the genetic material that lays out instructions for everything humans need to develop.
The genomics expert is now involved in several organisations, but the most notable is privately held Human Longevity, a technology-driven genomics and cell therapy company dedicated to extending the human lifespan. Through Human Longevity, Venter hopes to create the world's foremost database for interpreting genetic code to transform healthcare from treatment to prevention. This spring, Venter announced a 10-year partnership with global pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca to sequence up to 2 million human genomes to identify genetic mutations and create drugs to prevent and mitigate the risks.
The company's Health Nucleus project is working toward a similar goal by determining client disease risk through DNA sequencing. Though the client test has been criticised for catering to the wealthy -- a test can cost anywhere from $25,000 to $50,000 -- the data collected is used to inform medical research that will benefit humanity at large.
Venter revealed a more affordable alternative -- $250 per test -- that's available primarily to South Africans and UK citizens covered by the insurance company Discovery, which Human Longevity struck a deal with in 2015.
90. Oliver Kharraz
Cofounder and CEO, Zocdoc
One of the biggest complaints patients have about healthcare is the difficulty of finding the right doctor. In 2007, Nick Ganju, Cyrus Massoumi, and licensed doctor Oliver Kharraz set out to fix the problem and 'give power to the patient.'
The trio quit their jobs to found ZocDoc, a virtual receptionist where users can read reviews of doctors, book appointments at any time in more than 50 specialties, set up appointment reminders, and fill out tedious waiting room paperwork -- all from the convenience of their smartphones. Millions of patients now book appointments through the app every month in seven major cities across the US, including Chicago, Houston, and Washington, DC, and the startup is now valued at $1.8 billion.
Though ZocDoc has been a bona fide hit with consumers, former employees made accusations last year claiming the company's sales floor is run like a 'frat house' that turns a blind eye to sexual harassment and drugs in the office. The company retooled its image in February, unveiling a wholesale rebranding effort. The move followed a restructuring of the management team, which replaced Massoumi with Kharraz as CEO.
Kharraz has also recently changed the way ZocDoc recruits doctors. For the better part of the company's history, ZocDoc's team signed up individual doctors for its service, which was labour intensive and not sustainable, according to Kharraz. Now, two-thirds of doctors are moving from independent practices to hospital groups, which has led the company to focus on the latter to maximise sign-ups and simplify the transition for doctors.
89. James Park
Cofounder and CEO, FitBit
Despite a host of competitors, Fitbit currently reigns as largest player in the burgeoning wearable devices market. Cofounders and former software engineers James Park and Eric Friedman struck upon the idea for the fitness tracker in 2007, sensing an enormous opportunity. The duo struggled at first, initially raising $400,000 to launch the Fitbit. But eventually investors like SoftTech and True Ventures stepped in, and by Christmas 2009, after 25,000 orders had been placed, Fitbit launched.
With devices on its roster available for less than $100, the Fitbit is one of the cheaper trackers on the market. Wearers are able to track their steps, heart rate, distance travelled, and calories burned. The company's more powerful versions run more than $200 and offer features like GPS connectivity, caller ID, and music control.
In 2015, the company went public and generated nearly $2 billion in revenue. Though the small wearables are a favourite of the fitness obsessed, they have found customers in large corporations like Time Warner and IBM, which use the tools as an incentive to bolster employees' health.
The duo -- Park is president and CEO while Friedman serves as CTO -- have brought their mission to help people live healthier, more active lives to Fitbit's offices as well. The company's employees have access to treadmill desks, a kitchen stocked with healthy snacks, catered lunches, and weekly fitness classes.
88. Ned Tozun and Sam Goldman
Cofounders; CEO (Tozun) and CTO (Goldman), d.light
Former Peace Corps volunteer Sam Goldman met entrepreneur Ned Tozun while enrolled in a project-based course at Stanford University called 'Design For Extreme Affordability.' In 2007, the pair secured $250,000 in seed funding from social venture investors including Omidyar Network to found d.light. The for-profit social enterprise produces safe and long-lasting solar energy products that sell for as little as $5.
The idea for d.light followed an experience Goldman had in Africa, when 15-year-old neighbour of his was badly burned in a kerosene accident. Goldman returned to the US convinced there had to be a cheaper, safer way to bring light to the billions of people who still rely on kerosene. In 2008, d.light's first lamp went to market, and the company has since sold more than 10 million products in 62 countries through on-the-ground sellers and online retailers Amazon and Flipkart.
The company earned a series of national recognitions in 2014, including a spot on the World Economic Forum's Social Entrepreneurs of the Year list and a top rank among B corporations for high social and environmental impact. Last year, Goldman and Tozun presented their product to President Obama at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Kenya.
With 10 field offices and four hubs in the US, Africa, China, and South Asia, d.light employs more than 400 people.
87. Tory Burch
Cofounder and CEO, Tory Burch
Even those who don't know Tory Burch by name will surely recognise her logo-embossed flats, a now ubiquitous staple among fashion-minded women. The designer started her eponymous 'affordable luxury' brand in 2004 out of her kitchen with borrowed money and built it from the ground up, expanding the business into a $3 billion company with more than 160 stores across the world. A legal battle with her ex-husband ended with him selling the majority of his 28.3% stake in the company in 2013, turning Burch into a self-made billionaire.
Though best known for her iconic shoes, Burch's brand includes handbags, clothing, and jewellery. And she continues to expand: Last year, she partnered with FitBit to create a line of branded wearables and launched activewear collection Tory Sport.
Burch doesn't stop with her own success. She hopes to empower other women to achieve their goals, establishing the Tory Burch Foundation in 2009 as a way to support fellow women entrepreneurs by providing resources that help women raise capital, find mentors, and receive advice from experts. In 2015, Burch also launched a fellowship program where 10 entrepreneurs win a $10,000 grant for business education, attend a three-day workshop at Tory Burch headquarters, and participate in a year-long fellowship program that provides business support and guidance. One fellow also receives a $100,000 grant investment for her business.
86. Daniel Ek and Martin Lorentzon
Cofounders; CEO (Ek) and chairman (Lorentzon), Spotify
As technology evolves and expands into every facet of our lives, other industries must adapt, and music is no exception. Instead of browsing through racks of CDs, music fans now peruse Spotify, the online streaming service that brings over 30 million songs together in one easy-to-access space, available across 59 countries.
Along with cofounder Martin Lorentzon, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek started the streaming service in 2006 as a way to consume, discover, and engage with music. The concept caught on, and Spotify reigns as the bona fide leader of the pack in music streaming, bringing new songs to consumers and helping artists share their music.
The company has received pushback from artists and others in the music industry -- Taylor Swift publicly pulled her music from the service in 2014 -- who accuse it of not paying artists sufficiently. Artists earn just fractions of a penny on each stream but those can add up. According to reports, Drake was the most-streamed artist on Spotify in 2015, earning around $15 million from the service.
Though still not profitable, Spotify is valued at $8.5 billion and has raised $1.6 billion in funding. In addition to its huge ad-supported audience, Spotify boasts nearly 30 million paid subscribers who fork over $10 per month for the company's premium services. That's up nearly 10 million users since last June -- even with competitors like Apple Music and Tidal on the scene -- a huge gain that evidences the company's long-term staying power.
85. Stewart Butterfield
Founder and CEO, Slack
Two-year-old Slack, which aims to replace internal company emails with real-time chat channels, has seen remarkable growth, now boasting 2 million daily active users and a valuation approaching $4 billion. It has tamed the beast of email -- companies using Slack report almost a 50% drop in internal email.
But Slack, founded and run by Stewart Butterfield, is also leading the way in diversity in an industry that's still largely dominated by white men. According to its September 2015 diversity report, more than 40% of Slack employees report to a woman as their manager, and 45% of the company's total employees are women. When the company won a TechCrunch award for fastest-rising startup of 2015, it sent four women employees to pick up the award instead of Butterfield.
Butterfield, who founded Flickr and sold it to Yahoo before starting Slack, also strives to break the usual startup mould of around-the-clock work, and instead he has instilled a motto of 'work hard and go home.'
84. Gregory Hodkinson, Tristram Carfrae, and David Whittleton
Chairman (Hodkinson), deputy chairman (Carfrae, Whittleton), Arup Engineering
When Ove Arup founded his architecture, engineering, and design firm in 1946, his goal was to instill every project with a sense of environmental and social purpose. Even though Arup died in 1988, that principle still guides the company that bears his name as it tackles ambitious, avant-garde projects by taking risks and playing with emerging technologies.
Known for designing iconic structures like the Sydney Opera House, Beijing's Water Cube, and Singapore's Sports Hub, the firm counts projects like the 2012 Olympic Park in London and LEED-certified headquarters for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in Seattle among its more recent endeavours. Guided by chairman Gregory Hodkinson, a more-than-40-year veteran of the firm, and deputy chairmen Tristram Carfrae and David Whittleton, Arup stays in the vanguard of green, sustainable design by strategising each project around six environmental objectives: carbon; water; materials; climate change; community and the environment; and operations.
The firm has no shareholders or external investors. Instead, each of its 10,000-plus employees receives a share of the profits each year, keeping the company independently owned and free to shape its own priorities and future. This structure allows Arup's 90 offices the flexibility to take risks, as splitting the profits equally means successful projects cushion less successful ones.
83. Palmer Luckey and Brendan Iribe
Cofounders and CEO (Iribe), Oculus VR
Palmer Luckey was only 17 years old when he built the prototype for Oculus Rift, a virtual reality headset, in his parents' garage. The VR pioneer hooked up with game programmer Brendan Iribe not long after, and they launched one of the most successful crowdfunding campaigns in history: After just a month on Kickstarter in 2012, the project raised $2.4 million from over 9,500 backers.
The excitement around the headset caught the attention of Facebook. In 2014, the social network giant bought the company for $2 billion, with Mark Zuckerberg calling Oculus VR 'the leader in virtual reality technology.'
Preorders for the consumer version for the Rift went live in January. People were shocked by the $600 price tag -- Luckey, who still helps run operations, had initially stated it would be in the ballpark of $350 -- but that didn't slow down sales. The company has had difficulty keeping up with orders, even before its push into the retail market this May.
'Right now the goal is optimising quality of the experience over adoption,' Iribe, now the company's CEO, told The Wall Street Journal. 'We are trying to set the bar for quality and deliver the absolute best VR experience in the world.'
82. Robin Li
Cofounder and CEO, Baidu
It's hard to imagine a world without Google, but in China, the go-to search engine is Robin Li's Baidu.
Launched in 2000, Baidu quickly gained traction in China and is now worth nearly $60 billion. And since Google pulled out of the country in 2010, Baidu has been able to corner the market on search -- though Li argues his company would still thrive in the same space as Google. In addition to search, image, video, and news functions, Baidu operates online discussion forums, knowledge-sharing platforms, and more features tailored to a Chinese audience.
Baidu also runs a research lab, based in Silicon Valley, that develops artificial intelligence technology with a goal of impacting and improving the lives of 100 million people. First up is the development of speech-recognition capabilities for mobile devices. Over time, the lab aims to make it as easy to talk to a phone or tablet as it is to hold a conversation with another human.
It hasn't been completely smooth sailing for Baidu, however. In May, it received sanctions from the Cyberspace Administration of China after a 21-year-old cancer patient died from an experimental treatment program he found via the search engine. In addition to regaining customer trust, Baidu must now retool its algorithms so that the highest-paid results aren't automatically the most prominently featured.
Li remained steadfast throughout the controversy. In light of the news, he announced that Baidu would strive to put user experience above all else, even if it comes at the expense of the company.
81. Mike Cagney
Cofounder and CEO, SoFi
In the crowded world of online lending, Social Finance Inc. is a standout. More commonly known as SoFi, the company raised a massive $1 billion in a financing round led by SoftBank last September.
SoFi got its start in 2011 refinancing student loans with an approach that it describes as 'forward looking,' meaning it doesn't focus on past credit to approve borrowers, but rather considers more telling factors, like where students went to school and where they're employed, to determine what kind of interest rates they should pay. In turn, borrowers using the service save an average of $18,000, it says.
The company also offers mortgages and consumers loans, and expects these wider offerings to eventually outshine its student loan business.
It isn't a bank in every sense; SoFi doesn't take deposits. Instead, it raises money from investors to fund the loans, and also sells loans on in the form of asset-backed securities.
But Mike Cagney, cofounder and CEO, is an evangelist for the fact that traditional banks don't get young consumers. One way he's trying to be different than a traditional bank is by creating a network within his client base (hence the 'social' aspect of its name). This includes help finding jobs as well as social experiences like happy hours and skydiving trips.
'It's not transactional banking. It's all about money, career, and relationship,' Cagney told The Wall Street Journal.
80. Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy
Cofounders; CEO (Spiegel) and CTO (Murphy), Snapchat
Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy were fraternity brothers before becoming business partners. The duo -- along with a third founder who has since left the company -- started an app for self-destructing picture-messages that they shared among their friends in 2011 while undergraduates at Stanford University. But after noticing a spike in downloads, Spiegel dropped out of school to work on the Snapchat app full time.
In five short years, Snapchat has become one of the fastest-growing social networks in the world -- 100 million people use it every day. What started as a way to send private, personal messages is now a platform for users to create snap stories, play around with branded filters, interact with celebrities, and keep up with the most recent news. Only a few years ago, Spiegel, CEO, and Murphy, CTO, had a team of fewer than 30 employees; now they have grown to more than 330.
Today, more than 60% of smartphone users ages 13 to 34 in the US are snapchatting, and the app gets more than 10 billion video views daily.
Though the duo famously turned down a $3 billion offer from Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, they have since been vindicated, as the company is now valued at $16 billion. And despite doubts about its ability to make money, the company has pioneered new forms of advertising -- including filters, geofilters, and sponsored stories -- and expects to rake in sales of more than $300 million in 2016.
79. Jørgen Vig Knudstorp
CEO, Lego Group
The Lego Group was founded in 1932 by Oleg Kristiansen, and up until 2004 a member of the Kristiansen family served as CEO. By the early 2000s, though, Lego was struggling to manage its finances and experienced slumping sales.
But then an outsider, Jørgen Vig Knudstorp, was brought in to save the struggling toy company. When he took over in 2005, he refocused on Lego’s most important customers — kids — and put creative control into the hands of the company’s most hardcore fans.
