In its March/April 2021 edition, Fast Company curated a list of the 50 most innovative companies in the world. The World’s 50 Most Innovative Companies address a society remade by COVID-19. Many of them pioneered business models that are now accelerating: Peloton and Zwift, for example, are riding at-home fitness in new directions. 

Advertising

01 Goodby Silverstein & Partners

Months before George Floyd’s killing, GS&P launched the “Not a Gun” campaign for the Courageous Conversation Global Foundation, which leads anti-bias training. The work publicized that Black Americans are three times more likely to be killed by police than whites, and asked people to sign a petition to encourage police de-escalation training. “If you have the best creatives in the world, it’d be a crime not to use their powers to try and make the world better,” says Goodby partner and chief creative officer Margaret Johnson. GS&P balanced this pro-social savvy with winning 2020 Super Bowl spots for Doritos, SodaStream, Pepsi, and Cheetos.

02 Wieden+Kennedy

The world’s top independent ad agency helped brands such as Ford, Nike, and new NBA sponsor Michelob Ultra navigate the pandemic; forged Ford’s unprecedented content partnership with Disney to announce the new Bronco; and picked up U.S. creative duties for McDonald’s, which, aiming for greater cultural relevance, launched the Travis Scott meal. W+K’s work is spicy—even without BBQ sauce.

03 TBWA\Worldwide

The agency’s most laudable work this year was for Apple, particularly a mini-sitcom ad called “The Whole Working-From-Home Thing,” which perfectly distilled the confusion, collaboration, and chaos of doing office work at home during a pandemic. TBWA also made an amazing five-hour spot-filmed in a single take-that was essentially a full tour through Russia’s iconic Hermitage museum.

04 Translation

By mixing ‘90s SportsCenter footage with a modern script for State Farm, Translation created the most talked-about commercial that aired during ESPN’s hit Michael Jordan docuseries, The Last Dance. In November, it helped Beats by Dre rediscover its creative heart with “You Love Me,” directed by Melina Matsoukas, written by Lena Waithe, and with music by Solange Knowles.

05 Observatory

In addition to savvy spots for Chipotle and Netflix (which teamed with Ben & Jerry’s to invent flavors for certain Netflix shows), Observatory worked with Nike to create the brand’s in-house entertainment division, Waffle Iron Entertainment, which has more than a dozen projects in development. With Ron Howard’s Imagine Entertainment, it sold the doc The Day Sports Stood Still to HBO.

06 Maximum Effort

Ryan Reynolds and Co. have churned out one entertaining, subversive ad after another for Aviation Gin and Mint Mobile, as well as Samsung and Netflix. The company began the year by turning Peloton’s lemon of a Christmas ad into viral lemonade for Aviation Gin, and ended it with a charming video hyping Reynolds and fellow actor Rob McElhenney’s acquisition of Welsh soccer team Wrexham AFC.

07 Highdive

This 30-person agency was the champ of the 2020 Super Bowl for persuading Bill Murray to relive Groundhog Day for Jeep (in a spot that was nominated for an Emmy) and Jason Momoa to appear muscle-less for Rocket Mortgage. Highdive, which saw revenue grow 35%, proved that major brands don’t need a big agency to create attention-getting work.

08 Uncommon London

The indie firm’s most notable work was a mental health campaign for broadcaster ITV, which paused the live airing of Britain’s Got Talent to have the hosts encourage the audience to check in with friends and family. Uncommon also created a candle line with fragrance brand Earl of East, featuring scents of things people miss, like a pub, a music festival, and the movies. Profits went to U.K. hospitality workers.

09 BBDO

For Dunkin’, BBDO New York established an innovative influencer partnership with the most-followed TikToker, Charli D’Amelio, to bring her favorite Dunkin’ order to the menu as “The Charli,” giving her millions of fans something to leave the house for. Tapping a big social star is the kind of obvious move many brands miss or botch. But this was as flawless as D’Amelio’s dance moves.

10 You & Mr Jones

Over the past year, the “brand tech” company has raised $260 million at a $1.36 billion valuation to reinvent the holding company. It acquired influencer marketing agency Collectively and is decentralizing content creation. Subsidiary Oliver helps others build in-house operations, including Unilever’s U-Studio, which increased its digital content production by 40% during the pandemic.

