Archiv für den Monat August 2016

The new paradigm for human-bot communication

Editor’s note: Xuchen Yao is co-founder and CEO, and Guoguo Chen and Kenji Sagae are co-founders, of KITT.AI. Daniel Li is an associate at Madrona Venture Group.

Chatbots offer the promise of frictionless access to goods, services and information, but creating effective bots can be deceptively tricky.

The flip side of the opportunity to interact with users in a seamless, natural way is that user expectations can be prohibitively high. Bots need to be smart and provide greater convenience than apps — a very effective UI paradigm tailored for today’s mobile devices that has been carefully refined for more than a decade.

The good news is that the belief that bots must master human language or replace apps to succeed is false. Bots will engage with consumers in new ways that combine the strengths of humans and machines to allow both structured and unstructured information to be exchanged naturally and efficiently.

Communication velocity

One simple but intuitive way to measure the effectiveness of communication is to look at the amount of information exchanged per unit of time. Under this framework, text (e.g. SMS, chat, email) and speech (e.g. phone call) interactions differ in the amount of information that can be produced versus consumed.


While we typically produce 120 to 140 words per minute when speaking, we can typically only write or type 40 to 70 words per minute. When we look at the speed of information consumption, reading speed in English is upwards of 200 words per minute, but listening speed is limited to the 120 to 140 words per minute of speech production.

SMS and chat apps have adapted to increase text production speed through autocorrect features and novel keyboards, but text production for humans will always be slower than consumption.

Imagine, however, a friend that can type, draw, look up information and find GIFs at superhuman speed, and produce buttons, menus and pictures to make your input faster. Better yet, your enhanced input is much easier for your friend to understand and does not take away the flexibility and familiarity of natural language when needed.

We may not be quite there yet, but we are very close, especially with well-constructed bots on certain platforms. Here is a look at the features of different bot platforms that are shaping human-bot communication toward a more efficient, robust and natural UI paradigm.

Quick-reply buttons

Quick-reply buttons are a simple and convenient way to save user time and prevent unexpected input. They are unique to human-bot communication as buttons are trivial for bots to create and easy for humans to use; benefits include enhanced communication speed and bot comprehension.

Facebook, Telegram and Kik bots all have quick-reply buttons, but under slightly different names, and some bots, such as the Sephora bot on Kik, use the quick-reply button as the primary mode of communication. Slack still lacks quick-reply buttons, but has message buttons with associated actions.

Telegram Custom Keyboard:


Facebook Messenger Quick Replies:


Kik Suggested Response Keyboard:


Callback buttons

Callback buttons are similar to quick-reply buttons but allow for a broader range of potential interactions. When a callback button is clicked, it generates an HTTP call to a registered webhook that triggers a predefined action. Callback buttons are a great way to provide feedback, and they also provide a deeper analytics opportunity for the bot backend.

Slack Message Buttons:


Messenger Postback Button:


Telegram Callback Buttons:


Structured information sharing

Sharing information that can be easily parsed programmatically takes the exchange of structured information from clunky in a language-only paradigm to easy and unambiguous in a hybrid paradigm.

For instance, sharing a location like “3rd & Madison” is ambiguous and slow for humans and machines to parse, while shared GPS coordinates can be quickly displayed with a map service and understood by bots.

Telegram SendContact and SendLocation:


Facebook Messenger Location Sharing:


Bot mentions

Inline bots are a great way to quickly obtain, send and share information during chats, without the need to jump out of the current interface (to go to another chat) or the current app (to go to another app).

Instead of multiple taps and menus to perform a specific function, an @ mention at a bot allows for a one-line interaction. Allowing bots to share conversational context with one another also greatly increases the speed of interaction because users no longer need to re-input data for each communication.

Telegram Inline Bot:


Slack Bot Mention:


The following table summarizes the added language-touch functionality provided by four popular chat and bot platforms. These features represent the beginning of a hybrid communication paradigm that will enable more efficient and effective communication with bots:

  • Quick-reply buttons: save user time and improve machine comprehension
  • Callback buttons: provide calls to action and back-end analytics
  • Structured info sharing: easily shares machine-readable information
  • Bot mention: make bots always present and easily accessible


If your bot does not use a language-touch hybrid communication pattern, there are several other ways you can still take some of the UI mechanics from buttons and callbacks to build a better bot:

  • Build your system starting with humans in the loop to identify the most common communication patterns and exceptions to that pattern
  • Optimize dialogue for two-channel — fast and slow — communication with clear, well-defined responses (e.g., “Reply YES to buy”) or open-ended messages (“Can you tell me when the new Taylor Swift record comes out?”)
  • Use callback functions, even without native integration. For more complicated tasks, take users out of chat and move them to a point-and-click or touch interface that is better suited to the task at hand
  • Consider moving to a platform that is better optimized for new human-machine interaction

AI and NLP have a long way to go before bots achieve human-level communication. However, before that happens, new methods of human-machine communication will leverage the strengths of humans and machines to create new interaction paradigms that are as natural as our own language.

The new paradigm for human-bot communication


Opera just released an Android app that gives you unlimited free VPN

Android VPN Client AppImage Source: Opera

Opera made waves back in April when it announced the addition of unlimited free VPN service to its desktop web browser. VPN, or virtual private networking, is a technology that allows people to mask their actual IP addresses by routing their internet traffic through a third-party server. This way, any software that might collect information about users as they visit a website will not be able to record a user’s actual IP. People also often use VPN services to spoof their region, with the most widely discussed example being people who use a VPN client to make it appear to Netflix as though they’re based in the United States.

VPN services are incredibly valuable to people who protect their privacy while surfing the web, but these services can also have costly subscription plans that limit the amount of data you can use each month. That’s why Opera’s initial announcement was so intriguing, but the company has no intention of stopping with desktop browsing.

Opera on Tuesday announced the release of a brand new Android app. DubbedOpera VPN for Android, the app does exactly what its name suggests, providing Android users with VPN service that will route their traffic through special servers to mask users’ info and prevent websites from tracking them. Of course, Android VPN clients are a dime a dozen. What makes Opera different from most, as we’re sure you’ve figured out by now, is that it offers users unlimited VPN service for free.


“The Opera VPN app for Android sets itself apart from other VPNs by offering a completely free service – without a data limit, no log-in required, advanced Wi-Fi protection features and no need for a subscription,” said Chris Houston, who heads Opera’s VPN division.

Opera’s new VPN app for Android really couldn’t be easier to use. It’s as simple as opening the app and tapping connect, and for most users concerned only with privacy, that will be enough. People who want to mask their regions as well can choose from five different regions including the US, Canada, Germany, Netherlands and Singapore.

The app also includes a few additional features, such as the ability to scan Wi-Fi networks for security and display the number of ad trackers blocked over a certain period of time.

Opera VPN for Android is available as a free download on the Google Play store beginning immediately.

Opera just released an Android app that gives you unlimited free VPN

The 9 best cities to live in the world

The Economist Intelligence Unit just released a report that ranks the best and worst cities to live in the world.

In its „A Summary of the Liveability Ranking and Overview“ of 140 cities surveyed, it looks at which cities have the best living and worst living conditions. This includes healthcare, education, infrastructure, safety, and the threat of terrorism.

Interestingly, the rankings also take into account the generosity of expatriate relocation packages — funding a company gives to an individual when they decide to take up a role abroad.

The 140 surveyed were given a mark out of 100 across various sectors and then given an overall score out of 100.

9. Helsinki, Finland — It is only one of two European cities to make the top nine list. It scored full marks for stability and healthcare and highly across culture and environment, infrastructure and education.

8. Auckland, New Zealand — The city scored full marks for education but narrowly missed being seventh in the charts due to a score of 92.9 for infrastructure.

7. Perth, Australia — This is one of three Australian cities to feature in the top nine, thanks to perfect 100 scores across healthcare, education, and infrastructure.

7. Perth, Australia — This is one of three Australian cities to feature in the top nine, thanks to perfect 100 scores across healthcare, education, and infrastructure.


T=5. Adelaide, Australia — This city slinks into the top nine most liveable cities in the world due to its high scores across the board, and because Sydney dropped out of the top rankings. This is due to „owing to a heightened perceived threat of terrorism.“

T=5. Adelaide, Australia — This city slinks into the top nine most liveable cities in the world due to its high scores across the board, and because Sydney dropped out of the top rankings. This is due to "owing to a heightened perceived threat of terrorism."


T=5. Calgary, Canada — This is one out of three Canadian cities that ranked near the top of EIU’s survey and tied with Adelaide in Australia. It scored 100 for stability, healthcare, and education.

T=5. Calgary, Canada — This is one out of three Canadian cities that ranked near the top of EIU's survey and tied with Adelaide in Australia. It scored 100 for stability, healthcare, and education.

General view of the Pengrowth Saddledome and the Calgary skyline.Getty

4. Toronto, Canada — The most populated city in Canada got an overall score of 97.2 but missed out on ranking higher due to its infrastructure score dragging it down.

3. Vancouver, Canada — The major Canadian city received 100 for culture and environment, healthcare, and education and nearly perfect scores for stability.

2. Vienna, Austria — The city is one of only two European cities to make the top nine list with a score of 97.4.

1. Melbourne, Australia — The country’s coastal city is testament to EIU’s assessment that „those that score best tend to be mid-sized cities in wealthier countries with a relatively low population density. These can foster a range of recreational activities without leading to high crime levels or overburdened infrastructure.“

8 Powerful Lessons You Can Learn From the Career of Elon Musk

Elon Musk, in the words of one blogger who did a series of in-depth interviews with the Tesla and SpaceX founder, is, basically, „the raddest man alive.“ Who could fail to be impressed by a single entrepreneur who has set his sights on both getting humans to Mars and revolutionizing our energy economy?

Because Musk is so obviously extraordinary, it could be easy to feel like his career is a world apart — the efforts of a visionary that mere mortals like us could never emulate. But while it’s probably true that, for most of us, the ship has sailed on leading the way to interplanetary travel, that doesn’t mean folks with more down-to-earth careers have nothing to learn from the mogul.

When a user of question-and-answer site Quora asked the simple question, „What can we learn from Elon Musk?“ a host of devoted Musk watchers offered thoughtful answers. Among the best was a reply from blogger (and recent New York Times profile-ee) James Altucher, who took the time to listen „to every interview [Musk] ever did and compiled what I think are the most inspirational quotes.“

Here are a few of the 22 essential takeaways he extracted from all that research:

1. Focus on the impact of your dreams, not the odds.

Maybe, like Altucher, your initial reaction to this principle is to worry that your particular dreams might just be impossible. But, as Altucher reminds readers, this advice is coming from a man who wants to colonize Mars. Are you dreams really more of a long shot than that?

2. No one does amazing things for the money.

„I’ve interviewed over 100 people now on my podcast. Each of the 100 have achieved amazing results in their life,“ notes Altucher. „But none of them have done if for the money.“ Neither did Musk, who Altucher quotes as saying: „Going from PayPal, I thought: ‚Well, what are some of the other problems that are likely to most affect the future of humanity?‘ Not from the perspective, ‚What’s the best way to make money?'“

The takeaway: if you want to do great things, focus on the difference you’ll make in the world (or to yourself), not the financial rewards (or the glory).

3. Reason from first principles.

A lot has been written about Musk’s mindset, but Altucher sums up his unusual and incredibly effective approach with this quote: „Boil things down to their fundamental truths and reason up from there.“ In short, to improve your thinking, set received wisdom aside and try to look at the world with fresh eyes, using objective data and clear-headed observation.

4. Persistence pays.

Not all of the lessons of Musk’s career are off the wall and unexpected. Sometimes, he proves that conventional wisdom is right. Like with this quote: „Persistence is very important. You should not give up unless you are forced to give up.“

5. In hiring, talent beats numbers.

Some entrepreneurs tackle difficult problems by trying to throw a whole lot of warm bodies at them. Not Musk.

