Flight-information company ITA Software, featured in February’s “Ready for Takeoff,” is on board to be snapped up by Google for $700 million. Google says it has no plans to sell airline tickets online, but if the deal is okayed by regulators, it will own the software that allows millions of fliers to buy seats through sites including Orbitz and Kayak. –Stephanie Schomer
In April, Chip Heath and Dan Heath used the New York City Health Department’s ad campaign equating sugary sodas with fat as an example of a sticky idea. The city launched round two in August, focusing on the 26 packets of sugar in a 32-ounce soda. “We’re big fans of this campaign,” says Chip, “but to change behavior on a low budget, you want big emotion. Sugar packets, even 26 of them, aren’t likely to have the same emotional punch as disgusting yellow globs of fat.” –Stephanie Schomer
Adam Carolla, whom we dubbed “Pod Star” in April, has transformed his podcast into the morning show he always wanted to do on radio. Without FCC restrictions. Without having to give the time and the weather. Without 60% of his airtime being commercials. Backed by his old crew from CBS Radio, Carolla is riffing off of the news, and taping his podcast — it runs roughly an hour — in the evening, so it’s available for listeners nationwide the next morning. It’s his ultimate kiss-off to terrestrial radio and its biggest cash cow: morning drive time. “We’ve witnessed a spike in downloads, and we’re always in the top 10 of podcasts,” says Carolla spokesman Alex Ali, who adds that the new format has begun to attract ads for the likes of Klondike Bars and ManGrate grills. But it’s not all new media for Carolla: As of mid-August, his book, In Fifty Years We’ll All Be Chicks … and Other Complaints From an Angry Middle-Aged White Guy, due out in November, was No. 36 in pre-order book sales on Amazon. –John Dorman
Updates: Most Innovative Companies 2010
Flash-sales site Gilt Groupe (No. 21 on the list in our March issue) is taking its luxe deals to the local level with Gilt City. It launched in beta for New York in April and will roll out in most major cities by the end of this year. Just another Groupon clone? Think again. “We don’t want to send our customers a deal for a deal’s sake,” says Gilt City president Nate Richardson. “We’re curating all the deals. Gilt is all about products that you really want to own.”
“So many algae companies have failed going from the lab to the real world,” says J. Craig Venter, CEO of Synthetic Genomics (No. 26). In July, through a $600 million partnership with ExxonMobil, the company opened a greenhouse that simulates real-world conditions and allows for large-batch algae testing. “What we’re trying to do with the greenhouse is have it be a halfway house,” Venter says, and bring commercial biofuels closer to fruition. They plan to open an outdoor test facility next summer.
The most popular vertical media company for women now plays for both teams. In July, Glam Media (No. 37) acquired men’s sports network Sportgenic and its subsidiary, AdPortal. Glam CEO Samir Arora tells Fast Company, “With this, we’re the No. 3 most-popular men’s site,” trailing only Yahoo Sports and ESPN with 30 million monthly U.S. visitors. Glam has folded AdPortal into GlamAdapt, an automated ad-serving platform that replaces Google’s DoubleClick for Glam sites.
Two months after the Indian Premier League made our list at No. 22, the Board of Control for Cricket in India suspended founder Lalit Modi for alleged money laundering and corruption. Modi has since missed multiple disciplinary committee hearings, dismissing the investigation as a “witch hunt.” Despite the drama, the league continues to thrive, with rumors of a similar business model emerging in India for soccer. Er … football.