THE SILICON VALLEY 100
It’s finally here!
After months of research, evaluation, and debate, we’re pleased to present the definitive list of the 100 people who did the coolest things in Silicon Valley this year: The SILICON VALLEY 100.
Congratulations to everyone who made the list. Apologies to anyone who deserved to but didn’t (We’re not omniscient.) And a resounding “tally-ho!” to the dozens of folks who secretly think they should have made it but really didn’t deserve to. (Get out there and do something cooler next year).
Here’s to an even more exciting 2011!
Thanks to our many readers who took the time to send us nominations. The Silicon Valley 100 was assembled by Nick Saint, Cooper Smith, Henry Blodget, Nicholas Carlson, Dan Frommer, Jay Yarow, Matt Rosoff, William Wei, and Jason Merriman.
Chairman and CEO, Apple2010 was another monster year for Apple.
Steve Jobs unveiled the category-creating iPad, as well as the latest and greatest iPhone. Along the way, Apple passed Microsoft to become the most valuable non-oil company in the world.
Steve clearly did the coolest things in Silicon Valley this year, by a mile.
Elliot Schrage and Sheryl Sandberg — The Facebook Grownups
VP of Global Communications – Marketing and Public Policy, Chief Operating Officer, FacebookFacebook came in to 2010 on top of the world as a product. Now it’s a killer business too, with annual revenue reportedly nearing $2 billion.
While Zuckerberg and his coevals keep the product fresh, Eliot and Sheryl have made the company respectable. They’re also are the people making the business run. As she did at Google, Sandberg is building a huge sales organization.
Schrage has turned product releases and upgrades into must attend press events at Facebook’s headquarters. He has also defused massive concerns about privacy. It’s thanks in part to these non-threatening events, insiders say, that Mark Zuckerberg has turned into a decent interviewee.
VP of Engineering, GoogleAndy Rubin oversees Google’s mobile OS, Android, which exploded onto the scene this year.
Android came out of nowhere to become the second best selling mobile OS worldwide, behind Symbian. Google hasn’t demonstrated how it can squeeze revenue out of all those users yet, but its progress this year is still staggering.
Cofounder and CEO, Tesla Motors, Founder, CEO, and CTO, SpaceXThe cofounder of PayPal took his electric car company public, and has seen its market cap rise to over $3 billion. He has also bailed himself out of financial trouble.
In his spare time, Elon also ran a private space exploration company that successfully launched a rocket into orbit.
Pretty cool, huh?
Cofounder and CEO, ZyngaThe casual gaming juggernaut behind FarmVille kept on rolling, raising another $300 million, and surviving a showdown with Facebook over payments. Zynga’s market cap is now larger than Electronic Arts’s.
Mark Zuckerberg, Chris Cox, Bret Taylor
Founder and CEO, VP of Product, CTO, FacebookWhile Facebook’s grown-ups were busy turning Facebook into a serious business, the kids behind the Facebook product kept crushing it.
Facebook introduced the Open Graph, Groups, Places, a new profile design, and its new don’t-call-it-email communication system.
Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina
Former eBay CEO, Former Hewlett-Packard CEOTechnology and politics are both notorious boys’ clubs. So it’s pretty astonishing that this November two female former CEOs of giant tech companies were in high profile contests for political office.
Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz
Partners, Andreessen-HorowitzAndreessen-Horowitz is just over a year old, and already it’s one of the most important VCs out there.
The firm won the insanely competitive and public bidding war for Foursquare’s series B, and raised a $650 million sophomore fund.
Andreessen also played a major role in helping HP handle the fallout from Mark Hurd’s ouster.
Cofounder and CEO, Digital Sky Technologies
In buying huge chunks of some of the world’s biggest startups – including Facebook, Zynga, and Groupon – DST has reinvented the way tech companies grow up. With Milner buying stock from early investors and founders, companies stay private longer.
With half of Silicon Valley’s most promising companies in its portfolio, DST filed for an IPO and raised another $380 million this year.
