Co-founder and CEO, Baidu.com
Why he matters: Since founding Baidu.com, his Chinese-language search engine, in 2000, Li has left everyone -- including Google -- in the dust. Baidu leads China's search market with a commanding 62 percent share and lots of long-term potential: With a current online population of 150 million users among its 1.3 billion people, China may eventually become the world's most lucrative Internet market.
Reaching the top hasn't been easy -- Li has taken heat for tolerating censorship, piracy, and lax advertising standards -- but he argues that search is a different game in China. He may be right. With profit booming, Li's story is a timely reminder that even on the World Wide Web there's such a thing as home-field advantage.