Architecture

01 MASS Design Group

For applying its hospital-design expertise to respond to peak patient loads

02 Studio Gang

For baking permanently affordable housing into the residential high-rise

03 Diller Scofidio + Renfro

A structure of bold origami-like folds, the new U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Museum in Colorado Springs was designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro with a simple but powerful aspiration: to be accessible to all who visit. That led to its spiraling interior layout, informed by input from Paralympians, which enables visitors of all abilities to wind their way through its galleries on a common path. “That simple gesture of connectivity was the biggest architectural idea of the project,” says DS+R partner Benjamin Gilmartin. DS+R’s architects extended the museum’s focus on accessibility into the neighboring community with a sculptural steel pedestrian bridge that was prefabricated and then hoisted into place. Though notable for its technology and fabrication, the metal scales on the building’s exterior offer no shortage of flash, either.

04 Turenscape

For balancing China’s hyperspeed urbanization with green “sponge cities”

05 LA Más

For pivoting community-focused design to community-centric aid in L.A.

06 Kurani

For designing projects for small groups in need and working to find sponsors

07 Forensic Architecture

For revealing hidden truths, such as the actual cause of the Beirut port explosion

08 SGA

For future-proofing life sciences buildings for any new scientific challenges

09 BlackSpace

For integrating Black voices into projects that affect their communities

10 Gensler

For developing planning tools to model buildings for a diverse world

Artificial Intelligence

01 Pachama

Protecting and replanting forests is a crucial part of the fight against climate change, as trees pull CO2 from the atmosphere. But tracking progress-and understanding how much carbon a forest is storing-is difficult. Pachama automates the process of counting and measuring trees, using lidar, satellite images, and artificial intelligence to measure changes in forest cover around the world. The platform monitors trees lost to illegal deforestation or fires, and as new trees grow, the AI system estimates the total biomass to understand the carbon benefit at any given time. 

02 Logically

Logically uses AI to scale up the fight against one of the biggest problems plaguing the internet: misinformation. In August 2020, it launched a browser extension and app in the U.S. that enables users to fact-check info as it arises on social media.

03 Arm

With two new chips for small devices and sensors, renowned semiconductor maker Arm continues to push “TinyML,” computationally intensive software that can operate entirely on small, low-power devices without needing access to the internet.

04 Cerebras Systems

Cerebras’s CS-1 computer, with its trillion-transistor processor, reduces the amount of time it takes to train and run AI models from months to minutes, and is being used to study black holes and nuclear fusion and to speed up drug discovery.

05 Algorithmic Justice League

As AI systems proliferate, the nonprofit AJL keeps them accountable for racial, gender, and other kinds of bias. The organization’s advocacy has helped convince local lawmakers to introduce bans on facial recognition technology.

06 Walmart

During the pandemic-induced online grocery rush, Walmart built “Customer Choice,” which predicts when items might be out of stock-and lets shoppers pick alternatives. Its debut helped Walmart nearly double e-commerce sales last spring.

07 OpenAI

The AI laboratory introduced the natural language model GPT-3 in May 2020, and it’s quickly become a revolutionary technology for its ability to mimic human speech. A surge of creative projects and startups have been built on top of its predictive tech.

08 Truera

Truera aims to take AI out of the black box, making it explainable and trustworthy by rooting out errors and bias. In 2020, large companies in banking and insurance embraced Truera to ensure that algorithms are being built fairly and equitably.

09 Adobe

In June 2020, Adobe launched Photoshop Camera, an app that brings the company’s expertise in computational photography to the viewfinder, automatically adjusting photos and letting users layer on filters and lenses in real time.

10 WekaIO

WekaIO’s product handles the intensity of modern data science in corporations, allowing companies to get the most out of GPU servers. The Weka File System enables IT teams to manage millions of files in the same directory for training AI models.

