Gary Vaynerchuk

Founder of Wine Library TV. He’s a well-known speaker at tech and business conferences, and he’s even got himself a book deal.

Vaynerchuk may not have been the first non-technical tech startup founder, but he’s inspired, nay, driven countless others to follow in his footsteps through impassioned, expletive-laced speeches, and no-nonsense advice on how to get business done on the Internet. Vaynerchuk strips away the mystery of startup life by insisting that audience members owe it to themselves and the world around them to do what truly inspires them. As he often says, “I just want people to do things they love.”

A survivor (barely) of the 1990s dotcom boom, Calacanis is now known as one of the most outspoken, enigmatic figures in the modern startup community. As the quintessential modern investor and the fearless leader of L.A.-based Mahalo, he continues to lead by example, even as he speaks, blogs, judges and podcasts his way through the current tech scene.


Mark Zuckerberg

One of the 2.0 era’s most well-known wunderkinds, Mark Zuckerberg has inspired legions of young folks to pursue their ambitions, whether in college or high school, and to hack away at new and innovative social web ideas of their own. He’s also changed how people think about privacy, customization and a slew of other issues surrounding social networking.


Paul Graham

Founder of the iconic Y Combinator startup accelerator and related aggregator Hacker News, Graham is a hero to masses of would-be startup gods. He’s helped launch more than 150 startups throughout his career, and he’s done so with a lot less cold, hard capital than you’d imagine. As he told the Harvard Computer Society in 2005, “You need three things to create a successful startup: to start with good people, to make something customers actually want, and to spend as little money as possible. Most startups that fail do it because they fail at one of these. A startup that does all three will probably succeed.”


Rasmus Lerdorf

Lerdorf authored the first two versions of PHP, a language that powers some of the biggest sites of today’s web, including Facebook. He also contributed to the Apache HTTP Server and MySQL projects, main components of the popular LAMP stack. Further, he champions the causes of security, optimization and browser excellence.

In essence, without developers like Lerdorf, the Internet as we know it would not exist. Yet he remains modest and, we feel, under appreciated by the masses of people who benefit from his work. “I did not develop the PHP we know today,” he once said. “Dozens, if not hundreds of people, developed PHP. I was simply the first developer.”

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