Best technology innovation / achievement:
Earthmine is building a geospatial platform that will provide a database of in-depth 3D data into Web map applications, so that you can drive virtually around major metropolitan areas – it lets you do things like measure sizes of buildings, tag points of interests and get birds eye views of favorite places.
Best bootstrapped start-up
Techmeme constantly aggregates top tech-news stories from across the web, and displays them in a running stream on its site, with the most popular story of the moment at the top of the page. Beneath each story on the site, you can see the most interesting related commentary from other sources. Since it launched, Techmeme has gotten tech reporters and bloggers around the world addicted. Some, like myself, check it more than once, every waking hour.
Best new gadget / device
Apple’s iPhone is most beautifully designed phone ever, with a large screen that lets you easily browse mobile web pages. It is credited with alerting Americans to the fact that mobile internet usage is a fun and even useful experience to have. Some call it the Jesus Phone. Enough said.
Best business model
Zazzle gives users a way to personalize products like apparel, posters, U.S. Postage and greeting cards online, and then sell them. It’s model genius is using online affiliate stores.
SmugMug is an online photo sharing site, with the features you’d expect with a modern photo site, including tagging and integration with maps and other bells and whistles. But setting it apart from literally hundreds of other photo sites is its elegant design.
Best enterprise start-up
Zoho is a prolific creator of business-focused software applications, including word processing, spreadsheets, and much, much more.
Best consumer start-up
Meebo lets you IM with people on AOL, GTalk, MSN and Yahoo, all from its own site. It introduced a new feature last May that lets you embed a Meebo group chat on sites across the web. Traffic has ballooned as a result. While the company’s home site has seven million monthly users, Meebo room widgets have nearly 20 million.
Best mobile start-up
Twitter has caught fire in early-adopter circles around the world as the way to constantly see what your friends are up to. You’re given 140 text characters to answer the question “what are you doing” Note: I’ve been scratching my head about the point of Twitter for many months. The past few weeks, though, I started following what others were saying on it, posting my own messages — and all of a sudden, I’m addicted. You can follow my often-not-business-focused Twitter account here.
Best international start-up
Netvibes is a personalized web pages have proven to be popular with many, many people, and Netvibes has led the way. It lets you add RSS feeds from news sites, the latest emails from your emails accounts, updates from your calendar and much more.
Best user-generated content
Digg is the social news site everyone has heard of. The site lets anyone contribute links to articles and other information around the web, then every so-called Digger gets to vote on it. As many web publishers have discovered, if your story gets popular on Digg, the ensuing traffic (of mostly, it seems, geeky teenage guys) might take down your site.
Best video site
Hulu is an online video site that features professionally produced videos from major broadcasters. Before it launched this fall, most of us in Silicon Valley were skeptical that it could get off the ground in the face of competition from YouTube and the many other online video sites out there. Its clean interface — and more importantly, great videos — have won a great many fans.
Best clean tech start-up
Tesla Motors has been developing some of the most exciting electric cars around. Especially the Roadster, that can go from 0 mph to 60 mph in about 5 seconds
Best use of viral marketing
StumbleUpon directs you to sites that you’re likely interested in based on what other people have chosen who have shown similar tastes to you in the past.
Best time sink site
Kongregate. Online gaming is big, gaining millions of fans of all ages and both genders — and Kongregate is part of that bigness. The site features games from independent developers, and lets anybody play games for free, and vote on them.
Most likely to make the world a better place
DonorsChoose.org was pioneered by teachers at a Bronx public high school frustrated by the lack of materials. They connected teachers online with individuals want to donate.
Most likely to succeed
WordPress wasn’t the first blogging platform, but it charged onto the scene by letting anybody download and install an open-source version of its code. It has since added premium features, like a great spam filter, and is growing fast. See below for more.
Best start-up founder
Mark Zuckerberg. The 23 year old entrepreneur started a social network for college campuses back when he was a sophomore at Harvard — and you know the rest of the story. Zuckerberg and Co. have redefined what social networking is. Many other social networks started and got big before Facebook. But this company understands the secret sauce of human behavior. It has managed to create a site where people use their real names and pictures to engage in social interaction. See below for more.
Best start-up CEO
Toni Schneider is a successful entrepreneur as well as investor at True Ventures, Schneider has taken WordPress from a fast-growing open-source project to a large, profitable and still-growing business — that’s still focused on making blogging something anybody can do for free.
Best new start-up of 2007
iMedix hopes to revolutionize the U.S. medical system by tapping the bottom-up information-sharing capabilities of the iMedix draws users into a community where they can share information about their medical conditions. It offers both health-related search and patient-community building.
Facebook — see “Best start-up Founder.” The social network is rabidly popular with its core audience of college students in the US, and has gone on to win the hearts of high school students, office workers and other people of all ages, around the world.
Here’s an abbreviated list of, dare I say it, revolutionary new features the company has introduced: Closed networks of only people who are physically near you, news feeds, and a developer platform so third parties can run their applications within and make money from them. Other social networks have since basically copied the news feed and application concept.
VB's research team is studying web-personalization... Chime in here, and we’ll share the results.