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The Next Net 25 Companies

Driven by ubiquitous broadband, cheap hardware, and open-source software, the Web is mutating into a radically different thing than it has been. And that is leading to the creation of entirely new kinds of companies, new business models, and oceans of new opportunity.

Business 2.0 magazine identify 25 companies, in five Next Net categories, whose approaches help illuminate where the Web is headed and where the opportunities lie. Most are startups, a lot of them with less than 10 full-time employees.

Although few of these companies are currently making money, and it’s a given that many will fail, the article’s authors argue that it is likely that somewhere within this group lurks the next Google or Microsoft or Yahoo — or at least something that those giants will soon pay a pretty penny to have.

The article also sketches four major characteristics of the Next Net:

* The Next Net will encompass all digital devices, from PC to cell phone to television. Its defining characteristics include the ability to interact instantaneously with any of the more than 1 billion Web users across the globe.
* The Next Net is deeply collaborative: People from across the planet can work together on the same task, and products or tools can be rapidly tweaked and improved by the collective wisdom of the entire online world.
* The new era is also creating a realm of endless mix and match: Anyone with a browser can access vast stores of information, mash it up, and serve it in new ways, to a few people or a few hundred million.
* Most striking, the Next Net creates endless possibilities for entrepreneurs and established players alike to take advantage of the Web’s new power. They are building on the success of early standard-bearers — Flickr, MySpace, Wikipedia — but also moving beyond those pioneers in creative and fascinating ways.