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Hot 20 2009: Hans Robertson, Sanjit Biswas and John Bicket, Founders of Meraki

Photography by Bryan Davis.

Next time you’re on a desert island and can send out an SOS via email, you might want to thank Meraki. The SF-based company, launched in 2006 by three former MIT grad students, has since brought affordable wireless Internet service to more 140 countries, from places such as Cape Horn on the tip of South America to SF’s City Hall. They’ve even been responsible for making sure movie stars have Wi-Fi connections while on sets as remote as Tropic Thunder’s, which was filmed in the rain forest of Kauai.

Hot 20 2009: Attorney Rafael Mandelman

Photography by John Lee.

Mention to Rafael Mandelman that some of his supporters have favorably compared him to Harvey Milk—who initially won the hearts and minds of the Castro community with a pooper-scooper law—and the charismatic lawyer-cum-politician dismisses the comment with a wave of his hand. “That is so sweet,” he says. “That’s too much. He was a lot funnier and a lot smarter.” Smarter? This coming from a Yale grad who went on to get both a law degree from Boalt and a master’s in public policy from Harvard’s JFK School of Government.

Hot 20 2009: Mackenzie Burdick and Rachael Mann, Founders of Litter

Photography by Anön.

Call Rachael Mann and Mackenzie Burdick’s designs “trashy” and they’ll likely take it as a compliment. After all, the sisters behind the new San Francisco jewelry line Litter go to great lengths to unearth the heaps of vintage, recycled and discarded metal bits and chains that they use to handcraft their funky accessories. “We started out making weird things just for ourselves like headpieces made from nuts and bolts and other junkyard finds,” recalls Burdick, who lives in Cow Hollow, right by the Litter office. When friends took notice, they decided to do a local jewelry show where their headpieces sold out, inspiring them to sell their work on Etsy and eventually launch their own e-tail site.

Hot 20 2009: Tim Lincecum

Photography by Mike Powell.

Phenom Giants pitcher Tim Lincecum hardly needs any introduction—even people who don’t really follow baseball know about that kid and his arm. Since joining the team in 2006—an acquisition the Giants made with the lure of a $2 million signing bonus—the slight, baby-faced Lincecum has won the Cy Young Award (only the second Giants pitcher to do so; the win inspired the name of his French bulldog, Cy) and aided in the team’s first real shot at the championship since Barry Bonds’ heyday.

A Night at the Drive-In

Greetings blog peepers,

I know I should be recovering from a hangover after party-ing BIGTIME with the stars of fanfest. However, I wanted to share my account of a night at the drive-in.

The drive-in cinema is the only place where the two greatest icons of the 20th century, the car and the motion picture, come together. Under dark skies and night stars, you get to enjoy a movie in the comfort of your car. WOW.
 
There were no drive-ins where I grew up in the U.K. A chilly winter night at a drive-in in Britain? I don’t think so.
 

Hot 20 2009 Reader's Choice: Jamie Kutch, Winemaker

Self-described “wine geek” Jamie Kutch left a career as a stock trader in 2005 to pursue his dream. Four years later, his Sonoma Coast Pinot Noirs are on the menu at Gary Danko, French Laundry and Michael Mina.

Kutch’s success story combines destiny, determination and luck in the form of love. Growing up on Long Island, Kutch was always into hobbies: first tap dancing, then magic, then DJing. But success was first found on Wall Street, where he worked as a NASDAQ trader while cultivating his latest passion, wine. “I was closely following the progress of Pinot online, and when wine consumption in America surpassed beer around 2004, I decided to go for it,” says Kutch.

Hot 20 2009: Katie Brown, Top-Ranked Climber

Photography by Ben Moon.

Accomplishment is nothing new for Katie Brown. She began sport climbing in Kentucky at the age of 13, and today is heralded as one of the world’s best, achieving in 14 years more than many climbers do during their entire careers. This includes winning the X Games and a climbing World Cup. She’s also completed an onsight (free-climbing without knowledge of the route) of the northwest face of Yosemite’s Half Dome, and, along with climber Lynn Hill, the first female free ascent of the Leaning Tower.

Hot 20 2009: Sabrina and Eunice Moyle of Hello!Lucky

Photography by John Lee.

In the age of Tweets and IM, sending a handwritten note—via snail mail no less—seems archaic. But everything sisters Eunice and Sabrina Moyle create at their letterpress stationery shop, Hello!Lucky, is based on deliberate and painstakingly precise actions that take time.

Hot 20 2009: Gina Bianchini, Co-Founder of Ning

Photography by John Lee.

In many ways it was the diversity of the Bay Area itself that inspired Gina Bianchini to launch Ning.com, the social platform for the world’s interests and passions. Ning, which means peaceful in Mandarin Chinese, houses more than 1.5 million networks, with 4,500 new ones (and counting) created every day around varying topics—ranging from Twilight fanatics (183,000 members) to the Indian Premier Cricket League (713,000 members). Ning is on fire, and not just because tech-gossip blog Valleywag dubbed Bianchini a “Web 2.0 hottie;” new network creation accelerated 26 percent in July to 30 million registered users.

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