The shift worked, and Knudstorp’s reinvigorated Lego is now one of the most popular toymakers on the planet. It has grown 15% annually the past 10 years — even while top rivals have started slipping — and pulled in $5.2 billion in revenue in 2015. The company estimates 100 million children interacted with the brand last year.
A portion of those interactions have been inside the classroom through the Lego Education’s WeDo 2.0 program. The program tries to make learning more fun by teaching children about STEM fields through its robotics kits. Lego has partnered with over 20,000 schools in the US to bring its products to the classroom as a teaching tool.
Knudstorp has made his company more environmentally and employee friendly as well. Improved safety measures have reduced employee injuries by 37% since 2009, while energy efficiency has increased by 24% over the same period. And in 2015, 43% of newly promoted and recruited leaders were women, according to the company’s responsibility report.
78. Reid Hoffman
Cofounder, LinkedIn; Partner, Greylock Partners
When Reid Hoffman graduated from Stanford in the early 1990s, he knew he wanted to change the world. At first he thought it would be through academia, but, as he told The New Yorker in 2015, he soon realised that academics publish for narrow audiences, and he craved a larger stage.
He was one of the first entrepreneurs to have the idea that the internet could be used to connect large numbers of like-minded people together, founding a short-lived social network called SocialNet in 1997. He later turned that insight into LinkedIn, which launched in 2002 and has since become the default online venue for job hunting and making professional connections. In 2004, he and his wife made one of the most profound commitments to the larger good: They agreed to not have children so they could concentrate on 'major scale' projects, The New Yorker reported.
Hoffman has since become one of the most prolific investors in Silicon Valley, with early bets on big winners like Facebook and Airbnb, and he runs an early-stage startup fund for Greylock, a top Silicon Valley VC. He also serves on the boards of a number of nonprofits like Do Something, and he's recently been teaching a course at Stanford, 'Blitzscaling,' that shows startups how to grow fast.
77. Zach Sims and Ryan Bubinski
Cofounders and CEO (Sims), Codecademy
Zach Sims and Ryan Bubinski believe that computer programming skills are the key to getting a job in the 21st century. As a way to make up for the shortcomings of many educational institutions and universities, the pair decided to start Codecademy, an online platform that teaches people how to code for free. In five years, it has reached 25 million people worldwide.
The founders, who were classmates at Columbia University, were both in their early 20s when the site launched in 2011. They were inspired by their own struggles with learning how to code. Sims told The Guardian that he would read books and watch videos, but nothing really worked.
The courses are completely free, which for a while caused people to question how the small startup, which employs fewer than 30 people, would raise capital to grow into a lucrative business. To date, it has received $12.5 million in funding. The site makes some money on Codecademy Pro, a $20-a-month subscription learning service that allows users to advance their skills at a personalised level. However, for Sims, it's not about making money, but more about growing the site and remaining accessible to its users.
76. Ma Huateng
Founder and CEO, Tencent Holdings
In 1998, at just 26 years old, Ma Huateng founded what's regarded today as China's largest internet portal, Tencent Holdings.
Eighteen years later, Tencent owns an impressive and growing roster of platforms that includes: instant-messaging service QQ, one of the world's 10 most-popular websites; mobile-texting service WeChat, which has more than 700 million users; electronic-pay service WeChat Wallet, which has accumulated hundreds of millions of users as well; and Tencent Games, the largest online-gaming community in China.
The private yet powerful innovator, also known as Pony Ma, is one of China's most admired entrepreneurs. Ma's strategy for cross-industry collaboration, called 'pan entertainment,' is the reason Tencent has become one of China's most valuable tech companies -- it's now worth nearly $200 billion, making it larger than both Intel and IBM. At its core, the company is aimed at improving communication in the world's most populated country.
Tencent also owns businesses in comics and animation, digital book publishing, and film. Tencent Pictures announced last year that it had partnered with US studio Legendary Pictures in the production of 'Warcraft,' a film due out this June based on the popular computer games. And Tencent-backed Chinese music-streaming service China Music Corp. is preparing to go public in the US and could raise up to $600 million.
Ma recently revealed plans to donate 100 million shares -- worth around $2 billion -- to his company's charitable arm, The Tencent Foundation, which was founded in 2007. The donation will support medical, educational, and environmental causes in China.
75. Håkan Samuelsson
Håkan Samuelsson joined Volvo as president and CEO in 2012, two years after Ford sold Volvo to the Chinese auto manufacturer Geely. The Volvo S60L was launched in 2015, becoming the first Chinese-built car available in the US. Now, Samuelsson is focused on conquering some other big goals for the company.
In April 2016, Volvo announced it wanted to sell 1 million electrified cars by 2025. The Swedish CEO said in a statement that he wanted Volvo to be “at the forefront of this shift to electrification.” Volvo also plans to have at least two hybrid versions of each of its models and release a fully electric car by 2019.
Volvo is also experimenting with self-driving cars. Though no date is set, Volvo announced in April 2016 that it plans to test up to 100 self-driving cars in China. The company will use local test drivers, who will drive the cars on public roads in an effort to get consumers to put more trust in technology. Always focused on safety, Samuelsson promised that the company would take full responsibility if its cars are involved in accidents.
Driverless cars will play a large role in Volvo’s Vision 2020 project, which states that by the year 2020 no one should be killed in a new Volvo car. The company has a long history of safety and innovation — in 1959, Volvo invented the modern three-point seat belt and filed it as an open patent, making it available to everyone. This innovation has since saved over 1 million lives, according to Volvo.
74. Ian Bernstein and Adam Wilson
What if, in the future, children in schools around the world were taught by robots? Human instruction isn't going anywhere yet, but on a small scale, robots are already taking over the classroom.
Ian Bernstein and Adam Wilson are the creators of Sphero, a tech startup that makes little, round, rolling robots of the same name. The duo, based in Boulder, Colorado, started out in 2010, fixated on making everyday objects controllable via smartphone, but they keyed in on engineering a ball that anyone -- even kids -- could program and control through an app. In classrooms, they realised, Spheros could prove useful teaching aids in STEM subjects, as well as be an avenue into coding, especially because, to children, the objects -- each emblazoned with small, friendly face -- feel more like a toy than a learning tool. 'Connected play' became Bernstein and Wilson's mantra.
By the end of 2011, Spheros hit retail stores and started delighting users -- including President Barack Obama, who gleefully took a moment to play with a Sphero while visiting an area campus. The company got a major boost when it struck a deal with Disney to refashion the Sphero into a toy version of the BB-8 droid from the studio's blockbuster 'Star Wars' release in 2015. It became a commercial hit, selling out on its first day and selling more than 1 million by the end of the year.
The company, which now has more than 160 employees and $90 million in funding, has taken schools by storm, too. It has sold the programmable robots to more than 1,000 schools, and more than 150,000 students have used one.
73. Eren Bali and Dennis Yang
Cofounder and chairman (Bali) and CEO (Yang), Udemy
Udemy Cofounder Eren Bali was interested in maths growing up, but at his one-room school in Turkey, his teacher taught five grades at the same time, leaving little time for personal instruction. But by stumbling upon some online maths forums, Bali eventually became a self-taught International Maths Olympian.
Bali's experience was the genesis of Udemy, the online platform and digital marketplace that's home to over 40,000 courses taught by over 20,000 instructors. He and his cofounders, Oktay Caglar and Gagan Biyani, were rejected 50 times by investors, but the company launched in 2010 and has since raised $173 million in funding and grown to more than 200 employees.
Bali moved from CEO to chairman in 2014, making way for former COO Dennis Yang to take over and grow the company worldwide. Yang has proved more than capable; Udemy's affordable classes -- most range from $20 to $50, with technology, business, and design among the most popular -- have helped the company reach more than 11 million students in more than 190 countries.
Despite the explosion in recent years of massive open online courses, Yang says he's trying to veer Udemy away from replacing higher education online -- the best teachers, he believes, often aren't from traditional institutions -- by focusing less on academic credentials and more on facilitating everyday learning.
'There are no limits to what people can learn at any stage of their lives or careers,' Yang told The Huffington Post.
72. Amancio Ortega
Amancio Ortega has built a fashion empire through Inditex, his retail company that encompasses brands like Zara, Pull & Bear, and Massimo Dutti. Ortega started out as a delivery boy for a local clothing store at 14, eventually opening his own dress shop and building it into one of the largest retailers in the world.
Through Zara, Inditex’s largest brand, Ortega is credited with pioneering the fast-fashion movement. Zara quickly jumps on new trends and supplies customers with pieces that are well made, fashionable, and affordable — a boon to fickle, cost-conscious consumers. The brand’s inventory constantly rotates, allowing Zara to adapt to changes and new fads easily and without hurting its bottom line. Zara has also led the way for fast-fashion brands to conform to social change. In March, it announced the launch of a gender-neutral clothing line, becoming one of the first major retailers to do so.
The business model continues to flourish, delighting shareholders — Inditex profits rose 15% in 2015, to $3.2 billion. The retailer opened 330 stores last year, and it plans to keep expanding into several new markets, including Vietnam, New Zealand, and Paraguay.
Ortega, now the second-richest man in the world with a fortune of at least $70 billion, still lives humbly despite his immense wealth. The billionaire eats lunch with his employees in the company cafeteria and sticks to a simple uniform of a white shirt and blue blazer.
71. Ashton Kutcher
Cofounder, A-Grade Investments and Thorn
America fell in love with a goofy young actor named Ashton Kutcher in the early aughts, first as a star in the sitcom 'That 70's Show' and later as a fixture in Hollywood. But after more than a decade of success on screen, Kutcher decided to take on Silicon Valley, armed with a plan: Invest in technology that changes the world.
Kutcher is the cofounder of A-Grade Investments, through which he's poured millions of dollars into a slew of successful tech startups, including Foursquare, Skype, Spotify, Airbnb, and Uber.
And then there's Thorn, the venture Kutcher has said he's most proud of. In 2009, the actor-slash-investor and his then-wife, actress Demi Moore, founded the human rights nonprofit, which connects government organisations, private companies, and the tech community's top talent to build tools that identify criminal activity related to online child sex trafficking.
Spotlight, a Thorn-developed tool, has helped law enforcement locate and identify victims and prosecute criminals in more than 800 cases since 2012. Kutcher recently revealed Thorn's next step, the Innovation Lab, which will employ its own data scientists and engineers to work alongside partners like Google and Facebook to create digital tools that will navigate the 'dark web.'
70. Demis Hassabis and Mustafa Suleyman
Cofounders; CEO (Hassabis) and head of applied AI (Suleyman), Google DeepMind
Over the past year, both Hassabis and Suleyman have acknowledged the potential impact artificial intelligence could have on humanity. AI could be used in healthcare, for example, to speed up diagnoses and help doctors establish treatment plans for their patients. It can also be used to power personal assistants that book flights for you, order your groceries, and tell you how to get home.
In March, the pair of AI experts pitted their AlphaGo agent against the world's best Go player, Lee Sedol, and won. But that's far from the only work they're doing.
DeepMind is also working on several Google products, according to a recent interview with Hassabis, who has remained tight-lipped about exactly which bits of Google are supported by DeepMind's tech, saying they're all at relatively early stages.
However, it's worth noting that everything from YouTube and Google+ to Gmail and Image Search all stand to benefit from advances in AI. Hassabis has also mentioned how pivotal a smartphone assistant is to Google's future.
Hassabis and Suleyman have attended several conferences and given talks about the ethics of AI, highlighting that they know it has the potential to be used for evil as well as good.
69. Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp
Cofounders; CEO (Kalanick) and chairman (Camp), Uber
You know you’ve made it when the name of your company becomes a verb. As in, “I’ll just Uber home,” or “let’s Uber to the bar.”
Founded in 2009 by Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp, Uber is a shining example of what it means to disrupt an industry: the ride-sharing service, which customers can activate and track with a few taps on their smartphones, simplified transportation for millions of people and shoved complacent taxi companies into a state of upheaval. Perhaps even more importantly, it has also pioneered an “on-demand” job economy, enabling a flexible income or side-income to thousands of drivers.
The now ubiquitous car service operates in more than 450 locations worldwide, steadily increasing its reach as well as its value to investors — the company is now worth a colossal $68 billion. And the company is expanding its business beyond ride-sharing, too: UberEATS brings meals to NYC customers, and UberRUSH helps businesses make deliveries.
However, despite everything Uber gets right, its six-year history is pockmarked with controversy. From poaching drivers from competitors, to unsettling comments made by top executives, to questions about the safety of its customers, Uber has become a lightning rod. The company also came under fire for not paying drivers fairly, spurring protests and a class-action lawsuit loss that the company settled for $100 million in May.
Questionable management decisions continue to hold back Uber’s reputation, especially compared with other tech titans like Google and Facebook.
68. David Chang
Founder and chef, Momofuku Group
Renowned chef David Chang took a less-than-linear path to build his culinary empire. After stints working desk jobs in finance and teaching English in Japan, Chang decided to heed his curiosity about ramen and noodle-making and enrolled in the French Culinary Institute in New York City.
He graduated in 2000 and worked in the kitchens of several famed chefs -- including Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Tom Colicchio, and Daniel Boulud -- before opening Momofuku Noodle Bar in 2004, which was initially panned and headed toward bankruptcy before Chang started experimenting and cooking from his gut. Momofuku took off, and Chang pushed onward, adding late-night eatery Momofuku Ssam Bar in 2006 and high-end Momofuku Ko in 2008, which was awarded two Michelin stars only a year later.
Today, Chang has built a dedicated customer following, and the Momofuku family has grown to 13 restaurants across New York, Sydney, Toronto, and Washington, DC, as well as its chain of Milk Bar bakeries led by pastry chef Christina Tosi. Chang also operates two bars, a culinary lab, and Lucky Peach, a quarterly magazine dedicated to all things food. Earlier this year, Chang launched Ando, an on-demand delivery restaurant that serves food specifically designed to travel well.
Over the years, Chang has accrued five James Beard awards, including a 2013 Outstanding Chef win for Momofuku Noodle Bar. These awards and other honours speak to his breadth within the industry and unflappable drive to innovate. With every new venture, Chang adds a fresh twist to the restaurant business, finding ways to infuse creativity into food and transcend the typical career path of a chef.
