With new startups launching, constant fundraising, and endless chatter, the who’s who of Silicon Valley is always changing, and only a lucky few come out on top.
After months of research and debate, Business Insider is proud to present the Silicon Valley 100, our annual list of the people who matter most in Silicon Valley.
To compile the list, we looked at who won big in the past year: star executives, industry-changing acquisitions, top VCs, promising companies shifting industries, and more. This list isn’t about long-standing reputations; it’s about who’s done notable things since spring 2014.
Did we miss anyone? Let us know in the comments below, because we love telling stories about amazing people.
The list was compiled by Business Insider’s technology editors. Additional reporting by Christi Danner and Tanza Loudenback. Photo research by Melia Robinson.
Bureau chief, BuzzFeed SF
BuzzFeed hired Mat Honan at the end of 2014 to lead its new San Francisco office. Since the office opened, Honan has hired 17 reporters dedicated to tech news -- most notably Nitasha Tiku, who previously worked at The Verge and Gawker's Valleywag. The intention of Honan's new office is to make the website as a must-read tech-news source, a niche that BuzzFeed has struggled with.
Previously, Honan was a senior staff writer and editor at Wired. Upon being hired at BuzzFeed, he said, 'Our coverage will be aggressive and bold, like our hiring, and we'll look to do the kind of authoritative reporting that asks questions and gets real answers from the most powerful people in this industry.'
CEO Gagan Biyani's mission is for Sprig to become 'the easiest way to eat healthy in the world.' Former Google head chef Nate Keller leads the in-house kitchen staff that prepares each meal delivered by Sprig, the on-demand fresh-food delivery service that launched in November 2013. It offers three meal options daily and aims to deliver the food in 15 minutes.
In April, the company raised $US45 million in funding, which spurred its expansion to Chicago from the San Francisco Bay Area.
Van Tran, Tri Tran, and Conrad Chu wanted to provide the convenience of a professional chef without the high cost, and in 2011 Munchery was born. The company is similar to Seamless, except your food is made by Munchery's chefs instead of being outsourced to restaurants. Each time you order a meal on Munchery, the company makes an equivalent donation to a charity in your town.
Munchery made headlines in April when it raised a $US28 million Series B round. More recently, Sherpa Ventures, a prominent venture-capital firm, announced it was making its 'biggest bet since Uber' by endorsing Munchery. At the end of May, the company announced its Series C round of $US85 million co-led by Menlo Ventures and Sherpa. Munchery has raised $US117.2 million, including contributions from celebrities such as Jared Leto and Edward Norton.
McKinnon is a Valley A-lister, a former star Salesforce engineer who launched his own company in 2009 without CEO and friend Benioff's blessing. His company has seen massive growth: By September 2014 it had raised $US155 million from top VCs. Okta is now valued at about $US600 million and is expected to go public by 2016.
McKinnon said there's tremendous value in working for a rapidly growing, successful company before pursuing other endeavours. He called his time at Salesforce a 'gift' that taught him what it means to win.
Partners, Kleiner Perkins
Kleiner Perkins is a legendary venture-capital firm in Silicon Valley. Over the past year, Kleiner Perkins has made investments in Slack, Snapchat, Instacart, secretive virtual-reality company Magic Leap, Uber, and others. Nineteen of its portfolio companies have gone public or have been acquired in the past year, including Lending Club and Dropcam.
Earlier this year, Ellen Pao, a former Kleiner Perkins partner, brought a sexual-discrimination case against the firm. Kleiner Perkins successfully defended itself in trial.
US senator (R-Kentucky) and 2016 presidential candidate
Paul has been courting Silicon Valley for years, even meeting with big names like Mark Zuckerberg and Peter Thiel as well as executives at eBay and others. It's part of Paul's strategy to appeal to Silicon Valley libertarians and win their votes in next year's presidential race.
Even further, he's opened an office in the area and has raised donations from Sean Parker and other top investors.
Founder, VP of product strategy, MuleSoft
MuleSoft is, to some, the definition of disruption. Two of its biggest legacy rivals, Tibco and Informatica, left the public markets in leveraged buyouts in 2014 and early 2015, which left room for founder Ross Mason to grow MuleSoft like crazy.
MuleSoft solves the hard problem of integrating cloud applications, especially with a company's existing apps. In 2014 it raised $US50 million at an $US800 million valuation, and just this past May MuleSoft raised a new $US128 million investment at a $US1.5 billion valuation. It seems it could be heading toward an IPO.
Cofounder, CEO, Yo
Yo is the almost stupidly simple communication tool that briefly took the tech world by storm in 2014. The one-word correspondence app started out as a side project for Arbel, but it went viral and last year was valued at about $US10 million.
Arbel is planning on bringing Yo back with Yo 2.0, which will include your location, a photo, or just the good old original 'yo.'
Founder, CEO, The League
Bradford's app The League is like a curated Tinder for elites, and it raised $US2.1 million in seed funding earlier this year to play matchmaker to the most successful and ambitious singles. The League launched in San Francisco at the beginning of 2015 and just opened up to the New York market as well, where a targeted group of 2,500 users were allowed to sign up.
The goal, Bradford says, is to make more power couples, and help people date 'intelligently.' She's now eyeing London.
Cofounders, Campus Job
Founded by former Googler Liz Wessel, Campus Job is a marketplace for college kids looking for internships and jobs. About 90% of the positions offered on Campus Job are paid, and the startup sees 10,000 new college-aged users signing up weekly.
Campus Job was born out of a campus-rep company that 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 and raised over $US9 million in May, bringing its total funding to $US10.3 million.
Aarthi Ramamurthy is the founder of Y Combinator-backed Lumoid, a peer-to-peer gadget marketplace that lets people test-drive electronics before they buy them. It allows potential consumers try out the expensive products they're thinking of buying -- like the iWatch, which users can rent for between $US45 and $US55 (and usually retails for $US349 and up).
