The world of business is changing rapidly.
Artificial intelligence and autonomous vehicles promise to change just about everything. Over-the-top viewing, or OTT, is transforming how we entertain ourselves. Direct-to-consumer brands are changing how we shop. There are new ways to go to the doctor, new ways of working, and new ways to invest.
And urgent conversations are being had about purpose, the beneficiaries of these innovations, and what should be done to help those who risk being left behind.
For more than 10 years, Business Insider has focused on these transformative forces and the people behind them.
So this spring, we asked our newsroom to identify the people having an outsized influence on business.
From tech titans to rising stars, groundbreaking scientists to social activists, these 100 people are driving real change in their industries.
You can view the list by industry category below, or keep scrolling to see all 100 people transforming business, in alphabetical order.
Emmanuel Aidoo, head of digital asset markets at Credit Suisse, is using blockchain to transform banking
To disrupt a business, one must first truly understand it. Emmanuel Aidoo fits the bill.
His past roles as global head of debt capital markets technology, global head of leverage finance technology, and global head of solutions delivery all involved streamlining complex processes.
Aidoo’s latest efforts have been focused on leveraging the potential of blockchain technology, which he first learned about after reading the Ethereum white paper in late 2014 at the recommendation of a friend. He now leads the Swiss banks’ initiatives in the technology, working on use cases looking to improve the settlement of everything from US cash equities to loans.
Rob Arnott, chairman and CEO of Research Affiliates LLC, helped commercialize quant investing
Rob Arnott has built his career on challenging convention.
“Inherent scepticism is probably the single most dominant contributor to my career,” Arnott told Business Insider. “Basically, when I hear something that’s conventional wisdom, I’ll often test it.”
Now the world’s biggest firms pay Arnott for advice. He serves as chairman and CEO of Pimco subadvisor Research Affiliates LLC, where he advises on more than $US200 billion.
Colleen Aubrey, the global VP of performance advertising at Amazon, is charged with winning over big brands
Colleen Aubrey is taking on the duopoly.
The long-time Amazon employee helps advertisers understand Amazon’s sprawling array of ad formats and e-commerce tactics.
The goal is to combat the digital ad dominance of Facebook and Google, which together gobbled 57.7% of US digital ad budgets in 2018, according to Pivotal Research. Amazon had a 4.1% share.
“Amazon has done a really great job in solving shopping for products, and we haven’t really cracked the code on how customers shop and build affinity for brands,” Aubrey told Business Insider.
Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon, is setting the tone for buying and selling goods online
It would be impossible to create a list of movers and shakers in retail, or in business more broadly, and not include Jeff Bezos, the founder and CEO of Amazon.
Bezos has led Amazon on a path that has single-handedly changed the way major companies approach e-commerce, remaining a stalwart presence in conversations about the future of retail taking place in C-suite boardrooms and trade-show floors.
Amazon’s success has made Bezos one of the richest people in the world, and it has fuelled other exploits in space exploration and venture capital.
Salesforce co-CEO Keith Block knows what your customers are thinking
Last summer, Salesforce promoted chief operating officer Keith Block to co-CEO, putting him on an even keel with Marc Benioff, the company’s legendary founder.
Now Block’s focused on capitalising on a “perfect storm of amazing technology disrupting business models and markets,” as artificial intelligence gives companies the ability to achieve what he calls the holy grail of sales software, the chance to know everything about their customers and what they value, no matter how they interact with them.
“Everything for us begins and ends with the customer behind every device, whether it’s a phone or an IT device or a robot,” Block says.
Jason Blum, the founder and CEO of Blumhouse Productions, has perfected a low risk, high reward model to produce a box-office-hit empire
If you got scared out of your mind at a movie theatre in the past 12 years, you probably have Jason Blum to blame.
From the “Paranormal Activity” movies to the current collaborations with M. Night Shyamalan (“Split,” “Glass”) and Jordan Peele (“Get Out,” “Us”), not to mention successfully relaunching the “Halloween” franchise last year, Blum’s Blumhouse Productions has proved time and again that movies with budgets in the low seven figures can create box-office magic.
To date, its movies have made more than $US4 billion worldwide.
Alex Blumberg and Matthew Lieber, the founders of Gimlet Media, are spearheading a podcast boom
The New York podcasting company Gimlet Media has skyrocketed to success in a short time and become the gold standard for podcast-content innovation.
Alex Blumberg and Matthew Lieber founded the company in 2014, and it has since produced over 25 podcasts, including “Crimetown,” “Uncivil,” and “Homecoming,” which Amazon adapted last year into a TV series starring Julia Roberts for Prime Video.
And Gimlet’s rise should continue. Spotify bought Gimlet in February for over $US200 million and plans to use it to help in its big plans to shake up the podcasting market.
Paul Brown, the CEO of Inspire Brands, is assembling a restaurant empire
Since becoming Arby’s CEO in 2013, Paul Brown has turned the sandwich chain into a juggernaut and a jumping-off point to create a new company in an era when scale is crucial to the restaurant business.
In 2018, Brown cofounded Inspire Brands, now the parent company of Arby’s, Buffalo Wild Wings, Rusty Taco, and Sonic.
Brown isn’t slowing. He says that by March 2020, Inspire Brands is more likely to have five or more brands than it is to stay steady at its current four.
Tarana Burke, the founder of the #MeToo movement, has forced workplaces across America to improve their culture and operations
Tarana Burke is the activist who coined the term #MeToo in 2006 as an empowering response to sexual harassment and assault. Burke has been outspoken about her experiences with sexual abuse.
In 2017, her message became a global phenomenon following the horrifying stories about Hollywood titan Harvey Weinstein.
#MeToo has mostly affected those in entertainment, media, and politics, but it’s also had lasting effects on the worlds of tech and finance. For example, there was a global protest by Google employees in November over the way the company handled sexual-abuse allegations. In March, Lloyd’s of London announced a policy of lifetime bans for employees found guilty of sexual harassment. Wall Streets firms are starting to consider harassment a business risk.
Pravit Chintawongvanich, equity derivatives strategist at Wells Fargo, brought volatility trading to the mainstream
During his time as head of derivatives strategy at Macro Risk Advisors, Pravit Chintawongvanich provided investors with an entry-level education to the complicated world of volatility. Along the way, he brought splashes of colour by chronicling the moves of traders like “50 Cent” and the “VIX Elephant.”
Now, Chintawongvanich plies his trade at Wells Fargo, where he still uses the options market as the backbone for his research.
“The options market can give you useful information that you’re not going to see anywhere else,” he told Business Insider.
Chintawongvanich’s research around volatility and its associated options was thrust into the spotlight in February 2018, when the Cboe Volatility Index, or VIX, saw an aggressive spike.
Yael Cosset, the chief digital officer at Kroger, is reimagining grocery stores for shoppers of the future
Kroger is working to fend off growing competition from rivals including Walmart, Amazon, and Aldi. Yael Cosset is spearheading Kroger’s digital transformation to meet that challenge.
“We are building a seamless experience to offer our customers anything they want, anytime they want it, anywhere they want it,” Cosset told Business Insider.
Kroger has gathered a trove of data from the 12 million families who visit its 2,800 stores daily, and the company is using that information to rapidly expand its distribution network and the many services it offers its customers.
Stripe CEO Patrick Collison and Stripe president John Collison are opening the world for online business
Stripe famously began with seven lines of code, developed by brothers Patrick and John Collison – a simple tool to let developers accept credit-card payments in their apps.
That simple idea has exploded into one of Silicon Valley’s highest-flying startups, with Patrick as CEO and John as president. In the years since inception, Stripe has expanded its business to include services like fraud detection, debit-card issuing, and point-of-sale software.
“We have the mission of increasing the GDP of the internet, and fortunately we are not running out of things to do there,” John Collison told Business Insider.
