The Matchmaker
Sean Rad (27)
CEO of Tinder, West Hollywood, California

Forgive Sean Rad the Hyperbole. He calls Tinder, the hot-or-not dating app he launched with Justin Mateen, "arguably the most effective platform for forming new relationships in history." While it's hardly novel to select a mate based on looks, he's onto something when he says the traditional dating-site model—relying on compatibility algorithms—is backwards. In Rad's view, people should decide whom they're attracted to. "In the real world, you look across the room and say, 'Yes, no, yes, no,'" he explains. "Tinder allows you to do that faster and more often." The app shows you potential matches who are nearby and highlights friends of friends in your Facebook network, minimizing the creep factor. And both parties have to "like" the other before communicating, so intros are less awkward. Rad takes offense when critics call Tinder a shallow hook-up tool: "My in-box is filled with stories ranging from 'I'm getting married' to 'I made a business connection.'" Next, the company is launching an aggressive push overseas. "Our vision is to be everywhere there are single people with phones—it's about global domination," he says. A bit hyperbolically.

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The Robot Racer
Boris Sofman (30)
CEO of Anki, San Francisco

Apple CEO Tim Cook surprised the tech world when he brought an unknown Boris Sofman on stage at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference last June. More surprising was that Sofman's company makes a remote-controlled race-car game. But Anki Drive is not just a plaything; it uses a new approach to artificial intelligence that costs a fraction of anything else out there. In development for a decade under heavy secrecy, Anki Drive comes with two robotic cars that race around a vinyl track and can be steered with an iPhone or drive themselves—over time, they get smarter and pick up new skills. The underlying technology puts things like robotic housemaids and driverless cars within reach. "You can zigzag to those holy grails and release amazing products along the way," Sofman says. Google, of course, is aiming for the same goals, but Sofman likes his chances: "We can get there much faster." The race is on.

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The Creative Connector
Shane Snow (29)
Cofounder and chief creative officer of Contently, New York City

Few things test your faith like seeing a bank balance of 48 cents, says Shane Snow, recalling a point in 2010 shortly after the launch of Contently. "The fear wasn't homelessness—it was seeing a dream slip away." That dream has since blossomed into the leading platform for content marketing, the booming practice in which brands hire professional journalists and operate as publishers. "How do you get better content?" says Snow, a Columbia grad. "You get better talent, you pay them more, you take risks." Snow's company, launched with Joe Coleman and Dave Goldberg, works like a dating site for marketers and creatives. Its success can be measured by its 400 percent revenue growth in 2013, its client list (AmEx, AT&T, GE), and its 30,000 storytellers for hire. "The investors have billion-dollar dollar signs in their eyes," he says. As the wall of Contently's SoHo office reads: those who tell the stories rule the world.