67. Kevin Plank
Founder and CEO, Under Armour
Kevin Plank wanted to be a professional football player, but when that didn't pan out, he decided to pivot to a new plan: sell better-engineered apparel that those players would wear and love. Plank started Under Armour in 1996 from his grandmother's basement, aiming to create athletic gear that absorbs sweat but doesn't weigh athletes down the way cotton T-shirts do.
Two decades later, the brand now supplies Major League Baseball with its products and has a number of endorsement deals with major athletes -- most notably NBA phenom Stephen Curry -- creating major competition for sportswear giants Nike and Adidas. Earlier this year, Under Armour reported a 28% rise in sales in 2015, pulling in nearly $4 billion.
But Plank doesn't just want to make clothes -- he envisions Under Armour breeding tech and apparel. The company spent $710 million in recent years to acquire three fitness apps: MyFitnessPal, Endomondo, and MapMyFitness. The long game? Better understand customers and cater to their needs. According to Plank, customers have logged over 2 billion workouts into Under Armour's database, and with that information the company will be able to create better products to suit their needs. Under Armour's own fitness app, UA Record, links to HTC devices to take a deeper dive when it comes to monitoring customers' health, like recording patterns of when they typically get sick.
Under Armour gives back in big ways as well, donating millions to support breast cancer research, military support organisations, and efforts to help kids in underserved communities get access to sports.
66. Harry Stine
Founder and CEO, Stine Seed
Harry Stine has spent his life revolutionising food in ways unseen by most people. A virtuoso in seed genetics, Stine specialises in finding ways to make seeds for the world's most popular crops -- primarily soybeans and corn -- more powerful, helping farmers improve the harvests. Though obscure outside the world of agriculture, Stine's innovations have helped him create the largest privately owned seed company in the US.
He has overcome a lot to get there. Stine grew up poor, working long hours on his family's farm. He struggled in the classroom because of dyslexia and mild autism. But maths and data came naturally to him, giving him an edge when in the 1960s he stumbled into seed breeding -- which follows the same general principles as breeding animals like racehorses. By the early 1990s, his highly coveted seeds were the best-performing on the market, which helped the company land licensing deals worth hundreds of millions annually with industry heavyweights like Monsanto and Syngenta.
More recently, though, Stine has been focused on a novel type of corn seed that's bred to flourish in narrow rows, enabling far more planting and output per acre. Though still in the early stages, farmers planted the corn over about 200,000 acres last year, and Stine says those who followed the company's planting guidelines saw yield increases of 10% to 25%. Stine and others in the industry -- Monsanto and Pioneer are working on similar projects -- believe this type of corn seed and planting method could eventually double farmers' harvests, potentially having profound effects on the world's food supply.
65. Danny Cabrera and Ricky Solorzano
Danny Cabrera and Ricky Solorzano didn't invent the machine that can 3-D print living cells and tissue -- those have been around for years -- but by making a version that's smaller, cheaper, and more intuitive to use, they may nonetheless revolutionise medicine.
And the duo are wasting little time. They started BioBots in 2014 out of their dorm rooms at the University of Pennsylvania, spending the summer building prototypes for a desktop 3-D bioprinter that would cost $10,000. Within a year, a beta version of the BioBot was in research labs around the world, earning glowing reviews from scientists and generating buzz at conferences like TechCrunch Disrupt -- where it printed an ear on stage.
Before BioBots, 3-D bioprinters were large and cost more than $100,000, making them a relatively inaccessible luxury. By creating a convenient and affordable alternative -- with user-friendly software to track projects to boot -- BioBots has made the technology a no-brainer for companies and research labs. Though printing body parts and organs for transplants is the dream-world application down the line, the BioBot currently earns its keep by enabling researchers to more quickly test life-saving drugs and other treatments on living human tissue without the risks, costs, and complications of testing on actual humans.
Cabrera and Solorzano, who have raised just over $1.5 million in funding, launched a new version of the BioBot in September and are quickly expanding the Philadelphia-based company, whose pursuit is to 'engineer biology, improve lives, and push the human race forward.'
64. Ellen DeGeneres
Producer, 'The Ellen DeGeneres Show'; Founder, Ellen Digital Network
Most famously known as the host and producer of her eponymous, Emmy-award-winning talk show, Ellen DeGeneres is one of today’s most visible entertainment personalities. She’s also perhaps one of the savviest businesspeople in Hollywood.
In May, the comedian launched Ellen Digital Network, an original programming and user-generated-content platform that will unify her wildly popular entertainment, lifestyle, and social media brands. Already, 'The Ellen Show' rakes in more than 600 million average monthly video views across all social media platforms.
DeGeneres’ current digital assets include viral video website Ellentube; No. 1 party game app 'Heads Up!'; Ellentube original reality-TV competition 'tWitch & Allison's Dance Challenge'; and interactive 'Ellen Show' segment 'Epic or Fail'. Under the new digital network, she'll introduce an animated show produced with Warner Bros. and an exclusive content project with social media superstar Tyler Oakley, among other projects.
Through a steady stream of fresh, energetic, and positive content, DeGeneres — who has more than 60 million followers on Twitter — has crafted a growing brand that’s only elevated by her creed: Be kind to one another. The apparel designer, interior decorator, and New York Times best-selling author also uses her platform to help steer national conversation on topics like gay rights and to give generously to her talk show guests and to charities.
63. Sheryl Sandberg
Eight years ago, Sheryl Sandberg joined Facebook to become the rising social network's chief operating officer and one of its most valuable leaders. Her job at Facebook is critical: to monetise the company while keeping its more than one billion users happy. Sandberg and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg have worked in tandem to lead the company to nearly $3.7 billion in annual profit and a market value of nearly $350 billion as of June 2016. It's also renowned as one of the best places to work in America.
But Sandberg's remarkable leadership extends beyond the walls of Facebook.
For her prominent role as one of Silicon Valley's most powerful women -- she was previously Google's vice president of global online sales -- the Harvard graduate has become a voice for women in the workplace. Her 2010 TED Talk and her 2013 national bestseller, 'Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead,' inspired a global movement that persists today, namely through Sandberg's LeanIn.org. The nonprofit's flagship initiative is setting up Lean In Circles -- small community groups that empower women to act on their ambition. The organisation also partners with influential companies to create public awareness campaigns that educate the masses about gender equality.
As a member of The Giving Pledge -- which she signed in 2014 with her husband, tech executive Dave Goldberg, who unexpectedly died a year later -- Sandberg plans to give away a majority of her nearly $2 billion fortune to philanthropy. In November, she transferred $31 million in Facebook shares to The Sheryl Sandberg Philanthropy Fund to donate to various charities.
62. Chad Dickerson and team
Etsy's big splash onto the public markets hasn't been all smooth sailing so far -- its stock has suffered since its IPO in April 2015, despite revenue growth and healthier profit margins. That could spell trouble for some executive teams, but as the leaders of a Certified B Corporation -- a status that declares a company's social, community, and environmental goals a priority -- CEO Chad Dickerson, CFO Kristina Salen, and the rest of the Etsy team are focused on the overall long-term health of the go-to e-commerce site for handmade goods and vintage knickknacks.
Since taking over as CEO in 2011 (the company was led by founder Rob Kalin before that) Dickerson and his team have focused on building an 'Etsy economy' that connects people and their creative passions. The online marketplace now comprises 1.6 million active sellers and 25 million active buyers around the world. Sellers -- of which 86% are women -- pay 20 cents to list an item and a fee of 3.5% to Etsy for each sale, helping the company pull in more than $80 million in revenue this past quarter, a 40% increase from the previous year. Not bad for a company not focused solely on financial performance.
The company's enlightened mission also means taking care of its more than 800 employees. Twice per week, local chefs with a focus on sustainability provide lunch for employees, and at Etsy School, employees teach their colleagues favourite hobbies and talents, from coding to cocktail mixing. This year, Etsy also announced an enhanced parental leave policy allowing new parents up to six months of paid time off. And unlike many tech companies, Etsy boasts impressive gender equity, with equal representation in leadership roles.
61. Sara Blakely
Founder and CEO, Spanx
In 2012, Sara Blakely became the world's youngest self-made female billionaire at the time, thanks to her invention -- Spanx, the revolutionary body-shaping undergarments. The idea grew out of Blakely's own needs. One day, she cut up her pantyhose to create the slimming effect she wanted under a pair of pants.
Keeping her day job in sales, Blakely went to work developing her idea, despite having next to no knowledge about fashion design, retail, or business. She spent two years -- and $5,000 of her own money -- diligently patenting the idea, finding a hosiery manufacturer, prototyping the product, and successfully pitching it to Neiman Marcus. Blakely, then still in her 20s, launched Spanx out of her Atlanta, Georgia, apartment in 2000. Her big break came shortly thereafter, when Oprah chose Spanx as one of her favourite products.
Spanx is wholly owned by Blakely. The company does not release its financials, but recent reports estimate annual sales of around $400 million. In its 16-year history, the company's inventory has moved beyond hosiery to include bras, bodysuits, leggings, activewear, and even a line for men.
Blakely has signed The Giving Pledge, promising to donate half her wealth to philanthropic causes. She created the Sara Blakely Foundation in 2006 to 'help women globally and locally through education and entrepreneurship.' And in 2010, she established the Leg Up program to give women entrepreneurs one-on-one mentoring and provide their businesses a platform to scale.
60. Ron Shaich
Cofounder and CEO, Panera Bread
Ron Shaich broke into the food industry over 30 years ago when he opened a cookie store in Boston that became Au Bon Pain. Shaich later acquired a bakery-cafe concept that he renamed Panera Bread, which he split off from Au Bon Pain in 1999 and turned into one of the most successful fast-casual restaurants in America.
Shaich, the chairman and CEO, has been leading Panera full time ever since. But in the past few years, the company has gone through some major changes. Its Panera 2.0 initiative makes ordering quicker and easier for customers. In May 2015, much like top competitor Chipotle, Panera announced it would be removing artificial ingredients from its menu. Shaich told The Associated Press: 'I want to serve everyone the food I want my daughter to eat. And if I feel uncomfortable about serving her some of this stuff, I don't want anyone else to eat it.'
Shaich is a firm proponent of conscious capitalism and aims to balance social causes and profit motive. He's made fighting hunger a company mission, starting the Panera Bread Foundation and launching the Panera Cares initiative, which creates nonprofit community cafes where customers are able to pay what they can. To show how serious he is about hunger awareness, in 2013 Shaich spent a week living on $4.50 a day -- an experiment that led him to realise he wouldn't even be able to afford Panera on that budget. The bakeries also donate any bread and baked goods left over at the end of each day to local charities and hunger relief organisations.
59. Debbie Sterling
Founder and CEO, GoldieBlox
While Debbie Sterling was a mechanical engineering student at Stanford, she was increasingly bothered by the lack of women in her program. After graduating in 2005, Sterling spent a few years in marketing, but she was nagged by the lack of female engineers. So she quit her day job and spent a year studying the gender gap in STEM-related fields, researching the female brain, and meeting with neuroscientists.
In 2012, Sterling turned her research into action and founded GoldieBlox, a company intent on 'disrupting the pink aisle.' Sterling's research told her that young girls have naturally inherent verbal skills and are receptive to good storytelling. So with GoldieBlox, she created a line of construction toys and accompanying books that appealed to girls' strengths while also exercising their spatial skills, a necessary skill for engineers.
Sterling turned to Kickstarter, where she raised nearly $1 million in preorders in three months, and began making short videos on YouTube that went viral. Six months later, GoldieBlox turned heads during a 30-second Super Bowl spot it won in a contest, earning praise for its empowering message.
To date, GoldieBlox has sold more than 1 million narrative-driven construction toys in 6,000 retailers worldwide and produced over 100 web videos. In 2016, the company is continuing its feminist crusade with the launch of its second app, which will debut this summer and teach coding principles to girls through GoldieBlox narratives.
58. Chamath Palihapitiya
Founder and CEO, Social Capital
Venture capitalist Chamath Palihapitiya is an outspoken voice in Silicon Valley. The investor, who was born in Sri Lanka, started his career at AOL, eventually becoming the company's youngest-ever vice president at 26 years old. Then he went to Facebook to lead user growth, increasing the site's number of users from 50 million to 700 million in just four years and amassing a near-billion-dollar personal fortune in the process.
After leaving Facebook, Palihapitiya launched Social Capital, a VC firm with more than $1 billion in assets that invests in companies solving the world's toughest problems through technology. In the firm's five-year history, Palihapitiya has poured millions into disruptive startups in education, enterprise, financial services, healthcare, and consumer services. The firm's most notable investments include the file-sharing platform Box, workplace messaging application Slack, and online investment manager Wealthfront.
Though Palihapitiya is one of the savviest investors in the Valley -- and a minority owner of the Golden State Warriors -- he's also known for his candid remarks on the shortcomings of the tech industry. He's recently decried the gender gap, shared which startups he thinks are 'mostly crap,' and publicly criticised Apple CEO Tim Cook. But Palihapitiya, who's intent on building the VC firm of the future, is righteous in his conviction that today's generation has the opportunity to put 'a massive dent in human suffering and make trillions of dollars in return.'
57. Mark Bertolini
Mark Bertolini's strategy as CEO of Aetna, the health insurance giant that employs more than 49,500 people and earned over $60 billion in revenue last year, stems largely from his own experience, namely a near-fatal skiing accident in 2004. The brush with death taught him to take his health seriously -- a belief he aims to instill in his staff and clients, too.
Since taking over as CEO in 2010, Bertolini overhauled the company culture in an effort to improve morale, deplete stress, and increase productivity and well-being among employees. He raised the wages of Aetna's lowest-paid employees by 33%, started offering free yoga sessions to both employees and customers, and implemented a program that pays employees up to $500 a year for sleeping well and tracking it on FitBit.
Though Bertolini's free-spirited management style is unusual for a Fortune 50 CEO, it seems to be effective: Aetna stock has risen over 250% since 2010. Internally, he's seen a decrease in both employee stress levels and healthcare costs.
56. Mosunmola 'Mo' Abudu
Founder, chairman and CEO, EbonyLife TV
Mosunmola 'Mo' Abudu is chairman and CEO of one of Africa's most successful new media ventures -- the Nigeria-based television network EbonyLife TV, which endeavours to tell real African stories and change the conversation around the continent.
Growing up in the UK raised by Nigerian parents, Abudu was subjected to slews of ignorant, 'mind-boggling' comments and questions about African life and culture ('Do you guys live in trees?'), which triggered a desire to dispel the world's inaccurate perceptions.
