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Naveen Jain

[Photo: courtesy of Moon Express]

Most Creative People 2017

Naveen Jain

Cofounder and Executive Chairman, Moon Express

For exploring the eighth continent

Born in poverty near New Delhi, India, Naveen Jain made his fortune with search engine InfoSpace, then cofounded data-mining giant Intelius, which he left after it was acquired in 2015. He’s been funding moonshots—often literally—ever since. Jain’s most prominent company, Moon Express, is a space-travel startup that has raised $45 million in its effort to become the first private company to land a spacecraft on the moon—a feat Jain plans to attempt in 2017 as part of an effort to win the $20 million Google Lunar XPrize. Next, Jain will set about developing technology to mine the moon’s natural resources. Lunar water, for example, could be gathered and split into hydrogen (which can fuel rockets) and oxygen (which can sustain space travelers). Eventually, metals found on the moon might be used to build structures and ships in space, making it easier to colonize other worlds. Jain says his ultimate goal is to make it possible for humanity to find a new home if the current one fails. “To build a sustainable business you have to both do well and do good,” he says. “And there’s nothing better than saving humanity from potential extinction.”

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