Wired - Gennady Podolsky
GENNADY PODOLSKY MANAGES a travel agency, but calls himself a "creative director." After all, he isn't selling Cancun cruises. He gets people where they need to be, when they need to be there, no matter the circumstances.
From his Chicago office, Podolsky watches a pair of monitors and keeps track of a clientele that includes beef moguls and fashion photographers. Stylish and clean cut, he speaks quickly, with an ambiguous, subtle accent. Along with his native Russian, Podolsky speaks English, Ukrainian, French, and basic Spanish. He wields an encyclopedic knowledge of air reservations and refuses to travel to places without internet.
The internet demolished most of his industry, but also launched his career. He opened his first agency in 1993, a year after arriving in the United States at 17 on a visa to study at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania. He and an IT-savvy friend created a proto-Expedia (the real one followed in 1996). Yahoo named it a featured site, and business exploded.