Ramamurthy spent six years at Microsoft working on its popular Visual Studio software-development tool and on Xbox Live, and also cofounded a bra-fitting company called True&Co.
Vogt, a Y Combinator alum, created driverless-car company Cruise not to manufacture driverless cars but to enable any car to become a driverless car. 'We're trying to reuse as many concepts and behaviours as you already have in your car, such as a single button to control the cruise control,' says Vogt. 'Whatever speed you're going becomes the target speed.'
So far Cruise has raised one undisclosed seed amount, back in January 2015. The Cruise system costs $US10,000 and can be installed in a few hours.
Jason Johnson and designer Yves Behar (known for designing the Jawbone UP fitness band) are out to take 'the internet of things' by storm with a new app called August, which aims to make the house key obsolete. Using a lock, along with an app and Bluetooth, August can unlock your home and generate temporary keys that would allow plumbers, cleaners, or houseguests inside at specified times.
Johnson and Behar's product went on sale in the fall of 2014 and just raised a new $US38 million round led by Bessemer Venture Partners to produce August en masse.
Senior vice president of mobile, Yahoo
Adam Cahan formerly worked at Google on mobile initiatives and joined Yahoo a few months before Marissa Mayer, but he soon found himself in the CEO's office, tasked with heading up the expansion of mobile for Yahoo.
This became a massive growth opportunity for Cahan, who built up a team of over 600. His investment in mobile helped begin to put Yahoo on par with Facebook and Google, which already had thousands of people working on apps before Yahoo expanded into the territory.
Rubin is the cofounder of Illumio, the buzzed-about startup that raised $US42.5 million from investors at hugely successful companies like Salesforce and Yahoo before it even came out of stealth mode. The company offers Adaptive Security Platform -- a cutting-edge security software designed for the cloud.
In April, Business Insider reported Illumio to be worth $US1 billion, a stunning number for a company that's six months old. Rubin has also been a seed investor in Powermat and Tory Burch for more than 10 years.
ZenPayroll CEO Josh Reeves believes it's easier than ever to be an entrepreneur. Whether or not that's true, it certainly seems easy for Reeves, whose payroll-processing startup raised a $US60 million series B round, led by Google Capital, in April.
The recently revealed laundry list of angel investors includes celebs like Ashton Kutcher and Jared Leto, former head of the US Small Business Administration Karen Mills, and a list of famed startup CEOs from Evernote, Eventbrite, Stripe, Constant Contact, SurveyMonkey, WordPress, and Instagram. Founders from PayPal, Yahoo, Reddit, Nest, Twitter, HubSpot, and Mint also contributed.
Founder and CEO, Pebble
Migicovsky's Pebble smartwatch smashed through its Kickstarter goal almost instantly, raising nearly $US14 million by the end of March -- the most-funded Kickstarter campaign in history.
The company's marketing strategies are pretty ingenious as well, especially with the introduction of the Apple iWatch to the market. In the fall, Pebble slashed the price of its smartwatch to $US99, just before the launch of the iWatch, and it's introducing new features to the next generation of watch, the Pebble Time, which are key ingredients missing from the iWatch.
Mayor, San Francisco
Since he was first elected, Lee has aligned himself with the city's startup culture, visiting a new Silicon Valley-area startup every week. A survey conducted by Lee's administration found that, in general, San Franciscans really like the Silicon Valley tech industry and don't cite it as the main cause for the high cost of housing there.
Lee, who's up for reelection this year, found himself amid controversy a couple years ago when he gave rapidly expanding Twitter a tax break to move to a bigger office downtown rather than leave the city.
James is the No. 2 executive at Intel and seems to be everywhere these days, mainly thanks to her audacious goal to hit 'full representation' of women and minorities at Intel by 2020 and have its workforce mimic actual demographics, which would mean a male-female ratio closer to 50-50. Intel has always rated high as a place for women in tech, but James is taking it further, and Intel is investing $US300 million to reach its goal.
James, who has been described as 'bullheaded, impatient, and very smart' by former Intel CEO Andy Grove, could be starting a model that might be duplicated by other tech companies in Silicon Valley, where women and minorities have historically been underrepresented.
Managing director, Playground Global
Andy Rubin, best known as the founder of Android -- which Google bought in 2005 -- left Google in the fall of 2014 to found a VC firm that will invest in robotics. Rubin was involved in robotics-related work at Google, but now he'll be providing hardware companies with the capital to go full-throttle in the robotics industry.
His venture, which he's calling Playground Global, has already raised a $US48 million fund, and with Rubin as the managing director, and an A-list board of directors that includes ex-Googler Matt Hershenson, former Microsoft executive Peter Barrett, and WebTV cofounder Bruce Leak, hardware companies can start lining up for funding.
Founding partner, president, Y Combinator
Sam Altman, founding partner and president of Y Combinator, one of the most coveted startup accelerators in the country, has been outspoken this year about his disdain for the rate at which many startups burn through cash. The 'mega bubble' in Silicon Valley won't last forever, he said, and he advises startups to spend 'almost comically low' amounts of money as the next round of funding may not be as easy to get.
Altman has invested in Product Hunt and BloomThat, among others, and his accelerator is where companies like Airbnb and Dropbox got off the ground. Y Combinator also just raised its first official fund so it can invest in startups in an even bigger way financially.
Founder, Social+Capital Partnership
Called 'the future of venture capital,' Palihapitiya helped desktop and mobile messaging app Slack raise its recent $US160 million round of funding in record time, praising the company on Twitter: 'There are many tools that are good with small groups or departments, but Slack is the first product that has utility for the entire company.' At 38, he's younger than most VCs but still one of the most prominent and most successful.
With an estimated net worth exceeding $US1 billion, the part Golden State Warriors owner is viewed as one of the most successful former Facebook employees of all. He's also pretty much pledged to give all his money away to other world-changers when he dies.
