Last year’s list of the 100 Most Creative People in Business spanned industries of all sizes–this year’s list, which launches later this month, promises to be just as expansive and eclectic. Here we present the top entrepreneurs of 2009 and how these innovators finished out of the aughts.
His name is tacked onto many productions, always adding a Midas touch. His films have grossed almost $400 million worldwide, and he’s been ranked the sixth highest-paid man in Hollywood. Even with two hit shows on TBS, nearly 20 films under his belt, a dozen stage plays, and producer credits that include the Oscar-winning Precious, Tyler Perry is far from finished–he currently has more than five films in development.
The creative director for Japanese retailer Uniqlo, Jil Sander brought her brand of high-fashion worldwide last year. After overseeing a hugely successful collection called +J, which first debuted for the 2009-10 Autumn/Winter season, Sander launched a second line of her designs in China, England, Japan, and South Korea. She recently became the first non-Japanese designer to take home the Editor’s Club of Japan Designer of the Year award, and in April, Uniqlo signed Sander on for a third collection, due this fall.
Red Bull gives you wings, but for Dietrich Mateschitz, the billionaire CEO and marketing-guru, the energy drink has given far more. Last year, even with competitors like Monster and Amp gaining market share, Red Bull sold about 4 billion cans in 160 countries, grossing $4.7 billion, and proving it’s still the global leader. He also owns soccer teams the New York Red Bulls and Red Bull Salzburg. Mateschitz this week revealed that he might sell the naming rights to his Foruma I team, Red Red Bull racing, in a deal that could bring in $38 million — as if he needs the money.
The CEO of Twitter has helped make the social network a part of history — in April, the Library of Congress announced they would digitally archive every tweet ever made, even with more than 50 million tweets shot off a day. Twitter has over 105 million registered users, and grew over 1,500% in the past 3 years, receiving 300,000 new users a day. In April, Williams announced a “Points of Interest” feature, which will allow users to check-in, but promised that Twitter is “not looking to duplicate what Foursquare and Gowalla are doing.” While they might not be going after geo-location competitors, it’s clear Williams has set his sights on monetizing Twitter — the company also announced “Promoted Tweets,” which should have Williams tweeting: @bankaccount $$$.
Tap Tap Revenge, the Guitar Hero of the iPhone, launched in July of 2008. Twenty days later, the game nearly reached 1 million downloads. Tap Tap is now the most popular app on the iPhone and iPod Touch, with one study claiming that 1 in every 3 U.S. iPhone users has downloaded the game. CEO of Tapulous, the game’s creator, Bart Decrem has launched two sequels and brought the success to record labels, which created artist-branded versions from the Black Eyed Peas and Justin Bieber. With over 15 million combined downloads, Decrem is turning his attention next to the iPad and Android.
The James Beard Award-winning chef behind the Blue Hill restaurants has brought the farm-to-table movement to national attention–President Obama and Michelle Obama dined at his New York City restaurant on one of their first outings in office. In February, he gave a powerful talk at TED about the sustainability of fish.
The Home Shopping Network has made Joy Mangano the mother of invention. Her no-nonsense solutions to simple household annoyances–the Miracle Mop, Huggable Hangars, and Rolykit, to name a few–have made her company, Ingenious Designs, one of the most successful in the business. Early this May, Mangano debuted her new product, shoes with patent-pending Get Fit technology–in just hours, over 30,000 pairs of the sneakers were sold at $59.95. Of her success, Mangano explains, “I’m always striving to find innovative technologies and products that offer more to the consumer.”
The head of Rockstar Games has made his company a powerhouse with series that include Grand Theft Auto, Red Dead Redemption, and Max Payne. The GTA series has sold about 90 million copies worldwide, and its latest console installment, GTA IV, sold over 600,000 in its first day on the market, and 6 million copies in its first week, grossing over $500 million. Houser has expanded his gaming empire beyond the PC and consoles to mobile platforms–editions of GTA are available for the Nintendo DS, Playstation Portable, and most recently, the iPhone.
Jenova Chen is not just a “game” designer, though he is often referred to as one. His latest game lets players experience life as a flower, and features incredibly simple gameplay: just one button to make the petals move. Whether this is actually a “game” is beside the point — it’s clear they are much more — and in August, Chen’s work was featured in art museums in China and Belgium.
The co-founder of online-gaming firm Ohai, Susan Wu has made a killing off the $1.6 billion virtual goods market. Wu’s been working to expand her empire with a new MMO–so far in alpha-testing, the game has seen an astounding 50:50 male-female ratio, and average transaction sizes of about $16.50, a number even World of Warcraft would envy.