„It is a mistake to hire huge numbers of people to get a complicated job done. Numbers will never compensate for talent in getting the right answer (two people who don’t know something are no better than one), will tend to slow down progress, and will make the task incredibly expensive,“ Altucher quotes him as saying.

So next time you need to hire your way out of jam, spare a thought for this bit of wisdom and take the time to find the right talent rather than just hoping that brute numbers will save you.

6. Talent can’t compensate for a lousy personality.

According to Altucher, Musk is a late but fervent convert to the idea that great ability can’t compensate for a lousy personality.

Here’s the quote: „My biggest mistake is probably weighing too much on someone’s talent and not someone’s personality. I think it matters whether someone has a good heart.“ So, once more with feeling: don’t hire jerks!

7. Constantly question yourself.

You’d think that someone with Musk’s achievements might be satisfied with his efforts, but that’s not the case. Musk claims he constantly strives to improve himself.

„It’s very important to have a feedback loop, where you’re constantly thinking about what you’ve done and how you could be doing it better. I think that’s the single best piece of advice: constantly think about how you could be doing things better and questioning yourself,“ he said. If Musk isn’t resting on his laurels, neither should you.

8. Finding the right questions is most of the battle.

Apparently, Musk’s favorite book as a teenager was The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Here’s the biggest lesson he took away from it: „It taught me that the tough thing is figuring out what questions to ask, but that once you do that, the rest is really easy.“

What can we learn from Elon Musk?

The three fundamentals to Elon Musks success.


How to constantly build your knowledge and understanding.

An oft asked question of Musk – ‘How did he learn so much?’

Since childhood, he has been a tireless self learner. At the age of 10 he resorted to reading Encyclopedia Britannica after devouring every other book at home.

From interviews and discussions with Musk, its becomes apparent that he views people as computer systems, being made up of hardware (body) and software (mind). Recognizing that your software is one of the most powerful tools that you possess, Musk works tirelessly on updating his, feeding it with more knowledge and information when he wants to understand a problem.

Jim Cantrell, one of the founding team members of SpaceX comments on Musk’s incredibly fast learning ability:

“He literally sucks the knowledge and experience out of people that he is around. He borrowed all of my college texts on rocket propulsion when we first started working together in 2001.”

In 2000, before Musk had even set up SpaceX, he began devouring books on propulsion, avionics and aeronautical engineering. He already knew that his goal was landing people on Mars, now he just needed to upgrade his software with the information and tools on how to accomplish it.

A trait that underpins Musk’s model of thinking is being able to quickly consume and understand complex information, then plan with clarity how to apply it in making progress towards his goal. People are impressed with his deep knowledge across a wide range of technical subjects, from electrical, structural, mechanical, aeronautical, and software engineering through to business strategy and more.

“I think most people can learn a lot more than they think they can. They sell themselves short without trying.

One bit of advice: it is important to view knowledge as sort of a semantic tree — make sure you understand the fundamental principles, i.e. the trunk and big branches, before you get into the leaves/details or there is nothing for them to hang on to.”

Elon Musk

This habit of self learning and forcing himself to understand new concepts, gives him a huge internal database of knowledge that he is then able to run through his internal problem solving tool.


How to get to the nucleus of a problem and understand the facts.

Aristotle described a first principle as, “[the] first basis from which a thing is known”.

It means basing conclusions on fundamental truths, not on assumption or analogy.

Reasoning from first principles requires mental effort. It means boiling things down to their most basic truths, and reasoning up from those truths. It requires you to actively engage your brain and work ideas through.

The alternative to this is reasoning by analogy. Assuming something is true or correct because it’s similar to something else that has been done before.

Musk is a master of using the scientific method of first principle reasoning, and applying it to problem solving scenarios. Here is one example;

“Historically, all rockets have been expensive, so therefore, in the future, all rockets will be expensive. But actually that’s not true. If you say, what is a rocket made of? It’s made of aluminium, titanium, copper, carbon fiber. And you can break it down and say, what is the raw material cost of all these components? If you have them stacked on the floor and could wave a magic wand so that the cost of rearranging the atoms was zero, then what would the cost of the rocket be? And I was like, wow, okay, it’s really small—it’s like 2% of what a rocket costs. So clearly it would be in how the atoms are arranged—so you’ve got to figure out how can we get the atoms in the right shape much more efficiently.

And so I had a series of meetings on Saturdays with people, some of whom were still working at the big aerospace companies, just to try to figure out if there’s some catch here that I’m not appreciating. And I couldn’t figure it out. There doesn’t seem to be any catch. So I started SpaceX.”

Elon Musk

In our day to day, we make most decisions based on analogy. It would simply take too much mental time and capacity to question every single small decision during the day.

But when it comes to big decisions, it’s important to reason from first principle. Make sure you know the facts, data and figures, don’t just follow the crowd and assume.


How to give your ideas the best chance of success.

Highly intelligent, fast learning, dynamic problem solving ability and lots of money, they’ve all contributed to the success of Musk’s endeavours. But there’s another key character trait to the man which has been critical to his success – an incredible and highly efficient work ethic.

“Work like hell. I mean you just have to put in 80 to 100 hour weeks every week. [This] improves the odds of success. If other people are putting in 40 hour work weeks and you’re putting in 100 hour work weeks, then even if you’re doing the same thing you know that… you will achieve in 4 months what it takes them a year to achieve.”

Elon Musk

The fact is that Elon Musk gets a lot done. Running two separate billion dollar companies requires making a lot of decisions and having eyes on many moving parts. Here are some of the key aspects to Musk’s working process that make him so efficient.

– 100 hours a week – has noted many times that at critical periods in the lifespan of his companies, he has gone from working 80-90 hour weeks up to doing 100 hours a week. It is not unusual for him to work seven days a week, normally rising at 7am and getting to bed around 1am.

– Batching – or multitasking, he combines multiple tasks which can be done together effectively e.g. Emailing while reviewing spreadsheets, meetings over lunch, etc.

– Scheduling – A man as busy as Musk needs to run to a tight schedule to be efficient. He spends Monday and Thursday at SpaceX in LA, Tuesday and Wednesday at Tesla in the Bay Area, and splits Friday between both. His assistant has his planner broken down into five minute slots, and there’s a long line of people trying to get ahold of him for that time. Efficient scheduling is a behaviour pattern seen in many highly successful people.

– Feedback loop – Musk is a strong believer in constructive criticism. He constantly bounces ideas off colleagues and advisors to sense check them. Open and honest criticism should be encouraged to help improve an idea or product. “Constantly think about how you could be doing things better and questioning yourself.” – Elon Musk

– Caffeine – „To get through the day, Musk relies on two stimulants: caffeine and a desire to help humanity colonize Mars. Until he recently started cutting back on the former, Musk consumed eight cans of Diet Coke a day, as well as several large cups of coffee. „I got so freaking jacked that I seriously started to feel like I was losing my peripheral vision,“ he says. If he realizes how crazy this sounds, he doesn’t let on.” – from Inc Magazine.

Ford Says It’ll Have a Fleet of Fully Autonomous Cars in Just 5 Years

Ford Fusion Autonomous Research Vehicles Use LiDAR Sensor Techno

The next 60 years of wireless and networking technologies will be exponentially more exciting than the first 60 years

Wireless networking will cover the world

The next 60 years of wireless and networking technologies will be exponentially more exciting than the first 60 years. As radio frequency (RF) bandwidth becomes consolidated under that banner of the worldwide right of every citizen to connectivity, the technologies of photonic LiFi, peer-to-peer communications, and low-orbit satellite integration for back-haul will unify the Earth.

Flexible smartphones

Source: Nokia
Flexibility will be an option on all components in the future so that devices can be shaped for different purposes. The Nokia flexible, transparent smartphone shown above can be shaped into a wrist bracelet or be flattened out for desktop use. The small insert ring allows the user to view functions, such as who is calling, without taking the entire phone out of ones briefcase, backpack, or handbag. The white ring can be worn on the wrist or clipped to a carry-bag strap or another convenient wearable.

Graphene transistors

Source: IBM
Click to enlarge.

IBM’s three-stage graphene RF receiver integrated circuit shows (in the top box) the enlarged scanning electron microscope (SEM) image of an integrated circuit. Look closely to see the successful integration of all key RF components (inductor, capacitor, and graphene field-effect transistor—FET). Note (in the bottom box) a single chip which contains a dozen graphene RF integrated circuits per chip, allowing wireless devices, like smartphones, to require only a single 2-by-2 centimeter RF front-end.


Source: Valencell
Click to see the whole infographic.

Today, according to a national survey on wearable technology devices, consumers consider accuracy the most important feature of wearables. More than half of those who do not own a wearable, however, will consider buying one in the future when accuracy is improved. Look for wearables to take over every wireless and networking application as accuracy improves every year, according to Valencell—the biometric data sensor technology company.

Intrusion tolerant networks

In the future, networks will become „intrusion tolerant“ by adopting a message system that effectively oversees the underlying communications to prevent malicious software from executing. Illustrated above is the intrusion tolerant network designed by Johns Hopkins University to prove the concept of preventing sabotage from disrupting major infrastructure such as power grids and the cloud. Johns Hopkins, in collaboration with Northeastern and Purdue as well as Spread Concepts LLC and LTN Global Communications, developed this approach over the course of five years. Intrusion tolerance protects a network and keeps it running essential services even during an attack. Called the “first practical intrusion-tolerant network service,” this model will be deployed on a global scale long before 2076. As the first network service that can overcome sophisticated attacks and compromises, it has undergone evaluation and validation in tests that ran for nearly a year using the LTN Global Communications cloud. The test showed success, but the price will have to be reduced for vital infrastructure networks such as power grids and commercial clouds.

Remote control

Source: Texas Instruments

All remote controls will be voice controlled long before 2076, using technologies such as Texas Instruments‘ new voice control solutions for remotes. As part of its SimpleLink ultra-low power platform, it was specifically created to help developers easily add ultra-low power Bluetooth low energy, ZigBee RF4CE (radio frequencies for consumer electronics) or even combined multi-standard connectivity to voice controlled remotes for TVs, set-top boxes and other consumer electronics. Multi-standard devices can use TI’s CC2650, which combines both RF transmitters or use the same boards for multiple products using only one of the RF transmitters.  Voice-activated RF commands such as search, gesturing and pointing also save power compared to the infrared remotes used today.

Software-defined radio

Click to enlarge.

Today smartphones and other wireless devices, such as machine-to-machine (M2M) IoT devices must cope with all the multiple bands used for the same functions in different countries (and sometimes in different regions of the same country). That means as many as a dozen RF front-ends in the same device. In the future, however, software-defined radios will lessen that burden by allowing a single radio to be tuned to a variety of bands, leaving multiple RF front-ends on for bands that must run simultaneously (such as LTE, Bluetooth, and WiFi). The world’s first commercial software-defined radio is already here from Silicon Labs which supports FM, HD Radio, and Digital Audio Radio (DAB/DAB+) broadcasts. However, in the future any RF band will be available in a software-defined radio that allows the designer to build-in automatic changing of frequencies as people travel the globe.