Augmented Reality & Virtual Reality

01 Snap

Imagine pointing your Snapchat camera at your feet to see how a pair of Gucci shoes would look on you, then simply pushing a button on the lens to make the purchase. Snap’s AR try-on technology, launched last June, allows you to do just that. With its new Camera Kit tool, Snap is also letting brands like MLB and Nike build Snapchat AR lenses into their own apps, for their communities to enjoy.

02 Supernatural

The immersive workout app Supernatural shows that when done well, fitness is VR’s best application. Debuting last spring, precisely when people wanted inspiring at-home workouts, Supernatural put users in beautiful environments while offering full-body workouts and expert, one-on-one coaching. The experience ($180 a year for Oculus Quest) also includes a wide range of music to choose from.

03 Valve

Valve, which makes VR headsets and games, wowed users with Half-Life: Alyx, the year’s biggest mixed-reality release. The game deftly updates the physics of earlier Half-Life games for VR: Players fight, explore, solve puzzles, and endure horrific environments in a quest to capture a superweapon belonging to an alien combine. Valve’s Index VR platform also features a slick new controller.

04 Qualcomm

The dominant provider of both 5G modems and mobile processing chips, Qualcomm, in 2020, released fresh silicon that unites 5G connectivity with mixed-reality image processing. This brings us closer to the dream of being able to do some image processing in the cloud. The company also launched a certification process so that smaller AR glasses makers could build their devices around those chips.

05 Nreal

Chinese startup Nreal was the first to show us what a true mixed-reality consumer product looks like-one that is more like a pair of glasses than a helmet and costs less than $500. After its splashy introduction at CES, in 2020, Nreal’s glasses debuted to acclaim in South Korea and Japan, where the 5G rollout is further along. Nreal partnered with Deutsche Telecom for its upcoming European launch.

06 Spatial

Spatial’s 3D collaboration environment lets participants from around the building (or around the world) represent themselves in a virtual work space via a realistic avatar. The experience is good enough to allow remote teams to work together, especially when developing physical products. And just in time for the pandemic, Spatial expanded to Oculus Quest and Quest 2 headsets and Nreal glasses.

07 Surgical Theater

Created by Israeli Air Force officers who thought surgeons could benefit from simulations in the same way as pilots, Surgical Theater’s VR software lets doctors visualize complex procedures. The company made national news last March when its software rendered a full, 360-degree VR depiction of the ravages of COVID-19 on the lungs of a real patient.

08 8th Wall

8th Wall developed a phonebased AR platform that supports light detection, surface and edge detection, and six degrees of freedom in object motion-able to run in a mobile browser, no app required. In 2020, Lego used it in Harry Potter sets that turned walls into magic portals, and Burger King teleported the “King” and rapper Lil Yachty into viewers’ homes during the MTV VMAs.

09 AppliedVR

The leader in VR content companies that specialize in helping people deal with pain and anxiety, AppliedVR’s software is developed by a team of psychologists, doctors, researchers, and patients, and is meant for use within clinical settings. This year, it found a new use case in providing relief to people who have been traumatized after contracting COVID-19.

10 Providences Films

Antoine Viviani and Pierre-Alain Giraud’s mixed-reality experience Solastalgia (named for the psychic trauma induced by climate disaster) was one of 2020’s buzziest VR shorts. It casts up to 12 people (wearing VR headsets) as visitors from the future on a destroyed planet. The darkly beautiful experience, with well-rendered backgrounds and custom effects, sends a clear message about our own planet.

Beauty

01 Credo Beauty

For requiring the 135-plus brands it carries to eliminate single-use, non-recyclable, and virgin plastic

02 Madison Reed

For stripping dangerous chemicals, high prices, and unfair pay from the haircolor industry

03 Mira Beauty

For filtering through BS beauty reviews with AI to create one tell-all review and shopping site

04 Kinship

For formulating clean skincare for Gen Z with input from its “Kinship Circle” of teenage testers

05 ManiMe

Jooyeon Song cofounded ManiMe in late 2019 after being disappointed by her nail-care options. Gel manicures were time-consuming and damaging, while stick-ons didn’t fit right or last long. Using her background in 3D modeling, Song devised a way to turn 2D smartphone photos of users’ hands into a 3D model, then customprint gel polish nail stickers that fit perfectly. ManiMe’s manicures range from $15 to $25, and work on both long and short nails. The company’s sales grew tenfold in 2020 as the pandemic shuttered salons. 