Stacey Cunningham, NYSE president, is championing cutting-edge tech while preserving tradition
It’s not easy being No. 1. Whether it’s market participants complaining about fees, the threat of dark pools stealing more liquidity, or new requirements and pilot projects from regulators, running NYSE is the equivalent of fighting a battle across many fronts.
And yet Stacey Cunningham has managed it all in her first year at the helm of the exchange. Cunningham took over in May 2018 after three years as its chief operating officer.
In her new role, Cunningham has had to balance maintaining some of the traditions that make NYSE unique, such as the human touch of its designated market makers, while welcoming in cutting-edge technology to keep the exchange at the forefront of the ever-changing equities market.
Mazy Dar, founder and CEO of OpenFin, is trying to create Wall Street’s new operating system
As employee No. 17 at an electronic-trading platform for derivatives, Mazy Dar would walk around trading floors wondering why traders weren’t using his tech. The answers he got back – enterprise IT bottlenecks, security concerns, yearlong software cycles – sparked his entrepreneurial bug.
So when he left that job almost a decade ago, Dar set out to design what has become a new operating system for Wall Street.
Designed to sit one layer above a computer’s native OS, OpenFin is a platform where software applications can be deployed safely, seamlessly, and, perhaps most important, in today’s ever-changing world, quickly.
The tech is now deployed at 1,500 firms, including 15 of the top 20 global banks.
Glitch CEO Anil Dash is making it easy (and fun) to write software
In a world where every company is moving to become a technology company, it’s now extra important to keep developers happy and productive.
Enter Glitch, the namesake tool from the company formerly known as Fog Creek Software. The big idea behind Glitch, CEO Anil Dash says, is to give developers both old and new a tool that makes it easy, and maybe even fun, to build web software, solo or in teams.
Developers are the most expensive people on the staff, Dash says: “Their productivity is really valuable, and their comfort is really valuable.”
Jeff Dean, a senior fellow for artificial intelligence at Google, is making the AI of science fiction a reality
Google is synonymous with search. But the company’s CEO has made it clear that the future is artificial intelligence.
Leading the charge is Jeff Dean, a 20-year Google veteran credited with being the brains behind some of Google’s most significant back-end technology, including MapReduce, Google Search’s most important performance upgrade, and BigTable Spanner, Google’s internal database.
One of only two senior fellows at Google, Dean is such a celebrity within the company that he has Chuck Norris-like memes written about him.
Today, as the head of AI at Google, Dean’s focus centres on speech recognition, computer vision, language understanding, robotics, and healthcare.
Katie Dill, VP of design at Lyft, is shaping the experience consumers have with gig-economy apps
Katie Dill has a knack for grasping how things work and imagining how they should actually work. That’s an important skill for someone shaping the experience that consumers have every day with vital services like ride hailing and apartment sharing.
Dill’s influence can be seen across the sharing economy. She was Airbnb’s director of experience design for four years and is now at Lyft, where she is VP of design.
“It’s one thing to look at your design on your computer screen and say it’s great, but it’s another when it’s somebody standing in the rain on the street corner at night trying to use your app,” Dill told Business Insider.
Rick Doblin hopes to turn psychedelics like ecstasy into mainstream treatments for brain diseases through the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies
On his 18th birthday, Rick Doblin, who is now 65, decided he wanted to become the first therapist to legally administer the drugs. It was 1972, and psychedelic drugs like magic mushrooms and LSD were illegal, with one exception, ecstasy, or MDMA.
So at age 20, Doblin created the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, or MAPS. Under his lead, MAPS has raised $US70 million for research into psychedelics’ ability to treat a variety of mental illnesses, including depression, anxiety, and PTSD.
The medical community is increasingly embracing the role of psychedelics in treating diseases like depression, and a drug based on ketamine was recently approved. More may be coming, thanks to MAPS.
Jennifer Doudna, a professor at the University of California at Berkeley, helped invent blockbuster gene-editing tool Crispr
Jennifer Doudna learned by email that a scientist in China had used the blockbuster gene-editing tool she’d helped invent to reportedly edit the DNA of a pair of twin baby girls.
Doudna had unearthed the tool, called Crispr, in early experiments with bacteria in 2012. Since then, she’s envisioned dozens of applications for it, from treating diseases like sickle cell to creating tastier produce and even making drought-resistant crops. For years, she’s also feared that someone might use it in secret to mess with human DNA.
And that’s exactly what reportedly happened when the researcher, He Jiankui, edited the twin girls’ DNA. To address it, Doudna said we need to provide anyone who’s thinking about tweaking the genes of human embryos with “very concrete sets of criteria recognised by international forums.”
Andy Dunn, the SVP of digital consumer brands at Walmart, is leading the retailer’s quest to build an arsenal of brands
Andy Dunn believes he knows how to help Walmart win.
Walmart’s SVP of digital consumer brands told Yahoo Finance in January that the key was to acquire “magical” proprietary brands.
“You’re going to need exclusive content and exclusive experiences to win,” Dunn said.
Dunn cofounded Bonobos in 2007 and later sold the menswear line to Walmart for $US310 million in 2017. The Chicago native is now an integral player in the retailer’s quest to acquire unique and digitally native brands.
Walmart’s portfolio now includes brands like Eloquii, Allswell, ModCloth, and, of course, Bonobos.
Aicha Evans, the CEO of Zoox, is developing a bold business model for self-driving cars
Aicha Evans joined the autonomous-driving startup Zoox earlier this year and is faced with the challenge of turning promise into reality.
Unlike nearly all its competitors, Zoox intends to create autonomous-driving software and assemble the vehicles it will use in an autonomous ride-hailing service it plans to launch in 2020. It’s a tall task for an experienced automaker or a major tech company, let alone a startup founded five years ago.
Before becoming Zoox’s CEO in February, Evans was the senior vice president and chief strategy officer at Intel, where she led projects that required the integration of hardware and software, one of the primary challenges Zoox will face as it brings its technology to market.
Rushika Fernandopulle, the CEO of Iora Health, is inventing an entirely new way to go to the doctor
Fifteen years ago, Rushika Fernandopulle had a radical idea.
The primary-care doctor started to realise that insurance wasn’t covering what he wanted to do for his patients.
“Working in the system, you have to be blind, deaf, and dumb to not realise that the system is broken,” Fernandopulle, the CEO of Iora Health told Business Insider.
So he decided to create an entirely new kind of medical practice. He could charge them about $US40 to $US50 a month and wouldn’t take insurance. In return, Fernandopulle could give them longer doctor’s visits and more hands-on care.
Since then, he’s been able to show that the approach is worth covering. Instead of having patients pay the monthly fee directly, Iora works with “sponsors” – employers or Medicare Advantage health plans for the elderly – that cover the monthly fee.
Larry Fink, the CEO of BlackRock, is demanding that CEOs create long-term value led by purpose
BlackRock is the world’s largest asset manager, with $US6.4 trillion in assets under management, and CEO Larry Fink’s words matter.
Fink caused a stir when his 2018 annual letter to top execs said, “To prosper over time, every company must not only deliver financial performance, but also show how it makes a positive contribution to society,” and that BlackRock would do business only with such companies. This year’s letter doubled down on it.
He wrote to CEOs: “The world depends on you to embrace and advocate for a long-term approach in business. At a time of great political and economic disruption, your leadership is indispensable.”
Lucien Foster, head of fintech strategy and partnerships at BNY Mellon, is shaking up a 235-year-old bank
Lucien Foster’s role as head of fintech strategy and partnerships at BNY Mellon sees him leading the old firm – founded in 1784 by Alexander Hamilton – in a new direction.
His mandate sees him tackling issues including big-picture social problems (how do you incentivise Americans to save for retirement?) and new technological conundrums, such as how to help clients whose customers want to pay in new forms of currency.