5G to 10G

Source: Xilinx and BEEcube

If we assume that 5G bands and networks will begin replace 4G by 2020, and that the next generations beyond that will come along at roughly decade intervals, then by 2076 we will be at 10G. None of the analysts to whom I spoke would commit to predicting anything 60 years out from now, so I’m going out on a limb here; get ready for a wild ride. 5G’s stated goals are to more efficiently manage the entire spectrum—from ultra-sonic to ultra-violet light—rather than continue concentrating on the 2.4-GHz band designed to cook meat in microwave ovens and already affecting the health of humans working too close to microwave towers. In addition to faster data rates (up to one gigahertz, 1-GHz), 5G also aims for lower battery consumption, lower outages, better coverage, lower latency, lower infrastructure costs, higher scalability, and more reliable communications. What could 6-to-10G add: connectivity with household devices (thus eliminating the tangle of wires behind every desk, TV, and home entertainment console), peer-to-peer communication (to reduce backbone congestion), compatible protocols among every band, integration with Li-Fi networks (that use LED signaling for communications), and low-orbit satellite integration for back-haul.

RFID tags

Source: Wikipedia

Wireless RF identification (RFID) tags began as espionage tools invented by Léon Theremin for the Soviet Union to retransmit incident audio—in other words as passive „bugs.“ In 1945 when they were invented, sound waves vibrated a diaphragm which altered the shape of a radio-frequency resonator thus modulated it. Even though this device was a covert listening device, it inspired the current generation of passive RFID tags that are proliferating wildly—from inventory tracking to finding lost pets. By 2076, every device manufactured will have a built-in RFID capability so that no piece of equipment will ever be lost again (of course also spawning a black-market industry of how to defeat them).

Artificial neural networks

Artificial neural networks (ANNs) are the only technology capable of solving tough multi-variable problems in nondeterministic polynomial time—called NP complete (although quantum computers too are said to be able to solve NP complete problems but have yet to fulfill that promise). ANNs, on the other hand, are easily constructed to solve NP complete problems with mixed-signal materials (such as memristors), as well as with emulating digital networks, such as IBM’s True North. Deep learning, which merely means an ANN with many layers, is the latest catch phrase, but by 2076 superconducting ANNs, whether mixed signal, all digital, or quantum based, will be the smartest artificial intelligences in the universe. The good news is that they will not take over the jobs of humans, but will extend their capabilities by being in constant wireless contact with human implants, allowing them to turn even average intellectuals into Einsteins, and Einsteins into demigods.


Source: Globant
Click to enlarge.

Long before 2076, wireless/networked consumer electronics will become so ubiquitous that they will no longer be marketed for their features, but for their omnirelevance—that is, how a brand impacts the lifestyle and longevity of the buyer. Omnirelevance is built around an understanding of the customers‘ „journey to a brand“ by maintaining relevance in the face of increasing brand competition.

IBM creates world’s first artificial phase-change neurons

They behave like biological neurons, including low power usage and dense scaling.


Second, these phase-change neurons are the closest we’ve come to creating artificial devices that behave like biological neurons, perhaps leading us towards efficient, massively parallel computer designs that apply neuromorphic approaches to decision-making and processing sensory information. IBM says that their new work is complementary to research being carried out into memristor-based synapses, too.

So far, IBM has built 10×10 crossbar arrays of neurons, connected five of those arrays together to create neuronal populations of up to 500 neurons, and then processed broadband signals in a novel, brain-like way. (In technical terms, the neurons showed the same „population coding“ that emerges in biological neurons, and the signal processing circumvented the Nyquist-Shannon sampling theorem).

There’s no reason to stop there, though. Now it’s time put thousands of these phase-change neurons onto a single chip—and then the difficult bit: writing some software that actually makes use of the chip’s neuromorphosity.

Nature Nanotechnology, 2016. DOI: 10.1038/nnano.2016.70 (About DOIs).

Silicon Valley Top 100

There’s a misconception that Silicon Valley is all about creating frivolous apps and getting paid buckets of money to do it while working in a frat house. Some of the brogrammer culture does exist in pockets, but it doesn’t define the cradle of innovation where thousands work and create in Silicon Valley.

Instead, after months of research and debate, Business Insider is proud to present the Silicon Valley 100, our annual list of the people who matter most and define what it means to be in Silicon Valley.

This isn’t another who’s who list based on long-standing reputation; rather it is a look at who made a difference in the past year. These are the star executives breaking new ground at companies, the venture capitalists who did more than make big bets on the future, and the companies that want to change industries and your life.


100. David Boies

100. David Boies

Jay Janner-Pool/Getty Images

Lawyer and board member, Theranos

Boies has provided legal counsel for a slew of troubled tech startups, ranging from Napster to Hampton Creek and now Theranos. The legal expert is defending the company from inquests by several government agencies and is considered a force to be reckoned with — he helped the US win the 1998 case United States v. Microsoft Corporation, in which the government accused Microsoft of becoming a monopoly.

99. Andre Iguodala

99. Andre Iguodala

Steve Jennings/Getty Images

Tech investor and NBA player

Iguodala plays for the Golden State Warriors, the NBA team owned by a spate of VCs, including Chamath Palihapitiya of Social Capital and Joe Lacob of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Ben Horowitz, whom Iguodala describes as a „total brainiac,“ has taken the NBA free agent under his wing, teaching him about portfolio management.

Iguodala has invested in the stocks of Facebook, Twitter, and Tesla, and he appeared at Tech Crunch Disrupt in September. 

98. David Drummond

98. David Drummond

Andreas Rentz/Getty Images

Senior VP of corporate development, Alphabet

With Google’s restructuring into Alphabet, Drummond was pulled up to the top to oversee mergers and acquisitions for all of Alphabet’s ventures. He previously acted as Google’s first outside lawyer, working with Larry Page and Sergey Brin to secure Google’s earliest financing rounds. Drummond also still sits on the board of Uber.

97. Tony Xu

Cofounder and CEO, DoorDash

In March, the food-delivery startup DoorDash raised $127 million — but it did so in a down round, meaning the company raised money at a lower valuation than it previously held. The investment exemplifies the difficulty DoorDash and comparable startups in Silicon Valley are facing to secure funding as investors have grown wary of on-demand businesses. But Xu denies that the company just had a down round, holding on to the declaration that DoorDash is in good shape. The three-year-old startup is operating in 25 cities, has deals with major chains like Taco Bell, and recently expanded into alcohol delivery.

The company also has another edge in the food-delivery space, though: Unlike other meal-delivery services, DoorDash provides its own drivers, which makes it possible to order from restaurants that aren’t available on places like GrubHub, giving users more variety.

96. Manny Bamfo

96. Manny Bamfo


Cofounder and CEO, Recharge

If you have ever craved a quick nap while away from home, you will understand the allure of Recharge. The app allows anyone near a partnering hotel to get some privacy for extremely short hotel stays — think hours or even minutes. Bamfo came up with the concept after noticing that on-demand Lyft drivers had nowhere to rest between jobs. Investors like it too, and in June the company raised a $2.3 million seed round led by Binary Capital.

95. Tom Reilly

95. Tom Reilly


CEO, Cloudera

Cloudera, a software company launched in 2008 that aims to help businesses — more than 20,000, in fact — make sense of huge data sets, has raised more than $1 billion in private funding. Investors include Intel, Google Ventures, and MSD Capital.

The company has been considering an initial public offering for more than a year to maintain its dominance in the market, but Reilly said in April that Cloudera would enter the public market only „when we’ve reached the right scale, when the business is more predictable, when there’s greater visibility.“ They may have good reason to wait a while longer: Fidelity, another investor in the company, marked down the value of its Cloudera stake, along with stakes in several other startups, by 37% in March.

94. Nirav Tolia

Cofounder and CEO, Nextdoor

Nextdoor, the private social-networking service for neighborhoods, became a tech unicorn last year after raising $110 million in funding at a valuation of $1.1 billion.

After establishing an active presence nationally in all 50 states, Tolia took Nextdoor international this year by expanding into the Netherlands. The social network is continuing to team up with local police departments to improve neighborhood crime response, but under Tolia it is also taking a firm stance against racial profiling.

93. Matthew Prince, Lee Holloway, Michelle Zatlyn

93. Matthew Prince, Lee Holloway, Michelle Zatlyn

Anthony Harvey/Getty Images

Not Pictured: Holloway.

Cofounders, CloudFlare

CloudFlare handles 10% of the internet’s traffic, giving it a lot of quiet control over the web. In April, the startup became the first company to widely activate a technology that lets webpages and apps load as much as 15% faster, potentially shaving precious seconds off of your search time. It will take a year for the speed boost to come to full fruition, but it could usher in a new class of web applications when it does.

The company’s internet dominance has attracted the eyes of investors. In September the company raised $110 million in a round led by Fidelity and joined by Google Capital, Microsoft, Baidu, and Qualcomm Ventures.

92. Xavier Niel

92. Xavier Niel

Wikimedia Commons

Founder, 42

Niel, the French billionaire, launched a free coding school in the heart of Silicon Valley with a $100 million fund. In the next five years, the school, called 42, is expected to have 10,000 students. Niel started the program as a tuition-free college alternative primarily focused on teaching coding and entrepreneurial thinking. A high-school dropout, Niel founded the first 42 school in Paris in 2013. The US version has garnered support from Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel, Twitter and Square CEO Jack Dorsey, and Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield.

91. Ryan Hoover

91. Ryan Hoover

Steve Jennings/Getty Images

Founder, Product Hunt

When investors want to find the next big thing to sweep Silicon Valley, they turn to Product Hunt, a community review website where users can upvote and downvote new tech products and companies. A feature on the site can make or break a startup’s future, and as the founder and face of the company, Hoover holds the power to determine what is and is not cool.

That power turned Product Hunt into a hot startup itself, and the tech darling has raised $7.1 million in funding to date. In the past year the company also partnered with the workplace chat app Slack to make it even easier to monitor and browse the site, and it launched Product Hunt Live, which allows people congregate online and learn about the tech world straight from startup founders.

90. Javier Soltero

90. Javier Soltero

Wikimedia Commons

Corporate VP of Outlook, Microsoft

Soltero has accomplished a lot in a very short time: His startup Acompli was purchased by Microsoft in late 2014. By January 2015, Acompli had been rebranded Outlook Mobile, and it went on to win acclaim as one of the best ways to handle your email and calendars on iPhone and Android devices. With that success under his belt, Soltero was named corporate vice president of Microsoft Outlook less than a year later, guiding development of the ubiquitous productivity software across PCs, tablets, phones, and beyond.

89. Marwan Fawaz

89. Marwan Fawaz


CEO, Nest

Fawaz joined Nest, which is part of Google’s parent company, Alphabet, after CEO Tony Fadell stepped down in June. As the new face of Nest, Fawaz is tasked with turning the company around after its tumultuous year, which included product issues and complaints about Fadell’s management. Previously, Fawaz repositioned the Motorola Home business as its president, streamlining products and services and leading the transaction process to sell the business unit to Arris for $2.35 billion in 2013.

88. Marco Zappacosta

88. Marco Zappacosta

Thumbtack Inc

Cofounder and CEO, Thumbtack

In September, Zappacosta’s startup Thumbtack, a platform that matches professionals like personal trainers or electricians with potential customers, raised $125 million, pushing its valuation to $1.3 billion and giving the startup unicorn status. As a competitor to Angie’s List or Yelp, Thumbtack is a startup that is helping usher in the era of freelance work. Jeb Bush visited the startup’s headquarters last July during his presidential run to take a look at the sharing economy while making his rounds in the San Francisco Bay Area.

87. Jess Lee

87. Jess Lee

Jess Lee / Polyvore

Cofounder and CEO, Polyvore

Yahoo bought the social shopping site Polyvore last July reportedly for a price of about $200 million, saying the company’s expertise in community-driven experiences and retailer-supported commerce paired with Yahoo’s premium content showed „amazing potential.“ Lee said Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer had a part in shaping her career when she interviewed Lee for Google’s elite associate product manager program back in the early 2000s. Since it joined the Yahoo family, Polyvore expanded in February to include a new menswear category, an area that Pinterest is also aggressively going after. 

