It’s finally here!
After months of research, evaluation, and debate, we’re pleased to present the definitive list of the 100 people who did the coolest things in Silicon Valley this year: The SILICON VALLEY 100.
Congratulations to everyone who made the list. Apologies to anyone who deserved to but didn’t (We’re not omniscient.) And a resounding “tally-ho!” to the dozens of folks who secretly think they should have made it but really didn’t deserve to. (Get out there and do something cooler next year).
Here’s to an even more exciting 2011!
Photo: Business Insider
Thanks to our many readers who took the time to send us nominations. The Silicon Valley 100 was assembled by Nick Saint, Cooper Smith, Henry Blodget, Nicholas Carlson, Dan Frommer, Jay Yarow, Matt Rosoff, William Wei, and Jason Merriman.
Chairman and CEO, Apple
2010 was another monster year for Apple.
Steve clearly did the coolest things in Silicon Valley this year, by a mile.
VP of Global Communications - Marketing and Public Policy, Chief Operating Officer, Facebook
Facebook came in to 2010 on top of the world as a product. Now it's a killer business too, with annual revenue reportedly nearing $2 billion.
While Zuckerberg and his coevals keep the product fresh, Eliot and Sheryl have made the company respectable. They're also are the people making the business run. As she did at Google, Sandberg is building a huge sales organisation.
Schrage has turned product releases and upgrades into must attend press events at Facebook's headquarters. He has also defused massive concerns about privacy. It's thanks in part to these non-threatening events, insiders say, that Mark Zuckerberg has turned into a decent interviewee.
VP of Engineering, Google
Android came out of nowhere to become the second best selling mobile OS worldwide, behind Symbian. Google hasn't demonstrated how it can squeeze revenue out of all those users yet, but its progress this year is still staggering.
Cofounder and CEO, Tesla Motors, Founder, CEO, and CTO, SpaceX
The cofounder of PayPal took his electric car company public, and has seen its market cap rise to over $3 billion. He has also bailed himself out of financial trouble.
In his spare time, Elon also ran a private space exploration company that successfully launched a rocket into orbit.
Pretty cool, huh?
Founder and CEO, VP of Product, CTO, Facebook
While Facebook's grown-ups were busy turning Facebook into a serious business, the kids behind the Facebook product kept crushing it.
Facebook introduced the Open Graph, Groups, Places, a new profile design, and its new don't-call-it-email communication system.
Andreessen-Horowitz is just over a year old, and already it's one of the most important VCs out there.
The firm won the insanely competitive and public bidding war for Foursquare's series B, and raised a $650 million sophomore fund.
Andreessen also played a major role in helping HP handle the fallout from Mark Hurd's ouster.
Cofounder and CEO, Digital Sky Technologies
In buying huge chunks of some of the world's biggest startups -- including Facebook, Zynga, and Groupon -- DST has reinvented the way tech companies grow up. With Milner buying stock from early investors and founders, companies stay private longer.
With half of Silicon Valley's most promising companies in its portfolio, DST filed for an IPO and raised another $380 million this year.
CEO, Cofounder and Product Development, Twitter
In the year and change since Twitter's last big funding round, the company has roughly quadrupled its valuation, to a reported $4 billion. It is also in the early stages of establishing a business model with in-stream advertisements and licensing access to its firehose.
This fall, Williams made the bold and wise choice to step down from his CEO job and allow the revenue-driven Costolo in.
Founding Partners, SV Angel
The godfather of Silicon Valley angel investors was at the forefront of the new wave of 'super angels', raising a fund with his partner David Lee, and investing in startups at a furious pace.
He is subverting the way early stage fundraising has always been done (and making plenty of enemies along the way).
Chairman and CEO, Cofounder and President - Technology, Cofounder and President - Products, Google
As it tends to, Google spread its focus across dozens of major projects this year.
Some -- Buzz and Wave, especially -- were flops. But Android is killing it, display advertising is on the move, and the company is finally working on new revenue streams, with the launch of Boutiques and the acquisition of ITA.
Google also invented cars that drive themselves.
CEO and President, 3Par (now SVP and GM of HP StorageWorks)
Being CEO of 3Par was probably one of the most fun jobs on earth this summer.