“It is worth attacking those bigger problems, even if they take longer to solve,” Foster said. “One good or bad thing about capital markets is that revolution takes a long time.”
Pam Fletcher, the vice-president of global innovation at General Motors, is helping the 110-year-old automaker make electric cars
General Motors thinks the future is electric. Pam Fletcher’s charged with helping the US carmaker get there.
Fletcher is close to CEO Mary Barra and was given the challenging task of developing and launching the all-electric long-range Chevy Bolt on a breakneck schedule.
The vehicle was designed to sell for under $US40,000 and deliver over 200 miles on a single charge. Debuted as a concept car at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show and revealed in production form at CES in 2016, the Bolt went on sale in October 2016, beating the Tesla Model 3 to market by more than a year.
David Fenkel and Daniel Katz, the founders of A24, have focused on auteur-driven content to grab the attention of every big name in Hollywood — and Apple
A24, the movie production and distribution company started by industry veterans David Fenkel, Daniel Katz, and John Hodges – Hodges left the company in 2018 – has pulled off the remarkable: making general audiences care about independent films in an era when Marvel superheroes and “Star Wars” rule.
From its early releases like Harmony Korine’s “Spring Breakers” to Academy Award-winning titles like “Room” – which earned Brie Larson an Oscar – and the upset best-picture for “Moonlight,” Fenkel and Katz find stories that can grab a wide variety of audiences.
Ken Frazier, the CEO of Merck, might be the CEO that pharma needs most
In 2017, President Donald Trump was called on to condemn white supremacists and their deadly rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. When he didn’t, Kenneth Frazier, the CEO of the $US210 billion pharmaceutical giant Merck – and then one of only four black CEOs in the Fortune 500 – decided to do something about it.
In protest, Frazier quit Trump’s council of top executives. Seven business leaders would follow before Trump disbanded the group entirely. “As CEO of Merck and as a matter of personal conscience, I feel a responsibility to take a stand against intolerance and extremism,” Frazier said.
Frazier has shown by example how to lead successfully and in a principled way. He plans to stay in the role through late this year, but has already suggested he’s eager for a next act, likely in public service.
Randy Freer, the CEO at Hulu, has grown Hulu faster than any other streaming service
We’re living in a world with more ways to watch TV than ever.
But even with all that competition and little more than a year on the job, Hulu CEO Randy Freer grew Hulu faster than any other streaming service in 2018, adding 8 million customers, a nearly 50% increase.
Hulu’s grown by leaning more heavily into original programming like “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “Castle Rock” and tinkering with price structures, most recently dropping the ad-supported service to $US5.99 a month from $US7.99.
The pricing change will drive even more growth according to experts who say ad revenue will balloon to $US2.7 billion by 2021, up from $US1.5 billion in 2018.
Atul Gawande, the CEO of Haven, is using his healthcare experience to fix the industry’s flaws
Atul Gawande has the $US3.6 trillion US healthcare industry on high alert.
Gawande, a surgeon, Harvard professor, and New Yorker writer, in June became the CEO of Haven, the joint health venture started by JPMorgan, Amazon, and Berkshire Hathaway that’s aimed at lowering healthcare costs for the companies’ employees.
Gawande’s experience working in the healthcare industry made him a compelling candidate to lead the ambitious venture. “Atul Gawande has a big brain and a big heart. His work ethic is extraordinary. He’s trustworthy and he cares,” JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon told Business Insider. “He has real-world experience and understands where the flaws are.”
Nima Ghamsari, founder and CEO of Blend, is making it easier for homebuyers to get a mortgage online
Nima Ghamsari knew nothing about the mortgage business a decade ago when he joined data software startup Palantir Technologies and was thrust into consulting roles helping financial giants implement software to clean up the colossal mortgage fallout from the financial crisis.
He quickly realised the mortgage-origination process had systemic problems, even apart from the precrisis lending excesses.
So in 2012 Ghamsari and some Palantir pals founded Blend, which sells tools to lenders that use data, automation, and the cloud to digitize the mortgage-origination process.
The San Francisco-based company says it now does business with more than 130 lenders that account for 25% of the more than $US1 trillion US mortgage market, including giants like Wells Fargo and US Bank.
Diane Gherson, a senior vice president of human resources at IBM, is addressing the ‘skills gap’
As automation replaces millions of jobs, we’ll need a thorough rethinking of career education and skills training. IBM’s head of HR, Diane Gherson, is providing a model for what’s possible.
Since taking the role in 2013, Gherson has overseen IBM’s own transformation, using the very technology that will replace jobs to help employees within the company.
For example, the AI-powered Blue Matching program uses predictive analytics to determine opportunities for growth, and the CogniPay system uses AI to provide salary recommendations to managers.
The shift to a skills-based company, rather than one based solely on résumés and head count, allows for a larger talent pool. If a role is eliminated, those employees don’t necessarily need to be laid off. Plus, not all job applicants need four-year degrees.
“What are we going to do? Leave all these people behind?” she told Business Insider. “That’s our talent base. So we’ve got to find ways of making them ready for the workforce, and the fact that they don’t have a degree is not the end of the world, but they do need to get on a path to getting good jobs.”
Jay Coen Gilbert, a cofounder of B Lab, is looking to move the world beyond shareholder primacy
In late 2001, Jay Coen Gilbert had an emotionally trying series of weeks, including his sister’s surviving the 9/11 attacks. The experiences made him realise he wanted to do something more than just build companies.
After selling an apparel company that he helped build, Coen Gilbert set to work starting B Lab in 2005 as a way to counteract what he saw as the toxic effects of shareholder primacy. B Lab is a nonprofit that awards B Corp status to for-profit companies.
His efforts have led more than 30 American states to pass laws allowing companies to register as “benefit corporations,” instilling stakeholder values into their charters.
“We can’t create an economy that works for everyone if the biggest companies in the economy are moving in a different direction,” he told us. “That doesn’t work.”
Henry Golding, actor in ‘Crazy Rich Asians,’ is changing what it means to be a leading man in Hollywood
Before 2018, it’s likely you didn’t know who Henry Golding was.
But the Malaysian actor rose quickly to stardom last year as the lead in “Crazy Rich Asians,” the first Hollywood movie to feature an all-Asian cast in 25 years. Golding carried the film with a movie-star charisma that is rare these days.
Golding’s rise didn’t stop with movies in 2018. He became the first Asian to appear among GQ’s Men of the Year – the magazine called him the “next Hollywood leading man.” He’ll star in “Last Christmas” this year, a holiday rom-com that will reunite him with “A Simple Favour” director Paul Feig.
Scott Gottlieb has won rare bipartisan praise running the FDA
Over the past two years, the US Food and Drug Administration has turned clichés about slow, plodding government agencies on their head.
For that you can thank Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, the 46-year-old businessman, physician, health-policy expert, and cancer survivor, whose work at the FDA has won bipartisan praise.
The father of three just stepped down from the role to spend more time with his family. But it has been a hard step to take, he told Business Insider, calling the FDA gig a “dream job.”
Sarita Gupta, a co-executive director of Jobs with Justice, is ensuring that ‘the future of workers’ isn’t lost in the ‘future of work’
We are constantly talking about “the future of work,” but Sarita Gupta is working to make sure “the future of workers” isn’t lost in that discussion.
As the longtime director of the union-rights group Jobs with Justice, Gupta has used her network to successfully push for minimum wage and overtime protections for 2 million home-care workers, getting San Francisco to pass a workers’ bill of rights, and raising the minimum wage in St. Louis, New York, and Massachusetts.
Gupta is now most focused on finding ways to empower employees to bargain with those actually in charge of their jobs, especially if they’re subcontractors.
