Why Fitbit's latest successes have nothing to do with fitness trackers
It hasn't been a great year for high-tech gadget makers, as Fitbit and GoPro can attest. Yet both are financially outperforming other tech companies that went public when they did, according to EY benchmarks, and pursuing a remarkable rate of innovation. Fitbit's success is due to its breaking into a smartwatch market that could amount to $10 billion globally. The San Francisco company, which CEO James Park co-founded with CTO Eric Friedman, has been scooping up rival smartwatch makers and pursuing patents related to more advanced biometrics tracking, such as whether a device wearer is properly hydrated. In December, Fitbit partnered with medical-device maker Medtronic on an app that tracks physical activity and glucose for diabetes patients. "People might perceive us as kind of a nice-to-have," Park told investors this year. "What I'm most excited about is really transforming Fitbit into a must-have." --Victoria Finkle
GoPro wants to capture moments (and improve them too)
A picture might be worth a thousand words, but wearable-camera maker GoPro wants to ensure those stories get told. That's why, after a bumpy year, CEO Nick Woodman is emphasizing software. His San Mateo, California, company has recently introduced or improved several products to help customers edit videos on the fly, store them in the cloud, and, of course, make them in the first place. "GoPro got started in the packaging," says IFI analyst Larry Cady. "But now they've started patenting around more of the electronics, like image processing and network communications." --Victoria Finkle
How this $445 million company keeps Toyota and the Defense Department happy
This San Jose, California-based data-storage provider has more than 5,300 customers, including Toyota, Best Buy, Hyundai, and the U.S. Defense Department. And it's retained them by consolidating servers and storage systems into a single platform, earning it a standout reputation for "ease of use, simplified management, and no-disruptive capacity," according to a 2016 Forrester report. Founded in 2009, Nutanix recorded $445 million in annual revenue by its September 2016 IPO--and it got there with a focus on both customers and employees. As its co-founder and CEO, Dheeraj Pandey, explains: "Ambition and attention to detail have to go hand in hand."
How Jack Dorsey's Square has succeeded where Twitter struggles
It's easy to miss given all the trouble plaguing Jack Dorsey's other company, Twitter, but Square has had a remarkably good run of late. When Dorsey launched Square eight years ago with co-founder Jim McKelvey, the San Francisco company focused on selling credit card payment systems to small businesses. But now, Square's ever-popular gadget is just one of its many products. "Today, sellers come to Square for much more than payments and hardware," Dorsey told investors earlier this year.
Square is becoming, in other words, a one-stop shop for small businesses: You can get invoices and payroll services there, or even speedy cash through its lending program, Square Capital, which has extended $1.3 billion since its 2014 launch. And Square has even gotten into the on-demand food-delivery business by buying Caviar. New products launched since 2014 now account for a full quarter of the company's adjusted revenue. As John T. Williams, an analyst at Compass Point Research & Trading, puts it, "A lot of the business lines they've added tie in very nicely with Square's original product." --Victoria Finkle
How Box grows by staying small
This eleven-year-old file-sharing and content-management company was Inc.'s 2013 Company of the Year--and now it's made the 2017 Founders 10 list by keeping its focus narrow. With more than 71,000 enterprise customers, the Redwood City, California-based company innovates by carefully picking its targets and listening to a select group of customers. "We have a very fast feedback loop with that small set of customers," says co-founder and CEO Aaron Levie. "And as they adopt the next innovation, it will ripple through the customer base."