New York tech moves as fast as the city, with new rounds of fundraising, acquisitions, and startups forming daily, so we culled through the NYC tech and startup scene — aka “Silicon Alley” — to bring you the Silicon Alley 100, our annual list of the people who matter most.
We looked at who’s done cool, inspiring, and amazing things in the past year, including companies that have been acquired or gone public, promising new startups, top VCs, and anything shaking up the industry. We ranked our list based on who has done the coolest stuff this year. Getting acquired or going public — that’s cool. Founding a neat startup or building impressive hardware is cool too.
Investors are cool, sure, but the inventors, innovators, and lead executives building the next big things are the people who should be celebrated. Our ranking prioritises entrepreneurs over investors, simply because it’s a lot harder to start a company than to fund one.
Did we miss anyone? Let us know in the comments — we love telling stories about amazing people. Now scroll down to see the 100!
100. Cian Cotter, Deven Parekh, Euan Menzies, Hilary Gosher, Jeff Horing, Jeff Lieberman, Michael Triplett, Nikitas Koutoupes, Peter Sobiloff, Richard Wells, and Ryan Hinkle
Managing directors, Insight Venture Partners
Since it was founded in 1995, venture-capital firm Insight Venture Partners has raised more than $US7.6 billion and invested in companies like Udemy, Zenefits, Docker, Nextdoor, and Hootsuite.
Recently, Insight led a $US160 million series D round for ride-sharing startup BlaBlaCar, valuing the company at $US1.2 billion. In the last year, notable investments included a $US100 million series B round in cloud company Mirantis and a $US40 million round in education tech startup Instructure. Not a bad year for Insight.
99. Bill Trenchard, Chris Fralic, Howard Morgan, Josh Kopelman, Phin Barnes, Rob Hayes, and Wiley Cerilli
Partners, First Round Capital
This year, First Round Capital invested in a ton of high-profile startups, including Massdrop, ModCloth, BloomThat, Vinli, AltSchool, Ringly, the Black Tux, Boxed, and DogVacay.
The top venture-capital firm is also jumping on board with startups founded by women, as a report released by the firm this summer noted that startups founded by women are doing far better than ones founded by men -- 63% better. It's welcome news for startup founders and investors alike who are trying to rally more support behind female-owned and -operated startups.
Aside from that, First Round is known as one of Uber's early investors, and they're likely pretty happy with the company's recent $US50 billion valuation.
Model, student, entrepreneur
Model Karlie Kloss is more than just a pretty face. The Victoria's Secret Angel is a student, programmer, and entrepreneur. In the spring, Kloss started taking classes at The Flatiron School, where she learned how to code. She was so inspired by her experience that she started Kode With Karlie, a scholarship competition that sends girls age 13-18 to the school. Back in 2012, Kloss also launched Karlie's Kookies, a collaboration with Momofuku Milk Bar and the Feed Foundation, an organisation that provides food and education to children in need. For every 'Perfect 10 Kookie' sold, Feed donates 10 meals to children around the world.
And as of this fall Kloss can add college student to her list of ventures -- she started classes at New York University.
Cofounder and CEO, Alfred
Marcela Sapone and Jessica Beck met at Harvard Business School, fresh out of stints in the finance world. To keep their lives in order and their apartments clean, they had hired someone from Craigslist to buy their groceries and do their laundry. The woman they hired, Jenny, came to their apartments to take care of errands that would otherwise pile up. This was the earliest iteration of what would become their company, Alfred.
Today, Alfred is a startup that hires employees -- Alfred Client Managers, or just 'Alfreds' -- to run weekly errands: things like buying your groceries, sorting your mail, dropping off packages, and taking care of your laundry for you. You pay $US99 a month for the service, plus the cost of things like your groceries.
In May, Alfred raised a $US10.5 million Series A round of funding from New Enterprise Associates,Spark Capital, CrunchFund, and Sherpa Capital. In total, Alfred has raised $US12.5 million since it was founded in 2013.
Cofounders, Managed By Q
Named for the 'Star Trek' character and James Bond's Q Branch, Managed By Q is a mobile platform that helps companies book cleaning services, making it easier than it traditionally has been for companies to schedule, manage, and pay the people who clean their offices.
This year, the office-cleaning startup expanded out of New York City for the first time, launching its operations in Chicago and San Francisco.
In June, the startup closed a $US15 million series A round of funding led by RRE Ventures with participation from Greycroft Partners, Homebrew, Sherpa Ventures, SV Angel and Steadfast Financial. Managed by Q's clients include Uber, Everlane, and Angelist.
Cofounder and CEO, Hungryroot
In 2012, Ben McKean sold his restaurant technology company, Savoured, to Groupon. Now he's back with a new venture: Hungryroot.
Along with his cofounders -- one of whom competed on Top Chef Masters a couple years ago -- McKean wants to provide prepared, healthy, and delicious meals to customers.
When you order from Hungryroot, you get a packaged meal the next day that consists of 70 to 80% vegetables and 20% protein. The base ingredient is vegetable noodles -- made from sweet potatoes, radishes, beets, zucchinis, and more -- paired with a creative sauce and served with an optional protein side.
In its first month of operation, Hungryroot sold 10,000 meals out of its Long Island City, Queens, offices.
In May, Hungryroot announced it had raised $US2 million in funding from Lerer Hippeau Ventures, Crosslink Capital, Brooklyn Bridge Ventures, and KarpReilly to make that happen.
Cofounder and CEO, DWNLD
These days it seems like everybody has an app in the App Store. And why not? It's a great way to make extra money while putting out a product that you believe in. Alexandra Keating is capitalising on that idea with DWNLD, a mobile app-creation platform that helps companies, brands, and other influencers easily and affordably turn their content, from social media to photos to videos to GIFs, into native mobile apps in minutes. DWNLD landed a $US12 million investment from Greylock Partners in September,and works with clients like Nylon, xoJane, and a number of YouTube stars and bloggers.
Cofounder and CEO (Gregory), cofounder (Armstrong), Vive
Few things make a woman feel more fabulous than a fresh blowout. But at $US40 to $US90 a pop in New York City, it's a luxury that quickly adds up. Enter Vive, a 'ClassPass for blowouts' that lets members book unlimited blowout appointments at salons in Manhattan for just $US99 a month. Founded by Alanna Gregory and Cristin Armstrong, Vive launched earlier this year and is still working with investors to raise funding.
Though the service isn't perfect yet, it's definitely gaining traction. Vive capitalises on the popularity of on-demand services like Uber that make it possible to get what you want when you want it, relatively hassle-free.
YouTube star, founder of Beme
Casey Neistat, a YouTube star best known for viral videos that garner millions of views, took his interest in virality a step further this year, launching video-sharing app Beme in July. On Beme, users film short videos, no longer than four seconds, and cannot view what they're sharing before it's posted. The videos then automatically delete after they're viewed. Think of it as a simplified, filter-free version of Snapchat. Though the idea of posting anything unfiltered online might seem terrifying to many, Beme took off, amassing 1.1 million video shares and 2.4 photo reactions within its first week, TechCrunch reported.
Cofounder and CEO (Reich), cofounder and sales/growth (Britton), cofounder and VP of tech (Ratner); Troops
Founded in March, Troops is a mobile-software company that gives professionals an artificial intelligence-powered mobile-sales assistant to make working easier. Though the company is currently in stealth mode, it will revolutionise customer relationship management (CRM) technology by making it mobile first.
