David Neeleman, JetBlue
When 44-year-old David G. Neeleman set out three years ago to build his startup airline, JetBlue Airways (JBLU ) Corp., he bet big on the Net and took chances on things nobody had tried before. Look no further than JetBlue's 700-person reservation center in Salt Lake City. You don't see it? That's because its sales agents all work from their homes.
They're linked by an Internet telephone system in which e-mail, chat, Web searches, and phone calls all pour through the same pipes. JetBlue's 600 pilots use laptops to replace cumbersome paper flight manuals. And Neeleman appeals to travelers with electronic tickets and in-cabin satellite TV. "As long as we can delight our customers, there's plenty of business for us," he says. If traditional airlines don't follow JetBlue's lead, there may not be much room for them in the super-efficient airline industry of the future.