Arlan Hamilton, the founder of Backstage Capital, is shaking up Silicon Valley’s boys’ club so that anyone with a good idea can be a startup founder
Arlan Hamilton noticed early on that the startup industry was rooted in doing things a certain way, and that underrepresented entrepreneurs and founders trying to launch companies – “people who were not white men” – were being turned down by investors more frequently.
As a gay black woman, Hamilton started Backstage Capital, a venture-capital firm, in 2015 from scratch to invest in companies led by underrepresented founders – women, people of colour, and LGBTQ people. Since 2015, Backstage has invested an estimated $US5 million in more than 100 companies, Hamilton says.
In March, Hamilton handed over the CEO reins of the firm’s operational arm in order to focus on raising capital, working with founders and serving as an “ambassador” to promote the Backstage mission. With regular speaking engagements, several podcasts and a book deal, Hamilton is spreading the message that a more representative tech industry is a more innovative tech industry.
Nick Hanauer, the founder and CEO of Civic Ventures, has helped push minimum-wage increases across the US
Nick Hanauer is a wealthy investor who thinks capitalism is the best tool we have for increasing prosperity.
“But it is completely dishonest to hold that view – as all of my capitalist friends do – and also believe that the whole system will come tumbling down if we capitalists are required to pay our people enough to live dignified lives without relying on food stamps and the EITC [earned income tax credit],” he told Business Insider.
Hanauer made his fortune from investing in Amazon early and selling his company to Microsoft, for $US6.4 billion, in 2007. He formed a think tank, Civic Ventures, in his hometown of Seattle, and it successfully lobbied for an increased minimum wage and stronger gun laws in Washington state.
Hanauer’s now taking a more national approach, spreading his message through his popular podcast “Pitchfork Economics.”
Tristan Harris, director and cofounder of the Center for Humane Technology, is on mission to end the harmful incentives of screen time
Tristan Harris is an unlikely revolutionary. He’s a techie himself, a Stanford grad, and a former startup founder who’s worked at Apple and Google. But in 2013, while working at Google, he started to feel like the tech industry had gotten off track; instead of working on big creative new products, it was becoming increasingly focused on manipulating the attention of its users.
That inspiration led him to put together a kind of manifesto. The 141-slide presentation highlighted the ways tech companies were manipulating users, and urged Google in particular to work to minimise such distractions.
It took a while, and Harris had to leave Google to team up with a collection of industry iconoclasts to promote his gospel, but tech companies, politicians, and wider society have finally started to see the light.
Lori Heinel, deputy global chief investment officer at State Street Global Advisors, is championing a gender-diversity revolution in corporate America
On a rainy morning in March 2017, workers installed a bronze statue of a young girl with fists clenched on her hips standing tall opposite the Wall Street bull in downtown Manhattan.
New Yorkers quickly recognised that “Fearless Girl” was more than just a new tourist attraction. State Street Global Advisors, one of the world’s largest asset managers, had strategically installed it on the eve of International Women’s Day to kick-start a campaign for gender diversity in America’s boardrooms.
Lori Heinel, its deputy chief investment officer, remains the most public voice of the $US2.5 trillion asset manager’s efforts. Since the campaign launched two years ago, Heinel has found that more than 300 of the companies State Street engaged with have added female directors to their previously all-male boards.
Rachel Holt, the head of new mobility at Uber, is helping people live car-free
Backed by nearly $US20 billion in venture capital and with a giant IPO expected in the coming weeks, perhaps no company is better prepared to plot the future of transportation than Uber.
And Rachel Holt, head of new mobility at the company, is a key part of that effort, as the ride-hailing giant looks beyond traditional ride hailing.
Today, less than a year after its purchase of Jump Bikes, the company is expanding its transit footprint by adding public-transportation options inside the app, including schedules and mobile ticketing.
Barry Hurewitz, global head of UBS Evidence Lab Innovations, is redefining how investors use ‘alternative data’
One could argue that the name given to UBS’ Evidence Lab is a bit of a misnomer, since it consists of nearly 50 labs with experts worldwide who focus on topics ranging from climatology to web scraping.
Hurewitz has led the Evidence Lab through tedious investigations, like stripping down a Tesla, Chevy Bolt, and BMW i3 to understand how electric cars stack up against each other and the against the industry they’re trying to disrupt.
Findings from such experiments are compiled in an Excel workbook, making it easy for finance professionals to slice and dice them to their satisfaction.
Bob Iger, the chairman and CEO of Walt Disney Co., is leading the biggest entertainment company in the world through an industry-shaking merger
In Bob Iger’s 14 years as Disney’s CEO, he has guided the company through the blockbuster acquisitions of Pixar, Marvel, and Lucasfilm, the owner of “Star Wars.” But Iger is not done. With Disney’s $US71 billion acquisition of Fox last year, Iger has completed one more grand deal.
He will now face his toughest challenges yet, as he leads the Mouse House not only through the integration of Fox properties and new executive leadership but also the launch of its streaming platform, Disney Plus.
As Disney triumphs at the box office, it will look to challenge Netflix in the streaming realm, too. Disney Plus launches before the end of the year, and Disney will also likely pursue the remaining 40% of Hulu it doesn’t own.
Omer Ismail, head of digital finance for the Americas at Goldman Sachs, is creating a startup culture within a vaunted Wall Street bank
Omer Ismail was used to analysing and investing in growth companies. So it came as some surprise when his bosses at Goldman Sachs asked him to help run one.
Ismail was one of a handful of executives tasked in 2014 to look into how Goldman might get into digital consumer banking. It would be an around-the-clock business conducted online with millions of customers. Goldman would have to create its first Facebook page.
To do so meant tearing up the 150-year-old bank’s usual playbook.
Along the way, the consumer bank amassed more than $US30 billion in deposits and almost $US5 billion in loans. A credit card with Apple is on its way. Ismail is now looking at managing investments for millions of Americans.
Lisa Jackson, the vice president of environment, policy, and social initiatives at Apple, is showing the world that corporate success and environmental responsibility are a winning formula
Apple has perfected the art of building hit products like the iPhone and the Mac.
For Lisa Jackson, who joined Apple as the vice president of environment, policy, and social initiatives in 2013, success means helping Apple master another challenge: eliminating the need to mine new materials from the earth to create products.
Apple is already making progress on this front, thanks to efforts headed up by Jackson. For example, the company now uses recycled tin in the main logic board of the iPhone, which prevents the mining of 10,000 tons of tin ore in a single year, and the speaker enclosure for the iPhone XS is now made with 35% post-consumer recycled plastics.
Patty Jenkins, director of ‘Wonder Woman’ and the upcoming sequel ‘Wonder Woman 1984,’ has become a role model to aspiring female filmmakers
Patty Jenkins has just two feature films under her belt, but she’s transformed the film world like few filmmakers have before her.
After her debut, “Monster,” which earned Charlize Theron an Oscar for her portrayal of real-life serial killer Aileen Wuornos, Jenkins directed TV series like “Arrested Development” and “Entourage” so that she could spend more time with her newborn while working.
But her talents were made for the big screen. After walking away from making “Thor,” she signed on to direct the long-awaited “Wonder Woman,” which opened in 2017, making her the first woman to ever make a movie with a budget over $US100 million.
Karen Karniol-Tambour, head of investment research at Bridgewater Associates, is the millennial overseeing a major operation at the world’s largest hedge fund
Bridgewater’s “Daily Observations” note has become a bible for thousands of investors seeking the best ideas on financial markets. Karen Karniol-Tambour, the firm’s head of investment research, oversees the engine that produces these client-exclusive musings.
Karniol-Tambour is now one of the most powerful women and millennials in finance, having shot up the ranks of the largest hedge fund to her current position at age 31.
Karniol-Tambour ties her rapid success directly to Bridgewater’s famous culture of radical transparency, with its brutally honest feedback. “If we want to make money at the firm, we have to be completely willing to ask questions about each other’s ideas,” she said.
