12 Entrepreneurs That Are Changing LA Forever
Forbes – JULY 2012
Los Angeles is bustling with entrepreneurs. Startups are popping up everywhere and it seems everyone is trying to make a name for themselves in the industry. But who is really changing the LA game? Here’s my list of 12 LA entrepreneurs that will change this city and the idea of entrepreneurship forever.
The Amplify LA guys
The group of guys at Amplify.LA have all come together and are making major moves in the LA scene. Amplify.LA was cofounded in late 2011 by Paul Bricault, Richard Wolper, Jeff Soloman, Oded Noy and David Carter and is a hands-on startup accelerator (and is actually a startup itself). These guys each have their own impressive entrepreneurial and visionary backgrounds, so together there is no telling what they are capable of.
Jason Calacanis is an accomplished Internet entrepreneur, probably most known for founding Mahalo.com. Calacanis has also been an Angel investor since 2009. Calacanis actually grew up in New York where he was founder, CEO, and editor of the Silicon Alley Reporter. When the dot-com era struck, it became VentureReporter.com and has since sold to Dow Jones. Jason then became CEO and co-founder of Weblogs, Inc. (which AOL purchased in 2005 for a cool $25-30 million). He’s also the co-founder of ThisWeekIn and founder of LAUNCH and LAUNCH conference. Clearly Calacanis has already made his mark on the Internet industry. As a seasoned entrepreneur, there is no telling what he will do next.
Paige Craig is a well-known Angel advisor and investor in the LA scene. Recently though, he add CEO and cofounder of BetterWorks to his resume. BetterWorks helps small and medium sized businesses reward and retain employees with big-company style employee perks and recognitions. He co-founded his first company, Lincoln Group, in 2003. Craig is one to watch because he’s an investor who has switched to the entrepreneur side. He has a strong background in knowing what works and what fails for other companies and will undoubtly be growing BetterWorks through that knowledge.
Bill Gross founded Idealab in 1996 and currently serves as the company’s CEO. Idealab tests multiple ideas at once and then turns the best of the ideas into companies. Before starting Idealab, Gross founded several other companies: GNP Loudspeakers (now GNP Audio Video), GNP Development, Inc., and Knowledge Adventure. Idealab’s mission is to create companies that challenge the status quo and change the way people think, live and work; and they are doing just that.
William Hsu is one of five cofounders of Muckerlab, yet another startup accelerator in LA. Muckerlab, however, is focused on serving Internet software and media entrepreneurs. Before founding Muckerlab though, Hsu founded BuildPoint at age 23. Before the company was acquired in 2004, he helped BuildPoint grow to 250 employees and raise over $50 million. He’s helped several other companies, like AT&T Interactive and eBay, achieve impressive numbers as well.
As a junior in college, Mike Jones founded his first successful online company which was eventually sold to PBJ Digital. Since then, he’s become an expert at founding, building and selling web based companies. He’s also served as CEO of Myspace and Senior Vice President of AOL, is an angel investor and an advisor to startups around the west coast. In November 2011, Jones launchedScience, a company that develops new businesses, assists emerging companies, and transforms later-stage assests. With over 18 years of experience in developing and growing businesses, Jones’ newest business venture is likely to be huge.
Adam Lilling is a self-proclaimed serial entrepreneur and now spends his time helping out other entrepreneurs as the director at LaunchpadLA. Before joining LaunchpadLA, he started Pentagon CDs and tapes, one of the first online music and video stores which was sold to Virgin Records in 1999. He later developed Panzanga and BiggerBoat. Not a newcomer to the startup world by any means, he’s providing great insight to the novice in the industry.
Marks’ entrepreneurial expertise is in building companies in the video game and online gaming industry. Most notably he is the founder and CEO of Gamzee, which are social mobile games that play on any device. He’s also the co-founder of Start Engine, an LA based accelerator that helps tech startups build a solid foundation for success. Marks got his start at the University of Michigan, where he studied computer engineering. From there, he and a business partner gained control of Activision and turned the ailing company into a video game powerhouse. Marks was also CEO and founder of eMind and Acclaim Games, Inc. Start Engine has a goal of pumping out 500 LA startups in just five years, with this level of ambition, you’d be crazy not to keep an eye on him.
In 2007, Nazar founded Docstoc with co-founder Alon Schwartz. Today he is the CEO. Docstoc is an online community to find and share professional documents; it currently houses over 20 million documents with more than 25 million registered users. Before starting Docstoc, Nazar founded Choice Speakers Inc., was a partner at Venature Capital and Consulting and created Startups Uncensored.
Bestcovery was founded in 2008 by Kamran Pourzanjani, who is also an angel investor. Bestcovery is basically a quick and easy way to find the best of everything. The company’s experts help you find the product that is best for your individual needs. Before founding Bestcovery, Pourzanjani was co-founder and CEO of PriceGabber. PriceGabber quickly became one of the most popular comparison shopping websites and had an enterprise value of about $500 million when he sold it in 2005.
Jeff Scheinrock is currently the CFO at Originate, a company that invests elite engineering talent and startup expertise into high potential opportunities. Before teaming up with Originate, Scheinrock was the CEO of his own company, Scheinrock Advisory Group, which merged with Originate Labs. Scheinrock is actually a CPA with extensive experience in international financial markets, corporate finance, capital structure, acquisitions and strategic investments. He also teaches entrepreneurship courses at UCLA. With his well-rounded business background, Scheinrock is shaping the minds of young entrepreneurs in the industry.
Digital LA was founded in 2007 by Kevin Winston and is now the largest networking organization for the digital entertainment industry. With over a decade of experience in digital entertainment, Winston continues to push the envelope and better connect and inform LA entertainment professionals. Recently he organized the Silicon Beach Fest with LA companies, accelerators and venues. Silicon Beach Fest is the first startup entertainment tech conference in LA. There were over 2,000 attendees, speakers, organizers, sponsors and volunteers at the first event, and no doubt next year will be bigger and better.
Who else do you think is changing the game in LA?
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