Dick Costolo and Evan Williams
CEO, Cofounder and Product Development, TwitterIn the year and change since Twitter’s last big funding round, the company has roughly quadrupled its valuation, to a reported $4 billion. It is also in the early stages of establishing a business model with in-stream advertisements and licensing access to its firehose.
This fall, Williams made the bold and wise choice to step down from his CEO job and allow the revenue-driven Costolo in.
Ron Conway and David Lee
Founding Partners, SV AngelThe godfather of Silicon Valley angel investors was at the forefront of the new wave of ‘super angels’, raising a fund with his partner David Lee, and investing in startups at a furious pace.
He is subverting the way early stage fundraising has always been done (and making plenty of enemies along the way).
Eric Schmidt, Sergey Brin, Larry Page
Chairman and CEO, Cofounder and President – Technology, Cofounder and President – Products, GoogleAs it tends to, Google spread its focus across dozens of major projects this year.
Some – Buzz and Wave, especially – were flops. But Android is killing it, display advertising is on the move, and the company is finally working on new revenue streams, with the launch of Boutiques and the acquisition of ITA.
Google also invented cars that drive themselves.
Founding Partner, Y CombinatorPaul Graham’s startup accelerator has become so influential, it has super angels conspiring about how to respond.
The program’s demo days have become a mecca for investors and celebrities. Graham even became a Forbes cover model.
CEO and President, 3Par (now SVP and GM of HP StorageWorks)Being CEO of 3Par was probably one of the most fun jobs on earth this summer.
Scott got to kick back and watch HP and Dell go nuts outbidding one another to take over his company. When the dust settled, HP won the bidding war by paying $2.35 billion.
John Pleasants and Christa Quarles
CEO, CFO, PlaydomOne of Zynga’s biggest rivals in Facebook gaming, Playdom sold to Disney for $750 million.
Kudos to Quarles especially. She signed on to become CFO and then found a huge exit for the company only months later. Cha-ching!
CEO, SquareSquare released the first version of its miniature card readers that plug into your iPhone, allowing you to accept credit card payments anywhere.
Dorsey is also working part-time at his old company, Twitter, helping fix the product.
Founder, QuoraFrom tiny startups to monsters like Google and Facebook, everyone is trying to get in on Q&A these days.
But none of them are generating buzz like former Facebook CTO D’Angelo’s Quora. D’Angelo launched, raised $11 million, and won over just about everyone in tech in 2010.
Cofounder and CEO, TwilioTwilio’s APIs, which let developers build phone calls and texts into their apps cheaply and simply, took off in 2010.
It has both huge companies like Salesforce and hot new startups like GroupMe as customers. The company raised a $12 million series B, and 500 Startups launched a microfund dedicated exclusively to Twilio-based startups.
CEO, FlipboardFlipboard is an iPad app that aggregates links to articles from your friends on Twitter and Facebook and puts the content together into a magazine. The app set the tech world on fire when it launched. McCue had to ask Apple not to feature the app in the iTunes store.
Partner, AccelBreyer and Accel made plenty of new investments in 2010, but the big story for the firm was a partial exit: Accel sold around $500 million worth of its stock in Facebook.
That’s good for a 40x return on Accel’s entire investment, but leaves the firm with around 8% of the company.
Founding Partner, 500 StartupsMcClure is the best example of the new breed of ‘super angel’ investor.
The name of the new fund he launched this year — 500 Startups — says it all: McClure hands out checks as fast as he can sign them. He played a central role in the Angelgate scandal, and remained outspoken while other investors scrambled for cover.
The Six Million Dollar Woman
We don’t know her name, but we do know Google recently threw $6 million at an engineer, just to keep her from jumping ship to Facebook.This is just the most extreme example of a widespread phenomenon in tech. There simply aren’t nearly enough top engineers to meet the demands of huge talent hogs like Google, Facebook, and Twitter, and the zillions of new startups receiving funding.
We’re especially enjoying the scrum between Google and Facebook. (But not as much as Google employees are.)
VP Corporate Development, GoogleLawee might have the most exciting job at Google.
