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A decade ago the Internet focused on bringing the world’s information to our fingertips. Today the emergence of Web 2.0 services such as social networking, user-generated content and broadband video are putting the user at the center of the online universe.

Entrepreneurs have been empowered, too, by open-source software, outsourcing and other developments that make it cheaper and easier to launch a technology startup than ever before. Web 2.0 companies are harnessing these technologies to help people adapt the Internet to their individual preferences. The force of that idea is drawing investors eager to cash in on what is the biggest shift in how Internet users engage with the medium since the emergence of e-commerce.

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