86. Stacy Brown-Philpot

86. Stacy Brown-Philpot


CEO, TaskRabbit

After Leah Busque stepped down from the role of TaskRabbit CEO for a second time, Brown-Philpot took over in April, becoming the first black female CEO in Silicon Valley. The former Google employee studied startups and played a lead role in global consumer operations before joining TaskRabbit in 2013. She took unpopular but necessary steps — including layoffs — to get the startup on track toward its goal of profitability this year.

85. Joe Lonsdale

Founding partner, 8VC

Once dubbed one of the „hottest VCs since Andreessen Horowitz,“ Formation 8 broke up in November, with its founding partners, including Lonsdale, the Palantir cofounder, all leaving to start their own firms. The turnaround for Lonsdale was fast. Four months later, he had already raised $300 million for his new firm, 8VC. He now sits on the board of several hot startups including Oscar, Hyperloop One, and Wish.

84. Talia Jane

84. Talia Jane

Talia Jane/Twitter

Ex-employee, Yelp

Jane, a former Yelp employee, sparked conversations in Silicon Valley when she wrote an open letter to Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman claiming that some of his employees just couldn’t make ends meet; hours later, she was fired. Her missive noted that she made only $8.15 an hour after taxes, claiming she couldn’t afford groceries and that „bread is a luxury“ to her. Her letter not only went viral, but it also made tech companies confront whether they were paying a living wage in light of San Francisco’s dizzying rent prices.

83. Chris Wanstrath

83. Chris Wanstrath

Brian Ach/Getty Images

CEO, Github

Described as the „Facebook for code,“ Github’s rapidly growing software development network is made up of over 15 million users. With more than 38 million projects available on the site, Github has become one of the largest communities of software developers on the web. Last summer, Github raised $250 million in series B funding, bringing total funding to $350 million and raising its valuation to $2 billion.

As for the future? Wanstrath told Business Insider in October that he wanted to make it easier for anyone to become a developer, and to do that he wants to focus on improving Github’s service.

82. Larry Ellison, Mark Hurd, Safra Catz

82. Larry Ellison, Mark Hurd, Safra Catz

Noah Berger/Reuters, Robert Galbraith/Reuters, and Justin Sullivan/Getty

CEO (Hurd and Catz), CTO and founder (Ellison), Oracle 

In the first year since Ellison, the Oracle founder and chairman, stepped down as CEO — he moved to the role of chief technology officer and was succeeded by co-CEOs Hurd and Catz — the company has set off on a startup-buying spree. In its fifth and most recent acquisition of 2016, Oracle purchased Opower, a cloud-based energy-management company used by more than half of the world’s largest utility companies, for $532 million. Before that it bought another cloud-services company, Textura, for $663 million, expanding its offerings in the construction industry.

Though Oracle’s cloud business is still just a fraction of the company’s overall revenue, Ellison thinks it could lead Oracle to become the first cloud-computing business to reach $10 billion in revenue. Catz was the top-paid female executive in 2015, earning nearly $57 million.

81. Phil Fernandez

81. Phil Fernandez


CEO, Marketo

Marketo had been public for three years, but that never stopped the speculation that it was a ripe target for M&A. The rumors were finally put to an end in May after the private-equity firm Vista Equity Partners bought Marketo’s remaining shares of common stock for $1.79 billion. Fernandez said the all-cash deal would „allow Marketo to continue to focus on customer success and to remain the independent category leader.“ Before Marketo, Fernandez was an executive at Epiphany and Red Brick Systems and helped launch a few successful initial public offerings.

80. Shervin Pishevar

80. Shervin Pishevar

Sherpa Capital

Cofounder and managing director, Sherpa Capital

Pishevar was the person who persuaded Elon Musk to release his plans for the Hyperloop super-fast transportation system to the public back in 2013, and he is now the chairman of Hyperloop One, a startup that is trying to make Musk’s vision real. Pishevar is best known for his early investment in Uber back when everyone thought the ride-hailing company was overhyped, and, well, we all know how that turned out. Between his investments as a VC and his personal angel investments, he has had a stake in a huge list of other startups, including Klout, Parse, TaskRabbit, Tumblr, Warby Parker, and Washio.

79. Tim Kentley-Klay and Jesse Levinson

79. Tim Kentley-Klay and Jesse Levinson


Cofounder (Kentley-Klay), cofounder and CTO (Levinson), Zoox

Zoox, a driverless taxi startup, has permission to test in California — it’s the only startup of its kind with a license to do so. The company recently closed a $200 million round, and it has reportedly been valued at $1 billion. Kentley-Klay and Levinson have stacked their staff with former Alphabet, Apple, and Tesla workers to build a technology that could rival Uber’s ride-hailing service, though the company tends to stay under the radar with its driver-free projects.

78. Ali Ghodsi

78. Ali Ghodsi


Cofounder and CEO, Databricks

Databricks‘ data-crunching technology, Spark, allows for the real-time processing that powers new-wave technologies like self-driving cars and face-recognition tech. The concept fit the industry’s latest „big data“ trend: Companies are storing massive amounts of information and sifting through it to find business insights, and they are using all that data to offer their customers new programs and services. Ghodsi’s company really burst onto the scene last year when IBM announced plans to invest about $300 million over the next few years into the open-source version of Spark.

77. Dustin Moskovitz

77. Dustin Moskovitz


Cofounder and CEO, Asana

For Moskovitz, one of Facebook’s earliest employees, worker experience and profitability trump company growth. And Asana boasts an employee experience like no other: Its 190 employees enjoy homemade gourmet food all day long made by a professionally trained chef. In March, Moskovitz raised $50 million to keep his enterprise collaboration alive. The funds came from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan; Y Combinator president Sam Altman; Groupon founder Andrew Mason; and Peter Thiel’s VC firm Founder’s Fund, among others.

76. Nick Weaver

76. Nick Weaver


Cofounder and CEO, Eero

Those pesky Wi-Fi dead spots and slow loading speeds in your home no longer need to be an issue thanks to Weaver’s mesh networking device. Eero, which finally launched early this year after a series of delays, uses multiple devices to blanket your entire home with a smooth Wi-Fi signal. It was worth the wait, though. Silicon Valley investors gave Weaver $90 million to build his concept, which according to our reviews, really does boost browsing speeds.

75. Sukhinder Singh Cassidy

75. Sukhinder Singh Cassidy

Brian Ach/Getty Images

Founder and CEO, Joyus; Founder, theBoardlist

After experiencing sexism at her first Silicon Valley job, Cassidy knew the state of diversity in the industry needed to change. So she created theBoardlist, which helps startups and private companies find women to serve as independent directors on boards. The list of potential female board members comes entirely from recommendations of hand-selected successful Valley entrepreneurs, and the company has already compiled a list of 1,000 qualified women endorsed by about 200 business professionals and is hosting information on about 60 open board seats.

74. Ali Rowghani

74. Ali Rowghani

Joi Ito/Flickr

Managing partner, Y Combinator

Y Combinator CEO Sam Altman didn’t want a traditional late-stage venture capitalist to run the company’s VC fund, Continuity Fund, so he hired Rowghani, a former Twitter and Pixar executive. Rowghani leads growth investments in a lot of today’s hot startups — as long as they are Y Combinator alumni. The company’s investments in late-stage companies is a turning point for the accelerator, which used to be known only as the starting point for some of the biggest startups in tech.

73. Kris Gale and Vivek Garipalli

73. Kris Gale and Vivek Garipalli

Clover Health

Cofounders, Clover Health

Clover Health, founded by Gale and Garipalli, has been on a funding tear, raising $260 million in the past year to revolutionize insurance. It received a record-breaking $4 million investment from First Round, a firm that on average invests $500,000 in its targets. What sets Clover apart from other insurance companies is its use of software on every level of care: It builds a team that maintains users‘ profiles and can dispatch nurses on home visits, after a surgery for example, to make sure patients are following through on their instructions and feeling better.

72. Divya Nag

72. Divya Nag

Divya Nag/Website

Head of ResearchKit and CareKit, Apple

Before ResearchKit, Nag dropped out of Stanford, founded Stem Cell Theranostics, and built Stanford’s official medical innovation accelerator program. She joined Apple in 2014 and now leads the company’s charge into the health tech realm, specifically with its open-source developer toolbox that provides data storage and sharing. Medical personnel use the technology in hospitals as a way to monitor and keep tabs on their patients. Plus, researchers can use the data to study diseases and health trends.

71. Scott Dietzen

71. Scott Dietzen

Steve Jennings/Getty Images

CEO, Pure Storage

Dietzen, who previously held the positions of president and CTO at the VMWare-acquired email startup Zimbra, oversaw the company’s initial public offering in October; it was one of the few companies to go public in the past year. The company debuted at $17 a share but has since lost more than a third of its value as investors have soured on tech. 

70. Anne Wojcicki

70. Anne Wojcicki

Kimberly White/Getty Images

Cofounder and CEO, 23andMe

Two years after Wojcicki’s personal genetics company, 23andMe, was ordered by the Food and Drug Administration to halt operations for misrepresenting its testing reports as medical advice, the company relaunched last fall with $115 million in new funding at a valuation of $1.1 billion. It now offers a new $199 spit-and-submit test that provides users with 60-plus FDA-approved reports.

The more people know about their genetics, Wojcicki believes, the more informed their health and wellness decisions will be. And 80% of the company’s 1 million genotyped customers have agreed to share their data with 23andMe for potentially groundbreaking scientific and medical research. This spring, 23andMe reportedly opened a drug lab where it will test treatment ideas, potentially leading to future profit generation for the company.

69. Martin Roscheisen

69. Martin Roscheisen

Martin Roscheisen/Twitter

Cofounder, Diamond Foundry

After three years in hiding, the Santa Clara-based startup emerged claiming it had found a way to grow real diamonds in a lab. The breakthrough was enough to persuade 10 billionaires and members of Silicon Valley tech royalty to invest. Leonardo DiCaprio backs the venture as well. With this technology, Diamond Foundry hopes consumers will no longer have to question whether their diamonds were ethically produced.

68. Angela Ahrendts

Senior VP of retail and online stores, Apple

Since leaving her post as CEO of Burberry in 2014 to take over Apple’s retail and online operations, Ahrendts has reenvisioned what an Apple store could look like, positioning it as a contender in the luxury market. Under Ahrendts, the brand streamlined its inventory and added upscale, non-Apple products to its offerings, such as a futuristic speaker that retails for nearly $2,000.

Ahrendts aims to bridge the divide between Apple’s online and offline presence, adding features like a 24-hour meeting space, free Wi-Fi, and ornate decorations to stores, as debuted in San Francisco. Ahrendts hopes to make Apple stores a vital part of the communities they are located in, much in the way Apple products permeate modern life.

67. Dag Kittlaus

67. Dag Kittlaus

Noam Galai/Getty Images

Cofounder and CEO, Viv; Cofounder, Siri

Kittlaus decided that Siri „was only chapter one of a much bigger, longer story“ and recently unveiled Viv, an artificial intelligence company. The company is building what Kittlaus calls a „global brain,“ a new kind of voice-controlled virtual personal assistant that will be able to perform thousands of tasks. And it won’t just be stuck in a phone; it will be integrated into everything from fridges to cars. Viv has $30 million in funding and is the brainchild of Kittlaus, fellow Siri founder Adam Cheyer, and Siri software engineer Chris Brigham.

66. Dick Costolo

66. Dick Costolo

Getty / Steve Jennings

Cofounder and CEO, Chorus; partner, Index Ventures

Despite a public exit from Twitter last year, Costolo hasn’t left Silicon Valley. In January he announced plans to launch a fitness software startup with the goal of making fitness fun and social as well as shaking up how users motivate themselves to work out.