'Somewhere deeply buried in my subconscious was a need to tell Africa's story. My burning desire is just to tell everybody: Listen, we're not a bunch of savages. We really are gifted,' she told the Independent.
Abudu took an unorthodox route to entertainment. She returned to Nigeria in the early 1990s, working as the head of HR for ExxonMobil until 2000, when she left to launch her own HR consulting firm and, several years later, a hotel in Lagos as well. In 2006, she decided to ditch the corporate world and break into TV. She started 'Moments with Mo,' which became the first daily talk show syndicated across the continent, landing high-profile guests like Christine Lagarde, head of the International Monetary Fund, and Hillary Clinton, then the US Secretary of State.
In 2013, Abudu launched EbonyLife, where she produces a wide array of TV shows, from her own talk show to an African version of 'Desperate Housewives,' which she landed in a deal with Disney. She has also inked content distribution deals with CBS and Netflix. The network now provides premium content to to 49 countries across Africa, as well as the UK and the Caribbean.
55. Andrew Foote and Emily Woods
Cofounders; CEO (Foote) and CTO (Woods), Sanivation
Sanitation issues in rural African communities cause a host of diseases. But simply providing residents with toilets without the promise of maintenance can cause more problems than it solves. So Andrew Foote and Emily Woods decided to tackle the entire system from the ground up.
Through Sanivation, Foote and Woods install private, container-based toilets into homes in East Africa, which are maintained for a $7 monthly fee. The low-cost toilets not only give residents privacy and improve hygiene, but also cut down on the health hazards that come from improper waste disposal.
The maintenance fee covers the cost of taking the waste to a processing plant, where it's then turned into bricks of fuel that work as an alternative to charcoal. The company sells the bricks -- each of which saves about 88 trees -- back to the community. Instead of the inadequate approach of handing out free toilets, Sanivation's model takes a necessary system and elevates it into something sustainable and useful. Sanivation also licenses its model to refugee camps, helping train local staff on how to improve sanitation services.
The team's still small -- it employs around 30 people currently -- but the business is growing. Sanivation has installed around 100 toilets so far and plans to be in 500 homes by the end of the year. On the other side of the business, the the company is striving to keep up with the surging demand for its bricks.
54. Matthias Hollwich and Marc Kushner
Cofounders, Hollwich Kushner and Architizer
Architects Marc Kushner and Matthias Hollwich are the cofounders of Hollwich Kushner, also known as HWKN, a design and architecture firm based in New York whose buildings aim to 'shock, entertain, and challenge the public in the short term' and create valuable relationships between city dwellers and their surroundings over time.
In 2012, HWKN won New York's annual Young Architects Program for 'Wendy,' a sculpture whose nylon fabric was treated with a spray that neutralizes airborne pollutants. Installed for the summer at MoMA PS1, an art institute in Queens, the design cleaned the equivalent of 260 cars' worth of pollution from the air.
The architects have also taken their work into the digital sphere. In 2009, they collaborated with creative agency KKLD to found Architizer, an online community for showcasing architecture projects. It's now the largest database of architecture online, presenting the work of more than 40,000 firms worldwide whose average project budget is $33 million.
Following a $7 million financing round in January, Kushner introduced the website's newest feature: Architizer Source, a tool for connecting architects, who Kushner estimates have nearly $97 billion in annual buying power in the US, with vendors to purchase products. During beta testing last summer, Architizer Source -- which will be launched nationally by year's end -- counted $50 million of requested products.
53. Mary Barra
CEO, General Motors
Mary Barra is the first woman to ascend to CEO at a major global automaker. The job caps a career spent at General Motors — a career that has seen the largest car company in the US endure a government bailout and subsequent bankruptcy, a return to its market-leading position, and a costly recall scandal that hit as soon as Barra became chief executive.
Barra's highest priority as GM CEO has been to keep the 100-plus-year-old industrial giant from being blindsided by the technological disruption currently sweeping through the industry. To that end, she has presided of a substantial investment in ride-sharing service Lyft; the acquisition of Cruise Automotive, a self-driving car startup; and the creation of Maven, a separate division at GM exclusively focused on the mobility solutions of the future. According to Barra, GM under her leadership is seeking to disrupt itself.
Barra is also revamping GM's infamously hidebound corporate culture, bringing levels of accountability to the automaker, pushing for steady profitability and growth over the chase for market share, and refusing to accept excuses for the failure to innovate. Working for her is a daily challenge, but if you talk to her executives, they'll tell you that her energy and vision are highly motivating, and that she's preparing GM to not just compete, but win for another century. That’s good news for American consumers, as well as the more than 215,000 GM employees.
52. Satya Nadella
Satya Nadella joined Microsoft nearly 25 years ago. When he succeeded Steve Ballmer as CEO in 2014, he made it his mission to 'change the world through technology that empowers people to do amazing things.' He's doing just that by breathing new creative life into the company that got its start selling computer software more than 40 years ago.
In the past two years, Nadella has made big changes, suprising some by playing nice with rival tech giants like Salesforce and Apple. He introduced Microsoft Office for the iPad, released apps for iPhone and Android, and bypassed Windows 9 to release the superior Windows 10. He also oversaw the release of the company's first-ever laptop, the Microsoft Surface Book. But, the most exciting thing to come out of Microsoft since Nadella's takeover might be HoloLens -- virtual reality lenses that project holograms as if they are a part of the living world. On top of all these initiatives, the Indian-born exec has made shareholders happy: The tech giant's stock rose 19% in 2015.
Nadella also looks out for Microsoft's nearly 120,000 employees. The company enhanced its parental leave policy last year, now allowing up to 20 weeks of paid parental leave for new mothers and 12 weeks for new fathers. It also announced additional paid holidays and an increased 401(k) match.
51. John Mackey and Walter Robb
Cofounder and co-CEO (Mackey), co-CEO (Robb), Whole Foods
It's not just a grocery store -- at Whole Foods, cofounders John Mackey and Walter Robb strive to create a company that not only provides customers with high-quality organic food, but one that emanates change.
That spirit is evidenced in part through 'conscious capitalism,' a concept pioneered by Mackey that focuses on creating value for everyone involved in a business -- customers, employees, investors, society, and the environment -- with none standing above the rest. This mantra is carried through policies that create transparency within and around the company and initiatives that bring Whole Foods' mission to a wider audience.
Since 1986, any of Whole Foods' 86,000 employees have been able to look up the salary of any other person in the company, all the way up to the CEO. Earlier this year, the company announced it would install solar panels on 100 of its retail stores, making the infrastructure itself more sustainable and also saving the company money. In 2014, Mackey launched the 'Responsibly Grown' ratings system that holds Whole Foods' products to even higher standards than organic certification -- Mackey's way of forcing suppliers to continually strive for improvement.
Whole Foods has weathered its fair share of controversy as well. The company earned the nickname 'Whole Paycheck' for its exorbitant prices, a reputation further cemented by accusations of price gouging in New York stores last summer. Though sales slumped as a result, Whole Foods stands by its principles. 'If you're going to wreck your company or values just because you're being attacked, then you're not very deep,' Mackey said.
50. Luis Von Ahn and Severin Hacker
Cofounder; CEO (Ahn) and CTO (Hacker), Duolingo
Guatemalan-born Luis von Ahn and Swiss-born Severin Hacker came together as a team at Carnegie Mellon. Von Ahn, a computer science professor at the university, and Hacker, a Ph.D. student of his, came up with the idea for Duolingo in 2009 while they were translating web pages from English to other languages -- a task that proved difficult and frustrating. So they decided to make a game out of it, and Duolingo, an interactive learning game for the smartphone or computer that makes life easier for the 1.2 billion people in the world trying to learn a new language, was born.
Duolingo launched in 2011 and now has over 120 million total users worldwide, capturing the interest of investors, who last year valued the company at $470 million. The company offers nearly 60 language courses, ranging from Spanish and French to Welsh and Ukrainian. The company also created a platform tailored to schools, which has registered more than 100,000 teachers so far.
Most recently, von Ahn and Hacker have created a 20-minute English proficiency certification test, which at $50 -- one-quarter of the cost of comparable tests on the market -- could be a game-changer for people in developing countries looking to cash in on their English language skills.
49. Sarah Kauss
Founder and CEO, S'well
Until Sarah Kauss learned about the world's clean-water crisis while attending her five-year Harvard Business School reunion in 2009, she'd been satisfied working in consulting and real estate. As she was told of the 200 billion plastic bottles dumped in landfills each year, her entrepreneurial spirit kicked in.
In 2010, Kauss launched S'well from her New York apartment to create a line of reusable water bottles that are both environmentally and fashionably sound. The result is a beautifully designed, chemical-free, stainless-steel water bottle -- which costs up to $45 and now comes in dozens of designs and colours -- that keeps drinks cold for 24 hours or hot for 12 hours.
Kauss bootstrapped the company with $30,000 of her own money, and despite being S'Well's only employee for the first year and a half, she's had no trouble scaling the enterprise. After early bulk orders from Harvard and Facebook, Oprah featured the bottles in her annual list of recommended products, which prompted the 'Oprah effect.' Soon, orders were picked up by Starbucks, Crate & Barrel, and J.Crew, and unilaterally promoted by celebrities on Instagram and movie sets.
In 2014, S'well hit a huge milestone when it sold $10 million worth of bottles. One year later, the company surged to $50 million in annual sales. Profits from each bottle sold -- $200,000 since 2015 -- go to charity partners UNICEF, American Forests, and Drink Up to plant trees and improve access to safe water.
48. IBM Watson team
It's been five years since IBM Watson made its debut on an episode of 'Jeopardy,' blowing away viewers and defeating the show's two human champions for the $1 million prize. The largely elusive, yet incredibly powerful, Watson Group, operated by a 5,000-employee division of software titan IBM, uses a heightened level of artificial intelligence to help humans make complex decisions.
Since 2012, Memorial Sloan Kettering's cancer experts have been training Watson to assist medical professionals in making personalised cancer treatments. Watson is fed massive volumes of research, patient medical records, and unstructured data, and it is able to organise and interpret faster and more accurately than any human being.
Aside from oncology, Watson manages multiple cognitive systems projects, including an explorer that helps developers uncover analytics on specific topics like personality attributes and a clinical-trial matching tool.
IBM has has yet to report revenues for Watson specifically, but the company's newly formed cognitive solutions segment, which includes Watson businesses, generated a 2016 first-quarter revenue of $4 billion. And while the sales team is focused on pitching Watson to businesses that can integrate the system into their workflows, the research team is already working on the next phase. Celia (Cognitive Environments Laboratory Intelligent Assistant) is a supercomputer that, unlike the current version of Watson, can speak to users (à la Apple's Siri) to advise executives on competition and which companies to buy or sell, as well as analyse mountains of data in minutes. IBM envisions a future where Celia is a fixture in boardrooms, helping make crucial business decisions without the biases of human emotion.
47. Lei Jun
Cofounder and CEO, Xiaomi
A tech company you've probably never heard of wants to become the biggest name in the world. That company is Xiaomi -- pronounced 'show,' as in shower, plus 'me' -- a 6-year-old smartphone manufacturer that's already taken over the Chinese audience and is poised for global expansion.
Founded in 2010, Xiaomi capitalised on the budding smartphone market in China, releasing its first phone in 2011 while claiming it was twice as fast and half the price of an iPhone. From there, the company grew exponentially, reaching a $46 billion valuation in just five years. Xiaomi remains a force in China, aiming to make smartphones and other consumer electronics like TVs and tablets accessible for mainstream folks. 'Think of Xiaomi as a company that is bringing innovation to everyone,' founder Lei Jun told Wired.
Xiaomi's sleek, affordable smartphones aren't without criticism -- namely, that they look a little too similar to Apple's iPhones. Lei pushes back against the notion that Xiaomi produces copycat products, insisting that his company differentiates itself by its mission: Xiaomi isn't just a smartphone company -- it's also an e-commerce company, an internet services company, and a startup incubator. That doesn't stop Lei from vying to replicate Apple's success, however, even if that means wearing the signature black turtleneck and jeans that late Apple CEO Steve Jobs used to wear at his own product unveilings.
Though smartphones remain the bulk of Xiaomi's revenue, it's out to prove it can do much more. Recently, the tech manufacturer has been investing in companies that produce smart home devices that include everything from rice cookers to fitness bands to water purifiers, all controlled via smartphone.
46. Danny Meyer
Founder and CEO, Union Square Hospitality Group
Growing up, Danny Meyer intended to become a lawyer. At age 27, he had a change of heart and decided to turn his love of food into a career. In 1985, he opened Union Square Cafe in New York City, and now, over 30 years later, Meyer is the CEO of Union Square Hospitality Group — a group of 13 restaurants based in New York — and founder of fast-casual chain Shake Shack.
Shake Shack started in 2001 as a single hot-dog stand in New York City’s Madison Square Park. It has since morphed into one of the most-beloved and fastest-growing food chains in the country. Last year, the chain went public, and it now has 86 restaurants around the world and nearly $200 million in annual sales.
What distinguishes Shake Shack from other fast-food burger joints is the company’s drive to 'stand for something good.' It promises to serve 100% all-natural beef and hormone-free ingredients, make an effort to recycle and reuse sustainable materials, and donate 5% of sales to local charities in each location.
Meyer is shaking up the food industry in other ways, too. He announced in October 2015 that he would end tipping at all of his USHG restaurants, upping menu prices and providing employees with higher hourly wages plus a share in weekly revenues. The bold and risky move ensures his workers are properly paid and, given his cachet, could provoke a broader industry shift that benefits restaurant workers.
45. Jack and Laura Dangermond
Cofounders; CEO (Jack), ESRI
Google Maps may get all the love as the de facto map for average people, but the true pioneers of digital maps are Jack and Laura Dangermond, and they have been doing it for nearly 50 years.
The married pair started their mapping software company, Esri, in 1969, enjoying consistent success despite enormous shifts in technology and competition from Silicon Valley's giants in the years since. The company generates more than $1 billion in annual revenue -- 25% of which it reinvests in R&D -- selling its powerful ArcGIS software to national governments, municipalities, and companies, including 75% of those on the Fortune 500. Starbucks uses it to sustainably open new stores, while cities like Charlotte, North Carolina, rely on it for everything from crime analysis to planning recycling pickup routes.
