Jeff Han is about to change the face of computing. His multi-touch interface brings intuitive control to computing, "There is no reason in this day and age that we should be conforming to a physical device," he says. "These interfaces should start conforming to us."
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Dietrich and her team of math geeks are changing the way IBM works. In the hands of talented mathematicians, data creates an invaluable advantage. Elaborate algorithms reveal a company's inefficiencies and opportunities--unseen bottlenecks in the supply chain or customers' hidden buying patterns. "It's a great time," Dietrich says, "to be a computational mathematician."
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The former Mr. Universe is flexing his muscle as governor, incentivizing business to solve climate change. One such move is the Global Warming Solutions Act, requiring companies to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by 25%. "We get a lot more done when we create a great partnership to tackle problems," states Governor Schwarzenegger.
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Pierre Omidyar's network funds both nonprofits and for-profits. No matter, as long as they do good. Omidyar Network's model, which has invested $60 million in nonprofits and $45 million in for-profits, has been emulated by a new class of billionaire social investors. Omidyar's self-proclaimed mission is, "to help more people connect and work on issues they care about, not the issues I care about."
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Wales, the creator of Wikipedia, is now taking on Google. He envisions large numbers of real live people -- the kind of fervent volunteers that edit Wikipedia -- intervening to improve on the machine-generated search engine results that we're used to. Wales is also emphasizing Wikia's openness, "It needs to be neutral, and there needs to be an accountable, transparent, public dialogue about how it's created."
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Jager's company, JDK, defies tidy definition. It is not a pure design firm or management consultancy or ad agency so much as it is a combination of the three. This all-in approach extends to clients as well, "It's amazing how many times the process we use gets people in the same room who have never met or only know each other from e-mail," Jager says.
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When Mark Zuckerberg showed up in Palo Alto three years ago, he had no car, no house, and no job. Today, he's at the helm of smokin'-hot social-networking site Facebook. With the network's success, the business world has been waiting for a mega-corporation to scoop it up. But Zuckerberg isn't looking to cash-out, "I'm here to build something for the long term," he says. "Anything else is a distraction."
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Not long ago, he was the butt of jokes -- lockbox, earth tones, a post-election beard. Then he dusted off an old slide show and jumped with both feet into the private sector with two projects. Current TV has a participatory take on current events and Generation's focus is on investing in sustainability. But does Gore miss politics? "I have really enjoyed the business world much more than I expected," Gore says.
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This former fossil fuel power plant tycoon's $1 billion Cape Wind project would be America's first offshore wind farm, with 130 turbines turning the inexhaustible ocean breezes into enough clean energy to supply three quarters of the electricity for Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard, and Nantucket -- all with zero emissions. He says, "We have got to start transitioning away from fossil fuels to a more sustainable energy and environmental future."
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Once the youngest president of the Sierra Club, Adam Werbach used to call Wal-Mart toxic. Now the company is his biggest client. He wants to do nothing less than make Wal-Mart as well known for environmental sustainability as it is for low prices, "Our goal," he says, "is to have Wall Street look at Wal-Mart's green performance, and say, 'Wow, do more of that.'"
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Serial Webmeister Jason Calacanis survived the dotcom bust and went on to sell Weblogs Inc. to AOL for $25 million. He says his new search engine -- powered by people, of all things -- will give Google a run for its money. Mahalo staffers compile search result pages one at a time. And Calcanis is aiming high, "Anything less than being the next Yahoo, Google, or eBay," he says, "is a failure as far as I'm concerned."
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Ferriss is a Princeton University guest lecturer in High-Tech Entrepreneurship, the first American in history to hold a Guinness World Record in tango, a national Chinese kickboxing champion, and even a MTV breakdancer in Taiwan. But, what he's most known for is his 80-20 principle, suggesting that people outsource everyday tasks. He adds, "I'm asking some important and long-avoided questions that make people uncomfortable."
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Not long ago, Yves Béhar was a self-described "slumlord" to cover his rent. Now he's a superstar of design. He helps firms build true companywide design culture, from merchandising strategy to the integration of new technology. Béhar estimates that only 1% of American companies get design, and that the rest "will be left in the dust by companies that do."
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Lucente's job of building a design practice at a global enterprise like HP is as much about management as it is about design. Lucente has taken on the task with a deft political hand. "At HP," he says, "it's all about persuasion--making our best effort and then letting people decide whether they want to take us up on it." Under Lucente, HP has reduced dozens of logos, button layouts, and navigation schemes to a single company-wide design.
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Goodwin is a virtuoso of fuel economy. He takes the hugest American cars on the road and rejiggers them to get up to quadruple their normal mileage and burn low-emission renewable fuels grown on U.S. soil -- all while doubling their horsepower. His experiments point to a radically cleaner and cheaper future for the American car. "Detroit could do all this stuff overnight if it wanted to," he states.
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Lévy has bet more than $1 Billion that he can define the future of advertising. Publicis purchased the interactive agency Digitas and then created Honeyshed, a place where brands can play with the people who love them -- a Web-based shopping center or interactive infomercial. His goal is to make his company the industry's premier digital-marketing outfit, to "invent the blueprint of the agency of the future."
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His firm, SustainAbility, advises business on social responsibility and sustainability issues. Elkington has been researching and consulting at the intersection of business and society for 30 years; he coined the expression "triple-bottom-line" to describe companies that accounted for their financial, environmental, and social impact. Elkington knows it's a long-term goal, "We're 40 or 50 years into process that will take 70 years to happen."
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Fast Company

Fast Company's Most Innovative Business People of 2007

Jeff Han is about to change the face of computing. His multi-touch interface brings intuitive control to computing, "There is no reason in this day and age that we should be conforming to a physical device," he says. "These interfaces should start conforming to us."
Learn More

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