In 2004, for Inc.'s 25th anniversary, we published a cover story called "Entrepreneurs We Love," ın which we named, you got it, 25 entrepreneurs we loved. The following year, we loved again, this time 26 of them. Since then? Well, the love continued to flow, but because we didn't want to be seen as overly promiscuous, we put the concept in a drawer and labeled it "Open in Five Years." Those five years are up.
There's nothing definitive about our list of remarkable entrepreneurs in this issue -- it's about as scientific as People's ranking of beautiful people, which is to say, not at all -- but I can assure you that it comes from the heart. The entrepreneurs we've chosen to highlight speak to us here at Inc. in important ways. They represent goodness and cleverness. They're innovative and smart. We believe all of them are making the lives of others easier or more entertaining or more fruitful -- reason enough to celebrate their points of view and accomplishments in this year-end issue.
There's another reason to spread the love now. Many of the events of the past year -- the BP oil disaster, the Toyota recalls, the scandal over home foreclosures -- have shown us the worst of which companies are capable. This list is about recognizing the best: the entrepreneurs who make us feel proud and hopeful about business in America.
On another topic, those of you who look forward to reading whatever Leigh Buchanan writes are in for a treat this month. With her usual insane productivity (see my Editor's Letter in the March issue), Leigh has put together a year-end quiz (I dare you not to laugh out loud), written three of the profiles of the Entrepreneurs We Love (she would have done more if we had let her), and finished up with a feature on what it takes to become a motivational speaker. As this year comes to a close, I'd like to thank Leigh and her colleagues for putting their talent and drive to work for Inc. So, by name, I'd like to thank Dan, Blake, Alexandra, Travis, Larry, Bobbie, Rachel, Dominick, Kate, Rick, Kasey, Max, Alison, Bo, Nadine, Mischka, Sarah, Peter, Pam, Lindsay, Jason, April, Tamara, and Issie -- plus all their counterparts at Inc.com. Without these people, there would be no Inc. Leigh likes the concept of Entrepreneurs We Love but for years has been lobbying for a story called "Employees We Love." Above, you'll find mine.