15 Of The Sharpest Up-And-Coming CEOs In Silicon Valley

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Photo: Twitter / @danicgross

We just spent a lot of time in Silicon Valley, asking around to find out who the top new CEOs are in technology.What follows is a round of the executives of the companies that people are most excited about, and what we’ve learned about them.

Will Harbin, CEO of Kixeye

Facebook games are not dead, Kixeye CEO Will Harbin will tell you.

That's because Kixeye goes after a slice of gamers that, while smaller than the typical casual crowd, pay much more than your traditional FarmVille player.

Harbin doesn't pull any punches and is quick to go for the jugular when it comes to casual competitors like Electronic Arts and Zynga. In a recruitment video, he's seen putting on a horse head mask and riding a helicopter out of his main office.

That's helped Kixeye significantly in the long run, giving Kixeye its explosion-loaded marketing message that's attracted a branch of gamers that prove that Facebook games are, indeed, not dead.

Travis Kalanick, CEO of Uber

Travis Kalanick is quietly building one of the best startups in Silicon Valley.

It's pretty much impossible to get a cab in San Francisco, much less any city in the southern SF Bay Area. But thanks to Uber, that isn't much of a problem (though it is still quite pricey).

Now Uber just unveiled Uberx, which increases the size of its fleet. The cars also cost only a little more than what you might pay for a typical taxi, which makes them even more competitive.

Jamie Wong, CEO of Vayable

Jamie Wong speaks multiple languages and has spent her life travelling the world. Now she's building a startup that makes it much easier for everyone to do the same.

Vayable basically shortens the process of planning a vacation from 30 hours down to about 5 minutes. It makes it easy to plan 'experiences,' like touring the Louvre with a French student instead of riding a tour bus around town.

Sam Zaid, CEO of Getaround

While most of the media's attention for Getaround is focused on co-founder Jessica Scorpio, you'll find CEO Sam Zaid in a conference room cranking away.

He's one of the most diligent and hard-working CEOs in the business -- and was also savvy enough to make a very risky, but highly rewarding, early decision at Getaround with Scorpio: building all the hardware in-house.

So far, everything's worked out better than expected. Getaround has proved that people are certainly willing to share their cars in order to make some extra money, and the company just raised an extra $13.9 million.

James Beshara, CEO of Crowdtilt

Crowdtilt CEO James Beshara is a true southern gentleman.

His startup is solving a pretty common problem. Imagine this: you're at a restaurant with a big group of friends and the check comes around -- then 9 credit cards hit the table.

Well, that's a problem for James Beshara, who decided to start Crowdtilt, a crowd-funding site for small-scale projects that range anywhere from a party boat to dinner with friends.

Bastian Lehmann, CEO of Postmates

You probably wouldn't guess that Bastian Lehmann, CEO of local delivery service, is a huge fan of retro video games.

But when he's not playing a game like TIE Fighter, he's running a company that's essentially solving one of the most important problems in technology right now: same-day deliveries.

With Get It Now, a service from Postmates, you can leverage a huge network of couriers to deliver just about anything in about an hour. Imagine if a company like Amazon leveraged something like that.

Tikhon Bernstam, CEO of Parse

Tikhon Bernstam is probably building the most important startup of 2012. Parse is basically an app that makes it much easier to build other apps by giving users a library of some of the most widely-used functions in an app.

Facebook connect and push notifications -- things common in most apps, but tricky to build -- are available through Parse, for example.

Aaron Levie, CEO of Box

Box CEO Aaron Levie is the newest member of the billion-dollar startup CEO club. He just finished raising a huge round of funding that valued the company at more than $1 billion.

Levie, typically sporting electric orange and a deck of cards for a magic trick, is one of the most fun CEOs in Silicon Valley to watch -- and also one of the most hard-working.

Patrick Collison, CEO of Stripe

Patrick Collison is seeking a solution to one of the most important problems in technology: payments.

Since coming out of Y Combinator, Stripe has become the go-to provider for accepting payments online. It makes it dead simple to add a way to pay for things on just about any app.

That's great for other founders, because payments are typically the most tricky part of building an application, and can take months to finally get off the ground. With Stripe, it's just a few lines of code.

Joe Fernandez, CEO of Klout

Love it or hate it, everyone checks their Klout scores in the San Francisco Bay Area. And it's led by Joe Fernandez, a CEO that is pretty much always running around, and never sitting still.

That's great for a company that is still trying to find its place outside of being a score for neurotic Silicon Valley residents. Klout also just completed a big redesign of the site that's gearing it more toward being a 'social resume.'

Ryan Mickle, CEO of Yardsale

Yardsale is an iPhone application bringing the community feeling back to local selling.

It's run by Ryan Mickle and his team, who graduated from Y Combinator after being in stealth for a pretty huge part of the company's lifetime.

Emmett Shear, CEO of Twitch.tv

Just a year after a small pivot, Twitch.tv now has more than 20 million monthly visitors.

Who knew there was a huge audience for streaming video game matches online?

Twitch.tv is now run by Emmett Shear, who led the video game initiative while the company was just Justin.tv. Originally just a simple idea, Twitch.tv has basically established itself as the effective use case for live streaming on the Internet.

Good thing Shear took a shot at experimenting.

Justin Kan, CEO of Exec

Exec CEO Justin Kan holds the record for running three companies through Y Combinator now. He's one of the most connected founders in Silicon Valley.

Now he's on his third company, a startup called Exec that lets you hire professionals to complete just about any task for $25 an hour. The effective use case that's emerged is replacing the office manager with Execs.

Dave Morin, CEO of Path

Path is the one app that keeps Facebook awake at night, though you might never guess it from talking to CEO Dave Morin. Very direct and to the point, he is laser-focused on building the perfect experience for his users -- not killing Facebook.

Path, which is basically a virtual diary that you share with your closest friends, has a beautiful interface that's far more intuitive than Facebook's mobile app. That's thanks to the work of Morin and his team of 40-ish developers and designers.

Daniel Gross, CEO of Cue

Daniel Gross is Y Combinator's first Israeli entrepreneur, who joined the incubator when he was 18. Right out of high school he flew out to start a company.

He also just completed a big pivot from Greplin into Cue, a personal assistant. Being one of the youngest founders in Silicon Valley hasn't held him back much.

Those are some of the top entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley...

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