cofounder and CEO
This custom social-network maker made a splash on our May 2008 cover, and not just because she knew what a viral expansion loop was. With 500,000-plus networks now running on Ning, the company has had its share of developer challenges but remains cashed up and growing.
Fake not only cofounded photo-sharing behemoth Flickr but also sold it to Yahoo for a reported $35 million. Now everyone is buzzing about her next project, something called Hunch, which is in stealth mode.
Gittins's book self-publishing platform is lean and green and has unleashed the insta-author (and book retailer) in everyone from amateur photographers to big brands like Lexus. With a million-plus books created, Blurb is also—ahem—profitable.
Sandy Jen and Elaine Wherry
Oft cited as the Web's fastest growing IM tool, this third startup for Jen and Wherry (and fellow cofounder Seth Sternberg) is on a cacophonous track. It lets some 40 million users yap over any IM network and in a variety of settings; new partnerships with Hearst and Universal Music point to an even chattier future.
Mary Lou Jepsen
founder and CEO
As CTO of One Laptop Per Child, Jepsen led design and development of the least expensive and most energy efficient laptop ever made. She founded Pixel Qi in 2008 to commercialize the groundbreaking OLPC screen technology she invented.
Using science (not cultural hype) to match brand advertisers with Hispanic-American consumers on the Web, Morga's marketing firm had 100% growth last year. And she's hiring.
Polese was part of the early Java team at Sun Microsystems and cofounded Marimba (now part of BMC). Her new business—which boasts a partnership with Intel—helps companies test the security and quality of open-source software.
Sharkey's site reaches nearly 80% of new moms online in the U.S. and some 6 million visitors a month internationally. With the 2007 acquisition of MayasMom.com, a social-networking site, Sharkey's parental domination is nearly complete.
cofounder and CEO
The psychology PhD turned Web designer and community expert has created a vibrant social hub around—of all things—the PowerPoint deck. Launched with less than $50,000, SlideShare now has a million registered users, plus a partnership with LinkedIn.
cofounder and president
With cofounding husband, Ben, Trott created tools such as Movable Type and TypePad that enabled the blogosphere to bloom. Her firm recently snapped up social network Pownce, too, adding that site's cofounder Leah Culver, another woman we admire, to the team.
Matching tech with fashion, MyShape has created an online bazaar with more than 400,000 members. What else would you expect from a serial entrepreneur with degrees in textile design and business administration?
A version of this article appeared in the February 2009 issue of Fast Company magazine.