Idealab CEO Bill Gross
Idealab CEO Bill Gross - 


"Live by the Web, die by the Web" could be an appropriate epithet to describe the roller-coaster fortunes that once beset Idealab, the Pasadena, Calif.-based Internet incubator founded by Bill Gross in 1996.

Idealab was launched to realize Internet business ideas that came mostly from Gross. The company had a good run for a while, capitalizing on the Internet frenzy of the late '90s. Its was the first search engine to ever make money. And the company's online toy retailer eToys once had a market value of $10 billion. But the burst of the Internet bubble earlier this decade hurt the company. It scrapped its long-anticipated Initial Public Offering, laid off workers, and shut down satellite offices.

After some soul searching, Idealab has rebounded, dedicating most of its attention on innovations of a different kind -- robotics, green techology and renewable energy. One of its biggest endeavors is trying to make solar energy as cheap, if not cheaper, than coal-generated power.