Richard Barton, 34
Internet and Web
In 1994, Richard Barton devised a plan to revolutionize the travel industry. He convinced Bill Gates, his boss, that online travel planning had a future and in 1996 launched Expedia. In 1999,Barton spun the company off from Microsoft and has since grown it into a thriving dot com. Today the site receives queries from 15 million people a month. In February, USA Networks—which owns Ticketmaster and Citysearch—acquired majority interest in Expedia for more than $1.3 billion. Barton, who helped develop the MS- DOS 5.0 and Windows 95 operating systems, says, “Our competitive differential is all about technology. ”Under his leadership as chief executive officer, Expedia developed an award-winning algorithm that compares prices on billions of flight combinations and allows customers to find and buy the lowest fares. Barton now wants to make the customers’ transactions even easier and more secure while customizing services to each person’s buying habits. “Helping people take a trip is fundamental to our long-term dream, ”he says.