May 15, 2012 --
Happy birthday, Mark Zuckberg. The Facebook founder and chief executive officer turned 28-years-old Monday. It's a big week for Zuckerberg, whose company is primed to launch the most anticipated IPO of the year -- a move which could value Facebook at nearly $100 billion. The average S&P 500 CEO in America is twice Zuckerberg's age, according to the Associated Press. Zuckerberg is at the forefront of a new generation of young, tech-minded CEOs who have found their fortunes and major successes as other 20-somethings are still getting their feet wet in their chosen careers. Here we take a look at other young, notable entrepreneurs whose success came well before their first gray hair.
David Karp At age 25, Tumblr founder David Karp created a fast-growing international social media, blogging platform. Using money he acquired as a software consultant, Karp began Tumblr in 2007, when other blogging platform had already been widely available. As Karp mentioned in an interview the TechCrunch, Karp saw an opportunity to create a medium for digital postings that were more substantial than a tweet but less verbose than a full blog post. Tumblr has since taken off among users, and Karp has since built a fortune for himself, with an estimated $40 million in funding.
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Gurbaksh Chahal No one could ever accuse Gurbaksh Chahal of being an underachiever. By the time he reached 25 years old, Chahal, now 29, had already successfully founded and sold two companies, the first of which he began at age 16. Chahal even became a millionaire the same year he legally became an adult. And he wasn't done yet. Chahal currently is at the helm of RadiumOne, an online advertising company that "harnesses social interaction data to fuel new audience expansion." His net worth is upwards of $100 million.
Matt Mullenweg Anybody who's ever read, written or commented on a blog has probably at some point run into Wordpress co-founder Matt Mullenweg's handiwork. The now 28-year-old Mullenweg helped start Wordpress in 2003 and dedicated himself full-time to the platform beginning in 2005. According to VentureBeat, WordPress today is behind around 15 percent of the highest-trafficked site on the Internet. Mullenberg today has a net worth of around $40 million.
Naveen Selvadurai Foursquare's Naveen Selvadurai probably wasn't looking to make a fortune when he and co-founder Dennis Crowley devised the social GPS-tracking site. Instead, he intended to use it simply to explore New York City. Founded in 2009, Foursquare now supports some 20 million users. Selvadurai at 28 has also amassed a fortune estimated to be around $80 million.
Andrew Mason At 31, Groupon CEO Andrew Mason might seem like a senior relative to other entries in this slideshow, but Mason's success derives from a company he helped found in his late 20s. In November 2008, Groupon launched as a means of connecting urban residents to local merchants. The site began by offering users the ability to collectively buy into a discount from a local merchant in the Chicago area. The business model took off, leading Groupon to expand beyond Chicago and spawning a number of copycats. Groupon's seemingly overnight success led it to become one of the fastest company's in history to reach the billion-dollar valuation mark, thanks in no small part to Mason's contribution.
Pete Cashmore At age 26, entrepreneur Pete Cashmore has an estimated net worth of $80 million. Cashmore amassed his fortune by making a name for himself with a website that follows the kinds of products created by these other entrepreneurs on this list: Mashable.com. Started in 2005 when Cashmore was a teenager living in Scotland, Mashable.com is now among the highest-trafficked blogs online and Cashmore boasts one of the most popular feeds on Twitter.
Justin Kan Justin Kan is the face of what might be the most popular live-streaming website online: Justin.tv. However, the 28-year-old Kan's successful site can also be credited to cofounders Michael Seibel, Emmett Shear and Kyle Vogt. The four hatched the site in 2007, with Kan beginning a constant video stream from a webcam attached to his hat. Broadcasting his life through a never-ending stream over a period of eight months spawned the term "lifecasting."
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Ryan Allis and Aaron Houghton Ryan Allis and Aaron Houghton might not be household names. But since 2003 when both were just teenagers, the duo has steadily built a successful e-mail marketing platform that pulled in $40 million in revenue in 2008. Even before they built iContact, both of these young men had started businesses that likely informed their future success. At age 11, Allis began a consulting business to teach senior citizens how to use computers. Houghton started not in tech, but instead in bike repair, looking for spare parts in local junkyards to power his early business.
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Bitcoin, the electronic peer-to-peer currency that sidesteps more traditional methods of payment, is about to be launched into space.
In a joint venture between Dunvegan Space Systems and Deep Space Industries Inc., the aim is to add an extra verification layer to bitcoin by creating a system of orbital hubs called BitSats. These small satellites, which can either be free-flying or attached to other space assets, will become an intrinsic part of bitcoin transactions on Earth and will hopefully bolster confidence in the security of bitcoin payments.
“Deep Space (Inc.) has always said we are about using space resources — this includes space itself,” said Rick Tumlinson, Chairman of Deep Space Inc., in a press release.
Bitcoin is a rapidly-growing secure form of currency, but it’s having a hard time gaining wide-spread trust. Recently, the IRS said that bitcoin will be regulated as a commodity rather than a currency. Also, the wild fluctuations in bitcoin valuations have made investors concerned about the system’s long-term prospects.
But through the non-profit BitSat effort, by setting up an infrastructure in space, perhaps many of these issues can be calmed.
Bitcoin is created or “mined” by distributed independent computers. Each computer, owned by anyone with an internet connection, solves a complex algorithm to create a block of data. That block is then added to a “block chain,” a record of every bitcoin transaction ever made. Each step of the process is verified and made official, thus creating the bitcoin currency. By its numerical nature, bitcoin is virtually impossible to hack, but the BitSat project is envisaged as an off-planet exchange that would prevent spoofing of the blockchain.
Like any other communication satellite, the BitSats would also be used as nodes to transmit bitcoin around the world.
“Private spaceflight is breaking big, driving down costs so that great ideas like BitSats are within reach of even volunteer nonprofits,” said Jeff Garzik, CEO of Dunvegan Space Systems and bitcoin core developer. “We want to keep bitcoin healthy and free by finding alternative ways to distribute block chain data.”
“The goal is to design a downlink system from the satellites to the public that is as open and inexpensive as possible,” said Daniel Faber, chief operating officer for Deep Space. “While most people will buy their downlink setups from a vendor, ideally a smart hobbyist should be able to download a design and build their own receiver from much less than $10,000.”
Deep Space Inc.’s long-term goal is to mine asteroids for resources, but the company obviously has many more ideas for the monetization of space in the interim.