Most Innovative Alumni

It was a year of IPOs, product launches, breakthroughs, and, yes, notable missteps for the class of 2011's Most Innovative Companies.

Foursquare’s Tristan Walker (left); ARM, by the numbers (right). | Photos by Matt Hoyle (Walker); Rodrigo Corral (ARM)

Company

Description

2011 Ranking

ARM

The microprocessor firm announced its most energy-efficient application-class processor-- clocking in at five times more efficient than the previous model. Set to power smartphones, the chip will potentially increase battery life by 70%. Read »

12

BURBERRY

Continuing its commitment to digital and social strategies as a driver of growth, the global luxury brand unveiled a 4-D hologram of Rosie Huntington-Whiteley--the face of its new Body fragrance--and a "Tweetwalk" to post twitpics of new looks during runway shows. Revenue was up 27% for the year. Read »

13

CISCO

The corporate IT giant shed some pounds as it abandoned its consumer-product strategy, first dumping the Flip video camera in April, then quietly stopping sales of its home-videoconferencing hardware as 2012 arrived. Read »

41

DONORS
CHOOSE.ORG

In December, the crowd-funding organization--currently totaling more than 700,000 donors--launched its largest campaign in which Donors Choose.org matched funds, dollar for dollar. In total, the campaign generated $1,275,608. Read »

21

Beneficiaries of DonorsChoose.org. | Photo by Erin Patrice O’Brien

DOUBLE NEGATIVE

The London-based, Oscar-winning visual- effects firm continued to wow audiences with such flicks as Captain America: The First Avenger and the final installment of the Harry Potter series. Next up: The Dark Knight Rises. Read »

31

FOURSQUARE

Since May 2011, the company has doubled in size and now boasts 15 million users and 600,000 participating merchants. The app expanded its offerings and is now available in Spanish, French, and Portuguese. Read »

15

FX NETWORKS

Driven by comedian Louis C.K.'s second season of Louie and the success of new fan-favorite American Horror Story, this risk-taking cable network saw its nighttime viewership jump 17%, according to Nielsen. Read »

49

GE

In March, the tsunami that followed the colossal 8.9-magnitude earthquake in Japan triggered nuclear meltdowns in three GE-designed reactors at a Fukushima power plant. Two weeks later, The New York Times revealed that the corporation had not paid any taxes in 2010--it actually claimed a tax benefit of $3.2 billion--to public outrage. Read »

45

Groupon CEO Andrew Mason (right); Nike’s World Cup jersey, made from recycled plastic (left). | Photo by Saverio Truglia (Mason); Kang Kim (Jersey)

GROUPON

Groupon went public in early November, raising $700 million. But in the first week of January 2012, the company's stock saw a decline of 9.1% after a study reported that 52% of surveyed business owners who previously offered daily deals did not plan to do so again in the next six months. Read »

05

HUAWEI

U.S. lawmakers accused the Chinese telecom company of supplying Iran with technology that enables censorship. Huawei has since announced they will "voluntarily restrict" business in Iran, seeking no new customers and limiting activity with existing customers. Read »

18

IBM

A year after its Jeopardy win, supercomputer Watson began to focus its talents on something a bit more humanitarian: oncology. Watson is serving as an information resource to assist physicians in the treatment of breast, lung, and colon cancer. Read »

29

IBM's supercomputer Watson. | Photo by Reed Young

INTEL

The company's investment arm, Intel Capital, committed $300 million to create the Ultrabook Fund, which aims to improve the tech found in Intel-powered ultralight laptops, helping them better compete with tablets. Read »

19

MICROSOFT

The software giant acquired the much sought-after Skype, and its wildly popular Kinect for the Xbox 360 set a Guinness World Record for fastest-selling consumer-electronics device. But Bing continued to suffer, losing $1.9 billion in the first nine months of 2011. Read »

37

NETFLIX

When Netflix announced it was raising prices and splitting its services in two--one for streaming and one for DVD rentals, called Qwikster--users were outraged. The impassioned backlash led Netflix to abandon Qwikster as swiftly as the name suggests. Read »

08

NIKE

The sportswear company got into the venture-capital game with the introduction of the Sustainable Business & Innovation Lab. The program will back startups focused on alternative energy and efficient manufacturing. Read »

23

NISSAN

The Leaf may have beat out Chevy's Volt in 2011, making it the world's best-selling electric car, but sales in the U.S. were still low: Just 9,674 units have sold since its December 2010 debut. Nissan forges on, recently announcing noncontact charging pads for future models. Read »

04

Nissan CEO Carlos (left); the dogs of Zynga (right). | Photo by Robyn Twomey (Ghosn); Art Streiber (Dogs)

OPENING CEREMONY

In addition to launching children's wear for their ultimate cool-kids clothing line and boutique chain, cofounders Carol Lim and Humberto Leon turned heads with their first collection as creative directors of LVMH's storied Japanese fashion house, Kenzo. Read »

28

PEPSICO

Last March, PepsiCo announced that it had developed the first PET plastic bottle made completely from plant-based renewable sources. The company will pilot production of the bottle, which is 100% recyclable, this year. Read »

33

SAMSUNG

After its Galaxy line of phones and tablets saw stellar sales in 2010, Samsung spent 2011 mired in a bitter legal back-and-forth with Apple, which eventually got injunctions to stop sales of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 in Germany and Australia. The Australian ban was lifted by December, but the delay depressed sales. Read »

43

VOXIVA

The mobile-health app developer introduced diabetes-focused apps Care4life and Txt4health, as well as a smoking-cessation app, Text2Quit. Next up: Quit4Baby, an app to help pregnant women quit smoking. Read »

40

ZYNGA

The social-network game developer enjoyed a $1 billion IPO in December, though the stock has since struggled to hold its ground. Read »

09

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