Palihapitiya recently sold his stake in Tinder at a $US500 million valuation to IAC.
General partner, Benchmark Capital
As general partner at Benchmark Capital, Gurley invested in DogVacay, WeWork, Cyanogen, Uber, and many other startups -- but he's also repeatedly warned of the impending 'tech bubble' in Silicon Valley. In a SXSW keynote, he warned that Silicon Valley's optimism could lead to the demise of some of these $US1 billion-valuated 'unicorn' companies. It's unsettling for tech founders to hear, for whom achieving unicorn status is a badge of honour.
His latest battle cry is that the tech sector is in a 'dry bubble,' where lots of money is being poured into private companies but few liquidity events are happening.
Gurley is a board member of Uber, the world's largest private company worth $US50 billion, and his firm is invested in $US20 billion Snapchat.
Vice president iPod/iPhone product design, Apple
Apple's next big thing is in the works. Headed by former Ford engineer and current iPhone/iPod specialist Steve Zadesky, the secretive Titan project is developing an electric car. Apple hasn't publicly announced the project yet, but Zadesky was given a green light to build a team of 1,000 people, and has been hiring specialists with a variety of skill sets.
Though the Apple Car remains years away from hitting the road for consumers, it represents a major potential revenue source for the tech giant. In fact, a stake in the car industry could generate up to $US50 billion in profits annually, according to Forbes.
Founder, CTO, Docker
Docker is one of the most buzzed about things on the internet, and for good reason. The open-source software, developed by CTO Solomon Hykes, gives developers the tools to build and distribute apps so that they work across multiple platforms. This technology is revolutionising how companies view and build applications, and companies such as Yelp and eBay are adopting Docker at a fast pace.
In total, it has raised $US150 million through three rounds of funding, with investors including Insight Venture Partners, Greylock Partners, Lightspeed Venture Partners, and AME Cloud Ventures.
Daum Kakao, the makers of the popular Kakao Talk messaging app, acquired Dave Morin's social-networking app Path at the end of May. Path never took off in the US outside Silicon Valley, but it became popular in Asia, and it raised a total of $US77 million as of January 2015. Much of the money Path raised came from Morin's own pocket; the former Facebook executive made a sizable amount when the company went public.
Dave Morin has also proved to be a great early-stage startup investor. Through is firm Slow Ventures, which just raised a $US65 million fund, Morin and his partners have invested in about 200 up-and-coming companies such as Yik Yak, Meerkat, Product Hunt, and ClassPass.
Last July, Twitter purchased mobile-payment system CardSpring, marking the social network's foray into real-time commerce. CardSpring helps developers write applications that accept credit-card payments, creating a world of opportunity for Twitter; its programs can potentially allow users to download discounts or make purchases through Tweets.
In 2012, CardSpring raised $US10 million in Series A funding from investors Techammer, Greylock Partners, and Accel Partners.
In May, Vox Media, which owns SB Nation and The Verge, bought Swisher and Mossberg's 18-month-old tech blog Re/code in an all-stock deal. Multiple sources told Business Insider at the time of the sale that the value of the deal was between $US15 and $US20 million, in addition to some stock incentives for Re/code's executives.
Swisher and Mossberg, the cofounders of Re/code, raised about $US10 million from investors, including NBC Universal and Windsor Media. Business Insider was told the company was on track to generate $US12 million this year largely from its conference business; the website pulled in only about 2.5 million monthly readers.
Despite the impressive revenue figure for such a young media company, Mossberg and Swisher noticed some disturbing trends in the media landscape that caused them to sell Re/code. Other websites, like Vox, had much larger audiences and had raised much more capital; Swisher and Mossberg would have had to give up their controlling stakes in Re/code if they wanted to remain independent.
They will be continuing to break tech news for Vox under new leadership, and they will help Vox build out a strong conference business.
Ex-Googler Josh McFarland, who leads marketing-software app TellApart, just sold his startup for more than half a billion dollars to Twitter.
Twitter CEO Dick Costolo was a personal investor in TellApart before his company paid $US532 million for it. TellApart boasted a $US100 million run rate a couple of years ago, and the program could be a big driver of revenue for Twitter.
Last May, Snapchat made its first acquisition in AddLive, a real-time communications startup that allows the picture-messaging app to power its video-calling feature. The deal cost Snapchat $US30 million.
AddLive's technology offers several useful tools to Snapchat, including screen-sharing, multiparty conferencing, and support for browser-based video chat via WebRTC.
Founder, CEO, Juicero
The juicing fad isn't over yet. Secretive startup Juicero -- which raised $US120 million earlier this year -- is on a mission to completely reinvent the way we consume fresh fruits and veggies. Though the company has remained tight-lipped about their process, sources told Business Insider earlier this year that Juicero is creating an appliance similar to a Keurig that will juice freshly picked fruits and veggies without creating waste.
And founder Doug Evans knows a thing or two about juice. He's the former CEO of Organic Avenue, a popular health-food chain in New York.
Founder, CEO, Brit + Co.
Touted at the 'Martha Stewart of Silicon Valley,' Brit Morin specialises in the intersection of tech and DIY -- and it's lucrative. Morin launched Brit+Co, a lifestyle website that features crafts, fashion, and decor, in 2011, and so far it's raised $US27.6 million in funding from investors including Oak Capital, Intel Capital, and Marissa Mayer.
Before diving into her own site, Morin grew her love for the tech world as an employee at Apple and Google, where she worked on iTunes and Google Maps, respectively.
Cofounder and CEO; cofounder, Coinbase
Despite slumping bitcoin prices, Coinbase, a digital wallet used to buy and manage the digital currency, is on the rise. The startup raised a $US75 million round in January -- a record-breaking amount for a bitcoin company at the time. Investors include the New York Stock Exchange, Andreessen Horowitz, and banks USAA and BBVA, and the round supposedly puts Coinbase's value at $US400 million.