06 Prose

For scaling up its haircare brand to one of the world’s largest custom beauty operations

07 Sephora

For pledging to help Black-owned brands thrive by dedicating 15% of shelf space to them

08 Starface

For embracing (and showing off) blemishes with bright, star-shaped pimple patches

09 Lyma

For lasering away wrinkles, acne, rosacea, and more at home-safely and effectively

10 Opte

For 3D printing custom serum onto the skin, which both covers up blemishes and heals them

Biotech

01 Pfizer-BioNTech

When Pfizer partnered with German manufacturer BioNTech to tackle COVID-19, they delivered an FDA-authorized vaccine in record time, distributing millions of doses less than a year after receiving the genetic sequence of the virus. The first mRNA vaccine approved for any disease, Pfizer’s two-dose solution was authorized in December and was 95% effective in trials.

02 Moderna

A week after the Pfizer authorization, Moderna’s mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccine became the second of its kind to get FDA authorization. In trials, the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based company’s vaccine was shown to be over 94% effective after two doses. Moderna’s vaccine can be stored in a regular fridge or freezer, while Pfizer’s must be stored below -76 degrees Fahrenheit.

03 Biobot Analytics

“Wastewater epidemiology” startup Biobot Analytics uses genomic and chemical assays and data analytics to detect viruses, bacteria, and chemicals in a community’s sewage. The company started out testing municipal waste for opioid drug use, but when COVID-19 hit, it rapidly figured out how to detect the virus in sewage.

04 Oxford University-AstraZeneca

Unlike the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, which trigger antibodies by using mRNA to coax cells into producing a coronavirus spike protein, the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine uses DNA tucked inside a modified chimpanzee cold virus to trick cells into producing COVID-19 antigens. It was approved in the U.K. in December, and remains viable for six months with standard refrigeration.

05 Zymergen

California-based “biomanufacturer” Zymergen uses engineered microbes to create less-toxic insecticides and sustainable bioplastics. In 2020, with Japan’s Sumitomo Chemical, the company launched its first commercial product for the electronics industry, a superthin film used in flexible circuits, display touch sensors, and printable electronics.

06 Twist Bioscience

One of the leading makers of synthetic DNA for research and industrial use, Twist pivoted when COVID-19 hit, adapting its method for “writing” DNA on a silicon chip to produce more-delicate RNA instead. It quickly developed a synthetic “control” version of SARS-CoV-2, which has been used in numerous labs to develop and validate tests and antibodies for the virus, without risk of exposure.

07 GlaxoSmithKline

In the past two years, Glaxo-SmithKline has obtained a dozen new approvals for medicines and vaccines (with nine in 2020 alone). Showing its commitment to genetically validated drug development, GSK has partnered with pioneers in CRISPR and is working on nearly 30 new early-discovery programs for cancer and neurological, cardiovascular, and metabolic diseases with 23andMe.

08 Sherlock Biosciences

CRISPR-based diagnostics company Sherlock Biosciences developed the first FDA-authorized CRISPR-based SARS-CoV-2 test kit, which can return results in about an hour (versus traditional tests’ four-to-six-hour processing). In November, the company received a $5 million grant from the Gates Foundation for the development of a disposable, over-the-counter version of the test.

09 Atomwise

Atomwise uses AI for structure-based, small-molecule drug discovery, aiming to cut months or years out of the development cycle for partners such as Eli Lilly and BridgeBio Pharma. In April 2020, it expanded a strategic partnership with Hansoh Pharma, a leading Chinese company, to develop novel oncology drugs, and advanced a project with Bayer to develop new crop-protection products.

10 10x Genomics

10x Genomics makes hardware and software for single-cell analytics, helping researchers pinpoint cellular changes in specific types of tissue. In 2020, it had 250-plus patents, with 500 pending. A new “spatial molecular” profiling tool lets researchers see how cells are organized, to create “maps” of gene expression across a tumor or tissue sample-and develop highly targeted new treatments.