The Troops team already has an all-star list of investors and advisers, including First Round Capital, Founder Collective, Next View Ventures, Great Oaks Capital, Single Platform founder and CEO Wiley Cerilli, Flatiron Health cofounders Nat Turner and Zach Weinberg, and more.
WayUp (formerly Campus Job) is a marketplace for college kids looking for internships and jobs. About 90% of the positions offered on WayUp are paid, and the startup sees 10,000 new college-age users signing up weekly. Listings on the website include freelancing gigs, bartending jobs, and campus representative roles for companies.
WayUp was born out of a campus-rep company that former Googler Liz Wessel had started with a fellow student at Penn; it's an alternative to a college career-service center and Symplicity, a job board employers have to pay for postings on. It recently went through the startup accelerator Y Combinator, moved back to New York from Silicon Valley, and raised over $US9 million in May, bringing its total funding to $US10.3 million.
Reham Ragiri is one of the only minority female founders to take a company through prestigious startup incubator Y Combinator, transforming the preowned-furniture marketplace in New York City. She and cofounder Kalam Dennis developed their service so that buyers and sellers of used furniture don't have to coordinate delivery or pick-up times, or even do the actual delivering or picking up themselves -- AptDeco has a delivery partner that does it all, taking one of the biggest hassle of trying to buy or sell furniture in New York City out of the equation.
As a cofounder at New York-based General Assembly, Hargreaves noticed a growing housing crisis affecting the tech education provider's students, many of whom couldn't meet the rigorous rental requirements stipulated by landlords in New York City. He set out to solve that problem with his new company, Common, which launched in July and has already raised $US7.3 million in funding.
Common is a new community offering flexible shared housing in major cities, starting in New York, and eliminates traditional methods of verifying applicants (like two years of tax returns as proof of income). Residents at its first space, a 19-room apartment building in Brooklyn scheduled to open this fall, will pay for rooms on a month-to-month basis. Common manages all aspects of living -- from the application process to cleaning services to community events -- to create the best experience for residents while also integrating with the neighbourhood.
General Manager, Uber NYC
This summer, New York City mayor Bill de Blasio proposed a bill requiring for-hire vehicle companies that have bases with 500 cars or more -- which includes Uber -- to increase their number of vehicles by only 1% every year.
To fight the proposed cap, Uber then aggressively marketed itself as a service for minorities and outer-borough residents (two groups taxis are notoriously bad at serving) and as a means for New Yorkers to find gainful employment.
Uber hosted a 'jobs event' for prospective and current drivers to showcase how many New York residents' jobs would be cut if the vehicle cut were to take effect, and also ran TV ads, bought banner ads on websites, sent out direct mailers to constituents of City Council members who are proponents of the proposed legislation, and even reportedly tried to persuade the Rev. Al Sharpton to oppose the for-hire-vehicle cap.
De Blasio eventually put a freeze on his proposed bill to limit the growth of Uber and companies like it. The city is now in the midst of conducting a study of congestion, traffic, and pollution, which it says Uber might be contributing to.
Founder and CEO (Nemetz), cofounder and senior software engineer (Schaefermeyer), cofounder and head of product and design (Marshall), cofounder and CTO (Welsh), cofounder and developer (Degner), Inverse
Inverse is a new media and news website that targets millennial men -- consider it the antithesis to Bustle, a news site for women. Makes sense considering that cofounder and CEO David Nemetz used to work with Bustle's founder and CEO Bryan Goldberg at the sports news site they founded together, Bleacher Report.
Inverse, which launched in August, raised an undisclosed seed round from BDMI, Crosslink Capital, Greycroft Partners, Rothenberg Ventures, and The Social+Capital Partnership. Nemetz launched the company with a number of other Bleacher Report employees.
Cofounders, The Muse
Melissa McCreery, Kathryn Minshew, and Alex Cavoulacos are the cofounders of the job-search and career-advice site The Muse. This year, it raised a $US10 million series A round of funding from investors including Aspect Ventures, DBL Partners, Great Oaks Venture Capital Partner, and QED Investors. In total, the Y Combinator startup has raised $US12.8 million from investors.
The Muse receives 3 million active users every month and is competing with other career-advice and job-search sites like LinkedIn and Monster.com. By the end of 2015, The Muse expects to hire 25 people. The startup also wants to expand to skills development. Compared to the average age of users on LinkedIn -- 47 -- The Muse's is much lower at 29.
Cofounder and CEO (Beard), cofounder and president (Dabaghi), A Plus
Evan Beard and Kendall Dabaghi launched A Plus, a website they hope will become the next BuzzFeed, in actor and investor Ashton Kutcher's living room in April 2014. Now based in New York, the site has 50 million monthly readers, and this spring raised a $US3.5 million convertible note at a $US30 million valuation cap.
A Plus, a variation on Kutcher's initials (A + K), highlights social issues and aims to inspire positive change in journalists and readers. Investors include Kutcher and Guy Oseary's Sound Ventures, Gary Vaynerchuck, Venture 51, and a slew of A-list celebrities, among others.
The Columbia Journalism Review calls NowThis the 'video news startup that keeps starting up.' Launched in 2012 as NowThis News by former Huffington Post executives Ken Lerer and Eric Hippeau and Bedrocket Media's Brian Bedol, the short news video-maker raised a $US6 million series C round this December, bringing the total amount raised to $US15.6 million.
The platform saw 200 million views in May across its digestible news videos, and just released a product called Tap For News, which brings users top headlines just by tapping on a red button on their smart phone or tablet screens.
In 2010, Alex Zhardanovsky and Joe Speiser started an e-commerce website called Petflow, which sold pet food, treats, and supplies. Four years later, in September 2014, Speiser and Zhardanovsky decided to leverage their audience for Petflow, spin out the business, and produce a ton of content for their new venture, LittleThings.com. The site usually posts adorable videos of animals and other kinds of feel-good, uplifting content: stories and videos of police officers doing good for citizens, underdog stories, and kitchen hacks.
Little Things targets an often-overlooked demographic -- women 35 and older -- and has received crazy amounts of traffic. Little Things' Facebook page is approaching 7 million fans, and its website draws between 35 million and 45 million monthly unique visitors.
SeatGeek is a website and mobile app that helps users find out what's going on and buy tickets all in one place. SeatGeek has poured six years of work into its interactive maps, which pull data from a ton of sources.
This year, SeatGeek raised a $US62 million Series C round of funding from Technology Crossover Ventures, Accel, Causeway Media Partners, Fabrice Grinda, Jason Finger, Jose Marin, Mousse Partners, and Sean Black. To date, SeatGeek has raised $US103 million, and its new round of funding reportedly values the company at $US200 million.
As of April, SeatGeek had 64 employees, with plans to increase the size of its team to 110 employees by the end of the year. According to the company, its app has been downloaded more than 3 million times. Sixty per cent of SeatGeek's users access SeatGeek on mobile devices.
Among risky business ventures, loans and startups sit at the top of the list. But Jared Hecht and Rohan Deshpande are -- successfully -- diving into both headfirst with Fundera, an online marketplace that helps startup founders receive loans from non-bank lenders to get their startups off the ground. The company launched in February 2014, and raised $US11.5 million in series B funding from Susquehanna Growth Equity, QED Investors, Khosla Ventures, and First Round Capital in September. Not only that, but Fundera helps make other startups possible, helping sustain and expand New York's growing tech scene.
