Will Ferrell, 43 (pictured), Adam McKay, 42 (pictured), and Chris Henchy, 46
Co-founders, Funny or Die
Hollywood needs more people like Will Ferrell, Chris Henchy, and Adam McKay. We say this not because we enjoy Eastbound and Down, and The Other Guys. The three men could have easily spent the past few years focusing exclusively on extracting money from their existing franchises. Instead, they have chosen to do work on something risky, ambitious, and, at least in Hollywood, entirely strange: a start-up. Funny or Die was born in April 2007 with seed funding from Sequoia Capital. The idea: to combine low-budget shorts created by professionals with videos submitted by amateurs. Funny or Die now attracts 10 million viewers a month and employs 60 people. This past year, it turned its first profit. Read the full story.
Anthony Wood, 45
"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. A decade ago, he shook the foundations of the television industry with the invention of the digital video recorder, ReplayTV. In 2002, he did it again with the Roku, which streams Internet content (including Netflix, Hulu Plus, and Amazon Video) to televisions. Read the full story.
Alberto Aghion, 35, Alberto Perez, 40 (pictured center left),
and Alberto Perlman, 34 (pictured center right)
Thirteen women, mostly in their 20s, are shaking their hips and pumping their arms. They are sweating and smiling. Pop music is pumping. This is Zumba. "Ditch the workout; join the party," is the slogan of Zumba, an exercise regimen that can be found in classes at yoga studios, dance clubs, and your local gym. The method, originally called Rumbacize, was devised in Colombia by Alberto ("Beto") Perez. Once he immigrated to Miami, Perez was approached by Alberto Perlman and Alberto Aghion with a proposal to turn Perez's mini phenomenon into a company. More than a decade later, their venture has grown explosively into a full-blown fitness craze that’s getting more than 10 million Americans to dance and get fit each week. Read the full story.
Ge Wang, 33
Palo Alto, California
Sure, we respect anyone who can make money selling fart noises or virtual cabbage. But we want to see apps that are smart and challenging, and maybe even artful. That’s why we love Ge Wang's Smule. The company has seen revenue grow threefold this year, to $4.5 million, thanks to its founder's knack for making ideas sing. Wang, who started Smule in 2008, created the Sonic Lighter, a 99-cent iPhone app that displays a flickering flame (and serves as a romantic commentary on global connectedness). More recently, he's created an app that transforms an iPhone into a flute and one that helps nonmusicians learn classical music. Read the full story.
Jay Rogers, 37
Local Motors may be the most joyful durables manufacturer in history. Thousands of designers worldwide compete in online contests to create the most visible elements of each car model (shape of the frame, interior setup, lights, etc.). Members of the public then vote for their favorites. Each model will be created for a specific region or terrain. The sleek, petite Boston Bullet will navigate narrow streets and potholes. The Phoenix Rally Fighter is a big, bad desert racer. "We make niche vehicles targeted to niche areas using niche tools in niche microfactories, and we will do it again and again and again," says Rogers. Read the full story.