Start 'Em Up

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Bill Gross is frustrated. Although he keeps a meticulous spreadsheet of all the new companies he hopes to create — 29 at last count — he just can't find the time to start them. As chief of idealab!, which is based in Pasadena, Calif., and has spawned some 30 Internet companies in the past three years, he still sits on the boards of 20 of them, including such high-profile players as Ticketmaster Online-CitySearch, Free-PC and

"Coming up with ideas is easy," he says. "I just live my life, and every time I see a problem, I want to fix it." Take his most recent start-up, financial site iExchange, which launched in October. Gross had been trolling online financial message boards one day last December and noticed that about 15 of every 500 postings had intriguing insights. So he decided to create a site that tracks the accuracy of stock-price predictions by armchair "analysts," allowing the advice of those with the best past predictions to bubble to the top. MORE >>