For Hecht, the startup world isn't new. He sold his first company, group-messaging app GroupMe, to Skype in 2010 for $US80 million.
Described as the 'Amazon of used cars,' Vroom aims to make the car-buying process painless by allowing customers to easily research, browse, and purchase cars online as efficiently as they would anything else. The website makes car-buying haggle-free, with prices below market value, so customers can rest easy knowing they aren't getting ripped off. So far this year, the startup raised $US73 million in series A and B rounds of funding, with investors including Bob Mylod, Catteron Partners, General Catalyst Partners, Jeffrey Boyd, and T. Rowe Price Associates.
CEO Allon Bloch is no stranger to the startup world. Previously, he served as CEO of Wix.com and mySupermarket.
Though Bonobos initially started out as an online retailer, the e-commerce startup dipped into brick-and-mortar this year and launched a new kind of store, called a guideshop, on Fifth Avenue. It's essentially a showroom for clothing -- you can't walk out with any of Bonobos' merchandise, but you can place an order and have it shipped to you free, as if if you ordered from the Bonobos website.
Three-year-old Peloton wants to bring spin classes into your home. It has created a stationary bike that comes with a built-in tablet that lets you live-stream spinning classes on demand. In spring 2014, Peloton opened its first studio in Chelsea, New York City.
Each Peloton bike, which is sold at Peloton's seven retail stores as well as online, sells for $US1,995 plus a $US39 per-month subscription to the live-streamed classes. Peloton says it has sold more than 10,000 bikes. In April, Peloton raised $US30 million in funding led by True Ventures and Tiger Global Management, bringing its total raised to $US44 million.
Cofounders, Rent the Runway
Rent the Runway, a website that lets women rent and return designer dresses for special events, raised $US60 million in a series D round of financing led by Technology Crossover Ventures in December 2014. To date, the company has raised a total of $US114.4 million from investors including Advance Publications, Bain Capital Partners, American Express, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, and Condé Nast.
The clothes-sharing service continues to expand, capitalising on the fact that women care more about feeling great for an event than actually owning the dress they wear. Rent the Runway has more than 5 million shoppers and operates four brick-and-mortar stores, where customers can rent clothing and accessories.
Canary, a company that makes home-security cameras, is like Dropcam, which Google acquired for $US500 million, except it's a fully fledged security system with siren, temp-humidity sensors, and an optional call center. It will even auto-arm/disarm the system as you come and go, and strives to detect strange movements and potential break-ins.
In June, Canary raised a $US30 million series B round of funding from investors including Walden Riverwood Ventures, Cota Capital, Flextronics International, Khosla Ventures, Two Sigma Ventures, and WTI. The new funding brings Canary's total funding to $US41 million.
Cofounder and CEO (Burton), cofounder and CTO (Kelfer), cofounder and CFO (Ceresnie), cofounder and CPO (Snitkof), Orchard Platform
Orchard Platform, a fintech company that provides technology and infrastructure for marketplace lending, has gotten millions in VC funding, including a recent $US30 million series B round led by Thrive Capital with Spark Capital, Canaan Partners, Victory Park Capital, and Thomvest Ventures.
Wall Streeters are also throwing their hats in the ring for Orchard, as they see peer-to-peer loans as a potentially huge moneymaker for them.
Managing partner, High Line Venture Partners
Shana Fisher is easily one of Silicon Alley's best investors. The managing partner of High Line Venture Partners, she's highly renowned as one of the earliest investors in companies like Pinterest, ShopHers, Makerbot, Vine, and Refinery29, all of which have gone on to become worth millions. In the last year, some her investments have been in rapidly growing startups like UCode, Ringly, and PillPack.
Vice president of products-community at Adobe, head of Behance
Belsky, who cofounded art and design portfolio website Behance in 2006, served as CEO until Adobe acquired the company in 2012.
Now Belsky still heads up Behance, while serving as VP of products-community at Adobe. Belsky is also a successful investor, with companies like Periscope, Sweetgreen, and Fundera's $US11.5 million series B round.
Angel investor and adviser
Oscar Salazar may be best known for his role as Uber's cofounder and first CTO, but these days he's working on another phone-summoning app, this time for trash removal. Rubicon Global, a company that develops cloud-based waste and recycling solutions, hired Salazar as its chief technology adviser to help it create what will essentially be the 'Uber for trash.'
This comes after Salazar was tapped to design an Uber-like carpooling app, Ride. He also serves as adviser and investor to a handful of other startups, making him one of the hottest commodities in the New York startup scene.
Cofounder and CEO (Johnson), cofounders (Carnevale, Sass, Aboyeji), Andela
Andela is a program that finds the best and brightest students or programmers in Africa -- the continent which has the most untapped potential tech talent, according to cofounder and CEO Jeremy Johnson.
Andela trains them and places them in jobs at startups or Fortune 500 companies. Johnson and his three cofounders launched the company last July and plan to develop a new model for how companies staff their organisations. In June, Andela raised a $US10 million series A round from Spark Capital and Arena Ventures.
On-demand home-cleaning startup Handy raised a $US15 million round of series B funding this year from investors including TPG Growth and Sound Ventures and other current investors. In total Handy has raised $US60 million, and the company is reported to be in talks to raise another $US50 million round at a $US500 million valuation.
Handy also hired a new CTO -- Tumblr's Ken Little -- to grow its platform. This summer, the startup announced it would expand beyond cleaning and home repair to furniture delivery and assembly. Handy now lets its New York City users buy IKEA furniture from Handy's website, which the company's workers will then deliver to your home and assemble for you.
Online-shopping app Spring is now the first major mobile shopping mall, thanks to a $US25 million series B round of funding in April. The round included investments from Spring cofounder David Tisch's seed fund, BoxGroup, as well as Yuri Milner, Groupe Arnault, Google Ventures, and Thrive Capital, bringing the company's total amount of capital raised to over $US30 million.
The app, which allows customers to immediately purchase any product with a single swipe, also reportedly received an investment from Snapchat earlier this year, Re/code reported, although reps for both companies declined to comment.
NYC market manager, Lyft
Seth Melnick started at Lyft in October 2014, just months after Lyft launched in New York City. Today, he runs all of Lyft's New York City operations, working on everything from local promotions to driver growth to building up Lyft's team in its Long Island City, Queens, offices.
New York City is one of $US2 billion Lyft's biggest markets -- and the company's growth there has been incredible. In the past two months, Lyft has tripled its number of completed rides. In December 2014, Lyft launched its ride-sharing option, Lyft Line, in New York. Now, the company says, 50% of all of its NYC rides are Lyft Lines, as opposed to regular Lyft rides.
64. Siddhartha Dabral, Stephen Milbank, Tanner Hackett, Chris Maddern, Mike Dudas, and Michael Jaconi
Cofounder and CEO (Jaconi), cofounders (Dudas, Dabral, Millbank, Maddern), Button
Button enables smart connections between apps that could let you do things like booking a restaurant reservation through Resy and an Uber ride to the restaurant at the same time, creating a more integrated mobile experience.
