Top 10 Disrupters of 2006

The Forbes magazine published an interesting list called “Top 10 Disrupters of 2006”. Bear in mind that the entries on the list can not necessarily be classified as disruptive innovations according to Clayton Christense’s traditional term (despite the fact that Christensen was among the panelists who voted for the list). They are rather breakthrough ideas and initiatives that had an impact upon the economic or social landscape in 2006. According to the article: “our disrupters aren’t just companies who played the game and won; they are people or technologies that changed the game completely.”

1. YouTube
Created by two ex-PayPal employees (Chad Hurley and Steve Chen) YouTube certainly redefined the term “online video”. Although it was founded in February of 2005 it was last year that the video phenomenon exploded around the world, arriving to count more than 100 million videos delivered every day. Even the large television networks were forced to bend before YouTube’s success, signing agreements to share some of their content through the popular site. If that was not enough YouTube also marked the merger and acquisitions scene in 2006 when it was acquired by Google for $1,65 billion.

2. Private Equity
According to Forbes 2006 was the year of the private equity, and the biggest sign of this change occurred with the $33 billion buyout of hospital operator HCA. “Private equity firms have grown so powerful they have even supplanted investment bankers in terms of clout. They drove junk bond underwriting, lending and merger advisory to record levels in 2006, with seemingly no end in sight.”

3. Super-sized Philathropy
“As the fast food commercials tell us, this is a super-sized world. In 2006, that was especially evident in the philanthropic world, where the biggest charitable donations started with “b,” as in “billion.” First, Bill Gates announced he would retire from Microsoft to focus full-time on his $30 billion foundation. Then Warren Buffett announced he would give the Gates Foundation $37 billion, easily the largest charitable donation in history. In the fall, President Bill Clinton’s Global Initiative raised $7.3 billion, which included a $3 billion donation from Richard Branson.”

4. Nintendo Wii
Nintendo changed the rules of the game, literally. As the magazine remembers the code name of the Nintendo Wii project was “Revolution”, and in fact this could have been a more suitable name. Perhaps the biggest innovation of this game console is the Wii remote which can be used as a handheld point device, detecting both motion and rotation in three dimensions.

5.’s App Exchange
“Think of it as the iTunes of business software. With’s App Exchange, small businesses can go online and easily download hundreds of software applications developed by independent vendors around the world. It’s a revolutionary model for software distribution.”

6. Exchange-Traded Funds
“They have been around for over a decade, but ETFs caught fire in 2006 and threatened to replace old-fashioned index funds as the investment of choice for conservative, penny-conscious investors. They are just like index mutual funds, which hold baskets of stocks to match a market index, except that ETFs trade like individual stocks.”

7. Erik Lie

Erik Lie (quite an appropriate surname) is the finance professor of the University of Iowa who researched about companies that were backdating stock options to make them more valuable. The results of the study were published on the Wall Street Journal and they received a lot of attention since companies like Apple were thought to be involved.

8. Al Gore and his Inconvenient Truth

“Things are heating up–at least that’s what Al Gore and his film An Inconvenient Truth would have us believe. A surprise hit documentary film and a best-selling book, Gore’s treatise renewed a national discussion about global warming, reframed the debate and helped recast environmentalists as rational, concerned citizens, not as tree-hugging loonies.”

9. Perez Hilton

“Referring to himself as the “Queen of all Media,” Perez Hilton (real name: Mario Lavandeira) has quickly become the go-to source for all things celebrity–or, more accurately, celebrity dirt. Thanks to his often informative, usually offensive and always hilarious site, stargazers need not wait a week for celebrity dish anymore–and the rags have taken notice.” This entry is quite interesting because it confirms the emergence of blogs vis-à-vis mainstream media. Perez Hilton receives millions of visits daily, much more than some established celebrity magazines out there.

10. The battle for the bundle
The battle between carrier operators and cable companies are still going strong, and according to Forbes 2006 was marked by some strategical moves. AT&T confirmed that it will spend almost $5 billion by 2008 to upgrade its network, enabling the company to offer super high speed internet, phone services and digital television. Verizon also announced a $18 billion investment to implement its optical-fiber network across the US. Cable companies will not remain watching while the telco operatores invade their turf, and 2007 will certainly show more developments on that front.

You can check Forbes article here.

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