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Introducing InformationWeek's Startup 50

Innovation is alive and well, as demonstrated by the companies on our first-ever list of 50 compelling young technology companies

Innovation is alive and well, as demonstrated by the companies on our first-ever list of 50 compelling young technology companiesThe IT industry thrives on innovation. InformationWeek's Startup 50 represent some of the newest ideas and technologies that will help companies become more efficient and productive.

This list didn't just materialize out of thin air. Earlier this year we invited startups, InformationWeek readers and editors to nominate companies to the top 50. To qualify, companies had to be founded no later than 2004 and had to offer software, hardware or services aimed at enterprise IT.

We then asked readers to vote online for their favorite startups. Readers could select from an initial list developed by our editors, or write in a company. At the end of a two-week voting period, we received over 2,500 votes, and had a final list of 282 startups.

While we used the voting results as a guide, the ultimate decision rested with InformationWeek's editors. To make the final list, companies had to meet at least one of the following criteria: innovation, whether new technology or new ways of doing business; value, which is reflected in lower costs, increased sales, higher productivity, or improved customer loyalty; and enterprise-readiness, meaning that a product or service scales and is ready to be deployed and put to use.

We used these criteria, along with more than a year's worth of reporting and writing on IT startups, to select the final 50.

Of course, companies have to weigh their risks when choosing to buy software, hardware or services from a startup. Even under the best of circumstances, customers gamble that they've identified a young company that has the right mix of funding, technology and executive talent to reach maturity (not to mention be able to support and improve their product or service).

That said, there's much to gain from embracing a startup. Early customers can have significant influence on the direction of a new product, and can get their pet issues and feature sets moved to the front of the development queue. In other cases, such as online collaboration, deployment is easy enough that companies can experiment with a couple of projects or a departmental rollout without fear that their entire business will grind to a halt if the vendor closes its doors. Finally, some problems, such as securing virtual machines, may be pressing enough that enterprises can't wait for legacy vendors to catch up.

We believe the Startup 50 have innovation solutions to critical IT problems. Take a look and let us know what you think.

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