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Cyber Stories: Great Technology Leaders and Their Legacies

Web.com Team
technology development for small businesses

From artificial intelligence to online marketing, today’s small business owners are investing in technology to build better products and services, improve productivity and enhance customer service. Companies that consistently apply technology experience revenue growth four times higher than the previous year.

After working with over 3 million small businesses to help them get up and running online, we’ve seen the productivity and profitability that comes with embracing new technologies. Innovative business leaders are finding ways to build on past technology developments and chart new paths. Here are a few examples. 

Innovative Thinkers Drive Progress

When Neil Armstrong became the first man to set foot on the moon in 1969, he carried with him more than the hopes and dreams of humanity. In a pocket of his spacesuit were remnants of fabric and the propeller of the Wright Flyer, the airplane that took the first powered flight in 1903. Armstrong wanted to pay homage to the Wright Brothers and acknowledge their role in developing revolutionary technology that led to space travel.

Consider that in the past 150 years, the world has seen the introduction of modern plumbing, telephones, television, air travel, the internet, personal computers, and smartphones, just to name a few. As technology continues to progress through the digital revolution, almost every new development expands on previous innovations. 

“Whatever we were able to do, we were able to do because we stood on the shoulders of others,” said space pioneer and U.S. Senator John Glenn. Here are technology leaders who leveraged past learnings and created solutions that took technology to exciting new levels for the business world and consumer market. 

Merging Advanced Technologies with Business Success

Susan Wojcicki, CEO, YouTube

One of the founders of Google, Susan became the technology company’s first marketing manager in 1999, overseeing the relatively new concept of online advertising. As Google expanded into video services, Susan identified the potential in another fledgling video company and led the charge to acquire YouTube in 2006. After she became the CEO of YouTube, the platform came to attract over 1 billion daily video viewers. 

Expanding on the concept of a portal for personal videos, Susan spearheaded the creation of streaming video services, offering movies, produced shows and other content to worldwide viewers. Today, over half of millennials don’t subscribe to cable and satellite television services due in large part to the YouTube and streaming video influence. Under Susan’s leadership, YouTube grew from a small startup to a $300 billion iconic brand

Susan’s Legacy

Changing the way the world accesses video content, movies and television programming.

Susan’s Philosophy

I love taking an idea and then creating a product that millions of people use.”

 

Jeff Bezos, CEO, Amazon

During a cross-country road trip early in his career, Jeff developed the concept for an online bookstore during a time when internet marketing was almost nonexistent. After incorporating and opening Amazon in 1994 in his garage, Jeff expanded the online retailer’s offerings to include music, video and consumer goods. Despite numerous setbacks and facing growing competition, Jeff built an extensive Amazon distribution network, changing the mindsets and raising the expectations of online buyers worldwide.

Jeff’s foresight helped Amazon survive the “dot-com bust” that affected many internet businesses in the early 2000s. His success inspired his acquisition of The Washington Post in 2013 and the creation of Blue Origin, one of the first commercial companies to launch a reusable rocket. Today, Amazon continues to develop innovative offerings like the Amazon Kindle and is the world’s largest online retailer with yearly U.S. sales of nearly $300 billion.

Jeff’s Legacy

Revolutionizing the way consumers think about and make purchases.

Jeff’s Philosophy

In business, what’s dangerous is to not evolve.”

Sheryl Sandberg, COO, Facebook

As an ambitious college student, Sheryl founded the Women in Economics and Government, a Harvard organization focused on promoting leadership roles for women. After graduating with honors, she served as a research assistant for World Bank where she assisted people in India affected by leprosy, AIDS and blindness. Returning stateside, Sheryl worked in the U.S. Treasury Department during the Clinton administration. 

In 2008, Sheryl joined Facebook as the chief operating officer, adding value to the platform by introducing corporate advertising and promotional opportunities and changing the way businesses view social media. Her focus on positioning Facebook as a small business advertising resource increased ad revenue by 38 percent in 2018 and lead the company from a $56 million loss to over $22 billion in profits during her tenure. Sheryl was recognized on the Forbes “Power Women” list for 2019.

Sheryl’s Legacy

Making technology more accessible and profitable. Empowering women in business.

Sheryl’s Philosophy

In the future there will be no female leaders. There will just be leaders.”

Stewart Butterfield, Founder, Slack

After creating an app that failed as a game but drew interest for its online chat capabilities, Stewart refocused the technology on workplace and business environments. In 2013, he introduced the Slack app and built a San Francisco-based team to expand the offering, attracting nearly 150,000 registered users during the first year. After raising $340 million in venture capital, Slack now has over 10 million daily users.

Named Inc. Magazine’s 2015 “Company of the Year,” Slack continues to be a leading workplace communications brand. Stewart was also recognized as the Wall Street Journal’s “Technology Innovator for 2015” and is a member of Time magazine’s “100 Most Influential People in the World, ” Vanity Fair’s “New Establishment” and Advertising Age’s “Creative 50.” Slack now has an estimated value of over $7 billion.

Stewart’s Legacy

Enhancing workplace communication and productivity.

Stewart’s Philosophy

The best measure of innovation is a change in human behavior.

 

How Can Technology Help Your Small Business?

Just like your small business, technology continues to evolve. By using innovation to your advantage, you’ll better serve your customers – and company – by efficiently delivering the best possible solutions.

 

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