Entrepreneurs build many of the things you use and love today. Think about it. Someone had to come up with an idea and then make the effort to build it up. Someone had to believe in that idea and fork over the money to make it reality. And when you finally unveil your creation, you have to hope that it will be successful to justify the effort put into it. Entrepreneurship is a really laborious and time consuming effort.
Then again, there are those who enjoy the challenges and the rewards that it could bring when it does succeed. These people have founded many different companies and invest in ideas that they were sure was the next big thing. In this post, we will show you 10 serial tech entrepreneurs and the companies they helped create.
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The South African entrepreneur is known for Tesla Motors, famous for the first fully electric sports car. He is also famous for being a co-founder of PayPal. His company, X.com merged with Confininty Inc. to eventually become the PayPal we know today. Even before PayPal, he already had an Internet based company with Zip2, a business directory for newspapers, which he sold to Compaq in 1999.
Today, along with Tesla Motors, he is the CEO and CTO of SpaceX, a civilian space transport company known as the first privately funded company to launch, orbit and recover a spacecraft and send one to the International Space Station. He also provided the concept for SolarCity, a solar energy company, and is promoting his idea for Hyperloop, a high speed transportation system.
If you ever were a fan of TechTV, you may remember watching Kevin Rose on The Screen Savers, a show all about computers and new technology. If you haven’t heard of it, more likely you are familiar with his most famous creation, Digg, the social news site that allows users to share and discuss news and related topics. He also started Revision3, an Internet television network that creates online shows, focusing on niche interests.
Rose also established a micro-blogging site called Pownce, which didn’t pan out, and Milk, a mobile development lab, which was acquired by Google. As a venture capitalist, he has invested in Twitter, Foursquare, Facebook, just to name few. He is currently a venture partner at Google Venture.
Jay Adelson was one of Time’s Top 100 Most Influential People In The World in 2008 and as a finalist for the 2009 list for being the CEO of Digg, one of the biggest websites at the time. Before Digg, Adelson co-founded Equinix, a company that provides data centers and Internet exchanges. Along with Kevin Rose, he went on to start up Digg and Revision3, where Adelson sits as Chairman of the Board.
Adelson went on to co-found SimpleGeo in 2010, a company that provides infrastructure for apps to add in geolocation features. He remained as CEO until it was bought by Urban Airship, where Adelson remain as an advisor. Today, he sits on several boards and performs as an advisor for many different companies. His recent venture, Opsmatic, aims to assist other companies in their operations.
A one of the founders of Twitter, he already had number of companies under his belt. His first successful venture was Pyra Labs, which he help start. Their crowning achievement was Blogger, that was later sold to Google. He later went on to establish Odeo, a podcasting company, which was later sold off to Sonic Mountain.
His biggest accomplishment to date has to be Twitter, born out of the incubator Obvious Corp, which he co-founded with Biz Stone and former Odeo employees. Since Twitter, Williams created Medium, a publishing platform, with fellow Twitter co-founder and Blogger developer, Biz Stone. Today, Williams and Stone are winding down Obvious Corp. to focus on individual startups.
He was caught at the age of 16 by the F.B.I. for hacking into the network of a Fortune 500 company. Parker then went on to co-found Napster, which was formerly one of the biggest file sharing sites on the Internet and a name that is synonymous with music piracy. So how exactly do you top that? His first venture after Napster was an online address book and social networking service called Plaxo, where he was eventually ousted by the company’s financiers.
He was instrumental in the development of Facebook, eventually becoming their first president. As Mark Zuckerberg noted, “Sean was pivotal in helping Facebook transform from a college project into a real company”, helping with investors and giving advice. He also helped fund Spotify and founded Airtime.com, a real time video chat site with fellow Napster co-founder Shawn Fanning, along with Causes.com, an online campaigning platform.
He is known as one of the co-creators of PayPal. There he served as CTO and contributed to their anti-fraud efforts. Since PayPal, Levchin went on to several ventures, his first being Slide, which started out as a photo sharing software for social networks but later on became of the largest third party app developer for Facebook.
A more well known venture is Yelp, a business ratings and review site. He has also started HFV to fund companies that focus on data analysis, Affirm to build the next generation credit network and Glow to help parents conceive.
More of a serial investor than an entrepreneur but without him, a lot of the companies you know today would probably have a difficult time coping. His first company, SocialNet, was initiated in 1997, an online matching site for both dating and interest based pursuits; a precursor to today’s social networks. He later became a member of PayPal’s board of directors (do you see the trend here?).
He went on to co-found LinkedIn, a business oriented social network. He is known as one of the the most successful angel investors of Silicon Valley, becoming one of the first investors in Facebook and Zynga, as well as investing in Digg, Wikia, Flickr, Last.fm, just to name a few.
Have you played Atari today? Children of the 80’s would probably remember that jingle, along with the many games that were on the Atari consoles. The company was built by Nolan Bushnell, considered one of the founding fathers of the video game industry.
Newsweek Magazine named him as one the “50 Men Who Changed America” and has gone on to establish more than 20 companies, the most famous being Atari and Chuck E. Cheese’s, a family entertainment center. His latest company is BrainRush, which aims to add gamefication into education.
The Swedish entrepreneur is mostly known for the development of Skype and co-founding Kazaa, a peer-to-peer file sharing program, both of which he did with his partner, Janus Friis. Again with Friis, he went on to set up Joost, an Internet television service that used peer-to-peer technology to deliver content to the user.
His latest venture is Atomico, a technology investment firm that invest in fast-growing, disruptive technology companies. The firm has made investments in several companies, famous among them are Rovio and Supercell. So yes, you can blame him for Angry Birds and Clash Of Clans.
Marc Andreessen And Ben Horowitz
The title technically says “10 serial tech entrepreneurs” but the team of Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz have invested a lot through their venture capital firm, Andreessen Horowitz, that it only seems fair to include the two together. Andreessen is known as the co-author of Mosaic, the first popular web browser, one of the founders of Netscape Communications Corporation and together with Horowitz started Opsware, an IT management software provider.
Before setting up their investment firm, the two were already active investors in the tech field, well known for their early investment in Twitter. With their firm, they had investments in many companies that would become the ones we know of today, such as Skype, Facebook, Twitter, Groupon, Zynga, and the list goes on. In fact, try finding a modern tech firm that wasn’t involved with Andreessen Horowitz. Safe to say, the two help build the current tech industry.