Tuesday, July 24, 2012

MIT's Technology Review: 50 Most Innovative Companies

Yesterday when VMWare announced that it was acquiring Nicira I thought to myself "Where have I seen that name?"
Here's where:
...As a group, the TR50 companies represent our best judgment of the commercial innovations most likely to change lives around the world....
What is a TR50 company? It is a business whose innovations force other businesses to alter their strategic course. TR50 members are nominated by Technology Review’s editors, who look for companies that over the last year have demonstrated original and valuable technology, are bringing that technology to market at a significant scale, and are clearly influencing their competitors.

Eighteen of the companies we selected for the 2011 TR50 continue to meet those criteria, and return this year (seven are making their third appearance). Of course, that means that 32 companies we picked for last year’s TR50 are no longer on the list.

Sometimes companies fall off the list because of a decline in the prospects of an entire sector. For example, despite being strongly represented in 2010 and 2011, advanced-biofuels companies are absent this year. This sector has generally failed to scale up production to a level that can begin to make serious inroads into the use of conventional oil. While its technology still has potential, it currently has little influence on the direction of the fuel or transportation industries.

In other cases, individual companies lose the vision that made them worthy of the TR50. One such example is Netflix, which we selected last year for piggybacking a video-on-demand service onto its existing DVD-by-mail subscriptions. Netflix had already disrupted the business model of brick-and-mortar video rental stores and cleverly maneuvered to prevent itself from being disrupted in turn by streaming video technology. But later in 2011, the company tried to split the streaming side of its operations from its DVD service, an ill-fated decision that provoked public ridicule and the loss of hundreds of thousands of subscribers before the company reversed course. Suddenly, Netflix wasn’t able to clearly dictate its own agenda, let alone that of the entertainment industry....MORE
If you click through you'll see ten "energy" companies.
Only half of them are really "disruptive" so take this list with due skepticism.
That said, it's a pretty interesting bunch.