Cofounders, 21 Inc.
Enigmatic startup 21 Inc. wants to bring bitcoin to the mainstream through an embeddable chip for phones that will allow users to 'mine' Bitcoin in the background. Though the company only recently announced its master plan, they have been building capital for some time. In March, it raised $US116 million in venture funding from investors including Andreessen Horowitz, Yuan Capital, and RRE Ventures.
21 recently shook up its management as well: Cofounder Balaji Srinivasan, who is also a partner at Andreessen Horowitz, is taking over as CEO, and Matthew Pauker, the current CEO, is replacing Srinivasan as chairman.
Cofounders, Luxe Valet
Luxe Valet wants to take the hassle out of parking. The app, which calls someone to park your car for you with just a click, is picking up steam, even against competition from similar on-demand valet companies. It raised $US20 million in a Series A funding round in February, and is continuing to expand into new markets.
The idea was born after cofounder Curtis Lee and his wife spent 30 minutes searching for a parking space in San Francisco one night, nearly missing their dinner reservations. 'Circling is not good for anybody,' he told Forbes.
Anyone who's ever had to lug a package to the post office knows how annoying it can be. But with Shyp, all that hassle goes away. The startup is reinventing the shipping process; instead of schlepping your boxes to UPS, Shyp picks them up for a $US5 flat fee plus shipping.
Shyp raised $US50 million in a Series B round of funding earlier this year, with investors including SherpaVentures and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. In the past year, the company has increased its number of shipments by nearly 500% and continues to grow.
It's never been easier to share live video with your friends and followers. Just open Meerkat, click 'stream,' and share whatever you're doing with friends. The popular live-streaming app, which launched in March, raised $US18.2 million in funding and has nearly 2 million users.
However, Meerkat is facing fierce competition from Twitter's Periscope, another live-streaming app. Despite Perisciope's advanced features, like the ability to replay videos, Meerkat cofounder Ben Rubin is confident there's space for both to thrive. When he found out Twitter was launching its competition, he says 'it was Saturday -- all the team went back to the office to get ready to dive in.'
Robinhood, a sleek mobile-brokerage app, is making it possible for anyone to invest, not just Wall Streeters. Unlike rival investment apps E-Trade and Schwab, which charge $US7 to $US10 per trade, Robinhood is free to use. In May, it raised $US50 million in a funding round led by NEA. Previous investors include big-name VCs and celebrities including Snoop Dogg and Jared Leto.
Inspired by the Occupy Wall Street Movement, Vlad Tenev and Baiju Bhatt created the app to 'democratize access to the financial markets.' And good news for their mission: It's now available for anyone to use.
Founder, Product Hunt
For tech enthusiasts, Product Hunt is a daily addiction. The community review site constantly surfaces new products, and many consider it a direct competitor to blogs like TechCrunch. Last October, the site raised $US6.1 million in a Series A round of financing from investors including Andreessen Horowitz.
Founder Ryan Hoover commands a ton of power in the tech world for becoming the face of the site. He's been known to flood Twitter with conversations about new products, consistently engaging people with the site.
Recently, Product Hunt also began branching out from tech; it launched Snoop Dogg's new album in May, and many speculate it will continue to feature nontech products.
DoorDash, a startup that delivers food from local restaurants, raised $US40 million in March from a round of funding led by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Unlike other meal-delivery services, DoorDash provides its own drivers, which makes it possible to order from restaurants that aren't available on places like GrubHub.
The company is about more than just meal delivery. It places a heavy emphasis on the logistics side of things, and hopes to create an infrastructure that can be used to deliver anything.
Founder, CEO, Domo
Earlier this year, data-management startup Domo announced a $US200 million Series D round of financing led by BlackRock that brought its total funding up to $US450 million. It's now valued at about $US2 billion.
Founder Josh James held Domo in stealth mode for nearly five years to keep the competition at bay while he built a platform for collecting and visualising business data, making it easy for executives to skim and understand. Though Domo has only 1,000 users compared to competitor Tableau Software's 23,000, he said that Domo 'makes a higher average revenue per customer than Tableau does' during Re/code's Code/Enterprise: San Francisco event.
Often dubbed 'Uber for groceries,' Instacart eliminates the need to ever set food in a grocery store. For $US3.99 plus your bill, the service will deliver your full load of groceries, hand-picked by a personal shopper at local stores like Whole Foods and Costco.
The startup is valued at $US2 billion, notably bringing in a $US220 million round of funding in December, following a $US44 million round led by Andreessen Horowitz in June. And it's still on the rise: Instacart is in 15 cities and plans to continue growing in those places while expanding to others.
Cofounder, CEO; cofounder, Vessel
Vessel is a new video-subscription service that lets users watch short-form videos, like music videos or TV segments, 72 hours early for $US2.99 a month. The company raised a boatload of cash before it even launched and a $US57.5 million Series B round in April led by Institutional Venture Partners. The young startup has raised $US132.5 million total.
Vessel launched in March with over 135 YouTubers on board. Formerly the CEO of Hulu, Vessel cofounder Jason Kilar is no stranger to video-streaming services, and he plans to take the Hulu Plus model and optimise it for a younger, mobile audience.
Cloudera, a software company that launched in 2008 and aims to help businesses make sense of huge data sets, raised $US900 million in funding last March. Investors include Intel, Google Ventures, and MSD Capital. They also raised an undisclosed amount in another round later that year.
The company continues to grow, raking in over $US100 million in revenue last year, and some analysts believe it could be worth almost $US5 billion by the end of 2015. The startup even recruited Google exec Daniel Sturman to join as their vice president of engineering.
