1222_forbes-cover-011816-30-under-30-gate_1200x538From an initial screening list of more than 15,000 of the best of the best, the 600 women and men featured in the Forbes fifth annual 30 Under 30 are America’s most important young entrepreneurs, creative leaders and brightest stars. Name a business sector, social issue or essential institution, they are taking it on and changing the rules of the game– or creating entirely new playbooks.
In the past, youth was a handicap to professional success. Getting older meant more resources, more knowledge, more money. No more. Those who grew up in the tech age have way bigger ambitions — perfectly suited to the dynamic, entrepreneurial and impatient digital world they grew up in. If you want to change the world, being under 30 is now an advantage.
Some names on this year’s list you already know: NBA champ Stephen Curry, Star Wars: The Force Awakens leading man John Boyega, plus-sized supermodel Ashley Graham, Canadian crooner Shawn Mendes and YouTube gamer CaptainSparklez (Jordan Maron). Others are superstars in their own realms. Clara Sieg is Revolution Ventures youngest and only female partner. Timothy Hwang, cofounder of FiscalNote, takes a “Moneyball” approach to forecasting pending legislation, and Spire Global’s Jeroen Cappaert sends nano-satellites into space to listen to the world’s oceans in order to track shipping, weather — and pirates.

After five years, our record for picking tomorrow’s superstars can be judged by the 2016 cover. It’s a portfolio of influential past alumni, including Datto founder Austin McChord, who last year backed his way up to a unicorn valuation (and revealed that his company was providing data protection to portions of Hillary Clinton’s private email server), and Michelle Phan, who raised $100 million in September for ipsy, her 1.5 million subscriber-strong beauty business. Two years after the Collison brothers, John and Patrick, made the U30 list, they’re now on top of a $5 billion mobile payment juggernaut, and Alex Morgan won the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup as forward for U.S. Women’s National Team.
SEE THE FULL LIST: FORBES 30 Under 30 Class of 2016
The process to make the list is intense. We look at thousands of candidates from 20 different categories and consider their game-changing quotient along various dimensions, such as impact, use of cutting edge technology or creativity, scalability or adaptability, number of people reached and dollars raised/generated. There are no repeats from years past.

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An army of Forbes reporters is assigned to each category to field nominations from social media and our online nomination form (check out 30-under-30-nominations) as well as personal contacts and gumshoe work. They research candidates and vet the finalists with a panel of expert judges in the field — among them billionaires Steve Balmer, Tory Burch, Robert Smith and Laurene Powell Jobs; personalities Sarah Jessica Parker, Jessica Alba and Carmelo Anthony; founders Chris Sacca and Wendy Kopp; and 2015 MacArthur Grant winner Ta-Nehisi Coates. This year we also included a dozen past Under30s as judges, including Global Citizen’s Hugh Evans and Tracy Britt, Warren Buffett’s protege.
The Class of 2016 By The Numbers*:
15,000+: Nominations
600: Winners
64%: Want to ‘Change the world’

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