Archive for June, 2006

The Wired 40

The Wired 40 

What makes a company wired? We start by looking for the basics: strategic vision, global reach, killer technology. But that’s not enough. To land a spot on our annual Wired 40 list, a business also needs the X-factor – a hunger for new ideas and an impatience to put them into practice. Such companies inevitably become trendsetters, literally: As we debated and redebated the list this year, six major themes flickered into view. From the rise of peer production to the end of carbon pollution, they tell us where the world is heading. These are the companies leading the way.

2005 Rank: 02
Less cuddly but more profitable than ever, the monster from Mountain View has rivals but no peers. Is it a search engine? A media company? A software provider? Who cares? Microsoft, for one. Get ready for the grudge match of the decade.

2005 Rank: 01
In the drama of Apple’s resurgence, act one was forging the iTunes/iPod axis. Act two was bundling the iLife suite of creative tools with new computers. Adapting the Mac OS to run Windows apps natively would make a triumphant conclusion.

2005 Rank: 03
Smart design and rapid product development made Samsung tops in consumer electronics. What will the company do with its newly doubled research staff of 32,000 and a $40 billion budget? Next iPod, please!

2005 Rank: 07
Will biotech kill the blockbuster? Rather than aiming drugs at broad populations with scattershot results, Genentech is developing treatments for specific patient groups. Its success has Big Pharma reaching for the smelling salts.

2005 Rank: 05
Who says portal is a dirty word? The McDonald’s of cyberspace serves up a staggering 3.5 billion Web pages a day. Its relentlessly expanding feature stack gives even Google a touch of envy. So how about some respect?

2005 Rank: 04
Jeff Bezos has been pumping R&D money into projects like the A9 search engine and the Amazon Fishbowl webcast. But he’ll need a home run to offset shrinking margins. Music and video downloads may do the trick.

2005 Rank: 08
Ford and Nissan are licensing Toyota’s hybrid technology – it doesn’t get any better than that. And if the green road becomes clogged with competition from nonlicensees like GM and its GMC Sierra Hybrid pickup, the Japanese innovator can fall back on being the best carmaker in the world.

2005 Rank: 17
Is there a big clean business GE hasn’t jumped on? Windmills, hybrid railroad engines, water systems, coal gasification – with six divisions, from GE Healthcare to NBC Universal, the megaconglomerate could start a new green revolution.

Rupert Murdoch’s legendary opportunism was made for the mayhem of today’s media landscape. He built the only truly global constellation of news, sports, and entertainment properties. Newly acquired MySpace gives it a digital heart.

10. SAP
2005 Rank: 11
CEOs like their business apps to be just like their cars: big, fast, and German. While archrival Oracle expands its product line at M&A sword point, SAP rolls its own code, crafting slick modules for everything from analytics to HR. Can it meet the audacious goal of doubling its market cap by 2011? Innovation, ho!

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