You unlock your door, turn on the lights, turn up the heat or turn on your air conditioner depending on the climate you live in. Then you go straight the fridge, pull out last night’s left-overs and heat them up in the microwave. While waiting 30 seconds for your meal to be ready, you check your phone and make sure you haven’t missed any texts. And, if you’re feeling a little loose, you might buy a bunch of stuff you don’t need on Amazon, and then post about your purchase on Facebook. Isn’t it great – and also terrifying – how easy all this can be? Technology has always been the driving force behind civilization. What would you do if you didn’t have your cell phone for a week? Would you go into existential panic if you couldn’t check Facebook? Well, you can thank your dependence on technology to a few key brilliant minds who are constantly working to make your life better… or at least make things more easily accessible. Here’s our list of top ten tech entrepreneurs.
10. Elon Musk
When Elon Musk was in university, he identified five areas that he believed would truly influence the development of mankind. These were: genetic modification, sustainable energy, the internet, artificial intelligence and space exploration. Four of these he’s touched, and three of which he is on the cutting edge. He created Paypal, which was the beginning of his fortunes. He is also working on affordable space rocket technology, affordable solar paneling and on electric, self-driving cars. Did we mention he’s filthy rich? It’s safe to say that he is one of the eminent minds of our time as a brilliant thinker, inventor and business man. He even taught himself to code and sold a video game he made at the age of 13, so for Elon, it has been entrepreneurship since then.
9. Bill Gates
Everybody knows Bill Gates. He’s been the richest man on the planet for many years now, and his name is ubiquitous with home computers. Having fallen in love with computers from his teenage years, he displayed so much talent that his high school administrators allowed him to program the course scheduling computers… so he put himself in classes with lots of girls. His intellect eventually landed him at Harvard where he took a leave of absence for two years to start his company… the rest, as they say, is history. While his business tactics have come under criticism, he’s always been driven by his goal of changing the world, first through the computer revolution, and now through his philanthropic efforts. He plans to donate 95% of his wealth to bettering the world, and urges his wealthy peers to do the same.
8. Jack Ma
Jack Ma (real name Ma Yun) was the first mainland Chinese person to appear on the cover of Forbes Magazine. Though he is known for his fame and fortune, his beginnings were humble and complicated. As a young boy, he had a fascination with learning English, giving tours to foreigners around the city so he could practice. After graduating school, he applied to many jobs and couldn’t seem to find his “fit”, he even applied to Harvard ten times! When he heard about the internet in the early ’90s, he jumped at the opportunity to visit the United States and learn as much about it as he could. Noticing that there was not much information about China, nor were there any Chinese websites, he started a company with his wife and a friend to create websites for Chinese businesses. Having seized this opportunity, he is now one of the wealthiest men in the world.
7. Jeff Bezos
If you’ve spent too much money buying random trinkets that you don’t need on Amazon, there’s one person to blame… of course, after yourself that is. Jeff Bezos had displayed technical know-how since he was a child, dismantling his own crib as a toddler. Following a path through school that lead him to studying computer science and landed him a high-paying job with a hedge fund, he eventually heard about the internet (seeing a pattern here?) and paying close attention to a supreme court decision involving the internet, decided he could make a lot of money by selling things online. So now you know who to blame for your drunken Amazon sprees.
6. Reed Hastings
The next person on our list that you can blame for your misdoings is Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix. TV has been a staple of modern life for decades now, with evening news, Saturday morning cartoons, talk shows, sitcoms, police dramas, soap operas, and the list goes on. It seemed society was basing its life around TV scheduling, but now, with the advent of streaming, it has completely changed. I don’t think we need to tell you about the advantages of being able to watch what you want, when you want, for how long you want, but we’ll tell you a bit about the guy who made it happen. Reed Hastings owned a video store – if you’re old enough to remember those. One day when he was on his way to the gym, he realized that he paid forty dollars a month to be a gym member and could go as much as he wanted. The light went off as he thought this was a much better business model than a pay per usage. So, believe it or not, Netflix began in 1997 as a rental service where you could rent all the movies that you wanted for a flat monthly. You could only take one movie at a time though. Eventually it turned into the service we know today. It is so engrained in our culture that you often hear people say “Wanna watch netflix?”
5. Zou Qunfei
Zhou Qunfei is the richest woman in China. Her childhood story was rough, with her mother passing away when she was only 5 years old, she droppe out of school at the age of 16 so she could work with her uncle. This deliberate choice allowed her to attend classes at the nearby local university in her spare time. Eventually, in 1993 when the factory where she was working shut down, she was encouraged by her family to start a business due to her technical knowledge in making watch lenses. Her skill in all aspects of the production, including assembly, lead to a big break in 2001 with the advent of smart phones and her superior production capabilities. Interestingly, she says her biggest regret was not learning English, and that the reason for her success was her continued desire to learn.
4. Arash Ferdowsi
While he isn’t as rich as the others on our list, Arash Ferdowsi has made his mark on the internet landscape. He created Dropbox with his friend Drew Houston who had been inspired by the fact that he kept forgetting his USB key at home before going to class. It seems the limits of the human mind can also inspire the next best thing in technology.
3and2. Sergey Brin & Larry Page
Our next two top tech entrepreneurs are inseparable. They are also responsible for the most used website of all time… we’re sure you guessed is, yep… Google. Googling something is just another way of saying looking something up on the internet, and internet searches are only the tip of the ice berg of what these two have accomplished. Did you know Youtube is also owned by Google? Sergey Brin & Larry Page were bright guys growing up. In fact, both of them were working on their PhDs in mathematics when they realized the power and connection of the internet, which at the time had about 10 million pages. The difficult part was being able to find all these pages. The appropriately named Larry Page was interested in figuring out how to connect them all. His friend, Sergey Brin,,saw the potential in what Larry had to offer. Together they rented a garage and ended up building one of the most important tools known to mankind, for which they’ve made a hefty sum and are now amongst the richest and most influential people in the world.
1. Mark Zuckerberg
If there is anything notable about Mark Zuckerberg, it is that he is so young, so wealthy, and almost everyone has a Facebook profile. Being a prodigious developer starting in his early teens, he says he began making little tools for he and his sisters. Eventually ending up at Harvard University, he found a passion for creating websites that connect people together, such as being able to see who would be taking which classes. This lead to what we know as Facebook, Mr. Zuckerberg’s dream platform for connecting the world and allowing people to share experiences with each other. And as much as you might hate the guy for having all your information, and maybe knowing too much about you, He like Bill Gates, says he intends to donate most his wealth over the course of his life. That’s a perk to being rich, huh?
Alright, now we’ve seen who the top dogs are. Love ’em or hate ’em , they’ve changed the way the game is played. It’s no surprise to us that these people are filthy rich, after all, they found ways of improving our daily lives by making tasks easier and quicker, by allowing us to connect with people, and by giving us recreational fun at our fingertips. But as much we all love using Facebook and posting pictures of what we just ordered at a restaurant, try to remember that you’re a human and you need to go outside and disconnect every now and then. Or maybe you need to set-up a business plan today and explore the new frontier of technology!