Mary Kay Henry, the president of Service Employees International Union, is fighting to raise the minimum wage
No force has shaken the foundations of the fast-food industry in the past decade as deeply as Fight for 15.
The organised protests of fast-food workers, starting with a strike in New York in 2012, have propelled the idea of a $US15 minimum wage from a pipe dream to laws in New York and California and to policies for companies such as Amazon and Costco.
“It was audacious, it was bold, and it was completely reasonable,” SEIU president Mary Kay Henry told Business Insider.
While Henry emphasises that fast-food workers – most unable to unionize because of current franchise law – have driven Fight for 15, under her leadership SEIU has emerged as a powerful organising body in the efforts to raise minimum wages.
Chida Khatua, cofounder and CEO of EquBot, is the first CEO to merge artificial intelligence and traditional stock picking into a product anyone can invest in
If you’re looking for the intersection of artificial intelligence and traditional stock picking, it probably looks a lot like Equbot’s AI Powered Equity ETF.
The roughly $US150 million fund – which cofounder Chida Khatua says is the first of its kind – is powered by IBM’s Watson supercomputing technology. At its core, the ETF constantly analyses information for 6,000 US-listed companies, then overlays a human-advisory component.
It’s also doing quite well, boasting a 19% return so far in 2019, a full 6 percentage points more than the benchmark S&P 500.
Manish Kohli, global head of payments and receivables at Citigroup, is ramping up the bank’s hugely important payments business through tech
Citigroup in 2017 tapped Manish Kohli to run global payments and receivables, a key business at the bank that serves thousands of the largest companies and governments in the world, managing $US4 trillion in flows every day.
The payments industry has been slow to keep pace with the wave of technological change in the corporate world. Kohli’s mission was to ramp up the pace.
“Our strategy has to be very simple,” Kohli told his team. “Our strategy has to be to help our clients succeed in the digital age and help them disrupt, rather than be disrupted.”
Marko Kolanovic, global head of equity and derivatives strategy at JPMorgan, brought quant criticism into the mainstream
Marko Kolanovic thinks people spend too much time thinking about fundamental drivers that dictate market action.
Kolanovic, who serves as global head of equity and derivatives strategy at JPMorgan, instead prefers to look at the less obvious push and pull occurring under the surface of markets.
“You need to look at other potential drivers – whether that’s options hedging, a spike in volatility that prompts selling, or a change in trend,” he told Business Insider. “You need to look at positioning and see if a certain type of investor is stressed.”
Kolanovic’s stature grew in prominence when a series of calls he made ended up coming true. His research started moving markets. And in the process he helped bring awareness around quant trading to the investing mainstream.
John Krafcik, the CEO of Waymo, led the development of the first autonomous, commercial ride-hailing service in the US
John Krafcik joined Waymo, the autonomous-driving subsidiary of Alphabet, in 2015. Since then, Waymo has racked up millions of test miles, formed partnerships with Fiat-Chrysler and Jaguar Land Rover, and launched the US’s first commercial autonomous ride-hailing service, Waymo One, in Arizona.
And while Waymo One is not yet open to the public and operates only within a radius of about 100 miles, it has positioned Waymo as the leader in the autonomous-driving industry.
“Our viewpoint is, anything that has wheels and moves along the surface of the earth is something that we, in the future, could imagine being driven by Waymo,” Krafcik told us.
Annie Lamont, the cofounder of Oak HC/FT, is betting on companies that can lower the cost of healthcare and make going to the doctor less terrible
After carrying Steve Jobs’ bags during the Apple initial public offering road show, Annie Lamont, 62, was bitten by the entrepreneur bug.
But rather than starting up her own company, she decided to pursue a career in venture capital, a relatively unknown area at the time. She landed at Oak Investment Partners where she spent the next three decades investing in biotech, healthcare companies, and software.
In 2014, she and her team spun out into Oak HC/FT, a venture firm investing in healthcare and financial tech. The firm now has $US1.1 billion under management, backing companies like Medicare Advantage insurer startup Devoted Health, palliative-care company Aspire, and primary-care company One Medical.
Tim League, the founder and CEO of Alamo Drafthouse, has crafted one of the most popular theatre chains in the US
Sometimes, to reshape an industry you have to go back to the basics. That’s how Tim League made his movie-theatre chain, Alamo Drafthouse, one of the most successful in the US.
Alamo began as a one-screen movie house, in Austin, Texas, which League started with his wife when he was 25. And he has spent the past two decades making it the envy of the movie-theatre industry.
“The important things for us are also very simple – a very bright and crisp picture, a sound system that is loud but not too loud, and a code of civil conduct,” League told Business Insider. “Things that were the way they used to be in the earlier days of cinema but somehow got lost and went away.”
Andrew Left, founder of Citron Research, is a short-seller who moves markets with his tweets
Short sellers have existed for a long time. But they have obtained a new level of reach and influence since the advent of social media. No one knows it better than Andrew Left, the short-seller and founder of Citron Research. He’s reached the top of the field with a big assist from his widely followed Twitter account.
His best-known success story was his bearish call on Valeant Pharmaceuticals, which he branded a “pharmaceutical Enron.” Now that he’s made a name for himself, Left can move a stock with a single tweet.
“You know that if I tweet something, it’s because it’s actionable,” Left told Business Insider. “That’s the key thing to me. I try to put out pieces that are not only actionable on the stock but also make people think where these stocks live in a particular universe.”
Jessica Lessin, the CEO of The Information, challenged conventional wisdom about subscriptions
Jessica Lessin may seem prescient now that many publishers are chasing subscription dollars, but she was met with sceptics five years ago when she left her tech reporting job at The Wall Street Journal and started The Information, a pricey subscription-only publication that put out just two stories a day.
Today, The Information has a staff of 40, including 26 in editorial, and has stretched its editorial mandate to autos, finance, and media, with plans to expand coverage to every area of business that’s touched by technology.
“We’ll eventually start to experiment with other revenue streams as well, but subscriptions are clearly the revenue that can support the most high-quality news,” Lessin said.
Tara Walpert Levy, the VP of agency solutions for Google and YouTube, is keeping controversy-shy advertisers on YouTube
YouTube has its eyes set on TV, and it’s Tara Walpert Levy who will be pitching advertisers to buy YouTube ads through big upfront deals again this spring.
“Networks aren’t so much the gatekeepers to what is the hottest content right now – it’s the viewers themselves who are determining what matters and influences culture,” she told Business Insider.
Along the way, she’s had to deal with brand-safety concerns of ads appearing next to objectionable content. But Walpert Levy has gotten YouTube’s biggest advertisers like P&G and AT&T to return to the platform by explaining changes that the Google-owned site is making, like using machine learning to weed out offensive comments.
Kenneth Lin, founder and CEO of Credit Karma, is transforming the credit-score business
The life of a tech entrepreneur isn’t unlike a typical night at a casino: volatile swings with the potential to lose everything or hit it big by the end of the night.
It’s a fitting comparison for Kenneth Lin, who was raised in Las Vegas and founded Credit Karma in 2007 after spending nearly 10 years at various startups involved in the lending process. With those experiences, Lin tried his hand at disrupting the credit-score business.
The process wasn’t always easy, with Credit Karma at one point being mere days from going out of business. But the business and Lin persevered, with the former nabbing a $US4 billion valuation in March 2018.
Howie Liu, Andrew Ofstad, and Emmet Nicholas, the founders of Airtable, want to let anyone build an app, even if they can’t code
Howie Liu met his cofounders – Andrew Ofstad, Airtable’s chief product officer, and Emmett Nicholas, its chief technology officer – at Duke University.