He heads up M&A activity at a company that is on a never-ending acquisition spree. This year alone, the company bought more than 25 companies, including ITA (pending regulatory approval), Invite Media, Slide, and On2.
Founder, ChatrouletteChatroulette has cooled off, but while it was hot, it was as hot as a brand new startup can possibly be.
The random chatting web service put together by this 17 year-old Russian made a huge splash, being featured on mainstream television programs and attracting the interest of major VCs.
Ternovskiy now lives in the Valley, where he’s working with tech veterans toward regaining momentum for the site.
Partner, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & ByersA former EA exec, Gordon focuses on gaming for Kleiner Perkins.
His two big bets with the firm thus far — Ngmoco and Zynga — have been massive successes. We admire the way he put his job on the line to get the Zynga investment done.
Editor, GizmodoSay what you will about the legality or ethics of buying a prototype of the iPhone 4 that an unfortunate engineer lost in a bar. You can’t deny that this move made huge waves, and did great things for Gizmodo.
The exclusive look at the next big gadget from the uber-secretive Apple had everyone talking, and added tens of millions of dollars to Gizmodo’s value overnight.
Product Development Leader for Kindle, AmazonAmazon’s Kindle continued to sell like hotcakes, creating ever more trouble for the publishing industry.
Despite increasing competition from the Nook and now the iPad, Amazon reports that the Kindle 3 is off to a better start than any of its ancestors.
Mike Maples and Ann Miura-Ko
Partners, FloodgateMaples, famous for early investments in companies like Twitter, Digg, and Chegg, formed a new super angel fund with his partner Ann Miura-Ko.
CEO, CheggThe “Netflix for textbooks” is crushing it, bringing in an estimated $130 million in revenue in 2010, up over 400% from last year.
Chairman and Cofounder, LinkedIn, Partner, GreylockDespite turning over the CEO job to Jeff Weiner a couple years ago, Hoffman still considers LinkedIn his day job. He’s on this list for his side gig: starting up and running Greylock’s new $20 million seed fund. Pretty impressive.
Joe Kennedy and Tim Westergren
CEO and President, CSO and Founder, PandoraThe music streaming service kept crushing it, blasting past 65 million users in the U.S.. It launched a new local mobile ads platform. The company is expected to generate $100 million in revenue this year.
Cofounder and CEO, TrialPayTrialPay was already winning big when BEFORE it signed a huge partnership with Facebook to let users earn Credits by buying from its partners. Now Rampell and company are running away with things.
Michael Arrington, Heather Harde, MG Siegler
Founder and Editor, CEO, Writer, TechCrunchArrington and company maintained TechCrunch’s position as the leading blog in tech, launched their new wholly-owned conference Disrupt, and sold the company to AOL.
Arrington created TechCrunch, and Harde got the deal done, but Siegler gets a nod because he proved that there could be other voices on the site besides its creator’s.
Business Development, FoursquareThe West Coast face of Foursquare, Walker heads up Foursquare’s area of strength: biz-dev.
High-profile partnerships with Starbucks, The Gap, McDonald’s, American Eagle, and many others have kept Foursquare’s name in the news.
CEO, CrowdstarCasual gaming — especially Facebook games — has undergone a huge industry roll-up over the past year or so.
Playfish sold to EA, Playdom sold to Disney, Zynga has acquired a slew of mid-level players. Crowdstar, the company behind Happy Aquarium, is the biggest independent left in Zynga’s wake, with over 50 million monthly active users.
Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger
Founders, InstagramWith all the options already out there, it’s hard to believe that a new photo sharing startup could succeed. But Instagram’s simple iPhone integration and hipster-baiting photo filters drove the techies crazy, and the new service has become an overnight hit.
VP of Geographic and Local Services, GoogleMayer maintained her position as one of Google’s most visible execs, landed a new job overseeing local services, got a position on Google’s revered Operating Committed.
But she’s on this list because – holy moly – she hosted President Obama dinner at her house earlier this fall.
Craig Walker and Vincent Paquet
Google Voice Product ManagersWalker and Paquet joined Google in 2007 when their company GrandCentral was acquired.