Esri's purpose is greater than making money, though. The Dangermonds know their product can help in solving an array of global problems, so they give it away for free to thousands of nongovernmental organisations like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which uses it to fight the spread of disease in Africa. Many others employ it for wildlife and nature conservation -- one of the Dangermonds' passions. Last year, the National Audubon Society awarded the couple the Audubon Medal, one of the highest honours in conservation. Additionally, Esri has given $1 billion worth of STEM software to over 100,000 K-12 schools in the the US.
The Dangermonds joined The Giving Pledge in June, committing to give away the majority of their more than $3 billion fortune to philanthropy.
44. John Martin
Executive chairman, Gilead
John C. Martin spent 20 years as Gilead's CEO before stepping down in March to serve as executive chairman. During his tenure as CEO, Martin helped the company bring to market the breakthrough hepatitis C drug Sovaldi in 2013 and its successor, Harvoni, a year later. The drugs boast cure rates of more than 90% for a disease that afflicts as many as 150 million people worldwide and kills 500,000 each year, so it's no surprise they're among the fastest-selling new drugs of all time.
But the eye-popping sales the drugs have generated for Gilead -- $31.7 billion through the end of 2015 -- have also drawn fire from US lawmakers, with price-hike critics claiming the company made the hepatitis C treatments unattainable for many vulnerable patients. A 12-week course of the drugs can run up to $100,000. Gilead disputed the claims, noting that it now offers rebates and discounts and provides financial assistance to the uninsured.
Martin has also overseen the release of another life-changing treatment: HIV/AIDS prevention drugs Truvada and Viread. Gilead has made access to the antiretroviral therapies in developing countries a priority, treating 8.7 million people affected in such countries through 2015.
Aside from releasing life-saving drugs, Martin has cultivated a worker-friendly corporation that now employs over 8,000 people on six continents, making Business Insider's ranking of the 50 best companies to work for.
43. Saad Mohseni
Chairman and CEO, MOBY Group
Since launching Moby Group with his siblings in the aftermath of the US invasion of Afghanistan in 2002, Chairman and CEO Saad Mohseni has become the dominant player in the country's media industry, openly flouting the Taliban and its retrograde social mores and pushing for greater governmental transparency in the process.
Mohseni's Moby Group, a diversified media company that counts Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. as a significant investor, provides a respite from the chaos and violence for millions of citizens in conflict-ravaged Afghanistan, where 60% of people routinely watch TV and 95% listen to the radio. Its programming runs the gamut from sports, sitcoms, and reality TV -- including a show in the vein of 'Dancing with the Stars' -- to hard-hitting news that endeavours to root out corruption. Mohseni and his enterprise have been fierce advocates for a cultural shift that, among other goals, encourages the education and workforce participation of women.
But rankling the Taliban, conservatives, and beneficiaries of government excess has come at great risk for Mohseni and his 1,200 employees, who last year became official targets on the Taliban's hit list. Despite enhanced security and safety measures, a Taliban-ordered suicide car bomb struck a company bus in January, killing seven and injuring 27.
'We need to show our resolve and we have to persist. These are dark days for us, but we have to get through them,' Mohseni told NPR.
42. Michael Bloomberg
Founder and CEO, Bloomberg LP
To many Americans, Michael Bloomberg is known as the former mayor of New York City and frequently rumored presidential candidate.
On Wall Street, the 74-year-old billionaire looms much larger. He’s the man behind the data, news, and chat service that traders and fund managers live and die by. Known simply as 'The Bloomberg,' it’s estimated to rake in more than $9 billion in revenue for his company Bloomberg LP.
Started in 1981 to change the way bond data was gathered and reported, the company now has more than 15,000 employees around the world. The fact that it is nearly entirely owned by Mike Bloomberg means the company is able to champion causes important to its founder, like environmental sustainability and philanthropy. Last year, for example, it signed a 20-year wind-power purchase agreement with an upstate New York wind farm that Bloomberg says will save his company $10 million and avoid 340,500 metric tons of emissions.
The company’s success has also put Bloomberg on the path to being one of the country’s foremost philanthropists. After pledging to give away his wealth, he has already shelled out $4 billion — favoring causes like gun control, the environment, public health, and education — and barely made a dent in a fortune Wealth-X estimates at more than $40 billion.
Bloomberg LP also spends lavishly on its employees — a tradeoff for an intense and demanding work environment — with everything from well-stocked food pantries and wellness coaches in-house, to generous retirement and healthcare benefits and philanthropic support to causes that matter.
41. Anne Wojcicki
Founder and CEO, 23andMe
Silicon Valley native Anne Wojcicki is helping people take control of their health through her genetic testing company 23andMe, which she founded more than a decade ago when the human genome was simply a new frontier.
After six years of developing and distributing more than 240 varieties of direct-to-consumer genetics tests, the company hit a 'big speed bump' and was ordered by the FDA to halt operations for misrepresenting its testing reports -- which mainly identified the presence of conditions like BRCA, a breast cancer gene, and Alzheimer's -- as medical advice.
For two years, Wojcicki -- whose sister Susan is the CEO of YouTube and ex-husband is Google cofounder Sergey Brin -- worked diligently to overhaul the product to comply with regulations. Last fall, 23andMe relaunched with a new $199 spit-and-submit test, providing users with 60-plus FDA-approved reports in four defined categories: ancestry, wellness, traits, and carrier status for inherited conditions (where the bulk of the new tests are concentrated).
The company's mission is still the same, though: to guide people through the massive wealth of knowledge in the human genome. The more people know about their genetics, Wojcicki believes, the more informed their health and wellness decisions will be. And 80% of the company's 1 million genotyped customers have agreed to share their data with 23andMe for potentially groundbreaking scientific and medical research. With its regulatory troubles behind it, the company is once again thriving, earning a $1.1 billion valuation after raising $115 million in October.
40. Rahul Bhatia
Founder and CEO, IndiGo
To Rahul Bhatia, cheap flights shouldn't mean compromised service. Bhatia cofounded budget airline IndiGo in 2006 as a subsidiary of InterGlobe Enterprises, the $5 billion travel and hospitality group he took over from his father in 1989. From the start, Bhatia wanted IndiGo to make travel affordable without sacrificing amenities or customer service -- something India had never seen before from an airline.
India is the fastest-growing aviation market in the world, ripe for standouts to shine. And IndiGo has done just that. In only 10 years, it overtook the market to become the largest and most profitable airline in India, with 108 jets in its fleet. The company has enabled air travel for a whole new segment of less-affluent Indians, earning the patronage of a full third of India's domestic customers.
A no-frills, single-class airline, IndiGo keeps prices as low as possible -- but refuses to cut corners. Renowned for its punctuality, IndiGo boasts 30-minute flight turnarounds. All of its planes are less than five years old, and Bhatia ensures that flight staff keeps each jet immaculate. The attention to detail IndiGo places on things like tidiness stands out to customers who had grown to associate budget airlines with shoddy equipment and grimy seats.
IndiGo earns its keep as well, becoming profitable in 2009 and staying that way since. In April, parent company InterGlobe reported a 53% jump in annual net profit, thanks largely to IndiGo's vast success.
39. Mike and Sue McCloskey
Cofounders, Fair Oaks Farms
Mike and Sue McCloskey run the mega-dairy operation Fair Oaks Farms, which also doubles as an adventure theme park that attracts a half-million people annually. It may seem like an odd synergy -- others in their industry thought so -- but the couple believed that in addition to generating profits, the transparency from opening up their farm to outsiders would highlight their progressive, wholesome values, rather than feeding into animal-rights activists' narratives about industrial farming operations.
The company, a network of 11 farms that has more than 36,000 cows on 35,000 acres in Indiana between Chicago and Indianapolis, has plenty to crow about from a values perspective. For instance, the McCloskeys ardently believe profits don't necessarily have to come at the expense of the environment. Their entire operation runs on animal manure -- Fair Oaks produces 430,000 gallons each day -- that is recycled into electricity as well as a natural-gas byproduct that's used to fuel their fleet of trucks. And when a Humane Society rep visited the operation a few years back, he was surprised to find animals well taken care of and the practice of cutting cows' tails banned.
The McCloskeys, whose Fair Oaks operation is part of a 92-farm dairy cooperative they helped found, called Select Milk Producers, also had the idea to filter milk, separating its composite parts and then refashioning it into a healthier beverage with more protein and calcium and less sugar. Select Milk partnered with Coca-Cola in 2012 to distribute the beverage, branded as Fairlife, which launched in 2014 and brought in $90 million during its first year.
38. Alexis Borisy and Michael Pellini
Cofounder and chairman (Borisy) and CEO (Pellini), Foundation Medicine
Foundation Medicine, a company that sequences the DNA in cancer cells to figure out exactly what's happening, wants to change the way we treat cancer. It got its start back in 2008 when Alexis Borisy, now a partner at Third Rock Ventures, joined up with four scientists affiliated with MIT and Harvard's Broad Institute who were leaders in cancer genomics. Along the way, it picked up backers like Google Ventures and Bill Gates before going public in 2013. Today it generates nearly $100 million in annual revenue. Swiss pharma giant Roche also holds a majority stake in the company.
Foundation Medicine tries to help patients and doctors facing seriously hard-to-treat cancers by looking at the genetic makeup of that cancer. For example, at a genetic level, the mutations in a breast cancer patient could actually look more like a patient with colon cancer, so those types of treatments could work better. The company's biopsy tests take a piece of cancer tissue (or sample of blood for blood-based cancers) and sequences the cancer's genes to really understand what makes the cells tick. That information is analysed with the aim of finding a treatment plan. In May, the company also launched its liquid biopsy test, called FoundationACT, which looks for circulating tumour DNA in the blood as another way to monitor cancer treatment.
That data also goes into a Foundation Medicine database, where people like doctors looking for methods to treat a certain rare cancer, or pharmaceutical companies interested in finding the patients who will respond the best to a drug that's in development, could look at it.
Borisy ran the company as CEO until 2011, when Michael Pellini took over the top job, helping to grow the company and take it public in 2013.
37. Nathan Blecharczyk, Brian Chesky, and Joe Gebbia
Cofounders; CTO (Blecharczyk), CEO (Chesky), and CPO (Gebbia), Airbnb
Nine years ago, design school grad Joe Gebbia sent his roommate Brian Chesky an email suggesting they open a 'designer's bed and breakfast' at their San Francisco apartment. Today, with the help of cofounder Nathan Blecharczyk, their idea is worth $25.5 billion, and it's flipping the hotel industry on its head.
Airbnb's concept is a win-win for users. It enables hosts to 'monetise their extra space' and helps travellers 'live like locals' in homey and unique accommodations. And now, travellers using Airbnb can also tour like locals thanks to a new feature on its redesigned app that curates guidebooks to suggest the coolest places to eat, drink, and visit.
It's also a win for the team behind the company, which Glassdoor named the No. 1 best place to work in America, with perks like an annual $2,000 stipend to travel and stay in an Airbnb listing anywhere in the world.
Since the room-renting company achieved its first 1 million bookings in 2011, it has more than doubled its global footprint to offer listings in 191 countries, and it projects 129 million nights will be booked by year's end, taking some of the world's largest hotel chains to the mat. In 2015, Airbnb had estimated revenues of $900 million.
But like its industry-disrupting counterpart, Uber, Airbnb has faced unrelenting legal pushback from the major cities it operates in. Even in its hometown, San Francisco, it's been widely criticised for the amount of taxes it pays and a perceived link between its success and a decline in affordable housing. To rectify some of the issues, the company has instituted 'host guarantee' coverage policies and started collecting occupancy taxes and sharing user data with cities.
The three founders took The Giving Pledge this year, becoming among the youngest in the world to commit to donating most of their fortunes.
36. John Lasseter and team
Chief creative officer, Disney and Pixar Animation Studios
Three decades ago, Steve Jobs purchased Lucasfilm's Computer Graphics Division, and along with it came John Lasseter, a young animator, and Ed Catmull, head of Lucasfilm's pioneering computer division. Soon, the company became Pixar, with Lasseter as its star talent. Lasseter's 1986 directorial debut, 'Luxo Jr.,' became the first-ever 3-D computer animation to be nominated for the Oscar for best animated short film.
In 1995, the magic of Pixar commenced when 'Toy Story,' the world's first computer-animated feature film. Directed by Lasseter and released in partnership with Disney, it became the highest-grossing movie of the year and earned three Academy Award nominations. Shortly after, Pixar went public in one of the year's biggest IPOs.
In 2006, Disney purchased Pixar for $7.4 billion in stock, named Lasseter chief creative officer, and appointed Catmull president of both Disney and Pixar Animation Studios.
On its own, Pixar's remarkable repertoire has raked in more than $5 billion at the box office. The studio's 16 films serve as a cultural cornerstone, marrying smart, emotionally rich, and timeless storytelling with cutting-edge technology to evoke a sense of wonder in children and adults alike.
Pixar's 2015 Oscar-winner 'Inside Out' and Disney Studios' massive hits 'Frozen' (2013) and 'Zootopia' (2016) prove that Catmull, Lasseter, and their talented team of animators, engineers, and designers have the ambition, creativity, and genuine love for storytelling to continue crafting hit after megahit -- inspiring moviegoers and generating fat returns for Disney shareholders.
35. Jay Flatley
Chairman and CEO, Illumina
Illumina might not be a household name, but Jay Flatley has brought the company to the forefront of genetic sequencing, essentially creating the market. The company's machines are used to sequence human DNA -- about 90% of all human genes have been sequenced on Illumina's machines. As 23andMe (a company that uses Illumina's machines) CEO Anne Wojcicki once said, 'llumina is like the ruler of this whole universe, and no one knows that.'
For the past 17 years, Jay Flatley has served as Illumina's CEO. In July, Flatley's tenure as CEO will conclude, though he will remain as executive chairman. During his time, the entire human genome was sequenced for the first time, and the cost has gone down exponentially.
Illumina's machines have been used in everything from consumer genetics tests, which let companies tell you who your ancestors are, to finding new ways to develop drugs that target certain genetic mutations. In January, Illumina also announced it was spinning out a company that wants to develop a blood test that screens for cancer.
Under Flatley's leadership, the company, based in San Diego, California, grew from 30 to almost 5,000 employees, and it now generates $2.2 billion in annual revenue.