Branding

01 Avocados From Mexico

The industry trade group even created a #Homemadecinco social campaign for Cinco de Mayo that encouraged users to share recipes from a “guac generator,” which paired avocados with pantry items, generating 5.6 billion impressions.

02 / TikTok For helping brands-from Chipotle to E.l.f. Cosmetics-create cultural moments via hashtag challenges, video duets, and more

03 / Impossible Foods For giving its plant-based protein a meaty identity

04 / Patagonia For realizing that even the hang tags on its shorts can be a clever platform for climate advocacy

05 / Ford Motor Co. For bucking convention in launching its beloved Bronco legacy brand

06 / Converse For cultivating a new, diverse generation of all-stars, powered in part by KHive cool

07 / Yeti For celebrating adventure and art with compelling creative content

08 / New Balance For elevating unconventional superstars, from Kawhi Leonard to Coco Gauff

09 / Dr. Bronner’s For standing on its soapbox to lobby for psilocybin legalization

10 / Democratic Party of Wisconsin For making a (blue) splash with viral, virtual fundraising events that reunite beloved movie and TV series casts

Consumer Electronics

01 / Corning For soothing fumbled-phone anxiety with Gorilla Glass Victus and the transparent ceramic for iPhone 12

02 / Apple For staying a step ahead with its refreshed hardware lines

03 / Raspberry Pi Foundation For building a DIY computer platform inside a keyboard

04 Samsung Electronics

The global tech and appliance giant pleasingly went against the grain with its Galaxy Buds Live earbuds, which neither hang next to your earlobes nor fit inside your ear canal. By resting instead alongside the contour of your outer ear, the bean-shaped buds feel lighter and less obtrusive without sacrificing great sound. At the same time, Samsung continues to push a new form factor in foldable smartphones-despite early snickers and stumbles-with the Galaxy Z Fold 2, with its sturdier hinge, a larger outer screen, and more durable display glass.

05 / Aira For fixing wireless charging’s magic-spot problem

06 / Tempo For bringing personal weight training home in a private way

07 / AMD For delivering stellar battery life and solid gaming performance on even mid-range laptop PCs with its Ryzen 4000 mobile processors

08 / Google For rethinking how streaming video should work with Chromecast with Google TV

09 / Wyze Labs For expanding the market for connected gadgets with jawdropping prices and subscriptions

10 / PopSockets For making its hit phone accessory into a product ecosystem

Corporate Social Responsibility

7

01 Microsoft

For setting incredibly ambitious short- and long-term carbon-neutrality goals

02 Grove Collaborative

For committing to eliminate plastic from its products, completely

03 Capital One

For staging virtual summer coding camps to foster tech curiosity in more kids

04 Logitech

The consumer electronics design company has pledged “total carbon transparency,” committing to label its products with a footprint number. It’s shooting for those numbers–along with universally readable symbols-to be printed across its portfolio by 2025, allowing customers to make informed decisions and holding itself accountable.

05 Clio

For increasing access to free legal expertise during the pandemic

06 Verizon

For bridging the “homework gap,” allowing low-income kids home internet

07 Bitwise Industries

For applying its technical know-how to provide people with food and resources

08 AmBev

For devising creative pandemic aid and initiatives with materials it already uses

09 Lackawanna College

For easing the transition, financially and culturally, from high school to college

10 Twisted X

For crafting comfy shoes out of rice husks, algae, cork, and molasses

Data Science

01 / Aclima For offering local governments and advocacy groups a deeper understanding of air quality-one block at a time

02 / Snowflake For letting businesses unlock the power of data, no matter what industry they’re in

03 / LeapAnalysis For putting information to work, right where it already resides, and speeding up analysis efforts for vital industries

04 / Theator For being an invaluable coach and offering personalized feedback for one of the world’s toughest jobs: surgery

05 / Watchworthy For providing streaming-video recommendation algorithms across more than 200 services

06 / Alteryx For creating the tools that can turn any employee into a data-science superhero

07 / Kinsa For harnessing the data of its smart thermometers to map COVID-19 hot spots for city and state officials

08 / GeoSure For using a multitude of data points to evaluate safety across the world

09 / Lytx For keeping a watchful eye on fleet drivers

10 / Best Friends Animal Society For helping dogs and cats find their forever homes

Education

01 Outschool

Outschool, founded in 2015, is a marketplace for virtual extracurriculars, such as ukulele lessons and food science experiments, for students ages 3 to 18. For working parents, those activities have become a pandemic lifeline: Outschool sign-ups went from 80,000 to 1.6 million between March and October; lessons cost as little as $5, from one-offs to weekly sessions.

