The past decade has been an amazing time for the tech industry. The internet has changed so much in the past 10 years, that it is barely recognizable. From the 90s, when the world wide web was still in its infancy and everyone had a stack of AOL trial membership CDs in their mailboxes, to now, when everyone and their grandmothers are on Facebook, the way we all access information has been transformed.
And with any change, there are always those entrepreneurs who are able to enter the market a few steps ahead of the trend and develop a product or service that can lead the way. And this is even more true in the tech industry. There have been some amazing visionaries who have had a hand in making the cultural shift and changing the way we look at information and do business online.
Here are the top 8 Tech Entrepreneurs of the Decade (in no particular order):
- Steve Jobs (Apple) – Whether you love him or hate him, there is no denying that he has made his company into a brand to remember. The iPod, iPhone, iTunes and the App Store, all have been amazing achievements in their own rights, but together, they represent an amazing achievement both in technology and in the power of marketing and cultural branding.
- Jeff Bezos (Amazon) – Amazon is one of the first great brands built on the internet and it has set the standard for how online retailers are measured. Every company's goal now is to do it at least as good as Amazon does. Jeff Bezos led his company to profitability even when many industry leaders said it wasn't possible. Amazon changed the way we buy things online and then changed the face of e-commerce. As if that wasn't enough, they developed the Kindle and set out to change the way we read.
- Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook) – At the beginning of the decade, Zuckerberg was just 15. Now, he is the CEO of the largest social media network on the globe, one that has become a daily part of the lives of its 350 million users worldwide.
- Tony Hsieh (Zappos) – I can't possibly fangirl enough about Zappos. In July of 2010, Hsieh sold his online shoe company for $1 billion, and this at a time when his entire annual operating income was only $20 million. Zappos has become the standard when other entrepreneurs look at how to go about creating a clear corporate culture. Hsieh has created an internet following and has an avid audience for his Tweets on philosophy on customer service and hiring employees.
- Peter Theil (PayPal) – Even though he is better known for the other businesses he is invested in, like Facebook, Yelp and Linkedin, if you recall, earlier in the decade Theil was one of the developers who created and then sold PayPal. This easy and safe payment system ,that is taken for granted today, changed the face of doing business online. It made e-commerce a viable option for many start-ups and small businesses.
- Reed Hastings (Netflix) – Netflix was a revolutionary business model, and at first, it was difficult to see how the company was going to be able to turn a profit. DVD rentals by mail with no late fees and no gimmicks seemed like a deal that was too good to be true. Today, the neat looking red envelopes are everywhere and the subscription service has not only changed the way that we rent movies, it has also changed the way we watch movies with their streaming video rental service.
- Evan Williams and Biz Stone (Twitter) - @Ev and @Biz have become household names with their super addictive micro-blogging platform, Twitter. Twitter was a great idea at the perfect time and has changed the way the world communicates. Today, just a quick check of the trending topics can keep you up to date with what is going on in the world and what people are thinking and talking about. The site has become a way to connect everyone to just about anyone else.
- Larry Page and Sergey Brin (Google) – I know that you had to have seen that one coming. At the beginning of the decade, it wasn't clear what the future of the search company was going to be. They managed to sail through the dot-com bust and put together an amazing IPO and to top it all off, they rewrote the rules of advertising. But, even then, they still had a larger goal, to change the way that people think about and access information. They have gotten involved with satellite mapping, viral video, email and much more.
I am sure that there are many other entrepreneurs who have changed our culture and changed the way that we do business who weren't include on this list. Who else do you think deserves a mention? Let me know in the comments.
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By Melissa Kennedy- Melissa is a 9 year blog veteran and a freelance writer, along with helping others find the job of their dreams, she enjoys computer geekery, raising a teenager, supporting her local library, writing about herself in the third person and working on her next novel.