AMERICA'S 100 TOP
he entrepreneurs selected for this year's GoldSea 100 are living proof that the American dream has lost none of its vitality as we approach the new milennium. In fact, we think it offers more promise than ever to those Asian Americans willing to risk a regular paycheck to chart an independent course in the savage seas of business. The stats bear us out. The average age of our 100 has dropped to 49, three years lower than it was just two years ago. And it now includes six billionaires, double the number of our last list. Among them is a 32-year-old who also happens to be the youngest entrepreneur ever to make the top 10.
The men and women on the Goldsea 100 were chosen from among the eighty thousand Asian entrepreneurs actively conducting business in the United States. We used data from three financial reporting agencies to establish the universe of candidates and check it against lists from prior years. We narrowed our review to about one thousand known Asian-run businesses with estimated annual revenues of at least eight million dollars. Of those we weeded out companies no longer under the direct control of an Asian American CEO. That meant excluding subsidiaries or operating units of foreign-based companies. We also excluded companies in which the Asian American CEO had played no role in founding or reviving the business. In other words, the GoldSea 100 consciously omits the hundreds of talented Asian American CEOs who run businesses for the benefit of non-Asian American owners. In many cases we were dealing with private companies for which public data doesn't exist and we had to rely on media accounts and information provided by the subjects.
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Trying to assign numerical rankings was trickier than culling qualifying entrepreneurs from the American business universe. We applied eight factors -- annual revenues, profitability, percentage of equity owned, number of employees, market valuation in the case of public companies, impact on the industry, revenue growth, and prospects for future success. For example, an entrepreneur who controls and owns 100% of an innovative, fast-growing company with $50-million annual revenues and a 20% pretax profit margin was ranked higher than one who owns 15% of a company that sells $500 million worth of commodities and earns a 2% pretax profit margin. In assessing the relative importance of businesses, we focused on their value-added component. For example, a PC distributor with $500 million sales was less significant economically than a software developer selling $200 million, given the great disparity in gross profit margins between those two sectors.