In 2007, twenty-one-year old David Karp launched Tumblr, a simple micro-blogging platform, on a whim. By 2012, it had become one of the top ten online destinations, drawing 170 million visitors. By 2013, Yahoo had acquired Tumblr for over $1 billion. Just like that, a kid who hadn’t even earned his high school diploma was worth over a quarter billion dollars. And he’s not the only one . . .
Silicon Valley’s newest billionaires represent a unique and unconventional breed of entrepreneur: young, bold, and taking the world by storm with their extreme speed, insatiable hunger, and progressive leadership. These whiz kids (and, to be fair, a few adults) have the hottest companies in the world. They are all turning just one brilliant insight or hook into money at a rate never before seen in human history—creating companies that, even with no revenue, garner insane valuations.
With unique insider access to the world’s most influential and wealthy entrepreneurs, Forbes has dug in to find what these super-entrepreneurs say about their own success. This book, introduced, edited, and updated by Forbes editor Randall Lane, is the first comprehensive look at who these instant tech billionaires are and how they achieved their quick wins. With sixteen illuminating pieces, including two never-before published features, we get behind-the-scenes examinations of the founders of Spotify, Airbnb, Tumblr, Twitter, and more, including:
Elon Musk: The billionaire founder of Paypal, electric carmaker Tesla, and private space company SpaceX. His extreme ambition is matched by his preternatural engineering mind; no wonder he was the model for Robert Downey Jr.’s portrayal of Iron Man.
Evan Spiegel: The twenty-three-year old declined a $3 billion cash offer from Mark Zuckerberg, after making the mountain come to Mohammed (Snapchat’s HQ is in Los Angeles) —an unheard of request from a young gun to one of the biggest players in Silicon Valley. The story of Snapchat’s origin is even wilder than Facebook’s, but Spiegel’s ability to parlay infamy and popularity into revenue is still up in the air, even as Snapchat’s valuation continues to grow.
Alex Karp: An eccentric philosopher with almost no tech background turned a Peter Thiel -backed venture, Palantir, into a data-mining champion, with clients like the NSA, the FBI, and the CIA. Amid heated privacy concerns, Karp continues to grow Palantir like crazy, to $196 million in funding and an estimated $1 billion in contracts in 2014.