THE WORLD’S MOST INNOVATIVE COMPANIES 2014

If you Google the phrase «faith-based businesses,» the results point to companies that pursue a religious agenda. But there’s another kind of faith in business: the belief that a product or service can radically remake an industry, change consumer habits, challenge economic assumptions. Proof for such innovative leaps is thin, payoffs are long in coming (if they come at all), and doubting Thomases abound. Today, pundits fret about an innovation bubble. Some overvalued companies and overhyped inventions will eventually tumble and money will be lost. Yet breakthrough progress often requires wide-eyed hope.

In this special report on the World’s Most Innovative Companies, there are plenty of examples to make you a believer («I’ve never been more excited about the possibilities ahead of us,» Nike CEO Mark Parker recently told me). Our staff has spent more than six months gathering and analyzing data. To generate our list of the 50 Most Innovative Companies–and the accompanying top 10 companies in various sectors–we assessed thousands of enterprises. From all that work, I’ve pulled out 12 rising trends. Risk of failure and collapse are always with us. But the culture of innovation across the globe is more robust than ever. We think that’s worth celebrating.THE WORLD’S MOST INNOVATIVE COMPANIES 2014

THE WORLD’S MOST INNOVATIVE COMPANIES 2014: OUR ANNUAL GUIDE TO THE BUSINESSES THAT MATTER MOST

  • GOOGLE

    FOR BECOMING A $350 BILLION GIANT THAT LETS LOOSE ALMOST TOO MANY INNOVATIONS AND MILESTONES TO COUNT.

  • BLOOMBERG PHILANTHROPIES

    FOR DOING GOOD, METHODICALLY.

  • XIAOMI

    FOR REINVENTING THE SMARTPHONE BUSINESS MODEL IN THE WORLD’S LARGEST MOBILE MARKET.

  • DROPBOX

    FOR BECOMING THE EVERYTHING CLOUD.

  • NETFLIX

    FOR CREATING GREAT TV IN A NEW CONTEXT, USING AN ALREADY-PROVEN MODEL.

  • AIRBNB

    FOR MAKING THE MOST OF ITS HOSTS.

  • NIKE

    FOR SETTING A SUSTAINABLE EXAMPLE.

  • ZIPDIAL

    FOR TURNING A CONSUMER CHEAT INTO AN ASSET.

  • DONORSCHOOSE.ORG

    FOR SETTING ITS SIGHTS ON EDUCATION REFORM.

  • YELP

    FOR SEALING THE DEAL WITH ITS USERS.

  • DODGE

    FOR BEING PART OF THE CONVERSATION, NO MATTER WHAT.

  • SXSW

    FOR TRANSFORMING THE AUSTIN MULTIMEDIA CONFAB INTO A STATE OF MIND.

  • TWITTER

    FOR AGAIN PROVING THE POWER OF BREVITY, THIS TIME WITH VIDEO.

  • APPLE

    FOR PUTTING ITS FINGER ON THE PULSE.

  • MICHAEL KORS

    FOR WINNING TWO FASHION RACES AT ONCE.

  • MEDIVATION

    FOR FINDING THE VALUE OF TREATMENTS THAT OTHERS IGNORED.

  • WARBY PARKER

    FOR BEING THE WARBY PARKER OF WARBY PARKERS.

  • AMAZON

    FOR SINGLE-HANDEDLY TRANSFORMING THE RETAIL LANDSCAPE.

  • SHAZAM

    FOR PLUNGING INTO THE ALWAYS-ON FEATURE FUTURE.

  • BOX

    FOR SIMPLIFYING THE COMPLEX.

  • T-MOBILE

    FOR BEING THE UN-CARRIER.

  • TESLA MOTORS

    FOR CREATING ITS OWN ROAD.

  • WME

    FOR REIMAGINING WHAT A TALENT AGENCY CAN BE.

  • WATER-GEN

    FOR CREATING WATER WHERE SOLDIERS NEED IT MOST.

  • UNIVERSAL IDENTIFICATION AUTHORITY OF INDIA

    FOR UPROOTING CORRUPTION WITH A 12-DIGIT CODE.

  • FITBIT

    FOR OUTRUNNING REAL (AND RUMORED) RIVALS IN WEARABLE TECH.