34. Peter Agnefjäll
At the helm of IKEA, one of the most popular furniture brands in the world, Peter Agnefjall guides the company's ever-evolving vision. Since taking over as CEO in 2013, Agnefjall has overseen rapid expansion of the brand while simultaneously tackling a range of ethical issues.
IKEA's commercial success speaks for itself: The brand saw 771 million visitors to its stores and 1.9 billion visitors to its website in 2015, raking in $35.7 billion in sales. Looking ahead, Agnefjall expects online sales to grow exponentially -- from a $1.1 billion business in 2015 to a roughly $5.7 billion business within the next five years.
Agnefjall believes in values-based leadership. Case in point: The company strives to achieve gender equality in the workforce, with women constituting 47% of managers as of 2013. 'That our business is equally led by men and women is essential for our future growth and for being a great place to work,' Agnefjall said. 'Diversity opens for new perspectives, creativity, and innovation.'
On the environmental front, the company committed over $1 billion to sustainability initiatives in 2015, including plans to build wind turbines and add more solar panels to its roofs. IKEA also pledged to invest $4.5 million to support families exposed to the harmful effects of climate change, such as floods and droughts, through The IKEA Foundation. Last year, it became the first US retailer to sell only LED lighting. And, despite the required financial investments, Agnefjall promises the measures won't inflate the brand's notoriously low prices.
33. Jack Ma
Founder and chairman, Alibaba
Jack Ma is the entrepreneur behind e-commerce giant Alibaba, China's answer to Amazon. After losing control of his previous venture, China Yellowpages, Ma founded Alibaba in 1999 with just $60,000 in the bank. Fifteen years after its inception, the e-commerce company broke records with a $25 billion initial public offering -- the largest ever.
Despite its mounting success, Ma, the company's executive chairman, refuses to let Alibaba become just another tech giant. Whereas Amazon sells its own products, Alibaba serves as a middleman between buyers and sellers, helping business of all sizes sell their goods and reach a wide audience. The site provides entrepreneurs with a ready-to-go marketplace, including amenities like computing power, payment systems, and logistics. Ma envisions Alibaba as a catalyst that helps other businesses thrive, rather than becoming the 'next big thing' itself.
Alibaba's success has made Ma the second-richest man in China, with a net worth of $27.4 billion, but he's also spread the wealth among Alibaba employees. Prior to its IPO in 2014, the company shelled out tons of restricted stock to workers, amounting to about $250,000 per person. The immense success of the IPO meant that some employees even became millionaires.
One of the most generous people in Asia, Ma donated $2.9 billion to education and social welfare causes last year. Ma also created the Alibaba Hong Kong Young Entrepreneurs Foundation, devoting $450 million via Alibaba to two funds in Hong Kong and Taiwan that will invest in startups and help small businesses grow. The foundation will not only infuse cash into companies, but provide training and technical assistance to entrepreneurs.
32. Kip Tindell
Cofounder, chairman, and CEO, The Container Store
When Kip Tindell and his cofounders started The Container Store in 1978, they didn't just want to sell empty boxes -- they aimed to help organise 'with heart.' Almost 40 years later, the company has expanded to nearly 80 stores around the US, selling everything an obsessive organiser could dream of, from milk crates and mailboxes to popcorn tins and burger baskets.
Tindell has served as the retail company's CEO for the past 10 years, though he announced in May he would be stepping down this summer to serve as chairman. While running the company, Tindell has fostered a culture that puts employees first, relying on a foundation of seven principles aimed at company cohesion and ensuring employees don't get bogged down by strict rules and regulations.
One of Tindell's seven principles is the 'one great person = three good people' rule, noting that smart hiring is key to boosting productivity. One way he attracts great retail employees is by paying them a healthy salary of close to $50,000 a year -- almost double the national average. He also gives employees raises of up to 8% of their salary based on their performance.
This summer, Tindell is handing the CEO title to Melissa Reiff, the chain's operations chief. About 70% of the top leadership positions at the company are held by women, including Reiff and Tindell's wife, Sharon, the chief merchandising officer. That's no accident -- Tindell has sought out women to fill such roles because he believes they have a higher emotional intelligence and embody the target customer.
31. Richard Branson
Founder, Virgin Group
Entrepreneur Richard Branson is the charismatic force behind the multibillion-dollar conglomerate Virgin Group, which includes an airline, a mobile phone company, a hotel chain, and a commercial space enterprise, among others. Since founding Virgin Records in his early 20s, he has presided over some 500 companies and now employs 70,000 people in 35 countries.
Branson says he starts businesses to improve people's lives. A bad travel experience of his own led Branson to believe he could better the customer experience, so he started an airline. He believes happy employees are the key to a successful business. 'Look for the best in people. People don't need to be told when they have done something wrong -- they know it,' he told Business Insider. Virgin employees get unlimited vacation, and, as of last year, managers who have at least four years of tenure can take up to a year of paid maternity and paternity leave. Branson also has famously encouraged employees to pitch him ideas for new businesses, often putting them in charge of the new enterprise.
Billionaire Branson has joined The Giving Pledge to donate half his wealth to philanthropic causes. And the nonprofit Virgin Unite has worked with over 4,000 entrepreneurs to build new businesses, helped over 1 million people in Kenya with healthcare, and helped 45,000 students through its scholarship program with Virgin Galactic.
Despite his many successes, Branson has also had notable setbacks. (Remember Virgin Cola?) And this spring, Alaska Airlines inked a deal to buy Virgin America, despite Branson's opposition to the deal.
30. Jennifer Foyle
Global Brand President, Aerie
An offshoot of the teen retailer American Eagle, Aerie focuses on intimates and swimwear for teens and young women. But Aerie has one big difference that makes it stand out from competitors: It was the first major brand to ban Photoshop in ad campaigns and deviate from the prototypical model in favour of average women proudly displaying their curves and flaws. Though it launched in 2014, the #AerieReal campaign surged last year, boosting sales 21%.
Aerie's president, Jennifer Foyle, attributes the 10-year-old brand's success to its commitment to body positivity -- and the results speak for themselves. Despite going against the norm of the fashion industry, especially within the lingerie niche, Aerie saw sales jump while other industry stalwarts suffered, and executives expect the growth to continue, potentially doubling the company's size.
Aerie also took its dedication to body positivity a step further through a partnership with the National Eating Disorder Association, an organisation Aerie model Iskra Lawrence is an ambassador for, earlier this year. Throughout NEDA's National Eating Disorders Week, Aerie donated 100% of sales from a specific shirt to the organisation.
29. Tim Cook
Tim Cook had a lot to prove when he took the reins from one of the most celebrated tech entrepreneurs in history, Steve Jobs, in 2011. Cook has kept the Apple product machine churning, but his biggest legacy so far may be Apple's newfound zeal for taking bold public stands on social issues.
In 2014, Cook became the first openly gay CEO of a Fortune 500 corporation, and he's taken stances against legislation that could be used to deny services to LGBT people. He's been outspoken about Apple's commitment to making its devices accessible to the visually impaired, and serving the environment by reducing its carbon footprint, at one point telling a shareholder, 'If you want me to do things only for ROI reasons, you should get out of this stock.' Most recently, Apple took a strong stand against the FBI's demand for Apple's help in bypassing the encryption on iPhones seized from alleged criminals and terrorists.
Apple meanwhile remains the most valuable and profitable company on Earth -- its market value exceeds $550 billion, and it pulls in a stunning $53 billion in annual profit -- although revenue growth has recently slowed as the market for iPhones has become more saturated.
28. Reed Hastings
Founder and CEO, Netflix
As the visionary and leader behind Netflix, streaming juggernaut with $6.8 billion in sales, Reed Hastings is redefining how people access, watch, and create visual entertainment. He’s forging a true consumer-facing experience that’s leaving legacy competitors — and several internet-only streaming services — scrambling to keep up.
In 2015 alone, Netflix added 17 million subscribers, and this year, the company will add 600 hours of original content to its library of more than 100 million hours of licensed content. The company’s Netflix-made movies and television shows like 'Orange is the New Black' have amassed awards, earned critical acclaim, and become audience favorites, prompting Hollywood producers and talent to come knocking at its door. Netflix has earned its place in pop culture, too, with terms like 'binge-watching' — the act of viewing Netflix’s recently released shows in rapid succession — and 'Netflix and chill' — code for a casual, low-key night of romance — infiltrating the modern lexicon.
Similarly, Hastings has crafted a company culture at Netflix that’s becoming the standard among Silicon Valley tech companies. From the start, Netflix employees have enjoyed unlimited vacation, but last summer the company announced a historic unlimited maternity and paternity leave policy, paving the way for forward-thinking companies to follow suit.
Hastings is a member of The Giving Pledge, having promised to donate the majority of his billion-dollar fortune to charity. Earlier this year, the longtime supporter of charter schools and education reform in California launched a $100 million education foundation.
27. Jesse Moore
Cofounder and CEO, M-Kopa
In Swahili, 'kopa' means 'to borrow,' which is the foundation of the Kenya-based solar power company M-Kopa. Cofounders Jesse Moore, Nick Hughes, and Chad Larson teamed up in 2011 to lend -- rather than give away or outright sell -- safe electricity. Their motivation is threefold: to eliminate expensive kerosene and instead offer affordable solar energy to off-the-grid customers; introduce digital banking and credit to economically disadvantaged Africans; and scale and earn profits for themselves.
For $35 upfront, clients lease a basic solar kit, which includes a solar panel, an LED flashlight, adaptors for charging a phone, and a solar-powered radio (new kits offer the option for a digital TV). For the next year, clients pay installments of 45 cents per day through the mobile money transfer service M-Pesa. If clients miss a payment, a SIM card in their phone shuts off their solar system. By the end of one year, clients who've made every payment wholly own their kit -- which can end up saving them an estimated $750 over four years -- and have the option to lease more solar products like fuel-efficient stoves and rainwater tanks.
Every day, M-Kopa loans about $100,000 worth of solar kits to clients -- the company has sold 340,000 solar kits to date and aims to hit the 1 million mark by the end of 2017. In 2015, the company's revenue doubled from the previous year, to $30 million, and it expects that to double again in 2016.
M-Kopa has also created nearly 2,000 jobs in East Africa. About 750 people work at the M-Kopa offices in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda, and 2,000 sales people work on commission in the field.
26. Judy Faulkner
Founder and CEO, Epic Systems
She's not a household name á la Mark Zuckerberg or Jeff Bezos, but Judy Faulkner, the founder and CEO of Epic Systems, has earned her place as a disruptive tech billionaire just the same. The press-shy software programmer built Epic -- a private healthcare company that sells medical-records software -- from the ground up, launching in 1979 with about $75,000 in capital.
The company is now in a league of its own, with $2 billion in annual sales. Epic's databases contain medical information for nearly half of the US, and its client list reads like a who's who in healthcare, including Kaiser Permanente, CVS Health, and Johns Hopkins. The software allows doctors to pull up a patient's full medical history on the spot, streamlining the care process as patients switch doctors and see specialists.
Growing quickly, Epic added nearly 3,000 jobs in the past two years. But despite its size, Faulkner keeps the company culture personal. There are no budgets, few formal titles, and conferences feel like festivals, with themes such as 'Harry Potter' and 'I Love Lucy.' She prioritises employee satisfaction, and after three years all employees earn stock options.
25. Andy Cohen and Diane Hoskins
Global design and architecture firm Gensler is serious about workplace innovation. So much so that the firm's co-CEOs, Andy Cohen and Diane Hoskins, have implemented a 'constellation of stars' model within the company, meaning Gensler's more than 5,000 employees operate collaboratively rather than under a top-down leadership approach. The model allows for more creativity and ease in circulation of ideas.
As a firm whose projects are as diverse as corporate campuses like Airbnb and Facebook, skyscrapers like Shanghai Tower, and entire city master plans, it's imperative that opinions are shared freely between design groups.
Gensler completes about 3,000 projects every year among its 46 offices spread throughout North and South America, Asia, Europe, and Australia. The 50-year-old firm -- which last year became the first architecture and design firm to reach $1 billion in annual revenue -- also promotes company growth through more than 3,500 internal learning programs that range from cross-cultural learning exchanges to job shadowing programs. Despite its size and success, the company openly guards against the practice of growth for growth's sake.
For clients, the firm completes a 'pre- and post-occupancy' survey to inform design and measure productivity. In many cases, sustainability also plays a principal role in Gensler design. In 2015, the firm completed The Tower at PNC Plaza, a 33-story, LEED-Platinum certified, 800,000-square-foot tower in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, that's now regarded as one of the 'greenest skyscrapers in the world.'
24. Gary Erickson and Kit Crawford
Cofounders, Clif Bar
Husband and wife team Gary Erickson and Kit Crawford launched Clif Bar in 1992 after Erickson, during a 175-mile bike ride, found the only prominent energy bar on the market was practically inedible. He wanted to create a bar that the fitness industry was desperately lacking -- one that was wholesome and nutritious but also tasted good.
Immediately a hit with cyclists and hikers, Clif Bar and its wheelhouse of appealing energy bars in flavours like crunchy peanut butter and chocolate chip saw rapid growth throughout the 1990s. The company has since ballooned into a global brand that brings in an estimated $500 million in revenue annually.
But it still remains true to its roots. Above all, Clif Bar strives to place an emphasis on organic ingredients, sustainable farming practices, and healthy living. More recently, those strides have included earning LEED Platinum certification, the highest standard available, in 2012 for the company's headquarters, which are outfitted with solar panels that generate a majority of its electricity. The company also has a 'reduction, recycling, and composting' initiative that has trimmed their local landfill impact by 85%.
Erickson and Crawford encourage employees to live by these tenets of wellness and sustainability as well. Clif Bar will reimburse employees up to $6,500 for purchasing an eco-friendly vehicle and offers similar rewards for biking, walking, or using public transportation to get to work. The company also offers subsidized meals, an on-site gym, free fitness classes, and paid six-week sabbaticals every seven years.
23. Larry Fink
Cofounder, chairman, and CEO, BlackRock
Investor Larry Fink is one of the most powerful people in the world. He’s trusted with overseeing more than $4.6 trillion in assets at BlackRock, a large chunk of it composed of the hard-earned dollars from the average US citizen’s pension or retirement account.
