Whether or not you believe that time is relative and age is just a number, the fact is that most public company CEOs have experience working in their favor. The average age of the CEOs for the S&P 500 constituents is 54, and a broader look at major U.S. public companies with market caps over $2 billion shows an identical number. Even among slightly smaller public companies with market caps between $500 million and $2 billion, the average age of the CEO is only one year younger, and nearly 60% of the CEOs in that group are over 50.

Experience is an obvious advantage when age comes into question, though you could just as readily argue that in highly competitive markets, a fresh perspective and a creative approach to the business could also be successful. Experience may tell you that stubbing your toe on a rock hurts, but a less jaded (or maybe more naive?) eye may see that you could turn that rock into, um, a pet. Pet rocks aside, it was young people like Bill Gates, Michael Dell, and, oh, yes, Sergey and Larry who brought us the uber-successful Microsoft, Dell, and Google.

Finding companies with young CEOs is as easy as heading over to The Motley Fool's new investing community, CAPS. CAPS has a great feature called "Tags" where you can find lists of companies under labels like "Satellite," "Sporting Activities," and of course, "CEO Under 35." In addition to just listing the companies in each group, CAPS goes a step further and tracks the performance of the entire group. And with a return of nearly 10% in the last month, the group of companies with young CEOs has been one of the best-performing CAPS groups.

A few of the companies included in this tag are:


CEO (Age)

30-Day Return

CAPS Rating

Blackboard (NASDAQ:BBBB)

Michael Chasen (34)



Focus Media Holding (NASDAQ:FMCN)

Jason Jiang (32)



Shanda Interactive (NASDAQ:SNDA)

Tianqiao Chen (33)



Data from Motley Fool CAPS as of Jan. 30.

Michael Chasen, who co-founded Motley Fool Hidden Gems pick Blackboard in his mid-20s, has been CEO of the company since 2001 but served as its president prior to that. Besides his work at Blackboard, Chasen has also managed to work for KPMG Consulting and earn an MBA from Georgetown.

Though the stock has been pulling down the rest of the group over the last month, Blackboard is up 9% over the past year and 42% since its IPO in mid-2004. The company sells software into the education market for academic purposes and to allow students to make cashless transactions. In early '06, the company completed a $180 million acquisition of fellow educational software provider WebCT, and though amortization from that acquisition and increasing head-count costs turned the company unprofitable for the first nine months of the year, it did still manage to churn out almost $11 million in operating cash flow.

CAPS All-Star SureBeatsWorking has this to contribute: "Blackboard has a huge moat now that it's taken over WebCT. Plus the difficulty for companies to change once they sign up has contributed to 90% renewal rates. There's a huge international growth opportunity through WebCT. They get some bad software reports, but so does Microsoft! Great A+ business, though a little expensive."

For the 32-year-old Jason Jiang, who was named one of China's Media People of the Year before he turned 30, it has been a similarly entrepreneurial story. Beginning in 2003, Jiang took Aiqi Advertisement, an advertising agency owned and started by his family, and turned it into Focus Media, which is now "the largest out-of-home advertising network" in China. Basically, the company pushes advertising through networks of strategically placed flat-panel TVs, poster frames, and LED billboards.

Though Jim Cramer (who's tracked on CAPS) gave the stock a fat thumbs down, CAPS All Star grouch2100, who's ranked within the top 2% of all 21,000 CAPS players, likes it and says, "LCD and LED advertising will grow in China as the Olympics approaches."

Now, there does happen to be one stock that's currently rated a full five stars in CAPS that's included in the list of companies with CEOs under 35. But what fun would it be if I just went and told you what it was? Click here and find out for yourself!

More CAPS fun:

Billion-dollar public company CEO by 35? Fool contributor Matt Koppenheffer would just like to be out of student debt by then. He owns shares of Dell but does not own shares of any of the other companies mentioned. Dell and Microsoft are Motley Fool Inside Value choices. Dell is also a Stock Advisor pick. Shanda is a Rule Breakers selection. The Fool's disclosure policy is always aged appropriately.