Costolo isn’t afraid to poke fun at Silicon Valley’s culture, either. He works as a consultant on the HBO show of the same name, expertly spoofing startup culture and the tech world. There might even be a fictitious version of Costolo on the show.

65. Mårten Mickos

65. Mårten Mickos


CEO, HackerOne

Mickos was named CEO of HackerOne last year after holding CEO positions at the database company MySQL and the HP-acquired Eucalyptus Systems. Along the way, Mickos has become a sort of fatherly pied-piper figure to a generation of socially awkward teen hackers, many of them living in developing countries. He is guiding them to the light of hacking for good, and earning some money, instead of causing mischief.

The hot cybersecurity startup HackerOne’s investors include Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff and Dropbox CEO Drew Houston, and Adobe and Yahoo are among its customers. Companies like Uber use the startup to hunt bugs on their software. HackerOne has raised $34 million in venture-capital financing from firms like Benchmark Capital and New Enterprise Associates.

64. Susan Wu, Laura I. Gómez, Erica Baker, Ellen Pao, Tracy Chou, Y-Vonne Hutchinson, Bethanye McKinney Blount, Freada Kapor Klein

64. Susan Wu, Laura I. Gómez, Erica Baker, Ellen Pao, Tracy Chou, Y-Vonne Hutchinson, Bethanye McKinney Blount, Freada Kapor Klein

Ashleigh Richelle/Project Include

Cofounders, Project Include

The nonprofit, started by eight successful women in Silicon Valley, is one of the biggest diversity initiatives in tech. Project Include asks tech companies to track their rates of inclusion to shed light on the industry’s slow diversification. Big players like Google, Microsoft, and Facebook know they lack in diversity, so the nonprofit wants to spark change — fast.

63. Todd McKinnon

63. Todd McKinnon


Cofounder and CEO, Okta 

McKinnon was a Salesforce engineer before founding Okta, now a seven-year-old cloud security startup valued at $1.2 billion. Okta, which connects and manages passwords and log-ins for services used by companies‘ employees, is reportedly toying with an initial public offering after hiring a Goldman Sachs banker in June. An Okta representative confirmed to Business Insider that the move was not for the purpose of an outright sale. Okta raised $75 million last September, bringing its total funding to about $230 million.

The competition in the cloud software space is fierce. This spring, Microsoft — an Okta customer, partner, and competitor — disinvited Okta from its coming tech conference because of „broad competition“ between the companies, only to change its mind a week later and reinvite the company.

62. Max Levchin

62. Max Levchin


Cofounder and CEO, Affirm

Levchin, the longtime Silicon valley bigwig known for founding PayPal, left Yahoo’s board after a three-year stint „due to other commitments“ — the main one being his startup Affirm, the alternative lending company. In April, Affirm raised $100 million in a series D round that it plans to use to increase its distribution capacity, grow its merchant clientele beyond the 700 retailers it now works with, and expand to products beyond point-of-sale financing.

61. Ben Silbermann and Evan Sharp

61. Ben Silbermann and Evan Sharp


Cofounders, CEO (Silbermann), chief creative officer (Sharp), Pinterest

Pinterest hit over 100 million active monthly users and a $11 billion valuation this past year, spurring Silbermann and Sharp to ramp up their e-commerce plans. Their new buyable pins allow users to purchase items directly from the site’s pins.

Though the company reportedly generated more than $100 million in revenue in 2015, Silbermann continues to reject rumors the company will go public and plans to focus on international expansion. In April, Pinterest announced that over half of its more than 100 million monthly active users were international.

60. Steve Huffman

60. Steve Huffman


CEO, Reddit

After founding Reddit, Huffman became its CEO after the social site’s users rebelled for infringements on free speech and interim CEO Ellen Pao resigned. Since taking over, Huffman enacted policies meant to stop Reddit’s abuse, like announcing that boards with content that incite violence or harm would be banned. Huffman’s other main focus has been turning on potential areas for monetization, like the site’s „I Am A…“ subreddit. In June, the startup announced it would automatically rewrite some links posted to help generate revenue from affiliates.

59. Rick Osterloh

59. Rick Osterloh

Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Senior VP of hardware, Google

Osterloh, previously the Motorola president, stepped into a newly created Google position a few months ago after reportedly turning down the CEO gig at DocuSign, a startup valued at about $3 billion. He now runs Google’s new hardware division, where he is responsible for unifying its diverse handful of products including its flagship Nexus phones and Google Glass revamp. His appointment may signify a new direction for Google or perhaps just the need for someone to figure out what the company’s direction should be.

58. Ben Hindman

58. Ben Hindman


Cofounder, Mesosphere

Last year, the cloud-computing startup Mesosphere, which valued itself at $1 billion, reportedly declined a $150 million acquisition bid by Microsoft. Microsoft and Mesosphere will continue their technology partnership, which integrates Mesosphere’s flagship Data Center Operating System product with the Microsoft Azure cloud. Hindman created the company while at UC Berkeley, and now companies like Twitter and Airbnb use the technology to write code once and run it anywhere, on any server infrastructure.

57. Venkata „Murthy“ Renduchintala

57. Venkata "Murthy" Renduchintala


President of client and Internet of Things (IoT) businesses and systems architecture group, Intel

After Intel hired Renduchintala from Qualcomm, he became a major influence in repositioning Intel for the modern age. In November the company spent over $10 million in bonus payments alone to bring Renduchintala as president of the newly created group that oversees Intel’s largest revenue-generating businesses, including its PC and IoT chips. In April, CEO Brian Krzanich announced 12,000 layoffs and a $1.2 billion charge, and Renduchintala will be helping to decide what to cut. Renduchintala has been critical of Intel’s lack of product and customer focus, and he is the one leading the charge to make sure the company finds its way forward.

56. Joshua Reeves

56. Joshua Reeves


Cofounder and CEO, Gusto

The human-resources software startup Gusto — formerly known as ZenPayroll — continues to grow, capitalizing on the recent troubles at Zenefits, one of its closest competitors. To keep Gusto thriving, Reeves focuses on putting customers first and curating a select team, rather than on expanding quickly and raising huge rounds of financing. That said, Gusto has raised more than $161 million, earning a $1 billion valuation in December.

55. Patrick Brown

55. Patrick Brown

Impossible Foods

Cofounder and CEO, Impossible Foods

Founded by Brown, a former Stanford biochemistry professor, Impossible Foods has engineered a plant-based burger that could be the answer to reducing animal-product consumption, especially for self-identifying meat lovers. Bill Gates and UBS are among the investors who think it is the answer: Impossible Foods has raised $183 million for its food concepts. The burger — which contains wheat protein, potato protein, and coconut oil, among other ingredients — looks like a beef patty and cooks the way it would. Alphabet Chairman Eric Schmidt praised meatless meat products as a possible world-changing technology, but Alphabet and Impossible Foods never secured a deal that was in the works last summer. Instead, the company is launching its meatless burger in New York.

54. Chris Lehane

54. Chris Lehane

Larry Busacca/Getty Images

Head of global policy and public affairs, Airbnb

Airbnb isn’t welcomed to every city with open arms, and former political guru Lehane is the man to help the startup find its way forward. Last fall, Airbnb spent millions to defeat a San Francisco ballot initiative that could have put a cap on the amount for which homeowners could rent their homes. Lehane gave a victory speech after the verdict, boasting of Airbnb’s NRA-rivaling membership numbers and its ability to mobilize its network of hosts. Lehane’s „SF-11“ group showcased the company’s usefulness and solidified it as a force for political change.

53. Chris Urmson

53. Chris Urmson


Director of self-driving car project, Google

Google’s parent company, Alphabet, teamed up with the Department of Transportation to bring driverless-car technology one step closer to reaching the consumer market. Together, Google and the DOT aggregate data, better understand traffic patterns and congestion areas, and thus help driverless cars better navigate cities. So far, Urmson’s driverless-car prototype knows how to dodge streakers and women in wheelchairs, but it isn’t quite foolproof yet. Earlier this year, the prototype had a literal run-in with a bus. Surely, more tests are yet to come for Urmson and Google.

52. Doug Evans

Founder and CEO, Juicero 

After years in stealth mode and roughly $120 million in funding, Juicero, the company behind the „Keurig for Juice,“ finally launched in March. The countertop cold-press juicer churns out 8 ounces of organic, nutrient-dense juices. A Juicero app lets users keep track of juice pack deliveries and nutritional information.

Evans has made it his mission to help people lead healthier lives, though Juicero’s steep $699 price tag could deter potential customers. For now, only residents of California can purchase the product, but the company’s site teases that it will soon be available nationwide.

51. Bozoma Saint John

51. Bozoma Saint John

Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images

Head of global consumer marketing for Apple Music and iTunes, Apple

Saint John stole the show at this year’s Worldwide Developers Conference — she got the audience to rap along to the Sugarhill Gang’s „Rapper’s Delight“ and was dubbed „the coolest person to ever go onstage at an Apple event“ by BuzzFeed. Saint John ended up at Apple by way of the company’s acquisition of Beats Music, and before that she built Pepsi’s music and entertainment marketing group. Her team at Apple revamped Apple Music with features, like lyrics, that excited WWDC’s entire crowd.

50. Susan Wojcicki

50. Susan Wojcicki

FilmMagic for YouTube

CEO, YouTube

Since becoming CEO of Google’s YouTube division in 2014, Wojcicki has made a slew of changes. Under her lead, YouTube has dived into virtual reality, live programming, and a $10-a-month ad-free subscription service that aims to monetize the platform’s audience more effectively.

YouTube is also rapidly bulking up its advertiser base, signing a $200 million contract with the ad-buying firm Magna Global and experimenting with custom video ads for small businesses. Wojcicki recently introduced an extension of the site’s Preferred product that lets brands automatically place their content by YouTube’s fastest rising and most popular videos.

49. Marissa Mayer

49. Marissa Mayer

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

CEO, Yahoo

Yahoo is struggling: revenue is down, investors are unhappy, and the company is bleeding money into acquisitions that aren’t providing the rescue the company needs. In the midst of Yahoo’s plight, many place the blame on Mayer for failing to turn things around in the four years since she took over.

But Mayer isn’t going down without a fight. She has stayed firmly at the helm of the company, determined to either figure out how to get Yahoo out of the red or dismantle the ship.

48. Nat Friedman

48. Nat Friedman


Cofounder and CEO, Xamarin

Xamarin, an open-source development company, allows programmers to write mobile apps that work on any popular operating system (iOS, Android, Windows) and then host them on their cloud of choice. When Xamarin, founded by Friedman, was getting its start in 2011, Microsoft was still considered an adversary by most open-source developers.

But no longer: Microsoft has begun to embrace open source as never before, and it bought Xamarin for a reported $400 million to $500 million in February. Xamarin’s new mission is to encourage developers to use Microsoft’s cloud instead of competitors‘ as the company works to grow its cloud business.

47. Chris Cox

47. Chris Cox

Stephen Lam/Reuters

Chief product officer, Facebook

The past year for Facebook has been all about video, and Cox is the man in charge of its product vision. The longtime Facebooker has led the full-blown charge into making video one of the top priorities both in your News Feed and for the company.

But his job isn’t all video. Cox is also behind the changes to the „Like“ button and also the new emoji reactions — don’t call them a „dislike button“ — that the company has seen this year. In June, Cox introduced more changes to the News Feed, including prioritizing friends‘ posts over those of publishers. Basically, whatever you see on Facebook is a result of Cox’s leadership over everything product at the social network.

46. Brian McClendon

46. Brian McClendon

Brian McClendon/Twitter

VP of advanced technologies, Uber

When Google announced its plans to create self-driving cars and a service to go with them, Uber turned to the former Google exec to head efforts against its automatic-car rival. Google Ventures (now known as GV) invested roughly $250 million in Uber in 2013, but the two companies‘ expanding ambitions mean they are increasingly eyeing each other’s turf. McClendon isn’t the only one who left Google for Uber: A LinkedIn search reveals that more than 300 Xooglers, or former Google employees, now work at Uber.