Fink, the chairman and CEO of the world’s largest investment firm, is well regarded as a master of risk analysis and one of the savviest leaders in finance. His prowess and the company’s state-of-the-art risk-management system (dubbed “Aladdin”) made BlackRock a go-to adviser for sorting out toxic assets during the financial crisis, both to top banks and the US government.
Fink’s astute guidance has increasingly shaped the US economy since he helped establish BlackRock in the late 1980s. In a letter Fink penned in February to CEOs of S&P 500 companies and large European corporations, he called for businesses to focus less on short-term gain and more on long-term value creation — something he says will increase transparency in business and benefit consumers.
A renowned philanthropist, Fink encouraged financial bigwigs in 2014 to question whether the investments they were making were benefitting society. In accordance with his commitment to long-term vision, Fink has made strides to cut BlackRock’s energy consumption, and he makes it part of the company’s mission to support underserved groups like women and minorities. Last year, the firm announced backing of Fast Forward, a pioneering accelerator program that caters exclusively to nonprofit tech startups.
22. Shannon May and Jay Kimmelman
Cofounders, Bridge International Academies
Husband-and-wife team Jay Kimmelman and Shannon May started Bridge International Academies after experiencing firsthand the lack of quality education available in developing countries, opening their first academy in 2009 in Nairobi, Kenya. Seven years later, their company's network includes 400 nurseries and primary schools in Africa and Asia serving over 100,000 students.
Kimmelman, the CEO, and May, the chief strategy officer, want to provide a way for more of the 2.7 billion people living on less than $2 a day to get a quality education. At an average cost of $6 a month, 90% of the families in the communities where the academies are built can afford to send their children to a Bridge school.
The company relies on a simple 'formula' to create a cost-effective education. Its 'academy-in-a-box' consists of a computer, tablet, or smartphone that contains lessons put together by experts and given to school instructors, who are hired and trained locally, helping to stimulate the economy. The academies feature far smaller class sizes than public-school alternatives, and so far Bridge students are outpacing their peers at neighbouring schools on exam testing.
Big-name investors like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg have invested more than $100 million into the company, and in 2015 Bridge told The Wall Street Journal it was generating revenue in the 'low double-digits of millions of dollars.' In April 2016, the company signed a $65 million deal with the Liberian government to help improve the country's school system.
21. Yancey Strickler
Cofounder and CEO, Kickstarter
As a crowdfunding platform, Kickstarter helps creative thinkers take their project ideas and turn them into a reality. Since its launch in April 2009, the site, founded by CEO Yancey Strickler, along with designer Charles Adler and chairman Perry Chen, has helped over 100,000 projects -- which can range from films to fashion to food -- raise a total of $2.4 billion from 11 million backers.
Though Kickstarter has launched thousands of projects, Strickler has kept its team pretty small. Only 132 employees work for the company, which is based in Brooklyn. Half are dedicated to design and coding while the other half works with the site's community. To be featured on the site, a project must go through the staff and meet these criteria: create something, be honest, and don't fundraise for charity.
Some of the site's most successful projects have been Oculus Rift, the 'Veronica Mars' movie, and the Pebble watch. While the company takes a 5% cut of every project featured on the site, it has had some pretty big investors itself -- Twitter's Jack Dorsey and Vimeo cofounder Zach Klein, to name two.
Strickler has no plans of taking Kickstarter public, though. In 2015, the company became a Public Benefit Corporation, pledging to prioritise serving its users over chasing profits. It's also a certified B corporation, making a promise to meet rigorous standards for social and environmental responsibility.
'We don't ever want to sell or go public,' Strickler told The New York Times. 'That would push the company to make choices that we don't think are in the best interest of the company.'
20. Jeff Bezos
Founder, chairman, and CEO, Amazon
From its humble beginnings as an online book retailer founded in Jeff Bezos' Seattle garage in 1994, Amazon has since flourished as the largest e-commerce company in the world.
Amazon pioneered online recommendations and perfected delivery logistics, making life more convenient for millions of consumers and creating new opportunities for businesses to reach them. The site, which now sells everything from furniture to food to Amazon's own consumer-electronics products, recently became the fastest company to reach $100 billion in annual sales. And Amazon Web Services, the online retailer's exploding cloud-computing business, is nearing $10 billion in annual sales. Amazon finally began turning consistent profits this year, helping the company's stock price surge to all-time highs.
And though Bezos, the chairman and CEO and now one of the richest people on Earth, has commendably led Amazon's rise to global dominance, he has also had to weather controversy. In 2015, the company was hit with barrage of negative media attention claiming it fostered a high-pressure, toxic work environment. Bezos disputed the claims, and, despite the reports, Amazon remains a progressive employer. The company recently revealed equal gender pay among its workforce, with women employees earning 99.9% of men's salaries in equivalent jobs. He has even encouraged his employees to embrace experimentation, arguing that failure is a necessary step in innovation.
Bezos still has time to lead incredibly successful ventures outside of Amazon. Since he purchased The Washington Post in 2013, the newspaper's monthly online page views have more than tripled, to 890 million, thanks in part to a hearty dose of digital innovation he's injected. In addition, Bezos' privately owned space exploration company, Blue Origin, recently completed its third successful launch-and-land and plans to send people on space voyages by 2018.
19. Alex Laskey and Daniel Yates
Cofounders; president (Laskey) and CEO (Yates), Opower
In 2007, Harvard alumni Daniel Yates and Alex Laskey introduced user-friendly, cloud-based software to the energy industry through Opower, now a leading energy management company used by more than half of the world's largest utility companies. Opower has harnessed the power of tech and psychology to help millions save on energy -- helping save the planet in the process as well.
Opower gets customers engaged and interested in energy consumption thanks to its intuitive digital platform, which implements data analytics and behavioural science. Opower has secured partnerships with more than 100 utilities companies, reaching more than 60 million households in nine countries. Its products allow customers to easily track energy use and even compare and compete with neighbours. It also enables utilities to communicate with and advise their customers, offering assistance and suggestions for best practices. The software is a win-win for utilities and their clients, resulting in enhanced customer service, increased customer loyalty, and lower energy usage.
After scaling significantly -- and outpacing competing services by Microsoft and Google -- Opower went public in 2014. The following year, the company grew profits by more than $8 million to $92 million. Last month, Opower proved its worth when software juggernaut Oracle acquired the company in a deal worth $532 million.
More than 500 employees work at offices in San Francisco, London, Tokyo, Singapore, Odessa, and Arlington, Virginia. This spring, Opower revealed its diversity and inclusion data dashboard, which provides a transparent look at how the company's practices compare with those of other tech companies, including data about how many women and minorities Opower is hiring and promoting.
18. Warren Buffett
Chairman and CEO, Berkshire Hathaway
As an investor, Warren Buffett needs no introduction. The third-richest person in the world, he popularized and perfected value investing, inspiring countless imitators and accumulating net worth of more than $66.3 billion. Buffett, though, is also admired as a philanthropist who has pledged to give nearly all of his wealth away. He has donated more than $5.5 billion the last two years alone and has given more than $20 billion in his lifetime.
Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway was a textile company that he acquired in 1969, but since then he has used it as a holding company for stakes in a wide variety of companies, from American Express to Procter & Gamble. Buffett has focused on long-term investments, and although many of them are well-known consumer brands like Coca-Cola and Dairy Queen, that’s not always the case: Last August, he announced his largest acquisition ever — a $37.2 billion buyout of nuts-and-bolts maker Precision Castparts.
In 2011, he joined Bill and Melinda Gates to cofound The Giving Pledge, a project committed to getting wealthy individuals to give at least half of their wealth to charitable causes. Buffett vowed to donate a full 99% of his of his fortune to philanthropic organizations during his lifetime. 'Nothing will go to endowments,' he said in his pledge letter. 'I want the money spent on current needs.'
17. Rose Marcario
Marcario's first priority as CEO was figuring out how to save on production costs and cut back on waste. She swapped shipping boxes for recyclable bags and downsized its leisurewear sector to focus on the company's core product: outerwear.
Patagonia values its employees' well-being. A typical staff meeting might include surfing. Employees can go on a 30-mile bike ride during lunch, thanks to the company's flex-time policy, which allows them to come and go as they please as long as they meet deadlines. It's regularly ranked as one of the best places to work.
'If you're making decisions based on meeting your earnings-per-share number and not about the long-term health of your company, its employees, the environment, and the community you're operating in, then you're probably making a decision that isn't good for the long term,' Marcario told Business Insider.
Her business decisions have paid off. Since the beginning of her tenure as CEO, the family-owned company's profits have tripled. Despite the fact that the company, a certified B Corporation, urges people to only buy what they need, it raked in $750 million in sales last year, making 2015 the company's most profitable year to date.
16. Kristin Richmond and Kirsten Tobey
Cofounders; CEO (Richmond) and Chief Impact Officer (Tobey), Revolution Foods
For Kristin Groos Richmond and Kirsten Saenz Tobey, cofounders of Revolution Foods, it all comes down to a simple belief: Better education starts with better nutrition. The pair yearns to transform the American food system, starting in schools, where students are often served meals that are reheated, void of nutrition, and borderline inedible.
In contrast, Revolution makes healthy, fresh food both available to students and affordable for schools to cater. The company's prepackaged meals contain no artificial colours, flavours, preservatives, or high-fructose corn syrup and are largely prepared from locally grown ingredients. They're appetizing too; Richmond and Tobey taste-tested the products with real kids to ensure they created dishes that are at once appealing and nutritious.
The affordability is a game-changer as well. It allows schools to choose healthy options like Revolution Foods instead of settling for budget-friendly alternatives that barely meet FDA standards.
The company now provides more than 1.5 million meals a week across public and charter schools in 15 states, providing food to more than 200,000 kids per day, 80% of whom qualify for free or reduced lunch. Revolution Foods, now generating more than $100 million in annual sales, has also expanded into retail, selling prepackaged meal options akin to Lunchables that make it possible for families to eat healthy outside of school, too.
15. Neil Blumenthal and David Gilboa
Cofounders and co-CEOs, Warby Parker
When Neil Blumenthal and David Gilboa cofounded the online eyeglass retailer Warby Parker in 2010, it was unheard of to purchase something like glasses on the internet without first trying them on. But the co-CEOs -- who founded the company with venture capitalist Andrew Hunt and Harry's founder Jeff Raider, who are now no longer actively involved -- knew the e-commerce approach would allow them to make glasses much cheaper than traditional retailers, so they started selling designer frames online for just $95, a far cry from prescription lens' typical $500 price tag.
It proved lucrative from day one. The team hit its first-year sales targets three weeks after launching. Valued at $1.2 billion last year, Warby Parker is one of the only online retailers to exceed a $1 billion valuation before going public or getting acquired. The brand has also expanded into brick-and-mortar stores, with 31 locations across the country.
Following suit with companies like Toms, Warby Parker adheres to the 'one-for-one' model and donates the price of a new pair of glasses to nonprofits in low-income areas for every pair purchased. The startup's nonprofit partner, VisionSpring, also trains people in developing countries to give basic eye exams and sell glasses affordably in their own communities.
On top on seeking global change, Warby Parker makes employee happiness a top priority as well. The startup emphasises honesty and transparency, and it also aims to keep the office fun, ensuring team-bonding lunches and events are always on the calendar.
14. Cyrus Poonawalla
Founder and chairman, Serum Institute of India
Horses led Dr. Cyrus Poonawalla to become the man behind Asia’s largest vaccine maker. Poonawalla, whose family runs one of the largest stud farms in India, started the Serum Institute of India in 1966. The Poonawallas were donating retired horses to the government so the horses’ serum could be used to create vaccines. After speaking to the farm’s vet, Poonawalla thought that if he could find a way to do it himself, he could produce cheaper vaccines to meet India’s need.
Poonawalla started with a tetanus vaccine, and the Institute has since released vaccines for polio, measles, mumps and hepatitis B, to name a few. The Serum Institute says that the vaccines are sold in some 140 countries around the world and an estimated 65% of children have received at least one. The biotech company has sold more than 1.3 billion doses worldwide. In October 2015, the Serum Institute signed a deal with Cipla, one of India’s largest pharmaceutical companies, to provide vaccines in South Africa.
Bloomberg reported in September 2015 that Poonawalla was looking to sell a 10% stake of the company. Poonawalla, a billionaire, said he would put the money toward philanthropic efforts like building a hospital or helping with education and sanitation work in India. The Serum Institute was seeking a valuation of $12 billion. During the 2015 fiscal year, the Serum Institute brought in around $600 million in revenue and $300 million in profit.
13. Peder Holk Nielsen
The global population is expected to reach 9 billion by 2050, radically increasing demand for food and water, energy, and medicine. To accommodate the masses, companies need to raise production output while also preserving the planet. That's where the Danish biotechnology company Novozymes, led by president and CEO Peder Holk Nielsen, comes in. The global leader in 'bioinnovation' provides solutions for several industries, including household care, agriculture, pharmaceuticals, bioenergy, and textiles.
Since its founding in 2000, Novozymes has enabled companies to increase production without sacrificing quality, health, or cost. Its development of microorganisms and industrial enzymes -- proteins that accelerate biological reactions -- allows dozens of groups, from farmers to beer brewers to clothing manufacturers, to replace harmful chemicals with enzymes, safely and sustainably speeding up production.
For instance, farmers use Novozymes enzymes and probiotics to improve digestion and nutrient absorption, enabling livestock to produce more. Textile mills replace chemicals with enzymes at every stage of development to reduce costs and produce high-quality fabrics. Wastewater plants are also benefitting by using Novozymes enzymes to improve water treatment through a process called bioaugmentation, which dramatically reduces costs but retains efficiency. Customers who used Novozymes products last year reduced CO2 emissions by an estimated 60 million tons.
Since 2013, Nielsen has led the company, which reported an annual revenue of $2.1 billion in 2015, about 14% of which the company plans to use for research and development. Nielsen backs the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, committing Novozymes to use its business as an agent for good regarding global issues like food security and climate change.
12. Kim Jordan
Founder and executive chairman, New Belgium Brewing Company
New Belgium Brewing Company Cofounder and Executive Chair Kim Jordan has managed to create a beloved craft-beer brand while becoming one of America's largest, most sustainable breweries and sharing the success with employees.
Since she founded the company 25 years ago with her husband, Jordan has always sought to take care of New Belgium's employees, operating a stock-ownership program that workers enter upon their one-year anniversary at the company. And while other iconic craft breweries like Dogfish Head and Lagunitas have sold stakes to outside investors, Jordan sold her remaining 59% stake in the company to employees in 2012 -- a conscious effort to fight the wealth gap and to avoid cuts and layoffs a buyer might have demanded.
