Eight years ago, Japanese businessman Yoshikazu Tanaka founded what has become Japan's largest social network. It's a company called GREE, and it makes mobile social games. Perhaps more importantly, it is working on cracking the code on monetizing mobile, which -- though Tanaka is navigating tough conversations with Japanese regulators -- has been elusive for American social media companies.
GREE expects to generate over $2 billion in revenue this year, but Tanaka's next move is to expand its user-base beyond Japan. To that end, the company is growing. GREE hired over 1,000 new employees last year, and plans to hire more in the coming 12 months. Ultimately, Tanaka has said, he aims for his gaming company to usurp the giant Nintendo.
Who are 2012's young business stars? We've got the CEO of a blue-chip beer brand, an airline CEO who just placed the largest order in commercial aviation history, and Warren Buffett's new prodigy, among the Silicon Valley hotshots and others.