45. Chris Dixon

45. Chris Dixon

Noam Galai/Getty Images

Partner, Andreessen Horowitz

Dixon’s wheelhouse in venture capital is the crazy brainiac ideas that might just be our future. Dixon led the firm’s recent investment in the self-driving car and AI startup The venture capitalist has also invested in moonshots like Nootrobox, which manufactures purportedly brain-assisting add-ons called nootropics, and Dispatch, which is building a fleet of self-driving delivery vehicles. Plus, he is a staunch supporter of the products made by the companies he invests in: He drinks Soylent and eats nootropics pills daily.

44. Garrett Camp

44. Garrett Camp


Cofounder, Ubercofounder, StumbleUponfounder, Expa

Though he has shifted his focus to other projects, Camp is a multibillionaire thanks to his stake in the ubiquitous ride-hailing service Uber; his net worth is now at $6.2 billion.

This year, Camp launched the startup incubator Expa Labs, which has raised $100 million and will focus on providing a more hands-on experience to smaller cohorts of budding tech companies. Last August, he also bought back a controlling stake in StumbleUpon, the content-discovery website he cofounded as a graduate student in 2001 that learns what users like and recommends related sites to them.

43. Peter Szulczewski

Cofounder and CEO, Wish

Szulczewski has big plans for his e-commerce company. In 2015 he reportedly rejected multibillion-dollar acquisition inquiries from Amazon and Alibaba, and he projects Wish to sell $2 billion worth of goods this year. The company, which sells directly from merchants to consumers, spends big bucks on advertising, including an annual $100 million on Facebook ad space. Now people are wondering whether Wish could be the next Walmart of the online era. 

42. Jimmy Iovine and Eddy Cue

42. Jimmy Iovine and Eddy Cue

Angela Weiss/Getty Images

Cofounder, Beats Electronics; senior VP of internet software and services, Apple

Watch out, Spotify: Apple’s coming for you. After launching last June, with Apple executives Iovine and Cue leading the charge, Apple Music garnered 6.5 million paid subscribers in the first month after the free-trial period ended. A year later, that number had grown to 15 million paid subscribers.

Though the service still has a ways to go to catch up with Spotify’s 30 million paid subscribers, the rapid growth bodes well for the tech company. Apple launched the service as a direct challenge to Spotify’s prominence in streaming, and so far it is putting forth a good fight.

41. Ev Williams

Cofounder and CEO, Medium; founder, Obvious Ventures

Medium — the blogging platform used by tens of millions of people from budding writers to Valley mainstays to President Barack Obama — spent the year carving out some impressive real estate in the publishing sphere. This spring, the company created by Twitter cofounder and former CEO Ev Williams announced a $50 million round of funding, which followed a $57 million round in September.

In a post about the funding, the round’s leading investor, Spark Capital, wrote that the „publishing tool, network, and ecosystem“ was „solely focused on being the best place to read and write interesting stuff.“

40. Andrew Dreskin

Cofounder and CEO, Ticketfly

Pandora acquired the ticketing company Ticketfly for $450 million last year. Though Ticketfly is small compared with the ticketing giant Ticketmaster, the company is known for handling ticket sales for performances at smaller venues and the marketing and analytics for the venues it serves. Pandora plans to use the recent acquisition to build „the most effective marketplace for connecting music makers and fans.“

39. George Hotz


Hotz is best known for his previous life as a hacker — he cracked the original iPhone in 2007 when he was 17, and he went on to break into the PlayStation 3 in 2010. Since then he has built a self-driving car from the comfort of his own garage and created — a kit that lets customers turn „dumb“ cars into self-driving versions — based on that technology. It caught the attention of Andreessen Horowitz, which invested $3 million in the startup.

38. Adam Bain

38. Adam Bain

Handout/Getty Images

Chief operating officer, Twitter

Before he became Twitter’s COO, Bain was on the short list to be the company’s CEO. The past year has seen stalling user growth and disappointing financial performance (Twitter stock hit an all-time low in May), but Bain has kept the money machine pumping against all odds.

37. Greg Clark

37. Greg Clark

Courtesy of Blue Coat

CEO, Symantec

Blue Coat, a security systems company, was on track to become the largest initial public offering in tech this year after the IPO market all but dried up. The company stopped short of going public, however, when Symantec offered to purchase it for about $4.65 billion in cash. Clark, the CEO at Blue Coat, then became Symantec’s CEO.

36. Orion Hindawi

36. Orion Hindawi

Courtesy of Tanium

Cofounder and CEO, Tanium

Hindawi attributes Tanium’s success to its focus on building a quality product before fixating on growth. Now the hot security startup claims to be cash-flow positive and growing at more than 250% a year. After raising $52 million, the company raised another $120 million a mere five months later. In that time, Tanium’s valuation doubled to $3.5 billion. The most impressive part? The company spends no money on sales and marketing, but rather it gets all its customers through word of mouth in the IT community.

35. Mike Cagney, Dan Macklin, Ian Brady, James Finnigan

35. Mike Cagney, Dan Macklin, Ian Brady, James Finnigan

SoFi ; LinkedIn

Cofounders, SoFi

The lending and wealth-management startup SoFi received a $1 billion funding round led by SoftBank last year that was the biggest financing round ever in the fintech industry. Since then, Cagney has been pursuing a $30 billion valuation and building up SoFi as a competitor with brick-and-mortar banks and online lending services. He also told Business Insider that the startup was considering an expansion into the world of life insurance.

34. Sheryl Sandberg

34. Sheryl Sandberg

Allison Shelley/Getty Images

Chief operating officer, Facebook

As UC Berkeley’s graduation speaker, Sandberg delivered a moving address about the death of her husband, Dave Goldberg, in May 2015. Her comments about resilience in the face of loss show that she is a force to be reckoned with, professionally and otherwise. For the past year, she has been a single parent to her two children while still leading Facebook as its chief operating officer. Outside that, she also backs Globality, a startup with the mission to advance the global economy by allowing more businesses to export products. Still, she says, „being a mother is the most important — and most humbling — job I’ve ever had.“

33. Patrick and John Collison

Cofounders, Stripe

There’s no slowing down the mobile-payment company Stripe. In July 2015 it received funding from a group of investors that included Visa and American Express. The $100 million round brought Stripe’s valuation to $5 billion.

Stripe also launched two new products: Relay allows businesses to sell products on other apps, and Atlas helps international companies start businesses in the US. In March, Collison was among a group of American business leaders who joined President Barack Obama on a trip to Cuba, one of the countries Stripe launched in this year, to try to bridge the gap between the two countries.

32. Diane Bryant

32. Diane Bryant


Senior VP and general manager, Data Center Group, Intel

In the midst of a declining PC market, Bryant keeps Intel alive as head of the company’s most profitable and fastest-growing unit, its Data Center Group. The unit creates chips that power internet services like autonomous cars, smart grids, and drones, and last year it generated $16 billion in revenue, or about 30% of Intel’s total sales. The company’s new focus on the Internet of Things puts Bryant at the forefront of Intel’s potential for innovation.

31. Keith Block

Chief operating officer, Salesforce

Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff loves what former Oracle sales star Block is doing for the company’s enterprise sales, so much so that he bought the COO a $41,000 watch. Block signed a record number of deals last quarter — 600 for at least $1 million each — and he secured a nine-figure contract with an unnamed company he described as „one of the world’s most respected companies.“ In May, Salesforce announced that the US Department of Health and Human Services signed a $100 million „blanket“ contract with Salesforce that also included a whopping $503 million budget just for related consulting services.

30. Rob Mee

30. Rob Mee


CEO, Pivotal

Pivotal recently caught the attention of Ford, which led to a $253 million investment round for the software-building and consulting startup that counts BMW, Twitter, and Best Buy as customers. Microsoft also participated in the round, which was Mee’s first as the newly appointed CEO. Together, Pivotal and Microsoft create an industry stronghold: They share 100 customers in the Fortune 500. Partnerships with Microsoft, Amazon, and Google’s cloud computing services make Pivotal an easy-to-use service, even for legacy companies like Home Depot.

29. Regina Dugan

29. Regina Dugan


Head of Building 8, Facebook

This year, Dugan left her position as head of Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects Group for Facebook, where she was hired to spearhead the company’s new Building 8 initiative. The social network tasked Dugan and her team with creating hardware that will expand its product development efforts. It will be interesting to see where Dugan, who advocates rapid prototyping, takes Building 8.

28. Nathan Blecharczyk, Brian Chesky, Joe Gebbia

Cofounders, Airbnb

Airbnb became one of the most valuable startups in the world in December after securing a massive $1.5 billion funding round, raising its valuation to $25.5 billion. But that’s not enough for the billionaire founders‘ ambitious international expansion plan; they are now seeking a new round of funding that would raise Airbnb’s valuation to $30 billion, triple what it was just two years ago. The room-renting company has listings in 191 countries and projects that 129 million nights will be booked by year’s end.

There is just one thing stopping Airbnb from further growth: government roadblocks. In early June, for instance, the city of San Francisco backed Airbnb into a corner, requiring that the company list only properties that are registered with the city. Airbnb has sued the city to protect its renters who rely on their Airbnb income.

27. David Sacks

CEO, Zenefits

After launching in 2013, the insurance startup Zenefits grew to 1,600 employees in two years. Soon after, Zenefits fell off track for its $100 million sales target, intracompany communication spiraled out of control, and its sales licensing procedures came under question. CEO Parker Conrad suddenly left, and Sacks, the COO, took over the top spot. He has made rapid and decisive changes to get the company back on track, including cutting jobs, asking employees who weren’t committed to take a buyout, and cutting the value of the company by more than $2 billion as part of a deal with investors to avoid lawsuits.

26. Chuck Robbins

26. Chuck Robbins


CEO, Cisco

Upon his appointment as CEO, Robbins reorganized Cisco’s leadership and restructured its engineering unit in a move to build closer relationships with the company’s legendary lead engineers, who used to report to John Chambers, now the executive chairman. Robbins also brought in new hires to head the areas of Cisco he plans to focus and expand upon, like networking, cloud computing, security, and IOT and applications. As Microsoft challenges Cisco with its new networking software, it is as important as ever that Cisco’s engineers focus on the company’s own networking software, Nexus 9000.

25. Palmer Luckey and Brendan Iribe

25. Palmer Luckey and Brendan Iribe

Wikimedia Commons and Brian Ach/Getty

Cofounders, CEO (Iribe), Oculus VR

It’s finally here! Four years after launching and two years after the $2 billion acquisition by Facebook, Oculus finally unleashed the Oculus Rift, its long-awaited virtual reality headset, to eager customers.

The product comes with a steep $600 price tag, but that didn’t deter consumers from champing at the bit for it. Preorders opened in January and sold out almost immediately, leaving the company struggling to keep up. The headset also launched in retail stores this May, giving customers another chance to try to score one.

24. Chamath Palihapitiya

24. Chamath Palihapitiya

Owen Thomas, Business Insider

Founder, Social Capital

Outspoken Silicon Valley investor Palihapitiya didn’t tread lightly this year. He decried the gender gap in tech, shared which startups he thought were „mostly crap,“ and publicly criticized Apple CEO Tim Cook. Through his more than $1 billion investment fund Social Capital, Palihapitiya is righteous in his conviction that today’s generation has the opportunity to put „a massive dent in human suffering and make trillions of dollars in return.“

The company he is most excited to put his money behind? Amazon, which he thinks could be a $3 trillion behemoth a decade from now. „We think this is the most incredible company being built today in the world,“ he said at an investment conference in May. Also this spring, the multimillionaire and part-owner of the Golden State Warriors launched a hedge fund, the impact of which remains to be seen.

