Published Jan 1, 2007 8:00 AM

17. Inside Jobs

What: Venture capital

Who: Investors William Draper, Eugene Kleiner, Tom Perkins, Michael Markkula, Arthur Rock, Don Valentine, and many others

Impact: Money from outside investors has launched thousands of companies ranging from technology to software to health care. It caused a dot-com boom and helped lift the tech sector up from the dot-com bust. In the third quarter of 2006, nearly 800 venture capital deals worth $6.2 billion occurred, according to Pricewaterhouse-Coopers. Venture capital took root in Northern California, thanks to a web of connections among key players including investor William H. Draper Jr.; venture capitalist Don Valentine; scientist Eugene Kleiner and former Hewlett-Packard manager Tom Perkins, co-founders of legendary Silicon Valley venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins; venture capitalist Arthur Rock; and Michael Markkula, investor and co-founder of Apple Computer.

Eureka moment: The launch of Fairchild Semiconductor Corp. in 1959, which begat the silicon companies and investment firms that changed the world in the past 25 years. "If there hadn't been that deal, the [men] would have gone their separate ways and there wouldn't have been any silicon in Silicon Valley," said Rock in 2002.

— Elizabeth Corcoran