The product they’ve been working on since, Google Voice, finally came into its own this year, with a full public release and deep integration into Gmail. Walker has since moved on to Google Ventures.
CEO and President, McAfeeDeWalt led McAfee to a $7.68 billion acquisition by Intel, representing a 60% premium on the online security company’s market value.
Founder and CEO, NgmocoNgmoco was on both sides of 2010’s massive rollup in casual gaming.
The company started the year off raising $25 million and acquiring Freeverse and Stumptown. In October, Ngmoco was itself acquired for $400 million.
Cofounder and CEO, MiloAbraham’s two year-old search engine for checking the inventories of brick-and-mortar stores took off this year, and was just acquired by eBay for $75 million.
CEO, UberSilicon Valley absolutely fell in love with Uber’s extremely simple idea: the company lets you easily order a cab with a text or from an app.
It has generated an insane amount of buzz since it launched earlier this year, and recently raised $1.2 million from a who’s who of super angels.
COO, SquareRabois is on this list because of his role as an extremely active and hands-on angel investor. Rabois got in on hot startups like Art.sy and Qwiki, and saw a nice exit in Milo’s sale to eBay.
He works a pretty decent day job, too. He started the year as Vice President of social games startup Slide, which was acquired by Google. He opted not to stay on at the search giant, and instead joined Jack Dorsey’s Square.
Munjal Shah and Burak Gokturk
Cofounder and CEO, Cofounder and CTO, Like.comShah and Gokturk sold their image search company to Google in August.
The team immediately went to work on a new fashion shopping site for Google, and last month, Boutiques.com launched into public beta.
General Partner, Khosla VenturesThe former Facebook and YouTube CFO had a big first full year at Khosla, leading investments in and joining the boards of Hunch and Square.
Susan and Eric Koger
Founders, ModClothThe online retailer of vintage and vintage-inspired fashion took off in 2010.
The company relocated to San Francisco and raised $19.8 million from Accel, Floodgate, First Round Capital, Michael Dearing.
VP Mobile Advertising, AppleAndy Miller joined Apple when it acquired his company, Quattro Wireless, for $275 million in January.
He went on to develop Apple’s new iAds for iOS.
Cofounder and CEO, Bloom EnergyBloom Energy keeps its cards very close to its chest, so experts outside the company still want proof that the Bloom Box can be an efficient energy source.
But whatever the underlying truth about the generator, it has generated more excitement than any power source since cold fusion.
Jason Shellen and Chris Wetherell
Founders, Thing LabsAOL picked up the company behind Brizzly in a straight-forward talent acquisition.
Shellen and Wetherell are tasked with making a real business out of AOL’s most popular product, Instant Messenger.
Cofounder and CEO, YelpYelp kicked the year off by raising $100 million from Elevation Partners, after turning down acquisition bids from Google and Yahoo in late 2009.
Yelp’s business kept growing at a lightning pace.
Kleiner Perkins Caufield & ByersMeeker left her brokerage-analyst post at Morgan Stanley and headed to Silicon Valley to join venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins.
If you missed her awesome Web 2.0 presentation this year about the current state of the web, be sure to check it out — it may be her last.
VP of Engineering, GoogleLevchin flipped his social gaming company, Slide, to Google for $228 million, and joined the team working on Google’s next big attempt at social networking. The exit was a disappointing one for a company that raised money at a $550 million valuation. But we give Levchin credit for the soft landing.
CEO, One Kings LaneDoug Mack took over as CEO of the Gilt-for-the-home startup earlier this year, and has led it to astonishing growth.
The company claims sales are up 500% from a year ago.
Cofounder and CEO, BooyahBooyah’s MyTown has taken the basic gameplay formula that has made Zynga a fortune on Facebook and turned it into a mobile location-based app for the iPhone.
Its massive success paved the way to a $20 million funding round.
Cofounder and CEO, Bump TechnologiesBump Technologies — the company that lets you exchange information with friends by tapping your phones together — got a huge boost when it was built in to PayPal’s latest iPhone app.
