14 Of The Most Successful People In Tech You've Probably Never Heard Of

Ramona piersonPierson LabsRamona Pierson, CEO of Declara

The tech world has created a long list of industry celebrities. Most people know of Larry Page, Jack Dorsey, David Karp, or
Kevin Systrom. We recognise their names. We know their stories.

But more often than not, a big success (or even a string of them) doesn’t lead to tech stardom.

This list of people all have great success stories. Some of them sold their first startups a very young age. Some sold their companies for huge sums money, $US1 billion or more. Others are known as role models in their local tech communities, outside of the Valley.

But do you know who they are?

Oren Etzioni: Six startups in a row, all acquired

Professor, University of Washington, Computer Science and Engineering

In September, Decide.com announced that it was being acqu-hired by eBay. The site predicted when prices on electronics would drop.

It was the sixth-in-a-row successful exit for co founder and CTO Oren Etzioni. His first was four years before Google was born, one of the web's first search engines, MetaCrawler, bought by Infospace in 1999.

He's probably best known for FareCast. It sold to Microsoft in 2008 for $US110 million and is now a part of Bing.

Michael Rubin: Hard-working billionaire

Founder and CEO of Kynetic

In 2011, Michael Rubin sold his e-commerce consultancy, GSI Commerce, to eBay in March 2011 for $US2.4 billion.

He turned around and launched a new company, Kynetic, the parent company of three former GSI subsidiaries that he bought back from eBay: Fanatics, Rue La La, and ShopRunner. (Although eBay held onto a 30% stake in Rue La La and ShopRunner.)

ShopRunner offers two-day shipping from retailers like Toys R Us and just scored a $US206 million investment in October from Chinese ecommerce giant, Alibaba.

With that investment, Kynetic is worth $US3 billion, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Before that deal, Rubin was already a billionaire, worth $US2.3 billion, according to Forbes.

Martin Casado: The face of disruption

Martin Casado, Chief Architect of Networking at VMware

Chief Architect, Networking, at VMware

Casado's hasn't reached tech celebrity status, yet, but one day, he will. In July, 2012, VMware bought his tiny startup, Nicira, for $US1.26 billion, a few months after it came out of stealth.

He's best known today, (even revered), in the network industry. The tech he invented, software-defined networking (SDN), while getting his PhD in Stanford is now upending the enterprise network hardware market.

Paula Long: The queen of storage

CEO and co-founder of DataGravity

DataGravity is a hot big data, storage startup that landed $US42 million before it even came out of stealth. (Andreessen Horowitz is one of the investors).

That big funding was in no small part because of Long. Before this startup, she cofounded of EqualLogic, a storage company bought by Dell for $US1.4 billion in 2008.

Alex Polv: Young success and back for more

Alex Polvi founder, CoreOS

Cofounder, CEO, CoreOS

At 25, Polvi, sold his first startup, Cloudkick to Rackspace, for an estimated $US30 million.

At age 28, he's back with a cool startup called CoreOS. CoreOS is operating system based on Linux for computers used in cloud computing.

While it hasn't raised much money yet (a seed round somewhere between $US1 and $US5 million), Polvi hangs out with the Linux rock star Greg Kroah-Hartman. His backers include Andreessen Horowitz, Sequoia Capital, super angel Ron Conway and football great Joe Montana.

Craig Elliott: Fabulous career first blessed by Steve Jobs

Pertino CEO Craig Elliott

Cofounder and CEO of Pertino

In 1984, Steve Jobs gave then 23-year-old Craig Elliott a Porsche, a thank you for selling the most Macintosh computers in the country that year.

That lead to 10-year career at Apple and that lead to a job at networking company Packeteer to be its CEO. Elliott took Packeteer public and in 2008, sold it for $US268 million to Blue Coat Systems.

In 2011, he cofounded his current cool startup, Pertino, a cloud service for building computer networks. It's nabbed $US29 million in funding, and loads of awards, and is on track to be another success.

Andy Ory: A Boston icon

Investor, board member of Thinking Phone Networks

Ory is known in the Boston tech scene as CEO of Acme Packet, a network company he founded in 2000 took public and then sold to Oracle in March for $US2.1 billion.

He stayed at Oracle only a few month and just surfaced again as a board director and investor of an up-and-coming company called Thinking Phone Networks. It offers enterprises communication services in the cloud (telephone, IM, videoconferencing.) and has raised over $US30 million since 2010.