The deep-linking startup raised a $US12 million series A round in January from the likes of Redpoint Ventures, Greycroft Partners, and Atlas Venture, among others. This brings the total amount Button has raised to $US14.3 million.
Serial entrepreneur Howard Lerman is the cofounder of three ventures. He is cofounder and chairman of Confide, an iOS app that launched in December 2013 to send self-destructing messages. Confide targets professionals who are seeking confidentiality, as opposed to Snapchat, which skews younger. In August, Confide added the ability to send documents securely. Confide has raised $US1.9 million in seed funding from Marker, BoxGroup, Lerer Ventures, SV Angel, Lakestar, CrunchFund, WGI Group, First Round, Google Ventures, and angel investors.
Another one of Lerman's ventures, Yext, is a company that helps businesses manage local content, listings, social pages, store pages, and campaigns online. After raising a $US50 million series F round last year, Yext had a $US525 million post-money valuation. Ahoy is a Yo-like app that lets you easily send a notification to your friends' phones.
Lerman is also a shareholder in ClassPass, a New York startup that lets you take a bunch of fitness classes for a low monthly price, which was most recently valued at $US400 million.
Former CEO, MailOnline
At this year's Cannes advertising festival, Snapchat, Daily Mail -- where Jon Steinberg is CEO of MailOnline, Daily Mail's digital site in the US -- and WPP, the biggest advertising agency holding group in the world, announced they would be banding together to launch a marketing agency called Truffle Pig.
Truffle Pig uses Snapchat, Daily Mail, and Elite Daily to test social content and marketing. The agency can work with WPP clients and other brands and plans to offer services to clients such as positioning and messaging, content projects, video and photography, social-media management, audience development, and insights and analytics.
Truffle Pig's CEO is Alexander Jutkowitz, who is also the CEO of WPP's digital-content consultancy SJR Group. He says Truffle Pig already has six clients on board.
Partners and cofounders, Notation Capital
Notation Capital is a 'pre-seed' investment firm -- meaning it awards funding to those with ideas for startups, even if they don't yet have a product, traction, or even a working prototype.
Former Betaworks executives Nicholas Chirls and Alex Lines are paving this new mode of investing with their $US8 million pre-seed fund, awarding up to $US500,000 for a great idea. It's an alternative to the traditional friends-and-family round of investing among new startups, and gives worthy entrepreneurs the startup capital to get their ideas off the ground. This summer, Notation invested in four companies-to-be.
Blade, the $US25 million 'Uber for helicopters,' launched on Memorial Day in 2014 with helicopter flights from New York City to the Hamptons through a partnership with Liberty Helicopter. The company, founded by former Warner Music COO Rob Wiesenthal and GroupMe cofounder Steve Martocci, owns no 'copters of its own; like Uber, it's an operator and logistics manager, arranging flights without the hassle of aircraft maintenance. It's quickly become a popular service with New York's 1%.
Cofounder and CEO, Sourcepoint
Ad blockers are everywhere, and digital-ad sellers aren't happy about it. That's where Sourcepoint comes in. The brainchild of CEO and former Googler Ben Barokas (who brought on JP Carlucci, Matt Adkisson, Brian Kane, Geir Magnusson, and Jeroen Seghers as cofounders), Sourcepoint lets publishers decide how to present their messages on servers with ad blockers, whether that's choosing to circumvent the ad blocker, allowing the user to choose their own advertising experience, asking the visitor to pay, or merely saying 'our ads pay for your content, how about you choose to allow them.'
The service launched in June after raising a $US10 million round of series A funding from investors including Greycroft Partners and Spark Capital. After all, as Barokas sees it, ads pay for content, and therefore they deserve to be seen.
Founder and CEO, Hinge
In December, the dating app based on third-degree Facebook connections raised a $US12 million series A round, led by Shasta Ventures, bringing the company up to a total $US20.6 million raised since it launched in 2012. Not bad for an app that nearly tanked less than a year after it launched, only to survive by the skin of its teeth with an app launch party that gained it the much-needed users that make it now one of Silicon Alley's hottest startups, and an incredibly viable competitor to Tinder.
Like Tinder, Hinge matches users with nearby singles, but takes the matching process one step further by only searching for people with whom the user has at least one Facebook friend in common, eliminating the randomness that makes many of Tinder's potential users sceptical.
Editor-in-chief (Ward), founder and CEO (Goldberg), Bustle
Bryan Goldberg and Kate Ward's publication for women announced at the end of last year that it now sees 20 million monthly readers, up from 10 million last July. At the same time, it raised a $US15.5 million series C round of financing, led by General Catalyst Partners.
The site, launched in August 2013, aims to be the ultimate content site for women, covering everything from news to fashion to entertainment. And after meeting with a dose of criticism in the beginning, Bustle has managed to convert many of its critics into fans.
Founded in 2011 by Jake Horowitz and former Goldman Sachs employee Chris Altchek, Mic is a news site aiming to be the voice of the digital generation -- 73% of Mic's 20 million monthly readers are younger than 35. Mic didn't generate any revenue in 2014, but this year, it will generate $US5-$US10 million. Some months, Altchek says Mic is accidentally profitable. This year, Mic got to interview President Obama.
The media startup has just 82 full-time employees with 50 staffers in its editorial department. In June, Mic raised a $US17 million series B round of funding from Lightspeed Venture Partners, Advancit Capital, Axel Springer, Jim Clark, John Hadl, Knight Foundation, Lerer Hippeau Ventures, and Red Swan Ventures. The new funding valued Mic at nearly $US100 million. Mic is also rumoured to have walked away from early Twitter-acquisition talks for that same amount.
Victoria's Secret-killer AdoreMe is a vertically integrated, fast-growing lingerie startup. It's on track to generate more than $US16 million in revenue this year. Describing itself as the 'Zara of lingerie,' the e-commerce startup promises quality lingerie at a price more affordable than brick-and-mortar retailers like Victoria's Secret.
'We aim to slay Victoria's Secret,' Sharon Klapka, Adore Me's director of business and brand development, told Business Insider. 'They are slow, they are expensive, they make women feel sidelined. It is about time that someone really revolutionised the space, and we're doing it,' she said.
Launched in 2013, Compass (formerly Urban Compass), helps people find neighbourhoods and places to live -- either renting or buying. It has attracted over 350 agents to the company already, with more of half of them in New York.
Compass has already shaken up the real-estate industry in New York and DC. It recently raised another $US50 million to expand all over the US. The funding, led by Institutional Venture Partners (IVP), brings total funding to $US123 million and values the company at $US800 million, according to a source familiar with the matter.
This year, lifestyle digital-media company Refinery29 turned 10 years old. Refinery29 has over 300 employees. In 2014, the startup generated between $US55 and $US60 million in revenue, and it's profitable.
In April it raised a $US50 million round from Scripps and WPP, bringing its total funding to $US80 million. This fall, Refinery29 plans to continue its rapid growth, expanding internationally in Europe. The new funding values Refinery29 at around $US240 million. Refinery29 also recently launched 29 original programs -- a mix of scripted series, docu-series, and tutorials -- featuring people like Lena Dunham
CEO (Crowley), CRO (Rosenblatt), Foursquare
Over the past few years, Foursquare's exit potential has seemed shaky. In late 2013, Foursquare decided to roll the dice and relaunch its entire business. The result: Foursquare broke its check-in and venue-finding app into two separate products, Swarm and Foursquare.
