Founder: ESPN

A failed hockey team communications director seems an unlikely candidate to revolutionize sports entertainment. Bill Rasmussen took a strange path to founding the "Worldwide Leader in Sports," ESPN. He began his career in media as a sports director at two local Massachusetts radio affiliates, then had a seven-year tenure working for the New England Whalers before he launched the network.

In 1978, he and his son Scott founded what would become a media behemoth. Rasmussen wasn't hands-off either—he had a hand in developing the concepts that would put ESPN on the map, including Sports Center and non-stop March Madness coverage. Though two of Rasmussen's partners, Stewart Evey and Chet Simmons, would push the Rasmussens out of the company by 1979, their vision led to the creation of the 24-hour sports cycle we know today.