02 Ruangguru

Last March, less than a week after Indonesia closed schools for its 50 million-plus students, Jakartabased edtech startup Ruangguru launched a free 18-channel, livestreamed online school. It rocketed to the top of the app store charts, thanks to the company’s well-honed approach to engaging kids: teachers with on-screen expertise, fun animations, careful storyboarding, and interactive polls. Indonesian student achievement has lagged compared to its Asian neighbors, but Ruangguru aims to prevent the pandemic from widening those gaps. “It’s our responsibility to always innovate,” says cofounder and CEO Adamas Belva Syah Devara.

03 Skillshare

One of the first platforms for video-based lessons, Skillshare has hit its stride as a learning community for more than 12 million users, 3 million of whom joined in the past year. During the pandemic, subscribers have been choosing from among 30,000 classes on subjects such as watercolor painting and photography, plus a new slate of live classes, and interest from enterprise customers has quadrupled.

04 Tonies

Popular in Europe, the Toniebox is an alternative to Alexa for parents looking for audio storytelling without an e-commerce link. Germany-based Tonies sells its brightly colored Toniebox smart speakers alongside collectible action figures, encouraging listeners ages 3 and older to play imaginatively. To date, the company has sold 1.7 million Tonieboxes; it launched in the U.S. last year.

05 edX

The online class pioneer launched 11 “MicroBachelors” degree programs last year, enrolling 180,000 students. Designed to serve as an on-ramp for those considering a bachelor’s degree but wary of the time and expense, MicroBachelor students can earn transferable credits and work their way toward credentials for less than a third of the cost of a traditional undergraduate program.

06 4.0

For teachers, New Orleans-based 4.0 is both a community and an incubator for entrepreneurial ideas. 4.0’s fellowships provide cash and coaching, giving educators tools to build solutions to challenges they see in their classrooms. 4.0 itself also runs experiments; over the past year, it has launched a basic income micro-pilot for high school seniors and created an angel syndicate of Black investors.

07 Homer

When school shutdowns left parents grasping for solutions, learning app Homer stepped into the void. Founded in 2013, the company takes a research-based approach to building reading skills in children ages 2 to 8–the group that has struggled most with the transition to virtual learning. Subscriptions are growing; 75% of users participate in five lessons per day.

08 Virti

This U.K.-based startup uses immersive AR/VR scenarios to train healthcare professionals to manage infrequent, high-risk events—a mission that COVID-19 made all the more urgent. Virti began offering training on newly vital tasks, such as safely donning and removing PPE, and is now working with the U.K.’s National Health Service as well as U.S. hospitals in Texas and California.

09 Packback

Packback is a tool for facilitating online discussions that serves 600,000 university students. When they participate in online course forums, students get peer feedback on their critical thinking. (Packback uses the pedagogical framework Bloom’s Taxonomy as the basis for its AI engine.) Initial research suggests that Packback participants are more likely to cite sources in their posts and earn higher grades.

10 Encantos

Encantos creates bilingual learning experiences for kids ages 2 to 12, with a focus on preschoolers. Its awardwinning videos are available on YouTube, and its newly launched subscription app creates learning pathways for literacy and life skills. Encantos features stories about kids like Issa, who is Black and Indian, and learns about math through culinary adventures.

