Meet the Whiz Kids: 10 Overachievers Under 21

Mark Zuckerberg, watch your back. Sergey and Larry? Consider early retirement.

The next generation is coming up fast, and they aren't waiting for you Web 2.0 geezers to step aside. Here are 10 serious overachievers--20 years old or younger--with more ambition, energy, tech smarts, and business savvy than you'll find in most entire high-tech companies, let alone most adults.

Like various graying legends of the PC revolution (Bill Gates, Paul Allen, Michael Dell), these ten didn't wait until they were of age before starting their meteoric careers. Some are already millionaires; others seem destined to achieve greatness in other ways.

Catch them now while they're still young and relatively innocent. And maybe, if you're lucky, one of them will someday offer you a job.

1. The Serial Entrepreneur

Ben Casnocha, of Comcate.Ben Casnocha, 19

Few people of any age have started a software company and written a book--and considerably fewer 19-year-olds have. But Ben Casnocha is one of them.

Inspired by a teacher who made him memorize Apple's Think Different ads, Casnocha founded Comcate, which sells software designed to help local governments resolve citizen complaints. The specific impetus came from having "a personal experience where I realized how poor some local governments were at dealing with customer service." It was the second company Casnocha had started; he was 14 years old.

At age 17, Casnocha was named one of the nation's top 25 entrepreneurs under 25 by Business Week for his work running Comcate, yet he also found time to be captain of his San Francisco University High School basketball team and editor of Devil's Advocate, the school newspaper.

After finishing high school, Casnocha took a year off to travel and write a book about his experiences called My Start-Up Life: What a (Very) Young CEO Learned on His Journey Through Silicon Valley. His personal blog--where he opines on topics from technology to spirituality to politics--has been named one of the top 25 in Silicon Valley by the Silicon Valley Business Journal.

Casnocha enrolled at California's Claremont McKenna college last fall and seems almost irrationally modest about his success so far.

"I don't believe in long-term plans," he says. "Most good things that happen to me are unexpected. Certainly, you can cultivate 'positive, bulk randomness' (a topic I discuss in my book), but some of it is just sheer luck and timing."

Read the full interview

2. The Youngest 'Old Pol'

Stephen Yellin, political blogger.Stephen Yellin, 19

Talk to Stephen Yellin about his favorite subject--politics--and he sounds like a seasoned veteran of the political wars. And he is. Heck, he's been talking and writing about politics since he was 13.

A highly respected liberal blogger at Daily Kos, Yellin advises candidates on how to reach out to the Net community. At age 15 he was called "the Trippi of the future," a reference to Joe Trippi, who brought Democratic fund raising into the Internet age for Howard Dean's campaign. Yellin deflects the compliment, however. "I hope to one day be as good as Joe Trippi," he says.

Unlike most political bloggers, Yellin emerges from behind the keyboard and gets his hands dirty, too. He's currently a Democratic Committeeman for Union County, New Jersey, and he worked on several New Jersey State Senate campaigns last year.

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