23. Bill Gurley

23. Bill Gurley

Steve Jennings/Getty Images

General partner, Benchmark Capital

The thriving tech industry of the past few years hasn’t been quite as fruitful in 2016, with startups struggling to procure funding and a notable lack of initial public offerings. But many investors ignored the choppy waters — until Gurley stepped in.

In April, the prominent Benchmark Capital venture capitalist released a seminal piece about the tech bubble on his personal blog, predicting the end of the unicorn boom and finally getting fellow VCs to take note of the slowdown. Even more recently, Gurley again warned against late-stage investments, reminding lenders that they are companies‘ last resorts — not exactly the best way to kick off a business relationship.

22. John Zimmer and Logan Green

22. John Zimmer and Logan Green

Stephen Lam/Reuters

Cofounders, Lyft

Lyft cofounders Green and Zimmer are looking toward the future of transportation after raising $1 billion in the company’s latest funding round in January, more than doubling its valuation to $5.5 billion from $2.5 billion in 2015.

The ride-hailing app announced in May that it was testing a service allowing passengers to schedule Lyft rides up to 24 hours in advance; the company’s chief rival, Uber, announced a similar service only a few weeks later. In January, Lyft signed a partnership with General Motors, along with a $500 million investment, that aims to pursue the development of self-driving cars.

21. Jeff Lawson

21. Jeff Lawson


Founder, CEO, and chairman, Twilio

When the cloud software company Twilio filed for an initial public offering, it broke Silicon Valley’s 2016 tech startup drought. Originally expected to be valued at $12 to $14 a share, it exceeded expectations by pricing at $15 a share and has been on a tear since. A developer favorite — Lawson says 700,000 developers have used the software to date — Twilio integrates communications systems into existing apps like Uber, Lyft, and Airbnb. The behind-the-scenes software cuts costs and boosts efficiency for big tech ventures, allowing them to expand faster than if they had to build communications technologies on their own.

20. Chris Sacca

20. Chris Sacca

Alison Buck/Getty

Founder, Lowercase Capital

Sacca, the founder of the Silicon Valley VC firm Lowercase Capital, became a billionaire thanks to his company’s 4% stake in Uber, which most recently clinched a valuation of nearly $68 billion. Sacca was also an early-stage investor in Twitter, Instagram, and Kickstarter, establishing a reputation for spotting the hottest startups before they become household names.

But alas, he can‘t spot them all. In an interview with Vanity Fair, Sacca revealed that he declined to invest in Snapchat — an app he now uses daily. The cowboy-shirt-wearing investor starred in a few episodes of the investing show „Shark Tank“ last season, where he frequently locked horns with fellow billionaire, show regular, and longtime friend Mark Cuban.

19. Stewart Butterfield

19. Stewart Butterfield

Kimberly White/Getty Images

Cofounder and CEO, Slack

People just can’t get enough of the workplace messaging app Slack. At the end of March, the three-year-old company had its largest round of funding to date. Slack raised $200 million, bringing its estimated value to $3.8 billion. It is one of the fastest-growing business apps of all time, and most of that growth is organic. The company has done some TV spots and billboard campaigns, but it mostly relies on growth through word of mouth. It hired its first sales chief only in May after years of scaling on its own.

18. Sam Altman

18. Sam Altman

Getty Images

Founding partner and president, Y Combinator

Since taking over as president of the startup accelerator Y Combinator in early 2014, Altman has transformed the incubator into a more robust company, adding a research lab and late-stage growth fund. Acceptance into Y Combinator, which is known for producing elite Silicon Valley companies like Dropbox and Airbnb, serves as a sure-fire entrance into the competitive startup world.

Under Altman’s leadership, the company committed $10 million to YC Research, a lab separate from YC‘s startup program focused on developing technology for the greater good that will eventually be available to anyone — free. Y Combinator also raised $700 million to further invest in select maturing startups it believes will succeed long term. 

Altman’s newest plan is to grow Y Combinator from 200 companies a year to 2,000, thanks to the YC Fellowship program.

17. Kyle Vogt

17. Kyle Vogt


Founder and CEO, Cruise

As tech companies and traditional car manufacturers vie for prevalence in the auto space, it feels like a race to see who will build the first mainstream self-driving car. And Vogt might be onto something big. His startup, Cruise, is developing technology that can retroactively transform any car into an autonomous one. His idea is so huge, in fact, that Vogt sold the startup to General Motors for more than $1 billion in March, making him the automaker’s point person in Silicon Valley.  

16. Reed Hastings

16. Reed Hastings

Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Cofounder and CEO, Netflix

Netflix and its fearless leader Hastings have continued to dominate, impress, and delight this year. The ubiquitous entertainment-streaming service was one of the biggest risers in the tech industry in 2015 as evidenced by its 95-spot jump on this year’s Fortune 500 list. With a plan for aggressive global expansion in motion and more than 600 hours of original content being added to its library throughout this year, Netflix expects to burn through another $1 billion in cash in 2016 to carry its growth efforts.

Netflix reached 81 million subscribers in April, but analysts estimate that the company will lose about 480,000 subscribers this year because of gradual price hikes, which are still estimated to pull in about $520 million in extra revenue.

15. Diane Greene

15. Diane Greene


Founder, Bebop; senior VP of cloud businesses, Google 

Since Google’s parent company, Alphabet, bought Bebop for $380 million last year, Greene has been making waves at the Silicon Valley giant. Eight months ago, she was appointed head of the company’s cloud efforts. She upended Google for Work, hiring sales and support personnel, creating a Global Alliance program, and building industry-specific units for clients. By collaborating with Google’s customers, Greene and her team leverage data and tools from Google and other companies, transforming the way the cloud is used.

14. Peter Thiel

14. Peter Thiel

Torch Communications

Partner, Founders Fund; chairman, Palantir; founder, Thiel Fellowship; investor

Love him or hate him, Thiel is a force to be reckoned with in Silicon Valley. In May, it came out that the billionaire VC was the secret benefactor funding Hulk Hogan’s sex-tape lawsuit against Gawker — apparently as revenge for Gawker’s coverage of Thiel in the past. The staunch libertarian and longtime Republican supporter is also serving as one of Donald Trump’s California delegates.

But beyond all the drama, Thiel remains one of tech’s savviest investors through his Founders Fund, and Palantir, the big-data company he cofounded, continues to grow. Recently, it offered to buy back stock from current employees at a higher share price than many investors value the company at — provided that the employees agree not to discuss Palantir with outsiders and media.

13. Meg Whitman

13. Meg Whitman

Andrew Burton/Getty Images

President and CEO of Hewlett Packard Enterprise; chairwoman of HP Inc.

After years of sliding profits, troublesome acquisitions, and thousands of layoffs, Whitman decided to take drastic measures help boost Hewlett Packard back to its former glory. So she split the IT giant into two leaner, more focused ventures. Hewlett Packard Enterprise took charge of selling hardware, such as servers, while HP Inc. remained in control of printers and PCs.

Then in May, Whitman divided the company even further, spinning off HPE’s business enterprise services and merging with Computer Sciences in hopes of — once again — becoming a serious competitor in the information technology space. In addition to overseeing the entire undertaking, Whitman serves as HPE’s CEO and is on the board of all three new companies.

12. Dan Schulman

12. Dan Schulman

Business Insider

President and CEO, PayPal

After a 13-year marriage, PayPal and eBay parted ways in 2015 to form two separate companies. Schulman has been CEO of the former ever since. Under Schulman, the PayPal-owned Venmo has become the year’s most dominant peer-to-peer payment app, with 173 million active users in 2015. In April he announced that the company had its best quarterly earnings ever, despite an ongoing Federal Trade Commission investigation of the operation on suspicion of possible „deceptive or unfair practices.“

11. Sundar Pichai

11. Sundar Pichai

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

CEO, Google

After Google restructured last year and formed Alphabet to oversee its growing cache of companies, Pichai took the reins as CEO of the new standalone subsidiary Google, which includes the company’s search, YouTube, and Android businesses.

Pichai is focusing heavily on artificial intelligence, unveiling several new applications at the Google I/O event in May, including a messaging app that uses „messaging bots“ to draft responses for users to make messaging easier and faster. Pichai has become one of the highest-paid CEOs in the tech world, making over $100 million in 2015.

10. Brian Slingerland, Scott Dylla, and Daniel Reiner

10. Brian Slingerland, Scott Dylla, and Daniel Reiner


Cofounders, Stemcentrx

Previously a Goldman Sachs vice president and a senior scientist at OncoMed Pharmaceuticals, respectively, Slingerland and Dylla publicly launched Stemcentrx in September (after seven years in stealth mode) along with Reiner, a serial investor and former telecom executive. Their mission: to end cancer by targeting cancer-specific stem cells.

Less than a year later, the pharma giant AbbVie bought the biotech startup for $10.2 billion, when the company was valued at $5 billion, in one of the largest tech acquisitions ever. AbbVie showed special interest in Stemcentrx’s lung-cancer-fighting drug Rova-T, which could grow the company’s oncology business. AbbVie hopes to bring the drug to market by 2018.

9. David Marcus

9. David Marcus

Brian Ach/Getty Images

VP of messaging products, Facebook

It has been nearly two years since Marcus left his cushy job as president of PayPal to join the Facebook team as vice president of messaging products, a move he has called a „once-in-a-generation opportunity.“ Under his rule, Facebook’s Messenger has grown into a beast of its own, with 900 million monthly active users as of April.

This year Marcus built out Messenger’s AI capabilities to include Spotify song sharing, Uber and Lyft ride hailing, food ordering, and flight tracking. And with the recent unveiling of chat bots for businesses, Messenger aims to make sure you never have to deal with human customer service again.

8. Marc Benioff

8. Marc Benioff

Kimberly White/Getty Images

Cofounder and CEO, Salesforce

It might not be a shiny, consumer-facing product, but the cloud computing software company Salesforce is crushing it and remains one of the hottest tech companies in the world. Helmed by Benioff, the $50 billion business boasts a 22% compound annual growth rate and is expected to rake in more than $8 billion in revenue this year.

Benioff has become a model CEO not just for financial success but also for social involvement, standing up for gender equality, workplace diversity, and LGBT rights. He has openly criticized legislation that could be used to discriminate against LGBT workers and publicly pledged to guarantee equal pay for men and women.

7. Tim Cook

7. Tim Cook

Stephen Lam/Getty Images

CEO, Apple

In the past 12 months, Cook guided the tech giant through the launch of Apple Music, which garnered 6.5 million paid subscribers in the first month after the service’s free-trial period; released the Apple TV 4, which can run third-party apps and access Siri; and introduced the iPad Pro, the company’s largest tablet, boldly declaring the end of PCs with it.

Under Cook, Apple also recently invested $1 billion into Didi Chuxing, the Chinese ride-hailing service that is blowing Uber out of the water in China. The deal was Apple’s first major investment since it bought Beats Electronics in 2014.

6. Jack Dorsey

6. Jack Dorsey

Kimberly White/Getty Images

Cofounder and CEO, Twitter and Square

As CEO of both Square and Twitter, Dorsey has his fingerprints all over Silicon Valley. In November he took the mobile payment company Square public, opening at $9 a share, lower than the $11 to $13 originally proposed. Though some outlets called it a flop, many entrepreneurs would kill for the company’s $3 billion market capitalization and $1.3 billion in revenue.

And after returning to Twitter as interim CEO last July (and officially appointed CEO in October), Dorsey has spent the past year turning the struggling social network around by solidifying its mission and making product adjustments, including plans to incorporate more live video and crack down on the hateful abuse many users complain about.