Enterprise

01 / Twilio For facilitating face-to-face exchanges during an era of social distancing and global lockdown

02 / Cloudflare For providing free security during an extremely insecure year

03 / Elastic For making search faster and safer

04 / Honeywell For advancing the state of quantum computing

05 / Microsoft For democratizing at scale the ability of non-coders to build apps

06 / Rubicon For improving small-business waste management through data analytics

07 / Narrativ

Li Haslett Chen was working at a fashion brand when she realized that authentic reviews showcasing both pros and cons consistently outperform ads in driving sales. “Honesty really does pay,” she says. She founded Narrativ in 2015 to enable brands and retailers to automatically identify and link to independently produced online reviews of their products, paying reviewers who opt in a percentage of any sales driven by their link. Last year, Narrativ won a patent on its dynamic links technology and tripled its revenue while adding new clients, including Samsung, Best Buy, and Sephora.

08 / Ansys For allowing engineers to play around with their ideas

09 / SirionLabs For helping companies meet their contractual obligations

10 / Fairmarkit For better enabling companies to find diverse and sustainable suppliers

Finance

01 / Marqeta For creating the toolbox for virtual credit cards, for Chase, Apple, Uber, and more

02 / Fast For building the express checkout lane for ecommerce sites

03 / Varo Money For becoming the first digital bank to actually get a fullservice charter

04 / Tally For helping consumers pay off their debt faster via its automated app

05 Sequoia Capital

In a single week in September, Sequoia had three portfolio companies go public: Snowflake, Unity, and SumoLogic. In December, two more long-term bets paid off, with the DoorDash and Airbnb IPOs. Victories like these inspired moves to replicate the successes: Sequoia has created courses, workshops, and even a founder network for seasoned leaders to mentor earlier-stage startups. Why simply try to pick winners, when you can play a central role in shaping them? This is how Sequoia gets stronger.

06 / Apex Clearing For enabling the mobile investing revolution-notably, fractional share trading

07 / Dv01 For soothing lending markets via its transparent data analytics on spending

08 / AngelList Venture For giving VCs their own agile platform to raise funds continuously and publicly

09 / AZA For facilitating intra-Africa trade with its continent-spanning currency market

10 / Halo Investing For democratizing defined outcome investing for mass-market savers, not just millionaires

Gaming

01-02 Microsoft and Sony Interactive Entertainment

On the surface, Sony and Microsoft seem to be gaming doppelgangers: Both released high-profile new consoles and a slew of hit titles in 2020. But their approach to the $150 billion gaming market is markedly different. Here’s a look.

03 Nvidia

Nvidia’s RTX 30 series graphics chips close the quality gap between games and movies by combining traditional graphics processing with ray tracing, while an AIdedicated processing core finds shortcuts to create game-appropriate speeds.

04 Nintendo

The wholesome, easygoing Animal Crossing was exactly the kind of virtual escape millennials and kids alike were looking for last year. The game’s social elements provided a way for real-life friends to hang out with one another.

05 Dapper Labs

The game developer behind CryptoKitties launched NBA Top Shot, a blockchain-based collectibles platform, in 2020, putting a cryptofriendly twist on trading cards and memorabilia.

06 Fnatic

While its players win championships, this esports organization is building a broader brand via a line of performance equipment (keyboards, mice, chairs) and collaborations on apparel and accessories with partners such as Gucci.

07 FaZe Clan

This sprawling collective of gamers is elevating video games into pop culture by streaming and creating shortform videos about their lives. They’re also pushing into movies, with the release of last fall’s Crimson.

08 Herman Miller

The company’s first official gaming chair, the Herman Miller x Logitech G Embody, is based upon the company’s Embody model—originally built for office workers. It’s been revamped and updated to reduce pressure on sit bones.

09 Hollow Ponds

The U.K.-based developer’s I Am Dead, an offbeat game where you play as the ghost of a deceased museum curator in a quirky seaside town, offers players a calming and therapeutic outlet.

10 Drest

In this new mobile game, players get a budget, a photoshoot challenge, and a virtual fashion closet for their models that includes real pieces from top designers. They can even click through to Farfetch to buy.

Lanre is a Digital Strategy Specialist with 8+ years experience in System Administration, Cloud Computing, and Digital Marketing. He is an avid reader, marathon runner(10+), lifelong learner, and loves blogging about self-improvement and personal re-invention. Contact E-mail: lanre.dahunsi@gmail.com

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