I just started to listen to an audio book with a biographe of Steve Jobs. As far as I am he just turned 27 or so and is certainly nobody I'd like in my direct environment. But there are still some years to come so this may change 😉
But he is a good example for a kind of guy which turned the IT industry around. A young technology loving guy (some would call him a nerd), able to take a risk, able to observe somewhat his environment to shape his ideas the right way. This is a tricky part. Because it is necessary to observe just the right amount. Because the idea might go beyond what somebody can imagine now. So to shape it exactly according to the potential customers could be a killer for the idea itself. Let's call the guys incubators (because nerd does not really get the point).
Lots of those incubators made the first wave of the IT industry (when it left the center of computing and invaded our offices). Certainly Bill Gates or Steve Jobs count there. Many started, some have survived.
Again they made the Internet boom (version 1) and they are about to make Internet boom version 2.0. When I read the news about the youtube.com guys it brings up sweet memories.
Obviously there are two things necessary within the recipe to work. First the technical side. Beside being very smart guys none of the incubators ever earned a Nobel price. They are not the kind of guy to do the base line research. They take what was provided by others research and re-combine in a new, inventive manner. Take Steve Jobs and the history of windowing GUI with the desktop metaphor. Originally this was an invention coming from Xerox PARC but he combined it with other things and made himself successful and an eternal part of the IT olymp.
The second thing is a kind of business drive. The willingness to take a risk. The willingness to work hard and to engage with people. So this is a less technical more social side of it.
Because they are the spark to start the flame (or the seeding crystal) I would call them incubators. They are somehow innovators and entrepreneurs.
Today we are certainly within the rising tide of the next wave. The technical ground has been provided. Infrastructure like the Internet or mobile communication is in place ready to be used. It can be as easy and cheap as to rent a server in the web to start something which can be sold some months later for a fortune.
But as usual this tide will rise and it will fall again. Some will survive, most will starve. At least it is getting interesting again...