Russell Simmons and Dov Charney
Big Fish Games is no longer swimming in a small pond. The Seattle-based online game company, which doubled sales in 2007 to $50 million, has raised $83 million in venture capitalafter years of relying primarily on reinvested profits. Why take money now? Says CEO Jeremy Lewis: "When you have the opportunity to fund a great idea, it's probably a good idea to do that."'¦If you worked for a politician, you might not advise him to praise Dov Charney publicly, given Charney's penchant for marketing his company, American Apparel (AMEX:APP), through raunchy billboards. Yet Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa recently visited American Apparel to celebrate the fact that it has added 2,500 jobs in L.A. during 2008 alone. American Apparel's success is proof that local manufacturing remains viable, Charney says: "Until recently, if you told someone that you were manufacturing in the United States, people would look at you as if you were crazy."'¦To address the credit crunch, Russell Simmons's Hip-Hop Summit Action Network is hosting events across the U.S. to teach people who live in inner cities how they can buy homes, build wealth, and start businesses despite the rough economy. This is crucial, Simmons says, because "all the innovative products, all the creative ways to help underserved communities, all the niche businesses that have been overlooked by big businesses -- they're all created by small, independent entrepreneurs."
Jason Del Rey was a senior reporter covering technology, branding, and company culture for Inc. magazine. Before joining Inc., his work appeared in Newsday, The (Newark) Star-Ledger, and the Staten Island Advance, and on ESPN.com. He lives in New Jersey. @DelRey
FROM OUR PARTNERS