It was a huge year for Lyft: It raised two major rounds of funding -- $US530 million in March and another $US150 million from Carl Icahn in May -- rebranded with a more sophisticated look, and announced huge growth for the company. And in March, the ride-hailing service reached a $US2.5 billion valuation, making it one of Silicon Valley's growing number of unicorns.
Though the startup still faces serious competition from Uber, it continues to prove itself a worthy opponent.
At the forefront of the growing'internet of things' market sits SmartThings, an app that lets users monitor household appliances like lights and fans remotely while they're away from home. Back in 2013, SmartThings raised $US12.5 million in Series A funding led by Greylock Partners through one of the biggest Kickstarter campaigns in history. The company was then bought by Samsung for $US200 million in August.
SmartThings is just getting started. Eventually, Hawkinson hopes to turn every home into a smart home. Going forward, he plans to concentrate on getting SmartThings' technology into more homes as well as delving deeper into what it can do.
Last summer, Google purchased music-streaming app Songza, giving the tech giant a much-needed edge in the streaming game and saving the company years of research. Though the acquisition went for an undisclosed amount, previous sources suggest it could have been a $US15 million deal.
Unlike other services, such as Spotify or Pandora, Songza relies on real people -- not algorithms -- to curate its playlists based on the time of day or activity you're doing. Google implemented this into Google Concierge, helping to turn the feature into a tool that seamlessly blends with users' lives. The Songza team is also being tapped to help Google come up with a streaming service that can compete with Apple and Spotify.
Nextdoor connects users with those who live close to them, creating a forum for discussing everything from neighbourhood crime to the best places to eat. Though others, including Foursquare and AOL, have had mixed luck with the neighbourhood-centric concept, founder Nirav Tolia believes Nextdoor's focus on small communities will make it an effective way to connect people. In the long term, the app also hopes to find a way to monetise the user recommendations.
Cofounder, CEO, Nutanix
Enterprise virtualization and storage company Nutanix became of the first enterprise unicorns of 2014, with a valuation of $US2 billion. The company raised over $US141 million in 2014, and $US312 million to date from investors including Lightspeed Venture partners, Blumberg Capital, Khosla Ventures, and Goldman Sachs.
Nutanix has become so emblematic of successful enterprise hardware companies that, in Silicon Valley, other startups dream of becoming 'the Nutanix of' their markets. Nutanix also has plans to take down incumbent VMware. The two companies are intensely competitive.
CEO Chris Wanstrath is a self-taught coder who dropped out of college to pursue a career in software development. An active profile on GitHub -- his software-development tool that allows users to collaborate -- has become a popular destination for Valley programmers to work and get hired.
In mid-June, Bloomberg Business reported that GitHub was raising a $US200 million round at a valuation of about $US2 billion. GitHub has not put out a statement, but rumours suggest that the round is being led by Andreessen Horowitz, the same firm that led GitHub's first funding round back in 2012 when it raised $US100 million.
President, CEO, Flurry
Last summer, Yahoo purchased mobile-analytics company Flurry for a substantial $US200 million. Flurry's technology monitors mobile users' trends and analyses how people use applications, potentially giving Yahoo an edge in mobile going forward. Yahoo has already added support for the Apple Watch to Flurry's analytics, letting app developers monitor how apps fare on the watch.
Before the acquisition, Flurry raised $US73.3 million through eight rounds of funding.
In a sea of fitness and weight-loss apps, MyFitnessPal manages to stand out. The app, created by brothers Mike and Albert Lee, has been profitable since before it started fundraising and was bought by Under Armour for $US475 million in February.
MyFitnessPal aims to help users stick to their diet and exercise plans by not only allowing them to track calories and record workouts but also to follow and encourage friends. The platform is easy to use, making fitness tracking a painless experience, unlike many of the app's competitors, whose interfaces can be cumbersome.
Greg Duffy and Aamir Virani joined Google's Nest team in June 2014 when the tech giant purchased Dropcam, the pair's Wi-Fi-camera company, for $US555 million. Dropcam builds webcams for video surveillance, along with a cloud where people can store the videos. Under Nest's umbrella, the companies recently released an updated version of the Dropcam -- called Nest Aware -- that provides a surveillance camera, digital thermostat, and smoke detector all in one.
Duffy left Nest earlier this year, Tweeting: 'I grew up at Dropcam, and I'm going to miss it dearly. But there are exciting things on the horizon.' Virani remains with the company as COO and SVP of product.
Vice president of messaging products, Facebook
Since joining the Facebook team last June, vice president of messaging products David Marcus has helped the company improve the app and roll out several features, including a Skype-like video-calling service and the ability to send locations to friends.
Before joining Facebook, Marcus spent three years as VP, then president of PayPal, where he reinvigorated the company by recruiting new talent, adopting new software tools, and developing the company culture. This background in mobile payments makes Marcus an ideal candidate to monetise the messenger app.
US chief technology officer
As the country's CTO, Megan Smith oversees IT policies and initiatives across every sector of the economy. Since taking the post last September -- the first woman to ever hold the position -- Smith has advised President Obama on decisions surrounding net neutrality, helped improve how technology was used in the fight against Ebola, and built a website dedicated to celebrating women in science in tech.
Smith's no stranger to the consumer side of the tech industry. Before joining the White House team, she served as vice president of Google's secretive Google X division.
When Susan Wojcicki, a longstanding Googler and ad executive, was picked to run YouTube in early 2014, she had her work cut out for her. Her main job was to help YouTube monetise its audience more effectively. Part of that included finding ways for YouTube to promote its home-grown stars like Bethany Mota and the
Epic Rap Battles duo and attract more high-quality and deep-pocketed advertisers to the service.
To help build out YouTube's tech offerings, Wojcicki has made a number of internal 'hires.' She also confirmed onstage at Re/code's Code/Mobile conference in October that YouTube would explore the launch of an ad-free subscription service.