While many of their classmates were on the consulting or banking tracks, the three were engineering students who “nerded out,” as Ofstad put it, at lunch or elsewhere over technology and startup ideas. But it wasn’t until all three had moved to Silicon Valley and worked in the tech industry on their own that they regrouped.
Their startup, Airtable, has found an eager audience, raising more than $US170 million in venture funding since its 2015 founding and enjoying strong word of mouth. The main idea behind Airtable is that apps have become fundamental to society and business, so you shouldn’t need to be a computer programmer to make them.
Tobi Lutke, the founder and CEO of Shopify, is giving Amazon a run for its money
If there’s one company that worries Amazon in the US it’s Shopify.
In 2006, Tobi Lütke turned the e-commerce platform he created to sell his own line of snowboards into a full-fledged software giant that more than 800,000 merchants rely on to power their business.
Next up, 38-year-old Lütke wants to test tools like augmented reality with merchants so someone shopping for a couch can virtually fit it in their house before buying it, for example.
“Over the long term, we are hoping to build an institution that enables more entrepreneurship around the world,” Lütke told Business Insider.
Karen Lynch, the president of Aetna, is meeting members at the CVS pharmacies in their communities
Early in her life, Karen Lynch, the president of health insurer Aetna, was exposed to the healthcare system in the US. When Lynch was 12, her mother killed herself. Later, her aunt, who was caring for Lynch and her siblings, was diagnosed with lung and breast cancers and ultimately died from the conditions.
“When you have those personal events happen reasonably early in your life, I had that mission and passion to be able to help transform how people transform healthcare,” Lynch told Business Insider.
She joined Aetna in 2012, leading the company’s specialty products division and rising through the ranks to become president in 2015. Following Aetna’s merger with CVS, Lynch is now leading the Aetna business in the place of former CEOMark Bertolini.
Fernando Machado, the global CMO of Burger King, is responsible for some of the fast-food giant’s most creative campaigns
Burger King has been doing one creative, innovative, or downright wacky ad campaign after another, and much of the credit goes to Fernando Machado. Whether he’s delivering flame-grilled burns to McDonald’s or wading into social issues, all his ads have had panache.
Machado has been the driving force behind campaigns that have tackled issues like anti-bullying, LGBTQ rights, and net neutrality – and also poked fun at technology in ads like Google Home of the Whopper. Most recently, he oversaw Burger King’s first Super Bowl spot in 13 years, which turned archival footage of Andy Warhol eating a Whopper into a 45-second ad.
“Our most successful campaigns have always been different and unique,” Machado told Business Insider.
Shoaib Makani, cofounder and CEO of KeepTruckin, is changing the industry through the digitization of logging systems
The tech world has set its sights on trucking, with everyone from former Amazon execs to Uber itself rushing to disrupt the traditionally tech-averse $US800 million industry.
Shoaib Makani, who cofounded KeepTruckin in 2013, has already been at it for five years. He’s a graduate of the London School of Economics and Political Science and previously worked at Google, Khosla Ventures, and AdMob.
Makani’s devices are shining a light on data that helps truck drivers and business owners learn about where the greatest inefficiencies in their businesses are. KeepTruckin is a market leader in electronic-logging devices, which record how long drivers work.
Rose Marcario, the CEO of Patagonia, has managed to prioritise environmental policies while growing the business
Marcario joined Patagonia as its COO and CFO in 2008 and became CEO in 2013; in that time, the company reportedly quadrupled its revenues while doubling down on environmentally beneficial decisions.
She had Patagonia sue the Trump administration after it drastically reduced the size of a national monument, and had earlier led a successful boycott of a trade show venue when Utah’s governor supported that reduction.
Marcario’s overseen changes to Patagonia’s supply chains and production, cutting waste and developing both sustainable clothing materials and regenerative agricultural practices. Patagonia remains private, but has shared its findings with a network of large public corporations like Walmart, Nike, and Adidas.
“Everyone that I work with, from CEOs of big public companies to private companies, recognise things need to change,” Marcario told Business Insider. “And capitalism needs to evolve if we’re going to have a healthy planet and healthy people on the planet.”
Anna Mason, a partner at Revolution’s Rise of the Rest Seed Fund, is invigorating nascent startup scenes across the US
Since joining Steve Case’s venture-capital firm Revolution in 2016, Anna Mason has helped take its “Rise of the Rest” initiative to the next level.
Mason both plans out the Rise of the Rest annual bus tour through American cities that have emerging startup scenes and helps determine how to spend its $US150 million seed fund.
“I sometimes refer to myself as the human social network,” she told us. She personally meets with 400 to 500 people in every city within the initiative’s network, and vets about just as many companies.
The extra time she puts into it, she said, makes the Rise of the Rest team an ally rather than a bunch of outsiders swooping in. “There’s something really powerful about meeting people where they are.”
Heather Meeker is helping small software startups come up with new ways to compete with Big Tech
Heather Meeker, one of the most prominent open-source licensing lawyers working today, is helping small software startups come up with new ways to compete against the major players.
Last year was a prosperous one for open-source software, from Elastic going public to IBM announcing it would acquire Red Hat for $US34 billion. But it was also a turbulent time, with smaller open-source companies taking defensive action against major cloud providers like Amazon Web Services taking their software and selling it – something that’s legally permissible under the rules of open source but that doesn’t sit well with some.
Meeker, a founding portfolio partner at startup investor OSS Capital, advises open-source-software companies, including advice on the limits of their software licenses, and how to form a business model around the free code.
Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, is trying to transform how people get around with electric cars and futuristic concepts like the Hyperloop
With his two main companies, Tesla and SpaceX, Elon Musk has achieved what no one thought could be done: Create a new American carmaker and make private rocket launches possible.
The 47-year-old CEO has stared down bankruptcy and tangled with an army of sceptics on Wall Street and government regulators. Despite the sling and arrows, Musk has minted an outrageous fortune: Tesla’s market capitalisation has topped $US50 billion at times, and SpaceX could be worth more, should it ever stage an IPO.
More important, Musk has shown naysayers that all-electric cars are appealing to consumers, and that going to Mars 50 years after men first walked on the moon isn’t out of reach.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella is betting the company’s future on AI and augmented reality
In his five years as CEO of Microsoft, Satya Nadella has breathed new life into a company that many thought was well past its prime.
When Nadella came in, Microsoft was still reeling from a string of disasters: Windows 8 was a flop, the Nokia acquisition was a fiasco, and Amazon Web Services had come out of nowhere to pioneer, and then dominate, the market for cloud computing.
Since then Microsoft has doubled down on cloud computing, with rocket-ship businesses like the Office 365 subscription productivity suite and Microsoft Azure cloud platform helping bring the company beyond the Windows PC and into the modern era.
For his next act, Nadella has staked Microsoft’s claim in the worlds of artificial intelligence, edge computing, and augmented reality.
David Neeleman, the founder of JetBlue and Azul, is working to bring affordable air travel to underserved communities
David Neeleman is one of the most prolific and successful entrepreneurs the airline industry has seen in the modern era of flight. For his next act, he’s looking to bring affordable air travel to underserved communities in the US.
Neeleman has been the founder or a cofounder of four airlines: JetBlue, Azul Brazilian Airlines, WestJet, and Morris Air, which was sold to Southwest Airlines. He’s also the co-owner of Portugal’s national airline, TAP Air Portugal.
These days, the charismatic businessman is developing his fifth major airline startup that’s set to fly in 2021. Codenamed Moxy, Neeleman wants to transform low-cost air travel for smaller cities in the US in very much the same way Azul did in Brazil.
Lisa Nishimura, VP of independent film and documentary features at Netflix, has helped usher in a golden age of documentary
We’re living in a golden age of documentary filmmaking, and you can thank Netflix – and Lisa Nishimura, its documentary boss – for a big part of that.
Netflix’s instantaneous and global distribution solved a nagging issue for documentarians.