Cofounder and CEO, Twilio
Twilio's APIs, which let developers build phone calls and texts into their apps cheaply and simply, took off in 2010.
It has both huge companies like Salesforce and hot new startups like GroupMe as customers. The company raised a $12 million series B, and 500 Startups launched a microfund dedicated exclusively to Twilio-based startups.
Flipboard is an iPad app that aggregates links to articles from your friends on Twitter and Facebook and puts the content together into a magazine. The app set the tech world on fire when it launched. McCue had to ask Apple not to feature the app in the iTunes store.
Founding Partner, 500 Startups
McClure is the best example of the new breed of 'super angel' investor.
The name of the new fund he launched this year -- 500 Startups -- says it all: McClure hands out checks as fast as he can sign them. He played a central role in the Angelgate scandal, and remained outspoken while other investors scrambled for cover.
We don't know her name, but we do know Google recently threw $6 million at an engineer, just to keep her from jumping ship to Facebook.
This is just the most extreme example of a widespread phenomenon in tech. There simply aren't nearly enough top engineers to meet the demands of huge talent hogs like Google, Facebook, and Twitter, and the zillions of new startups receiving funding.
We're especially enjoying the scrum between Google and Facebook. (But not as much as Google employees are.)
VP Corporate Development, Google
Lawee might have the most exciting job at Google.
He heads up M&A activity at a company that is on a never-ending acquisition spree. This year alone, the company bought more than 25 companies, including ITA (pending regulatory approval), Invite Media, Slide, and On2.
Chatroulette has cooled off, but while it was hot, it was as hot as a brand new startup can possibly be.
The random chatting web service put together by this 17 year-old Russian made a huge splash, being featured on mainstream television programs and attracting the interest of major VCs.
Ternovskiy now lives in the Valley, where he's working with tech veterans toward regaining momentum for the site.
Partner, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers
A former EA exec, Gordon focuses on gaming for Kleiner Perkins.
His two big bets with the firm thus far -- Ngmoco and Zynga -- have been massive successes. We admire the way he put his job on the line to get the Zynga investment done.
Say what you will about the legality or ethics of buying a prototype of the iPhone 4 that an unfortunate engineer lost in a bar. You can't deny that this move made huge waves, and did great things for Gizmodo.
The exclusive look at the next big gadget from the uber-secretive Apple had everyone talking, and added tens of millions of dollars to Gizmodo's value overnight.
CEO and President, CSO and Founder, Pandora
The music streaming service kept crushing it, blasting past 65 million users in the U.S.. It launched a new local mobile ads platform. The company is expected to generate $100 million in revenue this year.
Founder and Editor, CEO, Writer, TechCrunch
Arrington and company maintained TechCrunch's position as the leading blog in tech, launched their new wholly-owned conference Disrupt, and sold the company to AOL.
Arrington created TechCrunch, and Harde got the deal done, but Siegler gets a nod because he proved that there could be other voices on the site besides its creator's.
Business Development, Foursquare
The West Coast face of Foursquare, Walker heads up Foursquare's area of strength: biz-dev.
High-profile partnerships with Starbucks, The Gap, McDonald's, American Eagle, and many others have kept Foursquare's name in the news.
Casual gaming -- especially Facebook games -- has undergone a huge industry roll-up over the past year or so.
Playfish sold to EA, Playdom sold to Disney, Zynga has acquired a slew of mid-level players. Crowdstar, the company behind Happy Aquarium, is the biggest independent left in Zynga's wake, with over 50 million monthly active users.
With all the options already out there, it's hard to believe that a new photo sharing startup could succeed. But Instagram's simple iPhone integration and hipster-baiting photo filters drove the techies crazy, and the new service has become an overnight hit.
VP of Geographic and Local Services, Google
Mayer maintained her position as one of Google's most visible execs, landed a new job overseeing local services, got a position on Google's revered Operating Committed.
But she's on this list because -- holy moly -- she hosted President Obama dinner at her house earlier this fall.
Google Voice Product Managers
Walker and Paquet joined Google in 2007 when their company GrandCentral was acquired.
The product they've been working on since, Google Voice, finally came into its own this year, with a full public release and deep integration into Gmail. Walker has since moved on to Google Ventures.