Former CEO, now chairman and CTO; co-CEOs, Oracle
Oracle founder Larry Ellison stepped down from his CEO role in September and was succeeded by Hurd and Catz, who took over as co-CEOs. Ellison remains as chairman and CTO of the company; Catz, who was previously co-president and CFO, is now the world's highest-paid female executive; Hurd has been with Oracle since 2010 and was previously the CEO of HP.
Catz and Hurd have a big vision for the direction of the company, and their stepping up led to the stock hitting an all-time high. While Catz has said there would be 'no significant changes' in the company, Hurd points out that two CEOs are better than one as the company needs 'a lot of leadership.' Nonetheless, Ellison still quietly runs the show for the time being.
John Thompson had a huge comeback in 2014 when he was named chairman of Microsoft. Thompson led the Microsoft CEO search committee, ultimately hiring Satya Nadella last year. He has been a huge proponent of Nadella, encouraging him to roll out initiatives at Microsoft.
Thompson got started at IBM and later became CEO of Symantec. He grew Symantic from $US600 million to $US6 billion in revenue when he left in 2009. Thompson is also the CEO of a five-year-old startup called Virtual Instruments, which offers software that helps big companies keep their most important applications from crashing. VI is on track to hit $US100 million in revenue.
In September, Alibaba went public. Investors in Yahoo expected Alibaba's public value to send Yahoo's stock soaring. But after Alibaba's debut, Yahoo's stock crashed.
Months later, Yahoo unveiled a plan to spin off its remaining 15% stake in Alibaba, tax-free, into a public, independent investment company called SpinCo. Yahoo shareholders would receive shares 'distributed pro rata,' which means they'd own shares in two companies.
Cofounder, CEO, Netflix
Netflix has been crushing the online-streaming-video category. The company raised a $US1.5 billion round of debt financing in February
to produce more original content. Wall Street also can't get enough of it: When news broke in May that Netflix may be entering China, its stock jumped to an all-time high. A month later, its stock broke a new record.
SVP of retail and online stores, Apple
In spring 2014, Angela Ahrendts left Burberry, where she served as CEO, to go to Apple. There she was named senior vice president of retail and online stores. Ahrendts, who is Apple's only female executive, made more than $US70 million last year; that's more than anyone else at Apple, including CEO Tim Cook.
Ahrendts also oversaw the rollout of the Apple Watch this spring, and it didn't quite go smoothly. Instead of having a seamless, easy ordering process by letting people order online and in stores, the shipping date for many models of the Apple Watch was delayed for months. Apple even removed the April 24 availability date from the Apple Watch page on its website, signalling that there were major delays with shipping the device.
In September, Apple announced partnerships with a number of retailers and payments companies for its Apple Pay service. Among them was Stripe, a five-year-old mobile-payments startup that a year ago was doing about $US1.5 billion in annualized transactions.
Nest Labs CEO, Google
When Google ended its Glass Explorer program in January, many presumed it was the end of the experiment. However, Google Glass -- which builds wearable computers mounted on eyeglasses -- is just getting started. The project was upgraded to its own department, now led by Nest CEO Tony Fadell.
Fadell will continue to run Nest, the home-automation company he cofounded, which Google purchased for $US3.2 billion last year, while figuring out what's next for Glass. In March, Google CEO Eric Schmidt hinted that the glasses might be on their way to the consumer market.
Ellen Pao is the interim CEO of Reddit, and she's taking a stand against gender discrimination in the workplace. Previously a partner at venture-capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Pao sued for $US16 million in lost wages and future earnings, claiming her gender was a major factor in her not being promoted to general or senior partner, and that it played a significant role in her termination.
Pao lost the case on all counts, but she filed to appeal and is still in debate with Kleiner Perkins over legal costs. Her highly publicized trial brought important issues of gender and diversity in Silicon Valley to the surface, sparking much-needed discussion of the issues.
Cofounder, CEO, Zynga
Mark Pincus is back on top. Though he stepped down as CEO of gaming company Zynga less than two years ago, the billionaire resumed his CEO role in April. Pincus launched Zynga in 2007 and found success through well-known games 'FarmVille' and 'Words With Friends.'
However, the company failed to adapt to changes in the gaming landscape and its stock fell tremendously. But with Pincus back at the helm, things are shifting, and it looks like it's for the better. Zynga beat earnings estimates for Q1.
Shannon Liss-Riordan, a Boston-based employment-rights lawyer, is
leading the charge against Uber and Lyft. She has represented drivers from both companies who have filed lawsuits, alleging they have been misclassified as 'independent contractors' when they should be classified as 'employees.'
Classifying workers as contractors is a common tactic for companies in the 1099 economy -- it keeps them from having to deal with things like payroll taxes, job expenses, antidiscrimination protections, and overtime pay. In June, the California Labour Commission ruled that an Uber driver is an employee. Uber plans to appeal.
CEO/cofounder, cofounder, Periscope
In March, Twitter launched Periscope, a live-streaming app that it acquired in February before Periscope even launched. Periscope could give Twitter a valuable means to expand into live entertainment and other video and streaming events.
Periscope lets users stream footage from their devices to followers. Viewers can comment and send 'hearts' to the streamer. The footage can be replayed later, which sets it apart from rival app Meerkat, where the footage is gone once the stream is over.
Chairwoman, president, CEO, Hewlett-Packard
HP announced that it would be undergoing massive multiyear layoffs in 2012. Since then, the company has eliminated 48,000 employees. It's on its way to eliminating 55,000 by October. And in November, Whitman will split HP into two companies, and the layoffs will likely continue.
In August, Amazon bought video-game-streaming site Twitch for $US970 million, one of the largest deals in Amazon history.
Twitch is a major player in streaming, accounting for more than 43% of all live video-streaming traffic by volume. The site brings together 100 million gamers each month who watch and discuss video games. For pro gamers, the service creates a lucrative platform for live-streaming their games.
