In his "miracle year" of 1905, Albert Einstein explained the photoelectric effect, which eventually won him the Nobel Prize. He was 26. In 1665, Isaac Newton developed a theory that would later be known as calculus. He was 22. In the 1830s, while aboard the HMS Beagle, which was exploring the South American coast, Charles Darwin conceived of many of the ideas that formed the basis of his seminal work, The Origin of Species. He was in his 20s at the time.

Are young people simply more creative in approaching problems in the areas of math and science? One might ask a related question about the business world: Are youngsters more innovative when it comes to developing new ways of doing things? How is it that visionaries like Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Bill Gates and Dell's (NASDAQ:DELL) Michael Dell were able to transform entire industries before they were even old enough to rent a car in most states?

I honestly don't know whether young people are more creative or innovative than older guys. But it's true that many Rule Breaking companies were founded by leaders who were young and daring. As David Gardner, the lead analyst of our Rule Breakers investment service, has pointed out, "revolutions are rarely started by old men or anyone among last year's Forbes 400."

Bosses who are too young to be President
Just out of curiosity I ran a screen using Capital IQ data in order to discover companies with CEOs under 35. Of the five that I highlight in the table below, two, Shanda and Taser, are already Rule Breaker selections. Sina is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor selection and Blackboard is a Hidden Gems pick. Obviously, Tom and David Gardner have an affinity for companies led by young innovators. Alas, both of the brothers are now too old to have been included on the list if the Fool were public. But the good news is that they are now old enough to serve as president!

I think the table yields some interesting information. All of the companies listed are under $2 billion in market cap, so they have considerable room to grow. Three have remarkable five-year growth estimates of more than 25%. And Taser, Blackboard, and Shanda offer innovative new products that dominate their nascent industries. Trawling for companies with young CEOs obviously uncovers several pearls.




Mark et

3-Year Return
(or since IPO)

5-Year Growth

Blackboard (NASDAQ:BBBB)

Michael Chasen


$640 million




Tianqiao Chen


$1.9 billion



Top Tankers (NASDAQ:TOPT)

Evangelos Pistiolis


$437 million




Patrick Smith


$461 million




Yan Wang


$1.3 billion



Ahem, what's LOL mean?
It's not easy for a guy like me to be part of the Rule Breakers team. At our weekly meetings, the analysts are always talking about the latest gadget or emerging industry. Meanwhile, I'm just pleased with myself for recently learning how to use instant messaging (though I'm still too self-conscious to deploy shorthand phrases like LOL and the ubiquitous smiley face to indicate irony). While most of the Rule Breaker team is made up of early adopters, I'm in the category of "last adopter." The upside is that I get to learn about the latest breakthroughs from colleagues who follow this stuff for a living. To me, this is one of the best aspects of the Rule Breakers service.

If you, too, would like to profit from youthfulness and daring, why not take a 30-day free trial? As part of your trial, you will have access to write-ups and updates on all 23 of our active picks. In the most recent issue, you will receive two new picks as well as a 12-month update on all our past stock selections. And if you don't like the service? Keep all the picks and cancel your trial. You're under no obligation whatsoever.

All too often our culture either ignores or belittles the younger generation. But investors would be unwise to do either. You know that monosyllabic, shaggy-haired dude playing video games down in your basement for 12 hours straight every day? He might be the next Steve Jobs.

John Reeves owns shares in Sina, but no other companies mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.