UPDATES | ALUMNI: A Year of Ups and Downs

For some veterans of the Most Innovative Companies lists, the past year has been very good indeed. For others, not so much. A look at some of their highlights, as well as a few of the lows.


AIRASIA (2008)

The Malaysia-based budget carrier added new flights to South Korea and Iran in 2010. Up next: France, Japan, and New Zealand. The airline also announced plans for a new hub in the Philippines, along with an IPO of its long-haul unit, AirAsia X, this year.


ARUP (2008)

The London-based shop continued to redefine what an engineering firm can do. Its 2010 portfolio included work on World Expo pavilions, the landmark Marina Bay Sands resort in Singapore, and development plans for poor provinces in Thailand and Vietnam.

AUSRA (2008, 2009)

The French nuclear giant Areva completed its acquisition of this solar company, which is now called Areva Solar.

BOEING (2008)

The launch of the new Dreamliner, which was supposed to enter service in spring 2008, seems ever more like a nightmare, with multiple delays and a fire during a test flight.


It was another headline year for Jon Stewart’s production house, which teamed with Comedy Central to put on the Rally to Restore Sanity (and/or Fear). The event drew about 200,000 people to the National Mall, in Washington, D.C. The Daily Show won its eighth consecutive Emmy for outstanding variety, music, or comedy series.

BYD (2009, 2010)

Its conventional F3 sedan remains China’s top-selling car, but it sold fewer than 300 hybrids and just 54 all-electrics in 2010.


The NBA team lost LeBron, then lost cred with owner Dan Gilbert’s furious open letter/rant typed in Comic Sans.


CORNING (2008)

Its virtually unbreakable Gorilla glass is becoming ubiquitous in cell phones, TVs, and various other electronics.


The architects won praise for the revamp of N.Y.C.’s Lincoln Center and its renderings for L.A.’s new Broad Art Foundation.

DISNEY (2008, 2009, 2010)

Toy Story 3 and Alice in Wonderland made Disney the first studio ever to cross the magical $1-billion-worldwide-gross threshold twice in one year.


It bolstered its Uniqlo clothing chain with a quirky social-media campaign, offering discounts on products you tweet about.

FILIFE (2010)

FiLife? More like FiDeath. The IAC personal-finance site shut down after it was accused of inflating traffic numbers.


A solar glut pushed prices down, but 2011 sales could still rise nearly 50% from 2010.



The online private-sale pioneer launched Gilt City, a location-based service now up in Boston, Chicago, L.A., Miami, New York, and San Francisco.


The online provider of eco-data about consumer products added networking elements, including a voting function. Users can rate products and see whether the GoodGuide community recommends buying or not buying them, and a real-time feed shows which products users are scanning and seeking info on.

HTC (2010)

Despite strong results, HTC lost its No. 4 slot in the global smartphone-sales rankings to an even stronger Samsung. HTC’s fight-back strategy: a deal with Verizon to sell the first smartphone in the U.S. to use LTE, the newest standard in mobile-infrastructure technology.

HULU (2009, 2010)

The online video service lost a key patron when Jeff Zucker departed as NBC CEO, but revenue continues to climb. Hulu serves more than 1 billion video ads each month.

LIVE NATION (2008, 2009)

Not even Rihanna and her umbrella-ella-ella could protect the world’s largest concert promoter from falling ticket sales.


The Red Sox parent ventured into soccer with its purchase of the renowned English club Liverpool.


NGMOCO (2010)

Japan’s DeNA paid $400 million for the game-app developer.

NINTENDO (2008, 2009, 2010)

After several years of strong profits, the Japanese game maker posted quarterly losses as Wii and DS sales slumped in 2010.

NPR (2009, 2010)

Conservative pundits squawked — and one exec lost her job — after NPR fired political commentator Juan Williams for telling Fox News that fellow airplane passengers “in Muslim garb” made him “nervous.”


Its provocative education-reform doc, Waiting for Superman, won a slew of awards and a slot on Oprah.

REALD (2008, 2009, 2010)

3-D is everywhere, with 25 feature films released in 2010 and a big, if still early, push into homes.


The storied architecture firm finished a number of notable projects in the past year, including headquarters for India’s Jet Airways; the Al Hamra skyscraper in Kuwait; and a renovation of Chicago’s landmark Inland Steel Building, which it designed in the 1950s.


SPOTIFY (2010)

After hyping a U.S. launch, the European online music service backpedaled when it failed to secure the deals it needed with record labels.


The two companies announced the creation of a library of synthetic viruses that could shave months off the vaccine-production process.

TATA GROUP (2008, 2009)

Making a $2,000 microcar isn’t worth much if nobody wants to buy it. Sales of the Nano have been abysmal.

TOYOTA (2008, 2009)

Reeling from recalls, Toyota was the only top-10 automaker to see U.S. sales volume fall in 2010. (It lost the No. 2 slot in the rankings — behind GM — to Ford.) Toyota stock was also the worst-performing of all the Japanese carmakers last year; it dropped 13%.

WETA DIGITAL (2009, 2010)

“Nìltsan hasey!” — that’s Na’vi for “Well done!” — to the Kiwi visual-effects shop, which earned its first Oscar since 2006 for its work on Avatar.


The contract medical R&D giant has had strong earnings, despite a failed merger with drug developer Charles River.