Joe Stump and Matt Galligan
Cofounder and CTO, Cofounder and CSO, SimpleGeoStump and Galligan hit on the idea to power location services for third-party apps last year, right before location-aware apps absolutely blew up.
The company has been growing fast since, and raised $8 million in May.
Jeff Smith and Ge Wang
Cofounder and CEO, Cofounder and CTO, SmuleSmule kept coming with innovative and popular music apps, most notably Magic Piano, which was one of the big early hits for the iPad.
Brian Chesky and Nathan Blecharczyk
Cofounder and CEO, Cofounder and CTO, AirBNBAirbnb runs a marketplace for booking unique spaces.
The company just raised a large $7.2 million series A, and Chesky has been promoting the service by living off it, staying in different locations he books through Airbnb around the world every night.
Ben Keighran and Cathy Edwards
Cofounder and CEO, Cofounder and CTO, ChompChomp is an “app discovery engine” – that is, a mobile app that helps you find other mobile apps you’ll actually like.
The company launched for the iPhone in 2010, and raised $2 million shortly thereafter.
Founder and CEO, UstreamUstream beat out rivals like Livestream to become the clear leader in streaming video.
Cofounder and CEO, SiriKittlaus sold his “mobile assistant” company to Apple in April and joined the company as Director of iPhone Apps.
Vikas Gupta and Reza Hussein
Cofounder and CEO, Cofounder and CTO, JamboolAmazon veterans Gupta and Hussein sold virtual currency company Jambool to Google for $70 million and joined the search giant’s team working on casual gaming.
Rich Skrenta and Greg Lindahl
CEO, CTO, BlekkoSkrenta and Lindahl released their much-hyped and well-funded search engine to the public this year, with the stated goal of becoming the third-biggest search engine in the market.
Bill Clerico and Richard Aberman
Cofounders, WePayWePay is doing very well with their simplified group payments platform. They closed a Series B round earlier this year at $7.5 million.
CEO, LinkedInLinkedIn launched an exciting new product, Signal, and kept on expanding. The company reported nearly doubling its staff this year, and was recently valued at approximately $2 billion. There’s no rush, but the company could IPO in 2011.
Cofounder and CEO, Citizen SportsThe popular fantasy sports network and collection of apps were purchased by Yahoo this year for an undisclosed amount.
Adam Goldstein and Steve Huffman
Cofounders, HipmunkThe cofounder of Reddit launched his second Y Combinator startup this year: a flight search company called Hipmunk. The company raised $1 million from SV Angel and Ashton Kutcher.
Owen Van Natta and Dani Dudeck
Executive Vice President Business, General Manager of Corporate Communications, ZyngaVan Natta and Dudeck entered the year as MySpace execs, and exit it as Zynga execs. That’s about as good as career moves get.
Cofounder and CEO, ClouderaProviding enterprise support for Hadoop database technology isn’t the sexiest business in the world, but Cloudera is making lots of money.
The company recently raised $25 million, and Olson says his company has “a reasonable chance” at making it all the way to an IPO.
Drew Houston and Arash Ferdowsi
Cofounder and CEO, Cofounder and CTO, DropboxFounded back in 2007, cloud storage company Dropbox hit its stride this year, with traffic to the site more than tripling.
Executive VP of the Americas, YahooLevinsohn joined Yahoo this year to help the company find its focus as a media company and revitalize the content side of its business. Tough job.
Dave Morin and Shawn Fanning
Cofounder and CEO, Cofounder, PathDave Morin left his post working on the Facebook Platform to team up with Napster creator Shawn Fanning.
After months working in stealth mode, the duo launched a new, mobile-focused photo-sharing app last month.
Image: Robert Scoble
Founder and CEO, Mixed Media LabsThe founder of Imeem is back.
His new startup developed picplz, a mobile photo sharing app, and raised $5 million from Andreessen-Horowitz.
Doug Imbruce and Louis Monier
Cofounders, QwikiQwiki — the visual search engine that displays information via storytelling — launched this year at TechCrunch Disrupt where it won “most disruptive company” and a $50,000 cash prize.
