Roku, Saratoga, California
"Anthony is not the guy who gets up at the front of the boardroom and waves his hands around and yells, 'This is the future!' " says a member of the board at Roku, Anthony Wood's latest company. "He just goes out and does it."
Goes out and fundamentally changes the way we get our news and entertainment, that is. Few people know Wood's name, and that's the way he likes it, but a decade ago, he shook the foundations of the television industry with the invention of the digital video recorder. (His ReplayTV device was released just before the first TiVo.) In 2002, he did it again with the Roku, which streams Internet content (including Netflix, Hulu Plus, and Amazon Video) to televisions. For the second time, Wood, 45, is giving viewers the power to choose what they want to watch, when they want to watch it, and in the process forcing networks to develop new business strategies.
A tech prodigy since the age of 13, when he got hold of a used TRS-80 and learned programming, Wood has been building and selling tech companies for most of his adult life. By the time he was 30, he had sold a software company for $36 million, and a few years later he sold ReplayTV for around $110 million. He plans to hold on to Roku, which he expects to have sales of $50 million in 2010. And he intends to stay out of the public eye. "Generally, I don't like to talk about my work much," he says. "Work is just what I like to do."