Documentary filmmakers “want to be fairly compensated” and they “want to be heard,” Nishimura previously told Business Insider. The problem was that negotiating distribution deals in different markets was difficult and hampered the ability for the doc to have that “global watercooler moment,” Nishimura said.
Netflix has had many of those moments as it’s become a documentary powerhouse, from “Making a Murderer” to “Wild Wild Country” to “Fyre.”
Steven Pearson, the founder of the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review, is preparing us for tough decisions about costly drugs
US drug prices are high and getting higher. Steve Pearson is leading the charge for solutions. Pearson’s nonprofit, the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review (ICER), has become an important independent and authoritative voice about how much cutting-edge new treatments should cost.
“Sometimes with drug prices, we’re getting tremendous value,” Pearson, 58, said in an interview. “Sometimes patients and the public are getting ripped off.”
ICER helps make that distinction. The group pairs information from patients, medical experts, drugmakers, and health insurers with economic analyses to determine the price points that are cost-effective for the US health system.
ICER usually finds that drug companies’ price tags are higher than they should be. And drugmakers are certainly paying attention: In at least two public cases, they have used ICER’s analyses to set their prices.
Marc Pritchard, the chief brand officer at Procter & Gamble, has been a voice of conscience for the marketing industry
When Marc Pritchard speaks the advertising industry listens.
The chief brand officer of the world’s largest advertiser has picked up the gauntlet on some of the biggest issues in the industry, from cleaning up digital advertising’s messes to cutting waste from ad budgets.
He evangelizes that brands be not only forces of growth but forces of good. Inside P&G, Pritchard has boosted P&G’s sales despite slashing spending on digital ads and promoted societal debate with brands like Gillette that have taken strong points of view on social issues.
Jeff Raider, CEO of Harry’s Labs, helped popularise direct-to-consumer brands
As the cofounder of the eyeglasses retailer Warby Parker and the shaving company Harry’s, Jeff Raider helped set off a direct-to-consumer revolution.
The trend of brands that got their start online has not only forced CPG stalwarts like Procter & Gamble and Unilever to rethink the way they go to market but also caused media companies and agencies to change how they operate to cater to these digital-native brands.
Now Raider is looking for new categories to conquer at Harry’s Labs, an accelerator that helps identify other product categories to disrupt. It’s already launched Flamingo, a Harry’s-like shaving brand for women, and is looking to introduce one or two more companies this year. Raider said companies with a direct link to the consumer are well positioned at a time when purpose-driven marketing is all the rage.
“People want brands that have purpose, and brands that start as DTC have more space to tell that story,” Raider told Business Insider. “You get to deeply understand the consumer by having emails for them.”
Toni Reid, VP of Amazon Alexa experience and Echo Devices at Amazon, is pioneering the next major computing platform
It’s easy to forget Amazon wasn’t always an industry-devouring powerhouse. Once upon a time it was little more than an online bookshop with big ambitions.
Toni Reid, one of the company’s first 600 employees, has seen that evolution firsthand.
From joining as a recruiter in 1998 through to working in Amazon’s display advertising business to heading up AmazonFresh consumables technology, Reid has worn a lot of hats at Amazon.
Today, the veteran Amazon executive heads up the company’s efforts in a field that has the promise to transform computing: voice.
Voice-controlled computing offers a radical new way to interact with devices, allowing them to integrate more closely into our lives, homes, vehicles, and more. While Google and Apple have their own versions, Amazon was early out the gate with the Amazon Echo – and Reid, as VP of Alexa Experience and Echo Devices, has been leading that charge.
Shonda Rhimes, writer and producer and founder of Shondaland, changed the balance of power in the TV industry
Superstar producer Shonda Rhimes has made audiences tune in to, and cry along with, her shows for over a decade.
Rhimes’ “Shondaland” is both the name of the production company she founded and the TV empire she created for ABC, which includes “How to Get Away with Murder,” “Scandal,” and “Grey’s Anatomy.”
But after conquering TV, Rhimes has turned her sights toward the streaming future.
In 2017 she took “Shondaland” to Netflix, becoming the first mover in a series of industry-shaking hires by Netflix including Ryan Murphy and ABC president Channing Dungey. Rhimes’ four-year deal was worth about $US100 million, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Rhimes is developing a whopping eight original TV series for the streaming giant, including “The Warmth of Other Suns,” an adaptation of the 2010 Pulitzer Prize-winning book about African Americans during the Jim Crow era. And she has even grander plans than that.
“It would be really amazing to me at some point down the line – not now – if somebody said, ‘There was a Shonda for Shondaland?'” Rhimes told The New York Times in July. “It needs to be bigger than me.”
Huw Richards, head of digital banking at JPMorgan, is shedding banker pitchbooks for data and insights
In April 2018, Huw Richards was asked to make a presentation to senior leaders at a JPMorgan off-site on what the future of investment banking might look like. Richards described his vision for the next 10 years and beyond. He was reassigned the next month.
As head of digital banking, Richards is charged with disrupting JPMorgan’s market-leading investment-banking business. It’s not an easy task. Investment bankers have long claimed that computers will never replace them because their business is built on trust and relationships, things machines could never do.
And yet Richards has plenty to do. “The way we started was to imagine our interactions with clients in a digitised world and work backwards from that,” he says.
Amazon Web Services’ Debanjan Saha is taking on the old guard of Silicon Valley
For a long time, Oracle was the undisputed database king of the tech industry. And then came Amazon Web Services, the massively profitable and market-leading cloud-computing arm of the retail giant.
Debanjan Saha is in charge of one of the fastest-growing services in the history of AWS, a homegrown Amazon database called Aurora that’s giving even mighty Oracle reason to pause.
The success of Aurora “feels great,” he tells us. “When you first launch a service, you don’t know how good it is going to do. I first knew when a customer baked us a cake and sent it to us, saying ‘you saved our business,’ and I thought, maybe this is a good indication.”
Peter Scher, the head of corporate responsibility at JPMorgan Chase, is investing in underdeveloped cities around the world
All major corporations have a philanthropic arm, but since 2014 JPMorgan Chase has developed its own into one that rivals major foundations in scale.
Peter Scher oversees these investments, which are on track to jump from $US250 million last year to $US350 million in 2019.
These include the AdvancingCities initiative, which develops business sectors in underdeveloped regions around the world through grants and small-business loans, and a recently announced $US350 million investment over five years into skills-training programs across America.
Tina Sharkey, cofounder and cochair of Brandless, is redefining brands
“We’re tapping into a nerve of this idea of democratizing access to goodness,” Tina Sharkey, a cofounder and cochair of Brandless, told Business Insider about the company she cofounded.
Brandless is an online shop that offers competitively priced organic, natural, or healthy goods across categories including food, beauty, household goods, and baby.
The offerings are highly curated, meaning that in most cases there’s only one Brandless private-label option to choose from. Sharkey says Brandless now sells close to 500 of its own-brand products on its website, and she predicts the company will end the year offering more than 800.
GitLab CEO Sid Sijbrandij is helping programmers work together, no matter where they are
In 2012, Sid Sijbrandij read about a free open-source project that helped developers collaborate called GitLab. He told the developer he was going to take it, put it on the web, and run it as a business – and he got his blessing to do it, no compensation required.
“That’s very open minded and very much the ethics of open source: You don’t owe me anything,” Sijbrandij told Business Insider.
Today, more than 100,000 organisations are using GitLab, he says. And he’s aiming for an IPO in 2020. Sijbrandij built the entire company – 500 employees in 50 countries – with no corporate offices, and every employee, including himself, working remotely.
Bonny Simi, the president of JetBlue Technology Ventures, is investing in innovations that will transform the way people fly
From Olympian to journalist to airline captain to HR executive to venture capitalist, Bonny Simi seems to have done it all.