Apart from owning 100% of the company, workers also enjoy a bevy of benefits, including anniversary gifts like a Fat Tire cruiser bike at year one, a one-week trip to Belgium with coworkers at year five, and a four-week paid sabbatical at years 10, 20, and 30.
As a certified B corporation, the brewery, based in Fort Collins, Colorado, prioritises socially and environmentally conscious practices like waste diversion -- 99.8% of New Belgium's waste is deposited outside of landfills -- and minimising water and energy use. This spring, the company opened its highly anticipated second location, a LEED-certified 'Liquid Center' and brewery in Asheville, North Carolina.
Though Jordan stepped down as CEO in 2015 -- she was succeeded by longtime COO Christine Perich -- she remains actively involved in the company, which now generates an estimated $225 million in annual sales.
11. Blake Mycoskie
Founder and chief shoe giver, Toms
Over the past 10 years, Blake Mycoskie has developed a business model that's now the de facto for social entrepreneurs: the 'one-for-one' concept. It began in 2006, when Mycoskie founded Toms Shoes under the audacious approach that it would both earn profits and be a force for good. With every pair of $48 canvas slip-on shoes sold, the company donated one pair to a child in a country like Haiti, Guatemala, or Argentina.
The concept took off, and Mycoskie has since expanded the company's social mission to provide eyeglasses and eye surgeries, clean drinking water, and birth kits for mothers through the sale of eyewear, coffee, and bags. To date, Toms has given more than 60 million pairs of new shoes, restored sight for 400,000 people in 13 countries, provided 335,000 weeks of safe drinking water, and offered safe-birth services to more than 25,000 mothers. Its newest crusade is preventing teenage bullying in the US through the sale of backpacks.
What's more, Mycoskie has created jobs along the way. At Toms facilities in Kenya, India, and Ethiopia, a total of 500 locals produce 40% of the company's donated shoes. And back at the Los Angeles headquarters, employees work in an open and collaborative office space with a quirky company culture -- a playground-style slide runs through the middle of the office, and dogs are a welcome fixture.
Mycoskie, who is no longer the CEO of Toms but remains involved as its chief shoe giver, sold 50% of the company, valued at $625 million, to Bain Capital in 2014. He's using some of that windfall to start the Toms Social Entrepreneurship Fund, his $100 million personal investment vehicle that bankrolls the next generation of social entrepreneurs.
10. Paul Polman
Since Paul Polman became CEO of Unilever in 2009, the Dutch businessman has been focused on making the more than 1,000 consumer brands owned by the 90-year-old conglomerate, which include hallmarks like Hellmann's mayonnaise and Dove soap, more friendly to the planet.
Polman implemented the company's 'Sustainable Living Plan' in 2010, aiming to grow both the business and its societal impact for years to come. The company's goal is to help more than a billion people improve their health and livelihoods by 2020, while also cutting their environmental footprint in half by 2030.
In November, Polman attended a UN climate change conference to discuss his plan to eliminate coal use at Unilever within five years and generate all of its energy from renewable sources by 2030. About 40% of the company's energy currently comes from green sources like wind or solar power. Unilever has reduced its waste by 85%, and factory emissions are down 37% since 2008, according to The New York Times,
Polman's green initiatives haven't stalled Unilever's sales: Revenues are up more than 30% since Polman started at the company. Polman, though, isn't overly fixated on short-term numbers. To encourage investors to think about long-term viability, he stopped giving quarterly reports and providing earnings guidance to the market.
9. Paul Tudor Jones
Founder, Tudor Investment Corporation, The Robin Hood Foundation, and Just Capital
When it comes to money, Paul Tudor Jones knows what he’s doing. He gained fame for accurately predicting the 1987 stock market crash and has earned 19% returns annually since starting Tudor Investment Corporation in 1980. The hedge fund is now worth $13 billion.
For decades, Jones has found ways to parlay his financial skills into philanthropic endeavors as well. In 2015, Jones launched Just Capital, a nonprofit that will release an annual list of 1,000 companies that ranks each based on values, as opposed to profits.
The list will consider factors such as sustainability, employee treatment, and community involvement to paint a clearer picture of how good companies are in a social sense, instead of simply evaluating them financially. Jones hopes to spur competition amongst companies, motivating them to vie for a higher spot on the list.
For nearly 30 years, Jones has also run the Robin Hood Foundation, which solicits donations from the wealthy and distributes them to poverty-fighting organizations in New York City. Since its inception, Robin Hood has raised more than $2.5 billion, pulling in $101 million at a single event last year.
8. Salman Khan
Founder and CEO, Khan Academy
Sal Khan never expected to be an educator. He started his career at a hedge fund and tutored his young cousins on the side, particularly in maths and science. After he started uploading the lessons to YouTube in 2006, many students other than his cousins tuned in, and Khan realised he was onto something big.
By 2009, he had quit his job to devote his time to Khan Academy, a revolutionary nonprofit offering free online video tutorials to people around the globe. The company officially launched with the support of Silicon Valley elite: Founding partners include Google and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Today, Khan Academy has 40 million registered users who consume video tutorials across many subjects in multiple languages.
Khan aims to close the gap between wealthy students who are able to pay for tutors and test-prep classes and low-income students without easy access to these training tools. 'We have a mission for a free, world-class education for anyone, anywhere,' Khan told Business Insider. Acknowledging critics, including those who find the lecture format to be limiting, he says, 'I'd never say (the videos) somehow constitute a complete education. If I'm confused about something, hey, to get a 5-, 10-minute explanation of it, I think that's valuable.'
Last June, Khan Academy launched free SAT-prep courses and materials in partnership with College Board, a big step forward in making higher education universally accessible. Khan also has opened the brick-and-mortar Khan Lab School in Mountain View, California -- an experimental program that lets students advance at their own pace.
7. Elon Musk
Founder and CEO, Tesla and SpaceX
More than any other Silicon Valley entrepreneur today, Elon Musk is a fountain of audacious, world-changing ideas. Tesla's electric cars are upending the automotive industry and reducing the world's dependence on fossil fuels that cause global warming. SolarCity also aims to reduce fossil fuel dependence by making solar power for homes affordable and easy to install. SpaceX is one of a handful of companies trying to accelerate space exploration by bringing the energy and enthusiasm of the private sector to bear.
If that weren't enough, Musk also came up with an idea for a new type of high-speed transportation system called the Hyperloop, which would take people between San Francisco and Los Angeles — about 400 miles — in 30 minutes. Now several companies are raising funds from venture capitalists to try to make this dream a reality.
Musk has a reputation of being tough on employees, expecting long hours and hard work. But the rare ability to conceive of huge ideas that benefit humanity, and then getting enough people to buy into the vision to form companies around it, is a singular talent.
6. Sergey Brin and Larry Page
Cofounders; president (Brin) and CEO (Page), Google
Before it was used as a verb, Google was a research project called BackRub. Sergey Brin and Larry Page, who met at Stanford, eventually came up with a catchier name and raised $1 million from family, friends, and tech-industry insiders who were impressed with their search engine.
Nearly 20 years later, the two founders oversee the world's second-most valuable company, behind Apple, with a catalogue of massive services, including the video site YouTube, smartphone software Android, and Google Maps, that generate about $75 billion in annual revenue. Page and Brin's obsession with game-changing 'moonshot' projects have pushed the company to make big bets on futuristic technology, like self-driving cars and smart contact lenses, that have the potential to upend entire industries.
The company's list of perks are legendary in Silicon Valley, with employees getting everything from gourmet food to free fitness classes and massages. In August 2015, Page and Brin created a new parent company called Alphabet to better manage the 65,000 employees and the growing collection of businesses created since the original search engine launched.
5. Bill and Melinda Gates
Cofounders and co-chairs, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Bill Gates made his name and fortune as the cofounder of Microsoft, where he served as CEO until 2000, helping him build a net worth of more than $90 billion. Gates now spends the majority of his time working alongside Melinda, his wife, on the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the charitable organisation the couple founded in 2000. It issues grants for initiatives and programs across the globe, with a focus on global health and education and alleviating poverty.
The largest charitable organisation in the world with an endowment of about $40 billion, the foundation focuses heavily on curbing the devastation caused by HIV, malaria, and other infectious diseases. Its reach is already tangible: Since 2000, four countries have eradicated malaria with the foundation's help. And in 2014, India became polio-free. The couple is also working on a plan to bring mobile banking to the 2 billion adults who don't have a bank account.
Not only are Bill and Melinda Gates the wealthiest couple in the world, they're also the most generous. They have pledged to give away more than 95% of their own fortune, and they have already donated more than $27 billion to to charitable causes.
Together with billionaire investor Warren Buffett, the couple cofounded The Giving Pledge in 2010, a promise by wealthy individuals to donate the majority of their wealth to philanthropy. The pledge has already attracted more than 150 affluent members, including Mark Zuckerberg, Larry Ellison, and Elon Musk.
4. Marc Benioff
Founder, chairman, and CEO, Salesforce
When Marc Benioff started Salesforce in 1999, he pledged to donate 1% of the company's annual revenues, 1% of its employees' time, and 1% of its product value to nonprofits every year. The company has held steadfast in this pledge as it has grown to become the fourth-largest software company in the world, with more than $8 billion expected in revenue in 2017. Benioff remains heavily involved with Salesforce.org, the organisation that lives up to this commitment.
But Benioff's social interest extends beyond that pledge as well. He's been a vocal critic of state legislation that could be used to discriminate against LGBT people, threatening to withdraw business from Indiana and Georgia when they passed such laws. He's also a ubiquitous presence in San Francisco, where he grew up -- he and his wife, Lynne, donated $200 million to the University of California San Francisco (a medical school and hospital) to build a children's hospital, and Salesforce has 'adopted' 20 public schools in the city, donating $14 million and 10,000 hours of employee time.
Salesforce has also done a lot more than pay lip service to the idea of diversity and equality in the workplace; in 2015 the company discovered that its women employees were making less than its men, so it spent $3 million to make up the difference.
3. Michael Joseph
Managing director of mobile money, Vodafone
When Michael Joseph landed the job as CEO of Safaricom, a Kenyan subsidiary of telecom giant Vodafone, in 2000, the company had a mere 18,000 subscribers. A decade later, Safaricom boasted a staggering 17 million users and an impressively low attrition rate. The key was the development and remarkable proliferation of mobile phone payment system M-Pesa, which Joseph managed.
Safaricom launched the service in 2007, initially as a means of facilitating microfinance, hoping to circumvent the inefficiencies and risks of the country's cash economy. With M-Pesa, a few easy taps on a mobile phone enabled any Kenyan to seamlessly send and store money -- to pay bills, buy groceries, or even run a business. Adoption exploded, and by 2015 M-Pesa had 20 million users in Kenya, more than 75% of the market, and some estimate that nearly $50 billion flows through the service annually in the country.
Under Joseph's guidance, M-Pesa enabled economic participation for millions of Kenyans who previously were too poor or remote to hold a bank account. But its impact extended beyond East Africa. M-Pesa gained acclaim as the top mobile-money system in the world and spurred similar efforts in other countries. M-Pesa itself has expanded to 10 other nations -- including Albania, India, and Romania -- and successful copycat services now exist in the Philippines, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.
Joseph, a World Bank adviser on mobile money, continues to guide M-Pesa as the director of mobile payments for all of Vodafone.
2. Howard Schultz
Chairman and CEO, Starbucks
For nearly three decades, Howard Schultz has been the force behind the most popular coffee chain on the planet -- and a dynamic model of a progressive CEO who's as animated by social issues and employee health as he is profit margins.
Schultz is deeply invested in the well-being and success of Starbucks' 300,000 employees, whom he calls 'partners.' Starbucks was one of the first US retailers to provide comprehensive health benefits for all part-time and full-time employees. Schultz also earned labour-friendly reviews in recent years for a program to pay workers' full college tuition as well as for pledging to hire 10,000 military veterans or their spouses by 2018.
Schultz has suggested that Starbucks' creed -- 'to use our scale for good' -- should be a model for other global corporations. He has wielded his influence to decry open carry gun laws, declare the importance of social diversity and inclusivity, and start a national conversation about race (even though that one backfired). Recently, Starbucks launched FoodShare, a program to donate the stores' leftover ready-to-eat meals to food banks across the US. The coffee chain plans to donate nearly 50 million meals by 2021.
A higher calling hasn't hurt the bottom line, as Starbucks has never been more profitable. When he returned for a second stint as the company's CEO in 2008 (he stepped back to serve as chairman during an eight-year hiatus) he refocused on quality and retrained his army of baristas, helping profits swell from $315 million to $945 million in two years. Last year, profits reached $2.8 billion on revenues of $19 billion, both record highs.
1. Mark Zuckerberg
Cofounder and CEO, Facebook
Since founding Facebook in his Harvard dorm room in 2004, Mark Zuckerberg has turned the website into one of the biggest companies in Silicon Valley and the most popular social network in the world, worth more than $330 billion.
Under Zuckerberg's guidance, Facebook has become more than just a way for friends to share photos. The site now hosts over 1 billion daily active users from all across the globe -- they chat with friends, share articles, discover news, and more. The site also launched Facebook Live in April, giving users the ability to stream experiences with followers in real time. Facebook's growth pays off for shareholders as well: For the first quarter of 2016, the site's revenue reached $5.2 billion, 57% higher than a year ago.
While anyone can use the network, landing a job there proves cutthroat. It's one of the most sought-after places to work, thanks to top-notch perks like gourmet meals, on-site doctors, laundry and dry cleaning services, and a generous four-month paid parental leave policy.
After the birth of his daughter in November, Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan, his wife, pledged to give away 99% of their wealth -- which is estimated at over $52.1 billion -- in their lifetimes through an organisation called the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, though some critics noted this new organisation wasn't a nonprofit charity itself and found the announcement misleading. The couple plans to focus on making long-term investments in causes and organisations that will improve health, education, and equality.
Through Facebook, Zuckerberg revolutionised the ways in which we interact with each other, making it possible for users to seamlessly connect with anyone anywhere in the world. But he hasn't stopped there. The tech mogul continues to innovate, create, and add value to the world as a whole by finding new ways for people to connect.
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