This year, Foursquare figured out a new subscription revenue stream. Rosenblatt says that Foursquare revenue is at least doubling every year and marketers couldn't be happier with the results the company is delivering. He explains that splitting the app in two was beneficial because it allowed Foursquare to more clearly communicate its value proposition to local businesses.
'We've heard this for six years now, that we're 'never going to make it.' But revenue is in triple-digit growth. Business is going great' with the division of Foursquare and Swarm, says Rosenblatt. 'You kind of just ignore it because (we) know what we're doing.'
Head of original content (Mills), head of news (Hamby), Snapchat
This year, Snapchat bet big on live video and news, and to do it they made two key hires. CNN political reporter Peter Hamby was hired from CNN to head up Snapchat's news division in April. Sean Mills, the former president of NowThis and The Onion, joined Snapchat as its head of original content in June. Under Mills, Snapchat will grow its original video content division and build up the company's New York presence.
Snapchat has dabbled in original content with a reality series called 'Literally Can't Even' and Snapchat-written articles in its Discover section. The app's most popular video feature is Stories, which strings together a series of snaps from one location submitted by millions of users there. Its Live Stories feature lets users share photos and videos of a live event, and it's one of Snapchat's most lucrative business drivers. Snapchat charges marketers 2 cents per view on a 10-second ad that shows up on one of the Live Stories contents, according to an earlier report in Re/code.
Snapchat, most recently valued at $US16 billion, is on track to generate $US50 million in revenue this year. The ephemeral messaging app, which has 100 million daily users, could make $US200 million in revenue next year too.
Teens are obsessed with live-streaming mobile app YouNow. The interaction between performers and their audiences is what sets YouNow apart from other buzzy live-streaming services such as Periscope or Meerkat. The average mobile session on YouNow is about six minutes. The average mobile broadcast is about 18 minutes.
Founder Adi Sideman says 70% of YouNow's users are under the age of 24 and that the platform has 100 million user sessions a month, with about 150,000 broadcasts daily. For comparison, Twitter announced earlier this year that its live-streaming app Periscope hit 1 million users in its first 10 days.
David Pakman is a partner at the venture-capital firm Venrock, which led YouNow's $US7 million series B round of funding in August. He says what drew him to YouNow is how inherently social it is.
YouNow, which has raised $US11 million from Venrock and Union Square Ventures, is still growing. Sideman said in the past year the company had gone from 15 employees to 40, with plans to continue to expand.
Cofounders, The Skimm
Danielle Weisberg and Carly Zakin quit their jobs at NBC to start a daily email newsletter called The Skimm. In December 2014, The Skimm raised a $US6.3 million series A round from Greycroft Partners, Irving Azoff, and RRE Ventures, bringing its total funding to date
The Oprah Winfrey-endorsed newsletter launched three years ago. The last time subscriber numbers were released the count was at 1.5 million. 'We've grown a lot since then,' Zakin told BI a few months ago. In addition to growing its readership, The Skimm has grown from two friends on a couch to 14 people in an office.
Looking for the perfect GIF? Let Giphy do the work for you. Type in any keyword or phrase, such as 'happy puppy,' and the search engine generates hundreds of related GIFs for you, making it easy to add that cute puppy to a text or email. But the startup is more than an addictive way to send GIFs to your colleagues: In January, it raised $US17 million in a series B round of financing led by Lightspeed Venture Partners, with participation from General Catalyst, Lerer-Hippeau, RRE Ventures, CAA Ventures, and Betaworks, bringing its post-money valuation up to $US80 million. Not bad for a company that's less than two years old.
Not only is Taylor Swift's latest album, '1989,' breaking records left and right, but the singer holds major clout in the music industry. In the past year Swift pulled her music from Spotify -- stating that the streaming service doesn't pay artists enough -- and published an open letter to Apple, criticising its decision not to pay artists royalties during the three-month free-trial period of Apple Music. Her letter ultimately persuaded the company to change its policy.
The response to Swift's actions demonstrate her immense power not only in music but the industries it influences, such as technology. By claiming control over her recordings, she's able to set precedents that can change how streaming services and internet radio develop from here on out -- whether or not she's right.
Cofounders, Flatiron Health
In 2011, Nat Turner and Zach Weinberg sold their ad-tech company, Invite Media, to Google for $US81 million.
Turner told Business Insider they 'were burned out on optimising click-through rates and pushing pixels.' So they decided to do something different with their next company, Flatiron Health, which collects data on cancer patients to help patients, physicians, and researchers.
Flatiron Health has raised more than $US139 million from investors like Google Ventures, First Round, and BoxGroup. This year, Flatiron Health teamed up with Guardant Health, a company that makes genetic-cancer tests for people with advanced or late-stage cancer. The companies will share data to help patients get successful chemotherapy treatments.
Founder and CEO, LearnVest
In March, Learnvest, a financial-planning startup, was acquired by Northwest Mutual for more than $US250 million in cash, Business Insider reported.
Learnvest was started by Alexa von Tobel -- a former Morgan Stanley trader -- in 2007 as a way to make financial services affordable. The company provides free online resources to help readers manage money, including articles and advice on budgeting, investing, and money habits, as well as paid financial planning services. For $US299 a month, members are given a fully customised financial plan and paired with a certified financial planner available 24/7.
Cofounder and CEO (B. Uretsky), cofounder and CPO (M. Uretsky), cofounder and CMO (Wainer), DigitalOcean
DigitalOcean, a cloud-computing startup, is out to take on Amazon. This summer, the fast-growing company raised $US83 million from Access Industries and Andreessen Horowitz in a series B round of funding, and has raised $US173.2 million in total to date.
DigitalOcean directly challenges Amazon Web Services by providing big, powerful virtual services, but aims to one-up the competition by putting developers first and making things as streamlined as possible. DigitalOcean promises a simple, easy-to-use interface, lower prices, and better performance. And it looks like the strategy is working: Though it's still a relative newcomer, DigitalOcean is the third-largest hosting company in the world -- Amazon is No. 1 -- and has grown from 10,000 to 140,000 sites in the last year.
Cofounders and president, Elite Daily
In January, media startup Elite Daily was sold to British newspaper Daily Mail for between $US40 million and $US50 million in cash. The deal accentuates Elite Daily's rapid growth: The site -- founded and run by three 20-somethings -- had raised a $US1.5 million convertible note (a type of debt) from Greycroft, Vast Ventures, Red Sea Ventures, SocialStarts, and angel investors, and amassed 74 million unique monthly readers since its launch in early 2012. Further, because the two sites' readers barely overlapped demographically, the deal greatly broadened Daily Mail's reach, bringing millions of millennial readers to the company each month.
ViralNova, a Buzzfeed-like media startup chock full of feel-good stories, was bought this year by digital-media company Zealot Networks in a cash-and-stock deal that could be worth as much as $US100 million if Zealot appreciates in value.
For a while, ViralNova was run by DeLong and two freelancers. They grew ViralNova to BuzzFeed's size and scale -- about 100 million monthly readers -- without full-time staff or raising any venture-capital funding.