5. Reid Hoffman and Jeff Weiner

5. Reid Hoffman and Jeff Weiner

Kimberly White/Getty Images ; Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Cofounder and executive chairman (Hoffman), CEO (Weiner), LinkedIn

In March, Weiner gave his $14 million stock bonus back to LinkedIn employees after the company’s stock tumbled 40% following the company’s tepid February earnings report. Weiner hoped the move would help reinvigorate employees and improve morale.

By June, the company’s stock-price woes had become moot. The tech world shook after Weiner and cofounder Hoffman oversaw the professional social network’s sale to Microsoft for a stunning $26.2 billion in cash. The deal marked Microsoft’s largest acquisition ever, with the software giant paying a 50% premium to close the deal. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella plans to eventually sync LinkedIn’s network with Microsoft Office, ideally bolstering the overall user experience on both sides.

4. Elon Musk

4. Elon Musk

VCG/Getty Images

CEO, Tesla; CEO and CTO, SpaceX; chairman, Solar City

Musk continues to be one of the world’s most influential entrepreneurs — and preeminent multitaskers. Musk has his eyes set on dominating land and space through Tesla Motors and SpaceX, two of the hottest and most progressive companies of our generation. In April, Musk unveiled Tesla’s mass-market Model 3, racking up 375,000 preorders in one month. The company is reportedly struggling to meet demand.

In June, Musk made a highly criticized all-stock offer for Tesla to acquire the floundering solar-energy company SolarCity; Musk owns 22% of the company and serves as its chairman. And if that weren’t enough, he also envisioned a futuristic transporation system called the Hyperloop that would take people from LA to San Francisco in less than an hour. One company building a system based on that idea has now secured $80 million in series B financing in May and has begun testing its technology.

3. Travis Kalanick

3. Travis Kalanick


Cofounder and CEO, Uber

Worth $68 billion, the ride-hailing service Uber, helmed by Kalanick, holds steady in its place as the most valuable private tech company in the world. Under Kalanick’s leadership, the startup also raised the largest round of venture capital ever, bringing in $3.5 billion from Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund in June.

Uber continues to expand and innovate, particularly through new services, such as UberEats, which brings meals to New York City customers, and UberRush, which helps businesses make deliveries. Kalanick leads the charge as Uber expands and conquers new markets, even as it faces fierce competition in China.

2. Larry Page

2. Larry Page

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Cofounder and CEO, Alphabet

Once just a search engine, Google has grown so tremendously that its cofounders felt it was time to restructure the company. In a letter last summer, Page announced the creation of Alphabet, a holding company that oversees Google and numerous other subsidiaries. As Alphabet’s CEO, Page can focus on acquiring new technologies, fostering „moonshot“ projects, and developing talent — his first move was promoting Google’s Sundar Pichai from senior vice president to CEO.

In June, Bloomberg Businessweek reported that Page had personally acquired two companies working on creating a flying car, an investment unaffiliated with Alphabet.

1. Mark Zuckerberg

1. Mark Zuckerberg

Steve Jennings/Getty Images

Cofounder and CEO, Facebook

It has been a big year for Zuckerberg. At Facebook’s annual F8 developers conference in April, he laid out a 10-year road map for Facebook, detailing short-term plans to ramp up video, search, and apps, such as Instagram and WhatsApp, in the next five years. The company’s long-term focus will include bigger projects like drones, artificial intelligence, and virtual reality.

Zuckerberg also became a dad last fall, prompting him to pledge to give away 99% of his $50 billion fortune throughout his lifetime. He will do so primarily through a new organization he cofounded with his wife, Priscilla Chan, called the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, which is aimed at making long-term investments in causes and organizations that will improve health, education, and equality.

China’s booming fintech sector

The fast and furious growth of the country’s Internet finance industry will inevitably slow. Companies need to begin positioning themselves for sustainable success.

Download the full report here: Disruption-and-connection-cracking-the-myths-of-China-internet-finance-innovation

China’s Internet finance industry has boomed in recent years. The country leads the world when it comes to total users and market size; financial-technology (or fintech) start-ups are mushrooming, as are company valuations; capital markets are aggressively pursuing the Internet finance industry; and consumer behavior is altering dramatically. By the end of 2015, the market size of the country’s Internet finance sector was more than 12 trillion renminbi ($1.8 trillion), dominated by the payments sector (exhibit).

Four factors are driving this rapid growth. First, China has an open, supportive regulatory environment. In fact, in 2013 the People’s Bank of China explicitly expressed support for tech companies to promote Internet finance. Second, China has a highly developed e-commerce sector, with more than 30 percent of the Chinese population already using Internet payment systems. Third, there is enormous latent demand for inclusive finance. Due to historical protection and strict regulation, traditional players are moving slowly to meet underserved customer segments, opening the door to disruptors. And finally, the strong profitability of traditional banks has underwritten a strong trial-and-effort culture, facilitating aggressive investments in innovative digital services.

The Internet finance sector’s torrid growth will inevitably slow. This will present challenges and opportunities for companies, especially as more mature regulations are imposed and a degree of consolidation takes place. As outlined in our new report Disruption and connection: Cracking the myths of China Internet finance intervention, surviving and thriving in this changing environment requires companies to take steps now. That means understanding not just the trends likely to shape the sector but also the kind of companies that have evolved in recent years.

China’s three types of fintech players

Numerous players from various industries have rushed to stake a claim to China’s Internet finance sector. We’ve identified three distinct types of companies that are taking the lead, each with distinctive value propositions:

  • Internet attackers, or ‘barbarians from the outside.’ China has a uniquely competitive digital landscape dominated by a few digital companies that have established comprehensive multilicensed financial ecosystems. They differ from each other by core businesses or target groups. As one of the largest e-commerce companies globally, for example, Alibaba used its e-commerce business as a foundation of its financial empire, first entering into the payments sector before expanding into financing and wealth management, with an emphasis on hundreds of millions of individual and small- to medium-enterprise (SME) customers. Tencent took another route, expanding beyond the powerful social nature of its WeChat platform to build a consumer-oriented financial network that taps into its huge user base. These entrepreneurial attackers form the largest group and the most prolifically and wildly innovative, offering local products and expanding aggressively by taking full advantage of the customer insights at their disposal.
  • Traditional financial institutions. Incumbent financial institutions are accelerating their push into the Internet finance sector. They don’t want to just witness this wave—they want to ride it. Yet strict regulations and relatively conservative mind-sets mean they are typically followers rather than leaders, at least compared with Internet attackers. That said, institutions such as Ping An Insurance Group are strategically entering the sector through subsidiaries including Lufax, Pinganfang, and Ping An Puhui. In addition, large commercial banks are acting: for example, China Construction Bank and Industrial and Commercial Bank of China are now building their own e-commerce platforms. Others will inevitably follow. Traditional players also have several strengths that should not be underestimated: a legacy of strategic partnerships, comprehensive product offerings, professional risk-management expertise, and physical branches.
  • Nonfinance companies. Although small in number, companies with no experience in either finance or the Internet are joining the sector. Examples include retail companies Gome and Suning, and real-estate group Wanda Group, which are marrying extensive offline resources such as customer leads with data mining to design new financial products. In doing so, they threaten to undermine banks’ control over key business customers.

Six emerging fintech trends

In the near future, we believe China’s Internet finance players will enter a “warring stage” that results in consolidation. Regulations will be updated to account for new companies and products, and growth will become more orderly. In next five years, we see the enormous potential of six developing trends being gradually unleashed. Players should act quickly and firmly, strengthening skills and capabilities to take advantage of fintech’s global emergence.

Mobile payment and wealth management

Payment is the most mature sector in Internet finance, but growth in the payments industry is far from slowing. Consumer engagement and affinity are increasing, and online-to-offline mobile payment via smartphones has become a new battlefield where companies are already starting to compete fiercely for market share. Traditional financial institutions, in cooperation with mobile-hardware manufacturers, are also starting to adopt near-field communication payment. At the same time, China’s capital market is opening up. As they accumulate more wealth, Chinese consumers are hunting for higher investment returns—meaning that all investment products, except savings, are expected to maintain rapid growth. That provides opportunities for Internet-based wealth-management businesses.

Online consumer and SME finance

As China’s economy seeks to evolve from investment led to consumer led, demand for financial services among Chinese households will only increase. Younger Chinese consumers are early adopters and keen drivers of innovation, more open to online personal-finance products, and have both a higher propensity to spend and a higher tolerance for financial risk. Indeed, as more advanced application of data enables quick and remote decision making, the full range of conventional consumer-financing products—such as credit cards and consumer loans—can be offered online, further broadening the industry’s potential scope. In addition, there remains a large gap between the needs of SMEs and traditional banking products. SMEs in China contribute a significant share of GDP and employment (nearly 80 percent and 60 percent respectively), yet their development has been beset by a shortage of funds. As the country’s economy slows, banks are becoming more reluctant to address this issue—presenting a huge opportunity for the highly efficient, low-cost fintech sector.

B2B Internet finance

In the next five years, companies will still contribute the majority of banking revenue in China—and the long business-to-business value chain will generate both opportunities and innovation. Chinese companies are shifting from simply borrowing to having more complicated needs, such as transaction banking and asset management. In transaction banking, Internet finance can provide time-effective supply-chain financing solutions and digitized cash-management systems to support high-quality management of corporate finance and capital for large companies. In asset management, Internet finance can better address increasingly complex customer needs by providing quick, customized, and differentiated product matching, especially when high-quality assets are difficult to find. Internet channels are also well suited to marketing and customer expansion.

Financial cloud and infrastructure

Unlike the traditional model, where financial institutions operate their own data and IT centers, cloud-based services allow customers to be served remotely based on demand, paying for that usage. Cost effectiveness is a major advantage, with the cloud allowing customers to easily access information with minimal up-front and overhead spending. It also allows customers to retain flexible infrastructure that can be quickly scaled up or down. That’s especially important for small players who need to rapidly build IT capabilities to serve explosively growing user bases and fluctuating volumes. Many IT companies such as Alibaba, Huawei, and IBM are already providing cloud solutions and platforms. We believe cloud-enabled innovation in the Internet finance sector will only increase.

Big data application

Big data allows financial institutions to collect and analyze customer data, providing more tailored products and services through a personalized marketing experience. In risk management, big data allows players to use advanced statistical models to better understand the correlation between factors and risks, based on both internal and external data. Combining this with cloud services facilitates real-time credit investigation and decision making at a low cost. Financial institutions that master these data-driven advantages will enjoy increased operational efficiency and business performance. It’s perhaps no wonder that there’s a huge unmet need forbig data analytics in China—and more and more companies are emerging to serve financial institutions unable build this capability in-house.

Disruptive technology

Blockchain and related disruptive technologies have drawn close attention in the financial industry. Blockchain, the technological base of Bitcoin, is characterized as being safe, transparent, and unmodifiable—however, blockchain has much greater potential than digital currencyalone. It enables point-to-point transactions without a clearing intermediary, substantially reducing transaction time and cost. Further, if combined with smart contracts, blockchain makes it possible to automatically issue digital securities and trade financial derivatives. More broadly, the insurance sector will also provide new opportunities for the application of blockchain.

All of this isn’t to suggest there aren’t nonexposed risks, uncertainties, and challenges associated with China’s booming Internet finance industry. These include consumer irrationality, product defects, and even fraudulent activity, and require careful maneuvering. Players also should cautiously deal with the implicit credit risk and liquidity risk, and be aware that regulators are determined to strengthen the management of Internet finance.

Yet we believe China’s fintech sector will inevitably embrace fiercer competition and further industry integration, with true winners emerging through selection and elimination as they navigate the developing trends we have identified. No matter which element of the Internet finance industry they are in, and whatever their business models are, players must keep evolving to survive and realize a sustainable stake in the sector’s future growth.