CEO and President, McAfee
DeWalt led McAfee to a $7.68 billion acquisition by Intel, representing a 60% premium on the online security company's market value.
Founder and CEO, Ngmoco
Ngmoco was on both sides of 2010's massive rollup in casual gaming.
The company started the year off raising $25 million and acquiring Freeverse and Stumptown. In October, Ngmoco was itself acquired for $400 million.
Silicon Valley absolutely fell in love with Uber's extremely simple idea: the company lets you easily order a cab with a text or from an app.
It has generated an insane amount of buzz since it launched earlier this year, and recently raised $1.2 million from a who's who of super angels.
Rabois is on this list because of his role as an extremely active and hands-on angel investor. Rabois got in on hot startups like Art.sy and Qwiki, and saw a nice exit in Milo's sale to eBay.
He works a pretty decent day job, too. He started the year as Vice President of social games startup Slide, which was acquired by Google. He opted not to stay on at the search giant, and instead joined Jack Dorsey's Square.
The online retailer of vintage and vintage-inspired fashion took off in 2010.
The company relocated to San Francisco and raised $19.8 million from Accel, Floodgate, First Round Capital, Michael Dearing.
Cofounder and CEO, Bloom Energy
Bloom Energy keeps its cards very close to its chest, so experts outside the company still want proof that the Bloom Box can be an efficient energy source.
But whatever the underlying truth about the generator, it has generated more excitement than any power source since cold fusion.
Founders, Thing Labs
AOL picked up the company behind Brizzly in a straight-forward talent acquisition.
Shellen and Wetherell are tasked with making a real business out of AOL's most popular product, Instant Messenger.
Cofounder and CEO, Yelp
Yelp kicked the year off by raising $100 million from Elevation Partners, after turning down acquisition bids from Google and Yahoo in late 2009.
Yelp's business kept growing at a lightning pace.
Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers
If you missed her awesome Web 2.0 presentation this year about the current state of the web, be sure to check it out -- it may be her last.
VP of Engineering, Google
Levchin flipped his social gaming company, Slide, to Google for $228 million, and joined the team working on Google's next big attempt at social networking. The exit was a disappointing one for a company that raised money at a $550 million valuation. But we give Levchin credit for the soft landing.
Cofounder and CEO, Booyah
Booyah's MyTown has taken the basic gameplay formula that has made Zynga a fortune on Facebook and turned it into a mobile location-based app for the iPhone.
Its massive success paved the way to a $20 million funding round.
Cofounder and CEO, Bump Technologies
Bump Technologies -- the company that lets you exchange information with friends by tapping your phones together -- got a huge boost when it was built in to PayPal's latest iPhone app.
Cofounder and CTO, Cofounder and CSO, SimpleGeo
Stump and Galligan hit on the idea to power location services for third-party apps last year, right before location-aware apps absolutely blew up.
The company has been growing fast since, and raised $8 million in May.
Cofounder and CEO, Cofounder and CTO, AirBNB
Airbnb runs a marketplace for booking unique spaces.
The company just raised a large $7.2 million series A, and Chesky has been promoting the service by living off it, staying in different locations he books through Airbnb around the world every night.
Cofounder and CEO, Cofounder and CTO, Chomp
Chomp is an 'app discovery engine' -- that is, a mobile app that helps you find other mobile apps you'll actually like.
The company launched for the iPhone in 2010, and raised $2 million shortly thereafter.
Cofounder and CEO, Siri
Kittlaus sold his 'mobile assistant' company to Apple in April and joined the company as Director of iPhone Apps.
Cofounder and CEO, Cofounder and CTO, Jambool
Amazon veterans Gupta and Hussein sold virtual currency company Jambool to Google for $70 million and joined the search giant's team working on casual gaming.
LinkedIn launched an exciting new product, Signal, and kept on expanding. The company reported nearly doubling its staff this year, and was recently valued at approximately $2 billion. There's no rush, but the company could IPO in 2011.
The cofounder of Reddit launched his second Y Combinator startup this year: a flight search company called Hipmunk. The company raised $1 million from SV Angel and Ashton Kutcher.
Cofounder and CEO, Cloudera
Providing enterprise support for Hadoop database technology isn't the sexiest business in the world, but Cloudera is making lots of money.