DeLong, who launched the website in mid-2013, put a few Google ads on each page. Within eight months, his lean shop was generating six figures a month and millions annually. Today, ViralNova has 22 full-time employees and is on track to generate $US35 million this year. The company will likely move to Zealot Media's Venice, California, headquarters.
Cofounders, Flatiron School
Flatiron School, a programming institute that teaches adults and high schoolers how to code, is on the rise. The startup raised $US9 million in April in a round of funding led by Thrive Capital, with participation from CRV and Matrix. It also gained recognition when model Karlie Kloss enrolled in 2014, later partnering with the school to launch #KodeWithKarlie, a competition that gave sponsorships for girls ages 13-18 to attend.
Founded in 2012 by Avi Flombaum and Adam Enbar, Flatiron School is an intense, full-time program -- and it's highly selective, accepting 6% of all applicants. But the rigour pays off, and 99% of graduates leave with coding jobs ready to go.
In June, mattress-delivery startup Casper raised another $US55 million in a series B funding round led by Institutional Venture Partners, with other investors including Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, and Adam Levine. In total, the mattress delivery startup has raised $US70 million in venture-capital funding, and has plans to expand.
Casper's based on a simple idea: Make buying a new mattress an easy, pain-free process. Customers choose a size online (ranging from twin to California king), and Casper delivers the compressed memory foam mattress straight to your door in a box no bigger than set of golf clubs, streamlining both the delivery and assembly processes. The plan is working too -- Casper generated $US1 million in sales in its first month after the site launched in 2014.
Cofounders and co-CEOs, Harry's
In under two years, Harry's cofounders Jeff Raider and Andy Katz-Mayfield launched their online shaving service, raised more than $US200 million in funding, and
purchased German razor factory Feintechnik, where their products are produced, vertically integrating the company. Harry's raised $US75 million in venture funding in November 2014 and another $US75.6 million in a Series C round in July, not to mention the $US122.5 million they received back in January 2014. As of this summer, the startup was valued at $US750 million post-money.
Raider and Katz-Mayfield first came up with the idea after a trip to the drugstore where Katz-Mayfield found himself overpaying for a poorly branded product and frustrated by the lack of customer service. They knew there had to be a more efficient way to purchase razors -- and Harry's was born.
Founder and CEO, Sprinklr
Earlier this year, Sprinklr, a social-media management firm that competes with companies like Hootsuite, joined the ranks of elite private tech companies worth over $US1 billion. Sprinklr can thank a round of funding to the tune of $US46 million from investors including Intel Capital, Battery Ventures, and Iconiq Capital, for its new honour. In August, the startup also acquired TBG Digital, one of Facebook's big ad-buying clients.
Cofounder and CEO (Malhotra), cofounder, president, and chief strategy officer (Bhat), cofounder and executive chairman (Singh), Saavn
Saavn is the leading-streaming service for Bollywood, Indian, and other international music and content -- a streaming service that raised a boatload of a series C round in July to the tune of $US100 million. The round was led by Tiger Global Management, with Bertelsmann, Liberty Media, Mousse Partners, and Steadview Capital.
Based in New York, Saavn has the capacity to tag music, initiate music chats, and deliver on-demand music and radio streaming. Saavn is being used by 13 million monthly active users in more than 150 countries.
CEO, Bond Street
David Haber is coming after Wall Street banks with his startup, Bond Street, and Wall Street has begun to take notice. Bond Street is eating into the business of some major banks by making loans to small businesses.
This summer, Bond Street pocketed a whopping $US110 million investment from Jefferies investment bank and Spark Capital, where Haber previously worked. Some investors, like Airbnb cofounder Nathan Blecharczyk, also participated in the round. The new funding will be put toward expanding Bond Street from eight to 25 full-time people next year. 'We'll probably expand that even more to 40 within the next two years, but we'll see,' Haber told Business Insider.
CEO, Revel Systems
Revel Systems sells point-of-sale systems based on Apple's iOS mobile platform. Since its 2010 founding, Revel Systems has sold its POS systems to 10,000 customers -- including Dairy Queen, Goodwill, and Tully's Coffee. Its employee count has doubled in the past year, from 200 to 400 people, and Revel Systems has deals with tech companies like Apple and Intuit.
In November 2014, Lisa Falzone's company raised a $US110 million round of funding led by private equity firm Welsh, Carson, Anderson, and Stowe. In August, it raised another $US13 million at a $US500 million valuation.
Cofounder and CTO (Kinsey), cofounder and CEO (Bailey), Dataminr
After a successfully raised $US30 million series C round in 2013, Dataminr struck gold this past March with a $US130 million series D round led by Fidelity with additional support from Credit Suisse, Venrock, and former Citigroup CEO Vikram Pandit, among others. The $US700 million startup picks up data and news trends from social-media platforms like Twitter and alerts companies and news outlets quicker than previous forms of obtaining news, making it a supertool for journalists.
Gym rats love ClassPass, a service that lets users take unlimited classes (up to three per location) at boutique fitness studios for a flat fee of $US125 a month. Not only does the ClassPass give users a steep discount on pricey classes like Pure Barre and SoulCycle, but it allows them to try a multitude of things, from spin to hot yoga to Pilates.
Investors are pretty keen on ClassPass as well. The startup is valued at about $US400 million, and raised $US40 million in January in a series B round of funding led by General Catalyst Partners and Thrive Capital, bringing its total amount of venture capital raised to $US54 million since its launch in 2013.
Cofounder (Yusupov), general manager (Toff), Vine
Twitter-owned six-second-video app Vine exploded this year. In January, the company rang in its second year by announcing new stats: Every day the platform gets 1.5 billion loops, or plays of its videos. According to ComScore, its reach of the total US population is 14%.
As of August, Vine had 200 million monthly active users. By comparison, the number of monthly active users on Twitter, the company that bought Vine for $US30 million a few years ago, was at 316 million in late July. Teens can't get enough of the service, and now Vine even has its own crop of stars -- people who are making a living and getting famous from their videos on the platform.
How do you make money on Vine? Niche, an ad network that targets social-media stars, is one way. Niche was founded by Darren Lachtman and Rob Fishman in 2013 after the pair noticed that an increasing number of brands wanted to advertise on growing platforms like Instagram and Vine. The startup serves as a new type of ad agency, connecting social-media celebrities with advertising partners.
In February, the startup was acquired by Twitter for about $US50 million in cash and stock, including employee-retention incentives.
Director of news and global media partnerships, Facebook
Andy Mitchell is based in Facebook's New York office, working as the director of news and global media partnerships. Since he joined Facebook in 2010, he's conducted media partnerships with NBC for the London Olympics Games, with CNN for a cross-platform global partnership for the 2014 general election, and with CNN and FOX News for the 2016 presidential debates.
Last year Mitchell announced that it had created a newswire tool for journalists, FB Newswire, to share newsworthy Facebook content through photos, videos, and status updates. Facebook's latest big breakthrough in news: a Twitter-esque app that lets publishers send mobile breaking-news alerts to Facebook users en masse.
Mayor of New York City (De Blasio), venture capitalist (Wilson), Computer Science For All
Within the next decade, all public schools in New York City will be required to offer computer-science classes to all students as part of Computer Science For All, a new initiative by Mayor Bill de Blasio. The plan will span 10 years and cost $81 million, which the city hopes to fund through a combination of public funds and donations from private entities. Venture capitalist Fred Wilson, who founded NYC-based Union Square Ventures, has signed on as an early contributor, The New York Times reports.