Anthony Noto, a former Goldman Sachs banker, led Twitter's IPO. In July 2014, he became Twitter's CFO. When he arrived at Twitter, his annual salary was $US250,000, and he received $US64 million in Twitter stock (1.5 million shares), with the option to buy 5,000 more.
Noto has had a couple stumbles as CFO. In November he tweeted what was supposed to be a direct message about acquiring a company. He deleted it. In February, his Twitter account was hacked. Now that CEO Dick Costolo has decided to step down, Noto is on track to be one of the most powerful people at the company, although most insiders don't think he'll be picked as the next CEO.
When Apple acquired Jimmy Iovine's Beats Electronics in May 2014, Iovine joined Apple at an undisclosed position. Along with Eddy Cue, Iovine helped launch Apple Music, Apple's music-streaming service. Apple announced the product in June on-stage at its big Worldwide Developers Conference.
Apple Music will allow users to stream from a catalogue of over 30 million songs found on iTunes along with curated playlists and music videos. It competes with streaming services like Spotify, Rdio, and Tidal.
Founder, Lowercase Capital
Chris Sacca, the founder of Silicon Valley venture-capital firm Lowercase Capital, became a billionaire from his early investment in Uber this year as Uber's valuation shot up to a rumoured $US50 billion. He owns 4% of the company.
In addition, Sacca was vocal about a number of things. He told Bloomberg TV's Emily Chang that Carl Icahn's recent investment in Lyft was a 'big mistake.' Sacca also talked about the crazy amount of VC money in Silicon Valley today. 'I think there are naive investors with no discipline, throwing out term sheets at nine figures right now, with no diligence,' Sacca said. And he wrote an impassioned 8,000 word critique of Twitter, where he was also an early investor; a couple weeks later, the company announced CEO Dick Costolo was stepping down, replaced by interim CEO Jack Dorsey.
Head of global operations, Uber
Ryan Graves is head of global expansion at Uber. This year he also became a billionaire. Uber's valuation has skyrocketed over the past year to as much as $US50 billion.
Graves previously worked as a database administrator at General Electric before landing a stint at Foursquare that he acquired by working for them for free after the company initially turned him down. In 2010 he tweeted at Travis Kalanick, looking for a job, and the rest is history. Five years later, Ryan Graves is still with Uber. His stake in the company is now worth about $US1.4 billion.
Garrett Camp is one of three Uber employees to have been made billionaires by the company. Camp's stake in Uber is worth an estimated $US5.3 billion, according to Forbes.
After cofounding Uber with Travis Kalanick, Garrett Camp created his own startup studio called Expa. Today, Expa works with founders to help build companies. Camp is now Uber's chairman and adviser. The restaurant-reservation app Reserve was launched from Expa, raising $US15 million.
When Page took over as Google's CEO, he wanted to reinvigorate the company's vision. Today the company continues to dominate search, makes a ton of money with ads, and is leading a number of other innovative projects, including Google Glass. In the past year, Google generated nearly $US18 billion in profits -- money that Page will be able to use to forward his grand visions for granting internet access to the world.
Page also appointed senior vice president of product Sundar Pichai to becoming the 'second most important person in the company,' leaving Page free to make his grand visions a reality.
Chief design officer, Apple
Sir Jony Ive has played a huge part in Apple's signature design for years, most recently with the release of the Apple Watch. The watch is Apple's first product in a new category since the company launched the iPad in 2010. It debuted to mixed reviews: Some analysts say people care less about it than even the iPod. An analytics firm estimates Apple has sold 2.79 million units of the Apple Watch since its debut in early 2015.
In May, Sir Jony, formerly Apple's senior VP of design, was promoted to the role of chief design officer. Two other Apple executives -- Alan Dye and Richard Howarth -- will take over Ive's role starting this summer.
With at least $US1.5 billion each, Airbnb founders Nathan Blecharczyk, Joe Gebbia, and Brian Chesky are some of the world's youngest billionaires. The home-sharing site raised $US475 million in Series D funding last year and it is now raising at a rumoured $US24 billion valuation. It's available in 34,000 cities and been used by more than 30 million guests.
Pinterest, an online scrap-booking site that lets users organise photo pins onto different boards, is now worth $US11 billion after raising a $US367 million round of funding in March, followed by another $US186 million in May. Investors include Andreessen Horowitz, Fidelity Investments, and Bessemer Venture Partners.
The site continues to grow and adapt its business model, most recently releasing new options for advertisers. Instead of just choosing to pay for views or clicks on promoted pins, advertisers can choose to pay with a cost-per-engagement model or cost-per-action model. Pinterest just lost its head of partnerships however, Joanne Bradford. The rumour is Pinterest wasn't generating as much revenue as it should have.
Facebook has been quietly busy under its leader and CEO. This year, Facebook acquired a video startup called QuickFire, which could let it take on Siri. Facebook received criticism for Internet.org, the company's initiative to provide free internet access around the world, despite making changes to address net-neutrality concerns.
At Facebook's annual F8 developers' conference, David Marcus, who was hired from PayPal to head up messaging products at Facebook, made big announcements regarding the Facebook Messenger app -- expansion into e-commerce and mobile payments inside the app. And Zuckerberg has been talking up Internet.org, his plan to bring cheap Internet access to millions of people in developing countries, every chance he gets.
Elon Musk has been busy. Last summer he announced he would be building a SolarCity plant in Buffalo, New York. The facility will be 'one of the single largest solar panel production plants in the world,' Musk said.
In addition, Musk announced he'd be building a five-mile-long Hyperloop track in Texas, designed for companies and students to test his design for a super-fast transportation system that will move people at 500 miles per hour in little 'pods.' Another Hyperloop track is set to be built starting in 2016, halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles.
Calico is a company Google launched in September to try to cure death by tackling ageing and illness. Headed up by Apple chairman and former Genentech CEO Art Levinson, Calico is focused on extending human life. To that end, it's teamed up with research-based biopharmaceutical company AbbVie.
