Welcome to our annual guide to the businesses that matter most, the ones whose innovations are having an impact across their industries and our culture. Click a company name to view the entry, or determine your own ranking of the top four companies using a series of quizzes, games, and brainteasers.

  1. 1

    Apple

    For walking the talk

  2. 2

    Facebook

    For 800 million reasons to share

  3. 3

    Google

    For expanding its hit lineup

  4. 4

    Amazon

    For playing the long game

  5. 5

    Square

    For making magic out of the mercantile

  6. 6

    Twitter

    For amplifying the global dialogue

  7. 7

    Occupy Movement

    For embodying all the traits that make a Fast Company

  8. 8

    Tencent

    For fueling China’s Internet boom—and boldly moving West

  9. 9

    Life Technologies

    For speeding up genetic sequencing

  10. 10

    SolarCity

    For brightening up the sun-power business

  11. 11

    HBO

    For being the only TV network to delight with digital

  12. 12

    Southern New Hampshire University

    For relentlessly reinventing higher ed, online and off

  13. 13

    Tesla Motors

    For boosting the art and technology of electric vehicles

  14. 14

    Patagonia

    For selling more by encouraging customers to buy less

  15. 15

    NFL

    For stoking insatiable, year-round demand for professional football

  16. 16

    National Marrow Donor Program

    For matching technology with critical transplant needs

  17. 17

    Greenbox

    For inventing the next-generation Chinese fashion brand

  18. 18

    Jawbone

    For rocking the mobile lifestyle

  19. 19

    Airbnb

    For turning spare rooms into the world’s hottest hotel chain

  20. 20

    72andSunny

    For winning at the intersection of Hollywood and Madison Avenue

  21. 21

    Siemens AG

    For its R&D ambitions in energy, transportation, and health care

  22. 22

    Dropbox

    For transforming file storage into a very big business

  23. 23

    Kiva Systems

    For turning squat robots into e-commerce giants

  24. 24

    Starbucks

    For infusing a steady stream of new ideas to revive its business

  25. 25

    Genentech

    For making targeted, genetics-based cancer therapies

  26. 26

    LegalZoom

    For bringing tech and accessibility to the hidebound legal industry

  27. 27

    Tapjoy

    For driving advertiser engagement in a million-app world

  28. 28

    Polyvore

    For turning everyone into a fashion editor

  29. 29

    Red Bull Media House

    For showing what it really means to transform yourself into a media brand

  30. 30

    LinkedIn

    For making itself useful even when you’re not job searching

  31. 31

    Liquid Robotics

    For going deep in ocean monitoring

  32. 32

    Gogo

    For delivering first-class entertainment to the coach-bound masses

  33. 33

    Bug Agentes Biológicos

    For breeding a natural alternative to harmful agricultural pesticides

  34. 34

    Chipotle

    For exploding all the rules of fast food

  35. 35

    James Corner Field Operations

    For creating intimate green spaces out of industrial urban blight

  36. 36

    Narayana Hrudayalaya Hospitals

    For bringing medical care to the masses

  37. 37

    Recyclebank

    For making eco-friendly behavior a big game

  38. 38

    UPS

    For solving its customers’ number-one pet peeve

  39. 39

    Networked Insights

    For using real-time social data to make better products and advertising

  40. 40

    Chobani

    For becoming a dairy superstar

  41. 41

    Kickstarter

    For connecting creatives with fans to raise funds

  42. 42

    SoundCloud

    For giving the Internet a voice

  43. 43

    PayPal

    For recharging the sale

  44. 44

    Berg

    For wildly imagining the marriage of the digital and physical worlds

  45. 45

    Boo-box

    For pioneering social-media advertising in Latin America

  46. 46

    Amyris

    For driving biofuels into the mainstream

  47. 47

    Knewton

    For teaching education a thing or two

  48. 48

    RedBus

    For taking the wheel of the $2.5 billion Indian bus-travel industry

  49. 49

    OpenSky

    For creating a social, celebrity-powered shopping experience

  50. 50

    Y Combinator

    For building the next great Silicon Valley mafia

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