Krish Ramakrishnan: Hot in the cloud

Krish Ramakrishnan Blue Jeans CEO

Cofounder, CEO Blue Jeans Network

Ramakrishnan is currently leading a cloud videoconferencing startup that's so hot, he raised $50 million in a week without even trying (bringing total raised to $US100 million).

He sold his first two startups to Cisco. In 1993 he was an executive at Internet Junction, sold to Cisco for $US5.5 million. Then he was CEO of TopSpin when Cisco bought it in 2005 for $US250 million.

He's on track for another good outcome with Blue Jeans, be it a sale or IPO.

Ankur Singla: Fast exit to millions

Ankur Singla, cofounder CEO, Contrail Systems

Vice president of virtualization and SDN platform, Juniper Networks

Singla cofounded and was CEO of a startup that had one of the fastest exists we ever heard of. Two days after his company, Contrail Systems, came out of stealth, Juniper Networks bought it for $US176 million. (Juniper had been an investor in the company.)

Today, Singla leads Juniper's strategy in the hot new market called software-defined networking.

Matt Ehrlichman: Startups since age 15

Matt Ehrlichman, cofounder Porch.com

Matt Ehrlichman, CEO, Porch.com

Ehrlichman sold his first startup at age 28 for $US60 million, event registration company Thriva Software, bought by The Active Network (Active.com) in 2007. He became an exec at Active.com and saw that through its IPO in 2011.

And Thriva wasn't even Ehrlichman's first success. At 15, he launched a kids summer sports camp for kids and built it into a company that spanned western Washington.

Porch.com aims to take on Angies List. It launched in September, backed by an $US8 million seed round.

Eric Olden: Secure in his success

Shayne Higdon, founder, Symplified

Chairman and founder, Symplified

In 2001, Olden sold his first startup at age 29 for $US135 million, Securant bought by RSA.

He founded Symplified a few years later, in 2006, with the goal of building it bigger and taking it public. Symplified helps enterprises deal with employee passwords for cloud services. It's raised $US35 million, ($20 million in 2012).

Symplified is somewhat overshadowed by competitor Okta, but it's still quietly cranking away nabbing big customers like BlueShield, HP, Qualcomm.

Niel Robertson: Startups on two coasts and in the middle

Trada CEO Niel Robertson's office

CEO of Trada

Niel Robertson is an icon in Boulder, Colorado's, tight-knit startup community. He became a multi-millionaire in 1999 at age 24 when he sold his first startup, Service Metrics, for $US280 million to to Exodus Communications. His second startup, Newmerix Software, was acquired by Beacon Application Services in 2009.

Trada is an outfit that crowdsources paid search and marketing campaigns (It raised $US18 million including backing from Google Ventures).

And it's not Robertson's only gig. He simultaneously founded three other startups, in Boston and San Francisco, including one with Jeff Ma, who used his maths skills to win millions in Vegas, the subject of the book, 'Bringing Down the House.'

Edouard Bugnion: tech visionary behind powerhouse companies

Edouard Bugnion

Scientist at Swiss technical university EPFL

Ed Bugnion was a co founder and CTO of VMware and left the company shortly after it was acquired by EMC. He went to Cisco and became part of Cisco's dream engineering team for one of its most successful startups, Nuova Systems, the company that created Cisco's first server.

Cisco bought Nuova for $US678 million in 2008 and Bugnion stayed with Cisco for three years. That server became a $US2 billion+ business for Cisco with over 20,000 customers.

He left Cisco in 2011 to finish his PhD.

Ramona Pierson: The ultimate survivor

Ramona Pierson

CEO of Declara

When Pierson was 22 years, she was hit by a drunk driver, which should have killed her. Instead it destroyed half her body. But with the the help of some 50 surgeries, she recovered. (Read the full, amazing story here.)

Then she joined the Marines. Then she learned to code.

That lead to an interest in software that helps brain injured soldiers learn, which lead to a job for Seattle Public Schools. And that lead to her first startup, SynapticMash, an education software company that sold to Promethean World for $US10 million in 2010.

Today she's working on Declara, a social network for education that came out of stealth a few months ago. It raised $US5 million, backed by heavy hitter investors Peter Thiel and Data Collective and has already landed some huge customers in Australia, Chile and the U.S.

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