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Next Big Thing: Four Companies to Watch

As investors, venture capitalists and entrepreneurs search for the "Next Big Thing," this week's Techonomy conferencein Lake Tahoe, Calif. brings together companies whose innovation is driving economic growth.

In addition to giants like Google and Microsoft , it also shines the spotlight on startups, which could be game-changers within their sectors.

Here are a couple we'll have our eyes on this week. You should, too.

Jumo

Chris Hughes was a co-founder of Facebook and ran political organization site MyBarackObama.com—now his latest venture aims to help people help the world.

Jumo, which Hughes launched this March, is a non-profit website that introduces visitors with volunteer opportunities and causes that match their interests. The whole idea is to match resources with organizations that need those resources, tapping into the power of the Internet to connect people, something Hughes is quite familiar with from his experience at Facebook.

Chris Hughes, Jumo's founder and executive director is a "featured Techonomist" at Thursday's dinner.

Geomagic

Geomagic makes 3-D models using technology called "Digital shape sampling and processing" for designers and manufacturers. Its clients range from NASA to Nascar, to medical device manufacturers.

Geomagic CEO Ping Fu, who will be at Techonomy, has been working with the Obama administration to figure out ways technology can help the government.

She's focusing on using government information to create products and services that benefit the American public, by digitizing medical records to save money for publicly-funded healthcare and the like.

Fu suggests that the 76 million CT and MRI scans performed every year could be used to make customized medical devices or treatment, at lower prices.

Meebo

Meebo integrates all social network and communication into one interface—so instead of toggling between e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, and FourSquare, all your information is consolidated into one simple interface.

The privately-held company has over 100 million users worldwide. The company originally intended to draw users to the Meebo.com website, but over the past year rolled out a toolbar that allows users to access their communication stream from any site.

Now over 4,000 publishers have installed that toolbar, which makes it easy for users to share content by dragging and dropping links. The toolbar not only exploded Meebo's user numbers, it also increases user engagement, traffic, and ad revenue for publishers like EW.com.

Meebo's co-founders, CEO Seth Sternberg and VP Engineering Sandy Jen, are both participating in the event. Maria Bartiromo will interview Sternberg on Thursday at 11:45 am ET.

Vidyo

Vidyo makes high definition quality video conferencing to personal computers over the Internet.

No longer is video conferencing limited just to major corporations—Vidyo costs much less than Cisco's Telepresence, which dominates the corporate market.

Vidyo is targeting a much broader videoconferencing market, looking to make it easy for anyone with a laptop and access to the Internet to do what Vidyo calls "video collaboration." In June HP partnered with Vidyo to expand HP Halo Telepresence to run on enterprise networks.

Vidyo's CEO and Founder Ofer Shapiro and VP Corporate Relations Mari Mineta Clapp, are participating in Techonomy.

Look for our continued reports online and on-air throughout the week.

Questions? Comments? MediaMoney@cnbc.com

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  • Working from Los Angeles, Boorstin is CNBC's media and entertainment reporter and editor of CNBC.com's Media Money section.