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Hybrid runner-up: Nathan Myhrvold
Co-founder, Intellectual Ventures

Microsoft's first chief technology officer is a man of many passions (he's a serious foodie, and his nature photography has been featured in books), but his true love is innovation. At Intellectual Ventures, which funds inventors, Myhrvold, 50, is setting out to prove that funding inventions -- as opposed to business ideas -- can be as lucrative as conventional venture capital. IV today has more than 30,000 intellectual-property assets, acquired and developed internally, many of which seem years away from commercialization, much less an IPO. (Example: an invention to halt global warming that involves creating a thin film of sulfur dioxide around the planet.) But Myhrvold has assembled such impressive mind power that Bill Gates (no slouch in the IQ department) regularly stops by to brainstorm. --B.K.

NEXT: Smartest investor: Jim Breyer
Last updated July 09 2010: 1:19 PM ET
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