With computer science and coding becoming an increasingly valuable skill, this initiative comes at an especially pertinent time. By making these skills available to all students — not just those able to attend a private school that offers such classes — it levels the education playing field and puts all students one step closer to landing a job in New York’s expanding technology scene.
Cofounder and CTO (Horowitz), president and CEO (Ittycheria), CFO (Gordon), MongoDB
In July, database startup MongoDB hired Michael Gordon as its new CFO -- a man who is well known in the New York tech world for his work on many IPOs, mergers, and acquisitions while at Merrill Lynch. Gordon's joining MongoDB could hint at a possible IPO for the company, which has been a $US1 billion 'unicorn' company since 2013.
MongoDB has raised more than $US311 million in eight rounds of funding, according to Crunchbase, the latest of which was an $US80 million series G round in January. Tens of thousands of companies use MongoDB to build high-performance systems, including more than a third of companies in the Fortune 100.
Founder and CEO, Taboola
This year, content-recommendation platform Taboola became a unicorn -- a startup valued at more than $US1 billion -- after raising millions from Baidu, China's largest search engine. Though founder and CEO Adam Singolda would not confirm the exact amount, the capital pushes Taboola's valuation over the $US1 billion mark. The startup is the third-largest syndicated advertising platform in the world, and in addition to Baidu, it claims some big-name partnerships with sites like The Atlantic, MailOnline, and Business Insider.
The past year has been tumultuous for Gawker. In a matter of months, Gawker's entire Valleywag editorial team turned over. Gizmodo, once a category leader in tech and gadget news, lost key writers and suffered from competition with other up-and-coming publications like The Verge. Annalee Newitz, who ran Gawker's tech blog iO9, was placed at the helm of a combined iO9 and Gizmodo entity to oversee a turnaround.
Last year, Gawker's traffic increased 20% to almost 500 million monthly pageviews and 130 million unique visitors. Gawker Media is worth at least $US250 million, based on the company's 2014 net revenue of $US45 million.
The bootstrapped media company has been fighting a lawsuit against professional wrestler Hulk Hogan this year. In 2012, Gawker published a 'highlights reel' of a leaked sex tape featuring Hogan and Heather Clem, the wife of his friend Bubba the Love Sponge Clem. Hogan sued. Losing the suit could cost Gawker up to $US100 million and force founder Nick Denton to sell the company or seek outside investment.
In addition, Gawker was faced with a massive editorial shake-up this summer. A controversial post was deleted from the site, leading a series of top editors and writers to resign. Gawker relaunched with plans to be '20% nicer,' according to Denton.
Cohead of internet investment-banking team, Goldman Sachs
At the beginning of this year, Goldman Sachs named Kim Posnett cohead of its internet investment-banking team. The move makes sense for Posnett, who worked on the sale of Sapient to Publicis in 2014, the eBay-PayPal spin-off, the Zulily IPO in 2013, the Etsy IPO in 2015, the Wayfair IPO in 2014, the Honest Company's 2014 fundraise, and the Oscar and Jet fundraises in 2015.
It's been a big year for Joe Marchese. In late 2014, he launched Reserve, along with cofounder Greg Hong, which works like an Uber for restaurants. Customers type in the number of people and the type of food they want, and restaurants can fill or deny their requests. Only three months later, the startup raised $US15 million in a round of series A financing, from investors including Human Ventures Capital (Marchese's firm), Advancit Capital, First Round, Jared Leto, Jon Favreau, and others.
Last December, Marchese sold his ad-tech company true(x), which he cofounded with David Levy and Brandon Mills, to 21st Century Fox for a solid $US200 million. It works in digital advertising, focused on boosting engagement with viewers by creating ads that require participation.
After selling true(x), Marchese went on to launch Human Ventures, which he describes as 'neither a traditional VC firm nor an incubator, but a 'startup studio.'' The NYC-based venture aims to highlight and grow local startups, but unlike other incubators, everything is done through internal networks.
Cofounder and editor-in-chief (Huffington), CEO (Grusd), The Huffington Post
After AOL was acquired by Verizon in May for $US4.4 billion, rumours circulated that Verizon would spin off The Huffington Post -- rumours that were quickly quashed by AOL CEO Tim Armstrong. Since then, editor-in-chief and cofounder Arianna Huffington has gone full speed ahead with Jared Grusd, the new CEO appointed in August, to maintain content for more than 200 million unique visitors, making it larger than BuzzFeed. Huffington announced in June that she plans to stay on for at least another four years.
Chairman and CEO, Verizon
In May, Verizon bought AOL for $US4.4 billion, or $US50 per share. AOL's brands include The Huffington Post, TechCrunch, and Engadget. AOL's Tim Armstrong still runs AOL operations. According to a February 13 regulatory filing, he holds 1.48 million shares of AOL, or 1.9% of the company.
Together, Verizon and AOL create a powerful force in mobile, video, social, and programmatic platforms -- Verizon leads in mobile and mobile video, and AOL leads in video and programmatic advertising. The combination creates the first and most powerful media technology company on the planet.
Chairman of Tinder-IAC (Diller), CEO of IAC's Match Group (Yagan)
Barry Diller's company, IAC, owns dating websites OKCupid, Match.com, and HowAboutWe. It also owns a majority stake in Tinder.
Back in June, IAC announced that it would pursue an IPO for less than 20% of common stock of The Match Group. This business segment includes Tinder -- a dating app that asks users to swipe right to find a match -- Match.com, OKCupid, as well as non-dating brands like The Princeton Review.
In July, Match Group announced it would acquire the dating site PlentyOfFish for $US575 million in cash. Both Match Group's IPO and the PlentyOfFish acquisition are expected to be completed by the end of this year.
CEO, Vox Media
Vox, the media company that owns The Verge, Curbed, SB Nation, Vox.com, and Eater, added another site to its arsenal in June: 18-month-old Re/code, a tech-news publication founded by Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher in 2014, which is predicted to bring in $US12 million this year, Business Insider reported at the time of the acquisition.
In addition to purchasing Re/code, Vox received a $US200 million investment from NBCUniversal in August. The investment is reportedly part of a push by NBC to connect with Millennial audiences, Re/code reported at the time, but it's a good sign for Vox any way you slice it. With this investment, Vox is now worth $US1 billion, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Chairman and CEO, Cemtrex
At the end of June, industrial-technology company Cemtrex announced that it would begin trading shares on the NASDAQ Capital Markets under the new symbol CETX. 'Uplisting to Nasdaq allows us to attract a broader investor base which will be essential in enhancing the value of the company moving ahead,' CEO Saagar Govil said in a statement. Cemtrex is doing well so far, though, claiming $US47 million in revenue in 2014, a huge jump from 2013's $US13 million. Not only that, but Govil remains one of the youngest CEOs of a publicly traded company at just 29 years old.
Cofounder and CEO (O'Kelley), CTO (Rubenstein), AppNexus
AppNexus, a cloud-based software company, is one of the biggest tech startups in New York City, following the $US62.7 million round of series F funding it raised in April. WPP, the world's largest advertising holding group, also invested $US25 million in the ad tech company last October. Following the investment, WPP CEO Sir Martin Sorrell noted that the stake in AppNexus gives rival companies, such as Publicis Groupe and Omnicom, 'nowhere to go' -- a positive sign for AppNexus' viability.