Editor, AllThingsDGoogle’s attempt to buy Groupon was the biggest story in tech startups this year. AllThingsD’s Kara Swisher broke the news through every step of the negotiations. She’s on the list for that, for making Mark Zuckerberg sweat (literally!) on stage at her conference this year, and for building expanding All Things D with a number of big new hires.
Founder and CEO, EventbriteWith projected $200 million total gross ticket sales for 2010, Eventbrite is one of the fastest growing social commerce companies around.
The company raised $20 million in October.
Founder and CEO, Sugar Inc.Already profitable, Sugar is looking to boost its revenues by adding an ecommerce element to its business with the acquisitions of FreshGuide and MyPerfectSale.
CEO and President, eBayeBay’s PayPal launched a new micropayments product and formed a partnership with Facebook, getting an early hold on a market that could be massive soon.
Cofounder and CEO, ShopkickShopkick was founded just last year, and only launched a few months ago, but it already has $20 million in VC funding and landed huge partnerships with retailers like Best Buy and Macy’s.
Cofounder and CEO, KnoA hardware startup that makes tablets for exclusive use as educational devices might seem crazy in a post-iPad world, but it’s certainly bold.
Smarter folks than us think Rashid is on to something: the company raised $46 million this year in a round led by Andreessen-Horowitz.
Matt Cohler and Bill Gurley
General Partners, Benchmark CapitalBenchmark Capital invested more than $250 million this year in over 20 startups.
Gurley is on the list because he recently called out the “Silicon Valley echochamber” for its baseless fear of IPOs.
Cofounder and CEO, RedbeaconRedbeacon — a platform for bidding on local services — won the Startup 2010 competition, raised $7.4 million in Series A funding from Mayfield and Venrock, and expanded its service from the Bay Area to Seattle.
Founder and Director, Khan AcademySalman Khan’s mission to educate the world one video at a time is gaining traction, thanks to endorsements by Bill Gates, and $2 million in funding from Google Project 10^100.
The non-profit organization’s namesake is still the lone faculty member of the Khan Academy, which has databased over 1,600 instructional videos.
Founder, Harrison Metal Capital
One of the Valley’s most respected ‘super angels’, Dearing had a busy year, investing in startups like ModCloth, Yardsellr, and Yummly.
Founder and co-CEO, Bling NationBling Nation has been around since 2007, but you may only be hearing about them now as mobile payment systems are just starting to take off.
The company announced a partnership with PayPal earlier this year, allowing Bling Nation users to link to their PayPal accounts.
Founder and Managing Director, Felicis VenturesSenkut raised a $40 million fund, saw a nice exit in the $170 million sale of Mint.com, and made investments in new startups like Smartling and Foodspotting.
Gabe Rivera and Megan McCarthy
Founder, Editor, Techmeme/MediaGazerGabe Rivera’s influential Techmeme expanded with a media vertical, MediaGazer, headed up by Megan McCarthy.
Founder and CEO, FanvibeFanvibe (formerly FanPulse) launched this year with a check-in app service for sporting events.
The Y-Combinator startup already has impressive partnerships with Comcast and the NBA.
President of Consumer Applications, AOLGarlinghouse is leading the charge at AOL to renew its focus on communications products like AOL Mail and AIM. He is also the West Coast lead for the company’s venture capital arm AOL Ventures.
Editor, GawkerRyan Tate became his own biggest story in 2010 when he provoked Steve Jobs into an email argument (which he then published) about freedom, the App Store, and porn. It was the best interview of Steve Jobs since he was in Playboy back in the 1980s.
Katie Jacobs Stanton
Founder, StyleSeatMcCloskey founded her StyleSeat CRM tool for stylists and other “beauty professionals” earlier this year.
The Bachelorette (Former Sales Rep, Facebook)Fedotowsky made headlines when Facebook forced her to choose between her job and her role on ABC’s reality show The Bachelor.
She chose the former, but apparently thought better of it: she has since left Facebook and returned to reality television, starring in “The Bachelorette.” You can follow her on her Facebook fan page.