In September, the companies announced
a partnership to invest up to $US1.5 billion to research, develop, and bring to market drugs that could help prolong human life by fighting age-related diseases like cancer and Alzheimer's.
In April, online-learning website Lynda sold to LinkedIn. The deal, a $US1.5 billion cash-stock blend, closed in Q1. Most of Lynda's employees joined LinkedIn following the acquisition, which lets LinkedIn's 350 million users access the platform for skill building and education, LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner said.
Founded in 1995 by Lynda Weinman and her husband, Bruce Heavin, Lynda.com lets users learn business, technology, software, and creative skills through videos. People can access Lynda on their own, and corporations and schools can purchase subscriptions.
Virtual-reality company Oculus was acquired by Facebook in March 2014 for $US2 billion. Since then, founder Palmer Luckey and CEO Brendan Iribe have had a busy year. Oculus revealed its final Oculus Rift headset, announced a partnership with Microsoft, and announced that the Oculus Rift headset will finally be available in the first quarter of next year.
Last year, Iribe announced that he was donating $US31 million to the University of Maryland. As a result of the Facebook deal, Luckey's net worth is more than $US500 million.
In June 2014, MobileIron became the third enterprise tech company in a month to successfully go public. MobileIron offers a product that helps enterprises manage their fleets of tablets and smartphones.
When it went public, MobileIron raised about $US100 million, selling 11.1 million shares for $US9. Investors liked the stock, which closed up 22% at $US11.02.
Rob Bearden's company, HortonWorks, went public in December. HortonWorks distributes and supports an open-source technology called Hadoop, which was invented at Yahoo to store and arrange huge amounts of web data on low-cost hardware.
Hortonworks priced at $US16 on its opening day and jumped almost 50% to over $US24. HortonWorks raised about $US100 million and was valued at about $US1 billion at the time it went public.
More than just a self-made billionaire CEO, Marc Benioff is a force for equal rights. Recently he made headlines for his plan to ensure equal pay for both men and women at Salesforce, through which the company will examine the salaries of all 16,000 employees. 'My job is to make sure that women are treated 100% equally at Salesforce in pay, opportunity, and advancement,' he said.
He also made waves when he threatened to reduce the company's investment in Indiana after the state passed a law that allowed business owners to refuse service to gay married couples. Pressure from Benioff and other business leaders eventually helped convince Indiana lawmakers to revise the law.
Benioff is regarded as a tech visionary, and his company continues to see record growth. Salesforce ended its last fiscal year with $US5.37 billion in revenue, a major milestone for a 100% cloud-computing company. He's also a major force in his home town of San Francisco: The Salesforce Tower is under construction and will be the tallest building in the city when done, and a childrens' hospital named after Benioff opened earlier this year.
Founder/CEO, Lending Club
Renaud Laplanche is the CEO of Lending Club, one of the world's biggest online lending marketplaces. Last year, Lending Club's IPO was the largest among all US tech companies. Laplanche founded Lending Club to let people provide low-cost financing to their peers. Now, it lets institutional investors do the same.
The online credit marketplace raised $US870 million in its IPO last December. Today, it's valued at $US6.5 billion.
Senior vice president, Google
In October, Sundar Pichai was promoted by Google CEO Larry Page as the company's new senior VP of products. It's a big promotion for Pichai, who's now in charge of Google's core products, including search, maps, research, Google+, Android, Chrome, infrastructure, commerce, ads, and Google Apps. Before, he was head of Android and Chrome.
Since being promoted, Pichai has spearheaded the announcement of Android M, the new-generation version of Android, Google Photos, an app for Apple iOS and Android that offers automatic image sorting and unlimited photo storage, offline Google Maps, and more.
One of Twitter's founders, Jack Dorsey was named the company's interim CEO this spring. Embattled CEO Dick Costolo announced that he would be stepping down effective July 1. Dorsey, who is also the CEO of payments company Square, said he would lead both companies concurrently.
Just after news broke that Dorsey would step in as Twitter's interim CEO, reports surfaced that Square was planning to go public. Sources say the company may have already filed a confidential registration document with the SEC, which is permitted for companies with less than $US1 billion in revenue. Square's most recent fundraise came late last year, when it raised $US150 million at a reported $US6 billion valuation.
Over the past year, Apple has rolled out two major new products under Tim Cook's leadership, the iPhone 6 and the Apple Watch. In addition, Apple has announced plans to break into music streaming with the launch of Apple Music. It also announced iOS 9 and rolled out a new line of MacBooks.
Uber, which turned five this year, is the most valuable private tech company in the world. The ride-hailing company, which has raised $US5.9 billion at a $US41 billion valuation, could soon be worth as much as $US50 billion with a new cash infusion.
Uber operates in 311 cities and 58 countries. While the company is working to overcome regulatory hurdles, Uber has its sights set on plans bigger than just chauffeured transportation. The company has rolled out features like UberEATS and UberRush to test out logistics and delivery services. In May, Uber poached 40 Carnegie Mellon robotics researchers for its own Pittsburgh-based labs. Presumably, this will allow Uber to create self-driving cars.
Founder, CEO, chairman, Theranos
When she was a sophomore at Stanford in 2003, Elizabeth Holmes founded healthcare-technology company Theranos (a few months later, she dropped out to focus on the company). Today, she's America's youngest female billionaire with a net worth of $US4.6 billion.
Theranos is a $US9 billion biotech company that has a new approach to blood testing. Its goal is to make clinical testing cheaper and faster. Theranos wants to conduct blood tests for health issues through a single finger stick rather than by having to draw vials of blood in a doctor's office. Theranos has drawn scepticism from the scientific community in part because Theranos is cagey about how its tests actually work. But for now, Holmes is on top of the world. Today, her blood tests are used in places like Walgreens.