Cons: It looks like a turnaround has begun at Yahoo. But the job's still a long way from done. If Mayer becomes the face of a dramatic rebirth, she will have accomplished something few predicted. If she doesn't (the four CEOs before her all fell short), it likely won't hurt her reputation all that much -- but neither will it bump her up to the next level.
Elon Musk, serial entrepreneur
Pros: How's this for an origin story? Musk grew up in South Africa before leaving home at 17, without his parents' consent, rather than serve a compulsory stint in an army which, at the time, was enforcing the race-based apartheid system. He'd end up in the United States four years later -- although he'd already sold his first software, a video game called Blastar, when he was 12. Since then, all he's done is create publishing software Zip2 (sold to AltaVista for $300 million), co-found PayPal (he owned 11% of its stock when eBay bought it for $1.5 billion) and help create Tesla Motors, makers of the first commercial electric car. Oh, wait ... he also runs SpaceX, a company working on space exploration. Director Jon Favreau says Musk was his inspiration for Robert Downey Jr.'s Tony Stark character in the "Iron Man" movies.
"His ambitions are so huge," Kahney said. "He's definitely a ballsy character. And he's a good leader, like Jobs. He's surrounded himself with good people."
Cons: With the exception of Tesla, none of Musk's projects, so far, have directly involved consumer products. Tens of millions of people had something Jobs made in their pockets, on their desks or piping music into their ears. Among the public, Musk may be less well-known than all of the names above -- at least for now. But, at 41, he's got time to change that and it would be foolish to bet against him.
Seth Priebatsch, CEO, SCVNGR, LevelUp
Pros: Who? Priebatsch is the wild card on this list. But consider him the representative of a new generation of young, creative tech "makers" who could ascend to loftier heights in the years, or decades, to come. At 22, Priebatsch's SCVNGR raised more than $20 million in funding. He founded his first Web company at 12 and has moved on to start LevelUp, a mobile-payments system that's also raked in millions from investors. He got rock-star treatment for a speech he gave last year at South by Southwest Interactive. Plus, he's already cultivated a Jobs-like signature fashion statement -- his trademark orange sunglasses and shirts.
Cons: In the startup world, for every success story, there are countless washouts. Not every young turk even wants to be another Jobs, and not every killer app has the potential to make millions, or billions, of dollars -- even when they're well-liked and widely used.