The ecosystem is filled with brilliant talent and it is important that their dedication and time spent is appreciated.

As an end user, it is natural that the major delegations go to pools driven by advertisements (Youtube channels, blogs, tweets, etc), thereby, often not noticing these contributions. As a community, it is important to take a moment and ensure that amidst all the marketing driven businesses, these contributors are encouraged too - as they are as much a lifeline to the ecosystem as the bootstrap entities (CF, IOG and Emurgo) and providing these tools using their own free time without any capital as backup incentive.

They might not promote their pools, but rest assured - they're quite stable, competitive and as technically well-equipped as they get (besides, they're not unreachably running X amount of pools which is detrimental to decentralisation, eg: 1PCT and OCEAN pools). Moreover, these are people you'd also see heavily involved with testing, exploring the latest ideas / pre-release information and concepts - and are thus - usually in a pretty good position to provide better continuity to their pools with latest progress within the ecosystem.

Please do watch out for these and contribute to them to ensure that they dont reach a state where they have to fight for existence in terms of stake 😄

Pool Ticker Operator Short Highlight
AHL Ola Ahlman One of the primary contributors to the now famous CNTools and gLiveView tools as part of guild-operators website. This was one of the primary tools that helped onboard heaps of other successful Stake Pool Operators, simplifying the process and always looking at ways to make things easier/better for SPO community.
UNDR Pal Dorogi Old Horse who has been around since the inception of the project. A very knowledgeable persona who is always trying to spread the education - be it via small utilities (eg: creating pools via Wallet mnemonics/Ledger) or providing very detailed documentations regarding the inner works of the platform. He has been instrumental in helping others to provide information/unqiue ways that have been then consumed by others to integrate into their tools.
SMAUG Smaug Creator of https://pool.pm , website that allows operators and delegators to keep track of delegations, real time information for blocks created, transactions involved as well as whale movements in the ecosystem in a very easy to consume and unique way. Do check it out if you havnt already
MDS Denis Kalinin Creator of Medusa wallet, first entirely community-created secure shared custodial wallet (i.e. your keys are known to you, but also backed up in encrypted format on medusa servers for backup). A very intuitive and user friendly interface built with familiarity of Daedalus, compatible with Daedalus and Yoroi wallets. The wallet features are on par and competes with official wallets with features like simple two factor authentication, ability to restore access using the password and 2FA (in case mnemonics aren't available)

Further more, while the state of the pools below at the time of writing is healthy, it would always be good to be on a watch and have them in your shortlist:

Pool Ticker Operator Short Highlight
CLIO Markus Gufler Long time well respected member from the community with a wide range of contributions (involved in partnership for creation of clio one explorer, actively working on alternative metadata registration solutions, a widely successful "Cardano on the Rocks" project that was targetted for ITN network, various contributions via guild-operators website, etc). Currently, also hosts topologyUpdater used by many Pool Operators to anonymously connect with other pools across geography using various parameters & combinations.
LOVE Mike Fullman Creator of infamous https://pooltool.io , which is a source of useful metrics for delegators and pool operators alike. Very well respected in the community, and a go to site for most when browsing pools. If there is a new idea floating around with node operations / metrics / analytics , more often than not you'd see him in the mix already working on it.
CSN1 Ashish Creator of https://cardanoscan.io , which is one of the newer but quickly growing to be full featured blockchain/pool explorers. They have developed an entire backend from scratch and are an excellent example of feature-rich platform that does not necessarily rely on standard IOG-developed components.
STAT Dmitry Stashenko Creator of https://adastat.net (a very popular sleek-and-smooth blockchain and pool explorer for ITN, now also available on mainnet) and https://t.me/AdaStatBot (reward notifications via telegram). The stability and attention to details for UX/UI have been well-known.