Cofounder and CEO (Massoumi), cofounder (Ganju), cofounder and president (Kharraz), ZocDoc
After raising $US130 million in funding at a $US1.8 billion valuation, online medical appointment-booking service ZocDoc is now the third most valuable tech startup in New York City.
The unicorn company, which employs more than 600 people between its New York, Arizona, and India offices, is eight years old and has changed the landscape for booking appointments, and evaluating your experiences, with doctors in your area.
Cofounders and co-CEOs, Warby Parker
Warby Parker has done a lot in five years. Since its founding in 2010, the eyeglass retailer has raised $US115.5 million in venture-capital funding (most recently taking in $US100 million in a round of funding led by T. Rowe Price in April), opened 12 storefronts in nine cities and become a 'unicorn' with a valuation of $US1.2 billion. The startup also operates on a platform of social good, mirroring every pair of glasses purchased with a pair donated to someone in need.
The brand plans to continue expanding their brick-and-mortar operations, and has also considered developing technology that will let them issue prescriptions in-house.
E-commerce startup Jet wants to be the next Amazon -- and it's on its way there. The company raised $US220 million through three rounds of funding before it even launched, giving it a $US600 valuation. It also hit over $US1 million in sales on its first day when it launched in July, setting the tone for a successful year. It was the No. 4 marketplace in terms of sales just a month after launching, beating out Sears and Best Buy.
The company promises to offer prices up to 15% lower than anywhere else on the web, and developed an exclusive technology that adjusts prices in real time based on what users put in their carts. Customers can save even more by signing up for an annual membership, similar to Costco's model, which is where Jet expects to generate majority of its profits.
CEO, 21st Century Fox
In June, news broke that 84-year-old Rupert Murdoch would be stepping down from his long-held role as CEO of 21st Century Fox. In his place, his son James Murdoch became CEO on July 1. James had been with the company for nearly two decades, and before he was CEO, he served as a co-chief operating officer.
Rupert remains at 21st Century Fox as an executive cochairman with Lachlan Murdoch, who holds that position.
Fantasy-sports website Fanduel had a huge year; the startup raised a massive $US275 million series E round in July from investors like KKR, Comcast Ventures, Google Capital, NBC Sports Ventures, and Time Warner Investments. The new funding valued Fanduel at $US1.3 billion and pushing it into a growing group of startups with $US1 billion valuations known colloquially as the 'unicorn club.'
FanDuel, which competes with DraftKings, made its first two acquisitions this summer too. In July, Fanduel acquired Scottish app-development company Kotika, and in August it acquired sports-analytics platform numberFire.
FanDuel is for busy or casual fans. It lets users participate in one-day leagues, as opposed to having to commit to season-long leagues. The company says it pays out over $US10 million in cash payouts weekly.
Cofounder and CEO, BuzzFeed
Silly quizzes and cat GIFs might come to mind when someone mentions BuzzFeed, but the news site is worth serious cash. It raised $US200 from NBCUniversal earlier this year, pushing its valuation to a high $US1.5 billion. It's no surprise considering how quickly the site has grown: It tripled its revenue from 2012 to 2013, and continues to invest more and more into serious editorial content.
The media startup dived deep into video this year and generated over 1.9 billion views in July alone and received $US3.5 million from a publisher presumed to be Google/YouTube for original videos.
Cofounders and co-CEOs, SoulCycle
It's official: SoulCycle is going public. The boutique indoor-cycling company filed for an IPO over the summer. According to the company's filing, SoulCycle earned $US112 million in revenue last year, and tripled in size from 12 studios in 2012 to 36 in 2014, Business Insider reported in July.
SoulCycle's success comes as no surprise to the thousands of loyal riders who turn out in droves for the company's fast-paced classes and cult-like fitness community. SoulCycle's also received its fair share of criticism, but there's no denying the craze it ignited.
CEO, Bloomberg LP
After 12 years as mayor of New York City, Mike Bloomberg returned to the company he started, Bloomberg LP, in September 2014, jumping back into his role as CEO. Along with the billionaire’s return to the company came shifts in power, including the exit of news head Matthew Winkler in January and top digital editor Joshua Topolsky in June. The newsroom also saw layoffs, reshuffling of management, and a website relaunch — as well as both consolidation and expansion — as Bloomberg regained his authority over the company. Even at 73, Bloomberg’s influence and power remains unchallenged.
Google wants to reinvent the modern city -- so it launched a new independent company, called Footpath Labs, to do just that. Footpath will focus on addressing major issues in cities, such as transportation, energy use, and cost of living, through innovative products, platforms, and partnerships.
Dan Doctoroff, the former CEO of Bloomberg, signed on to helm the company. He told The New York Times that Footpath aims to create 'platforms that people can plug into,' such as New York City's bike-sharing program. Simply put, Footpath wants to
elevate existing efforts to improve city life.
Cofounders, Blue Apron
Blue Apron, a company that makes cooking easy by delivering perfectly proportioned ingredients and recipes straight to your door, isn't just a godsend for lazy cooks -- it's also worth $US2 billion. Following a series D round of funding to the tune of $US135 million in June, the startup announced its $US2 billion valuation, making it one of tech's growing number of unicorns: privately held companies with valuations of $US1 billion or more.
Though it's only been around since 2012, Blue Apron is already selling more than 3 million meals each month, CEO Matt Salzberg told Business Insider earlier this year. The startup has more than tripled in size since January, and reports hundreds of thousands of customers. Blue Apron's potential is vast: The service appeals to millennials who want to expand their repertoire in the kitchen as much as busy mums straining for creativity and simplicity in their weeknight meals.
Cofounder and CEO (Neumann), cofounder and CCO (McKelvey), WeWork
After raising $US433.9 million in a round of series E funding in August, WeWork's valuation jumped to a huge $US10 billion. The startup's previous round of series D funding in December 2014 valued it at $US5 billion, still making it one of the most value private tech companies in the world at the time. Founded in 2010 by Adam Neumann and Miguel McKelvey, WeWork leases office and coworking spaces to startups, providing flexible contracts and plenty of amenities. The company also recently announced plans to foray into 'co-living' apartments as well.
In May, Verizon announced plans to purchase AOL for $US4.4 billion, keeping current CEO Tim Armstrong on to run the AOL business. Not only did Armstrong help orchestrate the deal, but he could walk away with nearly $US60 million. 'According to the filing, Armstrong will receive a 'Founders' Incentive Award' of restricted stock units with a value equivalent to 1.5% of AOL's market value when the merger is consummated. At today's price, that's worth $US59 million,' Business Insider reported in May. The deal is tied to Armstrong staying at AOL for four more years, but it's a great sign for the CEO nonetheless.
The company had been described as running an artisanal IPO process for reportedly seeking small investors who share its commitment to 'socially responsible business practices.'
The company says it will use the proceeds from the IPO 'for working capital and general corporate purposes, including continued investments in the growth of the business.' It also says that it will use $US300,000 to partially fund the nonprofit Etsy.org, which it launched earlier this year, and a portion to build out its new headquarters. The decade-old Brooklyn-based company generated $US195.6 million in revenue in 2014, up 56.4% from $US125.02 million in 2013, according to its filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
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