Sabeer Bhatia, 30
Sabeer Bhatia arrived in the United States from Bangalore at 19; now he’s a Web gazillionaire. With friend and co-worker Jack Smith, Bhatia founded Hotmail, the first free Web-based e-mail service. This concept was a radical departure from the dial-up services that required a paid account. Hotmail, in contrast, could be accessed via a Web browser from any computer connected to the Net. The idea found a market niche. Make that a cavern: After two and a half years, Hotmail had 25 million active e-mail accounts; now there are more than 50 million.
After emigrating from India, Bhatia studied at Caltech as an undergrad. While attending graduate school at Stanford, he was inspired by high-tech successes like Steve Jobs and Scott McNealy. In August 1995,Bhatia and Smith began seeking capital for "JavaSoft," a Net-based personal database. The reception was lukewarm, but at the same time they were shopping Hotmail, which proved to be a more dynamic prospect. Venture capital firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson invested $300,000, and Hotmail launched on July 4, 1996. Just 18 months later, Microsoft bought the company for $400 million worth of Microsoft stock.
For the passionate innovator, a success like that is just a prelude. Bhatia is now president and CEO of Arzoo, an e-commerce startup that intends to offer a set of integrated e-commerce tools, such as a "shopping cart" that users will be able to push down the digital aisles from site to site.