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17. Stephen Chau

Incorporating photos into online maps wasn’t a new idea at Google, but no one had figured out how to pull it off until Stephen Chau tackled what became Street View, the company’s fastest-growing product of 2008. Chau, 29, is a former Goldman Sachs banker (he worked on Google’s IPO) who studied computer science and art history at Google’s farm team, Stanford. His goal, he says, was to create “a 360-degree panorama to replicate what you would see if you were walking down the street.” Any street. Vehicles equipped with at least a half-dozen cameras custom-designed by Google have covered much of the United States and are now photographing nine other countries for what may be the most ambitious photo project ever undertaken. — by Chuck Salter

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