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MIT Technology Review

Disruptive Companies: 2010

March 10, 2010

50 Smartest Companies

  • 1

    A123 Systems

    • Years on the List 2010
  • 2

    Amyris

    • Years on the List 2010
  • 3

    Coskata

    • Years on the List 2010
  • 4

    eSolar

    • Years on the List 2010
  • 5

    First Solar

    • Headquarters Tempe, Arizona
    • Industry
      Clean energy
    • Status public
    • Years on the List 2010 , 2011 , 2012 , 2016 , 2017
    • Valuation $4.3 billion

    Summary

    Landed some of the biggest solar-plant deals in the world last year, including a 140-megawatt solar farm in North Queensland, Australia, the largest in that country. The company, which develops, constructs, and operates photovoltaic power plants connected to the electric grid, also continues to invest heavily in its cadmium telluride cells, a promising alternative to silicon solar cells that are making big advances. This year is off to a good start too, with the company reporting better-than-expected results in the first quarter of 2017 and raising expectations for its current quarter as well.

    $2.9 billion:

    estimated 2017 revenue
  • 6

    GE

    • Years on the List 2010
  • 7

    Joule Biotechnologies

    • Years on the List 2010
  • 8

    Nissan

    • Years on the List 2010
  • 9

    Suntech

  • 10

    Synthenic Genomics

    • Years on the List 2010
  • 11

    Tesla Motors

    • Headquarters Palo Alto, California
    • Industry
      Transportation
    • Status public
    • Years on the List 2010 , 2014 , 2015 , 2016
    • Valuation $28 billion

    Summary

    Tesla topped this list last year for its plan to extend its battery technology from cars to residential and commercial applications. This year, Tesla’s Autopilot technology stands out for the way it integrates feedback from a camera, radar, ultrasonic sensors, and GPS to aid drivers on highways, help them avoid collisions, and assist them in parking. Besides advancing semi-autonomous driving, Tesla is also making electric vehicles more accessible by introducing its most affordable car yet, the $35,000 Model 3.

    50 percent

    According to CEO Elon Musk, drivers have a 50 percent lower chance of having an accident when driving with Tesla Autopilot.
  • 12

    1366 Technologies

  • 13

    Apple

    • Headquarters Cupertino, California
    • Industry
      Computing & Communications
    • Status public
    • Years on the List 2010 , 2011 , 2012 , 2013 , 2015 , 2017
    • Valuation $761.4 billion

    Summary

    Derided of late for a lack of innovative new products and tepid customer response to Apple Pay and the Apple Watch, Apple has launched a Siri-enabled speaker called HomePod to compete with Amazon’s Alexa-equipped Echo speaker. It’s also begun to tout its AI chops, including acknowledging its work on autonomous-driving systems. For some time Apple has been quietly hiring some impressive robotics and AI talent for its project, and its history of smart design and smooth integration of hardware and software may prove valuable assets.

    $257 billion:

    cash on its balance sheet, more than the entire market value of General Electric
  • 14

    HTC

    • Headquarters Taoyuan, Taiwan
    • Industry
      Connectivity
    • Status public
    • Years on the List 2010 , 2011 , 2017
    • Valuation $7.3 billion

    Summary

    HTC has pivoted successfully from a declining business (smartphones) to a growing one (VR). Though it continues to make a few high-end smartphone models a year, its current focus is its motion-tracking Vive VR system, which enables users to walk around virtual worlds instead of simply moving their heads and arms. HTC will also be one of the first companies to create, through a collaboration with Google, a “standalone” VR headset that doesn’t require smartphones, PCs, or cables to work. And it has invested in more than 60 VR startups globally through its $100 million accelerator program, Vive X.

    1,500:

    number of pieces of content outside developers have created for its VR system, Vive
  • 15

    Infinera

    • Years on the List 2010
  • 16

    Intel

    • Headquarters Santa Clara, California
    • Industry
      Computing & Communications
    • Status public
    • Years on the List 2010 , 2012 , 2013 , 2016 , 2017
    • Valuation $160 billion

    Summary

    Intel is benefiting from a series of AI-centric investments and acquisitions it made to offset the decline of its main market, chips for personal computers. In the past year, it bought the deep-learning startup Nervana, the computer-vision chipmaker Movidius, and Mobileye, a supplier of assisted-driving systems. The Movidius purchase enabled Intel to sell chips to drone giant DJI, while the Mobileye acquisition brought it autonomous-driving partnerships with BMW and Delphi Automotive. In March, Intel launched an AI products group to further accelerate its AI efforts.