  • ROSE STUDIO

    FOR REVIVING THE ART OF CHINESE EMBROIDERY AND CRAFTSMANSHIP.

  • NISISS

    FOR STAKING OUT ASPIRATIONAL BUYERS IN CHINA’S EMERGING HOT SPOTS.

  • INSTITUTE SARITA

    FOR MINDING THE MANNERS OF CHINESE BUSINESS.

  • WILDCHINA

    FOR MAKING REMOTE CORNERS OF CHINA ACCESSIBLE.

  • MARY CHING

    FOR REMIXING CHINESE OPULENCE, BRITISH ECCENTRICITY, AND ITALIAN LEATHER INTO GLOBAL LUXURY.

  • SHUTTERSTOCK

    FOR OPENING THE APERTURE ON INNOVATION

  • GITHUB

    FOR BRINGING OPEN-SOURCE TACTICS TO TRADITIONAL BUSINESS.

  • GE

    FOR MAKING THE «INTERNET OF THINGS» REAL.

  • SQUARE

    FOR DESIGNING MOBILE PAYMENTS SO SIMPLE, THEY’RE INVISIBLE.

  • STATS

    FOR TURNING JOCKS INTO NERDS.

  • LEVI STRAUSS

    FOR REDUCING, REUSING, AND RECYCLING.

  • JOHNNIE WALKER

    FOR THINKING GLOBALLY, BUT PULLING HEARTSTRINGS LOCALLY.

  • LUVO

    FOR BRINGING ACTUAL HEALTH FOOD TO THE TV DINNER.

  • SHOP ARCHITECTS

    A BAND OF SEVEN IS DRAFTING A DIFFERENT ARCHITECTURE FIRM–ONE THAT VALUES MORE THAN FANCY BLUEPRINTS OR LUCRATIVE SCUT WORK.

  • THE LEGASPI COMPANY

    FOR REBUILDING MALLS TO MEET CULTURAL NEEDS.

  • XL HYBRIDS

    FOR SIPHONING GAS-GUZZLERS OFF THE ROAD.

  • FLIPBOARD

    FOR AGGREGATING CONTENT AND PASSING THE PROFITS BACK.

  • BGI

    FOR MAKING DNA SEQUENCING MASS-MARKET.

  • IHUB

    FOR CONNECTING, AMPLIFYING, AND ACCELERATING AFRICA’S TECH COMMUNITY.

  • GOPRO

    FOR LETTING EVERYONE IN ON THE EXTREME-SPORTS VIDEO ACTION.

  • GOLDIEBLOX

    FOR KICK-STARTING A MOVEMENT IN GIRLS’ TOYS.

  • BRASKEM

    FOR TAKING THE OIL OUT OF PLASTIC.

  • WHATSAPP

    FOR MASSIVELY DISRUPTING, WHILE ALSO SETTING UP A SMART BUSINESS MODEL

  • AGLOCAL

    FOR CREATING THE NEXT-GENERATION MEAT MARKET.

  • BRIGHTFARMS

    FOR PULLING GAS-BELCHING 18-WHEELERS OFF THE ROAD.

  • FARMLAND LP

    FOR GOBBLING UP LAND FOR MORE SUSTAINABLE CROPS.

  • BEYOND MEAT

    FOR REROUTING AGRICULTURE’S ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT.

  • HARVEST POWER

    FOR REALIZING THE AWESOME MIGHT OF FOOD WASTE.

  • IROBOT

    FOR BUILDING THE BOTS THAT LIVE AMONG US.

  • INKLING

    FOR REWRITING THE BOOK ON E-BOOKS.

  • OTG MANAGEMENT

    FOR CREATING AN OASIS IN THE AIRPORT.

  • PHILO

    FOR BRINGING HASSLE-FREE TV TO THE WEB.

  • NICE SYSTEMS

    FOR MAKING APPS SMARTER AND MORE SYMPATHETIC.

  • ALTA BICYCLE SHARE

    FOR PEDAL-POWERING URBAN TRANSPORTATION NETWORKS.

  • PHILIPS

    FOR LEARNING EIGHT SURPRISING LESSONS IN INNOVATION FROM A 50-YEAR EXPLORATION OF LEDS.

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