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
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
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
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
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
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
Anthony Harvey/Getty Images
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Brian Ach/Getty Images
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Brian Ach/Getty Images
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Noam Galai/Getty Images
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
FilmMagic for 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
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
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
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
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
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
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 Comma.ai. 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
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
Angela Weiss/Getty Images
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
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 Comma.ai — 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
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
Courtesy of Blue Coat
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
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
SoFi ; LinkedIn
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
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
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
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
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
Stephen Lam/Getty Images
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
Kimberly White/Getty Images
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
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
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
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
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
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.