    46 percent:

    portion of revenues derived from areas beyond PC chips
  • 17

    iRobot

    • Years on the List 2010
  • 18

    Luxtera

    • Years on the List 2010
  • 19

    Plastic Logic

    • Years on the List 2010
  • 20

    Tilera

    • Years on the List 2010
  • 21

    Adobe

    • Years on the List 2010
  • 22

    Akamai

    • Years on the List 2010
  • 23

    Amazon.com

    • Years on the List 2010
  • 24

    Google

    • Headquarters Mountain View, California
    • Industry
      Internet & Digital Media
    • Status public
    • Years on the List 2010 , 2011 , 2012 , 2013 , 2014 , 2015

    Summary

    Its Loon balloons are designed to broaden Internet access.

  • 25

    Hulu

    • Years on the List 2010
  • 26

    IBM

    • Headquarters Armonk, New York
    • Industry
      Computing & Communications
    • Status public
    • Years on the List 2010 , 2011 , 2012 , 2013 , 2014 , 2015 , 2016 , 2017
    • Valuation $145.4 billion

    Summary

    IBM continues to invest in a range of emerging technologies that it thinks will yield sustainable growth, such as the distributed-ledger technology blockchain. With IBM’s help, corporate customers such as Walmart are using blockchain to track products as they move through global supply chains. Though IBM has yet to deliver the financial turnaround it has been promising investors for years, its newer businesses—including blockchain, cloud computing, and AI services—brought in more than 40 percent of the company’s total revenue in 2016. IBM also continues to develop quantum computing technology, which it plans to sell as a cloud service.

    400:

    number of customers the company has worked with on blockchain applications
  • 27

    Obopay

    • Years on the List 2010
  • 28

    StreamBase

    • Years on the List 2010
  • 29

    Twitter

  • 30

    Ushahidi

    • Years on the List 2010
  • 31

    Yelp

    • Years on the List 2010
  • 32

    Zynga

  • 33

    Alnylam

    • Headquarters Cambridge, Massachusetts
    • Industry
      Biotech
    • Status public
    • Years on the List 2010 , 2015

    Summary

    It is turning around the prospects for RNA interference, a promising type of gene therapy that has been challenging to use.

    6

    Number of the company’s drugs in human testing
  • 34

    Athenahealth

  • 35

    Bind Biosciences

    • Years on the List 2010
  • 36

    Complete Genomics

  • 37

    Fate Therapeutics

    • Years on the List 2010
  • 38

    Fluidigm

    • Years on the List 2010
  • 39

    GlaxoSmithKline

    • Years on the List 2010
  • 40

    Illumina

    • Headquarters San Diego, California
    • Industry
      Biomedicine
    • Status public
    • Years on the List 2010 , 2013 , 2014 , 2015 , 2016 , 2017
    • Valuation $28 billion

    Summary

    The leader in commercializing the rapid sequencing of human DNA, the company reported a steep drop in sales last fall, suggesting that the market for its sequencing machines might be saturated. Three months later it unveiled a new machine, NovaSeq, that it says is capable of sequencing as many as 48 entire human genomes in two and a half days—and someday pushing the cost of sequencing down to $100, potentially low enough to significantly expand what researchers can learn about diseases.

    $850,000:

    price of the cheaper of its two NovaSeq models
  • 41

    Medtronic

  • 42

    Nanosphere

    • Years on the List 2010
  • 43

    Pacific Biosciences

    • Years on the List 2010
  • 44

    American Superconductor

    • Years on the List 2010
  • 45

    Applied Materials

  • 46

    DuPont

    • Years on the List 2010
  • 47

    Novomer

    • Years on the List 2010
  • 48

    Prime View International

    • Years on the List 2010
  • 49

    Serious Materials

    • Years on the List 2010
  • 50

    Solyndra

    • Years on the List 2010