The company recently raised $25 million, and Olson says his company has 'a reasonable chance' at making it all the way to an IPO.
Cofounder and CEO, Cofounder and CTO, Dropbox
Founded back in 2007, cloud storage company Dropbox hit its stride this year, with traffic to the site more than tripling.
Cofounder and CEO, Cofounder, Path
Dave Morin left his post working on the Facebook Platform to team up with Napster creator Shawn Fanning.
After months working in stealth mode, the duo launched a new, mobile-focused photo-sharing app last month.
Google's attempt to buy Groupon was the biggest story in tech startups this year. AllThingsD's Kara Swisher broke the news through every step of the negotiations. She's on the list for that, for making Mark Zuckerberg sweat (literally!) on stage at her conference this year, and for building expanding All Things D with a number of big new hires.
Founder and CEO, Eventbrite
With projected $200 million total gross ticket sales for 2010, Eventbrite is one of the fastest growing social commerce companies around.
The company raised $20 million in October.
Cofounder and CEO, Shopkick
Shopkick was founded just last year, and only launched a few months ago, but it already has $20 million in VC funding and landed huge partnerships with retailers like Best Buy and Macy's.
Cofounder and CEO, Kno
A hardware startup that makes tablets for exclusive use as educational devices might seem crazy in a post-iPad world, but it's certainly bold.
Smarter folks than us think Rashid is on to something: the company raised $46 million this year in a round led by Andreessen-Horowitz.
General Partners, Benchmark Capital
Benchmark Capital invested more than $250 million this year in over 20 startups.
Gurley is on the list because he recently called out the 'Silicon Valley echochamber' for its baseless fear of IPOs.
Cofounder and CEO, Redbeacon
Redbeacon -- a platform for bidding on local services -- won the Startup 2010 competition, raised $7.4 million in Series A funding from Mayfield and Venrock, and expanded its service from the Bay Area to Seattle.
Founder and CEO, OpenDNS
OpenDNS had a great growth year, and now handles 30 billion DNS look-ups per day.
The company picked up $4.5 million in Series C funding from Sequoia Capital and Greylock Partners, and was honored as one of the World Economic Forum's Technology Pioneers.
Founder and Director, Khan Academy
Salman Khan's mission to educate the world one video at a time is gaining traction, thanks to endorsements by Bill Gates, and $2 million in funding from Google Project 10^100.
The non-profit organisation's namesake is still the lone faculty member of the Khan Academy, which has databased over 1,600 instructional videos.
Google bought Angstro in August to get Rohit Khare on its new social team, where he says he is working on 'the struggle for open, interoperable social networks.'
Founder, Harrison Metal Capital
One of the Valley's most respected 'super angels', Dearing had a busy year, investing in startups like ModCloth, Yardsellr, and Yummly.
Founder and co-CEO, Bling Nation
Bling Nation has been around since 2007, but you may only be hearing about them now as mobile payment systems are just starting to take off.
The company announced a partnership with PayPal earlier this year, allowing Bling Nation users to link to their PayPal accounts.
Founder and Managing Director, Felicis Ventures
Senkut raised a $40 million fund, saw a nice exit in the $170 million sale of Mint.com, and made investments in new startups like Smartling and Foodspotting.
Founder, Editor, Techmeme/MediaGazer
Gabe Rivera's influential Techmeme expanded with a media vertical, MediaGazer, headed up by Megan McCarthy.
Founder and CEO, Fanvibe
Fanvibe (formerly FanPulse) launched this year with a check-in app service for sporting events.
The Y-Combinator startup already has impressive partnerships with Comcast and the NBA.
Managing Partner, First Round Capital
Hayes heads up the San Francisco office for First Round Capital, which raised a $126 million sophomore fund.
He led the firm's investments in startups like Uber and SimpleGeo.
Ryan Tate became his own biggest story in 2010 when he provoked Steve Jobs into an email argument (which he then published) about freedom, the App Store, and porn. It was the best interview of Steve Jobs since he was in Playboy back in the 1980s.
Head of International Strategy, Twitter
After a brief stint working in the State Department, Stanton is back in Silicon Valley; this time at Twitter.
She will play a key role as Twitter tries to become a global company.
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