Tech Ti­tans 1.0: July 27, 1998

Forbes - - Leaderboard Forbes @ 100 -

AS A GROUP these 13 newly minted tech­nocrats con­trolled vast wealth ($5.1 bil­lion) and big busi­nesses ($23 bil­lion in total mar­ket value)—sums pro­por­tional to the dis­rup­tion they had caused in al­most ev­ery in­dus­try, from re­tail to sports, mu­sic to me­dia. They had done it all via the then-new World Wide Web, and most of them, in­clud­ing Ya­hoo’s Jerry Yang and Ama­zon.com’s Jeff Be­zos, had ac­com­plished it be­fore turn­ing 40.

At the cover shoot “you could over­hear them talk­ing about po­ten­tial busi­ness deals,” FORBES’ Eric Nee later re­called. “And kid­ding about stock prices: ‘How’s your stock do­ing?’ ‘What’s your mar­ket cap now?’ ”

Within two years, of course, the In­ter­net bub­ble would burst, up­end­ing the best­laid plans of far more than just these Web pioneers. Sev­eral fea­tured com­pa­nies (Broad­com, Ya­hoo, CNET) sur­vived. One thrived: Ama­zon, with $107 bil­lion in sales, is to­day the world’s fourth-most-valu­able com­pany; Be­zos is its fifth-rich­est per­son. Other firms and faces—re­mem­ber Joseph Fir­mage’s USWEB or Michael Levy’s Sport­sline?—quickly faded.

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