Although she’s had a lifelong love for flying, it didn’t become a career for her until 1990 when she left her job as a TV news sports reporter to join United Airlines as a pilot. By the end of her tenure at United, Simi had progressed to become a senior captain.
In 2003, she gave all that up and joined serial airline entrepreneur David Neeleman’s new JetBlue Airways as a first officer.
In 2016, JetBlue launched its venture-capital arm called JetBlue Technology Ventures. Simi, who was the airline’s head of human resources at the time, was asked to lead the team. These days, her time is spent working on the innovations that could transform the way we travel.
Google’s Aparna Sinha is leading the software project that’s quietly shaking up Silicon Valley
Kubernetes, an open-source-software project that started at Google, has quietly shaken up the cloud-computing scene, making it easier for developers to manage large-scale software applications.
Aparna Sinha leads the team running Google Cloud’s Kubernetes business, a cornerstone of the company’s push to unseat the reigning cloud champion Amazon Web Services. Sinha leads Google Kubernetes Engine, a service used to power apps from companies like Spotify and Niantic, the company behind “Pokémon Go.”
She says that Kubernetes still has a lot of ground to cover but that the potential for Kubernetes to be the underpinning layer behind more cloud software is enormous.
Sarjoun Skaff, cofounder and chief technology officer at Bossa Nova Robotics, is building robots for the store of the future
An age-old problem for retailers is being able to tell what is on shelves in stores. So Sarjoun Skaff, cofounder and chief technology officer of Bossa Nova Robotics, came up with an idea: Put a camera on wheels so it can see what is in a store more efficiently than a human can.
Working with Carnegie Mellon University’s biometrics lab, the startup has produced and fine-tuned a machine that can roam up and down aisles by itself, taking inventory and noting out-of-stocks.
Walmart has jumped at the chance to improve its inventory management. The chain, which Bossa Nova has been working with since 2014, is testing the robots, which are “essentially an indoor version of self-driving cars” with highly sophisticated optics, in dozens of stores.
Greg Smith, Walmart US executive vice president of supply chain, is using automation to help make one of the world’s biggest transportation companies more efficient
Walmart is the largest retailer in the world. It’s also one of the largest transportation companies. And that’s where Greg Smith comes in.
Across the US, Walmart has about 200 fulfillment, consolidation, distribution, and import centres, more than 102,000 fulfillment employees, some 63,000 truck trailers, and a staff of 8,600 elite truck drivers who are the industry’s envy. Then, there’s a bevy of ocean-freight imports.
Smith, who is Walmart US’s executive vice president of supply chain, oversees that robust and ever-expanding supply chain. And he’s at the helm of keeping it more nimble and productive than ever.
“We find ourselves in a retail market that is transforming pretty significantly really from what used to be a brick-and-mortar business, where it was basically shop in store, to one that we would consider much more omnichannel now,” Smith said.
Masayoshi Son, the CEO and chairman of SoftBank Group, is Silicon Valley’s new kingmaker, with a $US100 billion treasure chest
Few people strike both fear and intrigue among Silicon Valley elites quite like Masayoshi Son.
“Masa,” as he’s known, is the founder and CEO of SoftBank, a Japanese technology holding company. Under his leadership, SoftBank’s Vision Fund has turbocharged the scale at which capital gets deployed in technology.
Doling out checks in increments of at least $US100 million, SoftBank has amassed a sprawling and formidable portfolio of tech investments in AI, semiconductors, e-commerce, transportation, and healthcare. The rich financial support has allowed tech companies to remain privately held for longer periods, providing firms with liquidity for their employees and the resources for aggressive expansion campaigns.
Jon Stein, CEO of Betterment, founded the first unicorn robo-advisor
Jon Stein founded the robo-advisor Betterment because he thought humans needed help saving money for the long term. In his mind, financial institutions offered too many conflicts of interest and snap judgments and not enough objective assistance.
Humans are “not rational – we’re impulsive,” Stein told Business Insider. “We’re not well evolved to think about things like retirement or even next year.”
The company now manages $US16 billion in assets for 400,000 clients using a blend of algorithms and human advisors, and it’s contributed to a wave of innovation in the industry.
Adam Sussman, the vice president and general manager of Nike Direct digital and geographies, is leading a fundamental shift at the sports retailer
Adam Sussman is one of the chief architects of Nike’s digital revolution.
He joined Nike in 2016, just as the company was embarking on its mission to digitize every inch of its business. Sussman called the renewed focus on digital a “companywide mentality shift” during a presentation in 2018.
That has resulted in new smartphone functionality, like allowing shoppers to use Nike’s app to make purchases in stores or to reserve the hottest new sneaker. New digital offerings provide a new way for the sports retailer’s free membership program, Nike Plus, to communicate with users and keep them engaged with the brand.
Toby Sun, cofounder and CEO of Lime, is rolling out new methods of transportation in cities worldwide
Most people put down their childhood scooter at some point and never picked it up again. That’s starting to change.
Over the past two years, electric bikes and scooters, rentable by the minute and paid by mobile app, have taken the world by storm. Inspired by similar dockless rentals in China, where cofounder Toby Sun studied before pursuing an MBA at the University of California at Berkeley, the entrepreneur set out to launch similar app-based rental fleets in the US.
Today, Lime’s bikes and scooters can be found in more than a dozen countries around the world and more than 100 cities in the US.
Tim Sweeney, the founder and CEO of Epic Games, is taking the game industry into uncharted territory
Tim Sweeney has been a mainstay in the video-game industry for years.
In the past three decades, he grew his company, Epic Games, from a one-man shop based out of his childhood home into the provider of the technology that powers many of the world’s most popular games.
Now, thanks to the unprecedented success of “Fortnite,” Sweeney is poised to not just dominate the game industry but to reinvent it.
Tal Tamir, the CEO and founder of Wiliot, is building battery-free chips that harness energy from radio signals
There is “sea of energy” around us and it’s just waiting for someone, or some devices, to use it.
So says Tal Tamir, cofounder of Wiliot, a startup developing a chip that uses power from the ambient radio signals. That means no batteries required.
Wiliot has developed a small, cheap, Bluetooth-connected disposable electronic sticker, or tag. The tag’s only role is to provide data, which sounds like a humble idea, but it has the potential to create a universe of connected products, from sweaters to light switches.
PagerDuty CEO Jennifer Tejada is sounding the alarm when software goes bad
Batman has the Bat-Signal. Silicon Valley engineers have PagerDuty. When trouble calls, PagerDuty’s software alerts the appropriate engineer and gets them the information they need about how to fix it.
In the three years since Jennifer Tejada took over as the CEO of PagerDuty, the company has ridden the wave of DevOps – a portmanteau of “development” and “operations” – which is now one of the most popular concepts in the modern tech industry, helping companies release more software faster by fixing problems as they arise.
Vlad Tenev and Baiju Bhatt, the cofounders of Robinhood, built the go-to online brokerage for millennials
Robinhood cofounders Vlad Tenev and Baiju Bhatt were rejected by dozens of venture-capital investors while seeking funding for Robinhood. Less than five years after its launch, the no-fee trading app is valued at $US5.6 billion.
The appeal is clear: Robinhood is making it easier for young people to get into trading. It’s also become a valuable source of information for how that still underrepresented group thinks about investing. And did we mention it’s easy to use?
“The initial product was very simple, very understandable,” Tenev told Business Insider in a 2017 interview. “People got it right away.”
Hans Vestberg, CEO of Verizon, is leading the way for the spread of 5G
5G, the next generation of wireless technology, is expected to deliver a faster, more reliable internet connection, and Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg sits at the center of most conversations about it.
Vestberg’s elevation to the top of the nation’s largest wireless carrier from CTO back in August signalled the company’s move from the media business and toward building a next-generation network.
The role was right for Vestberg, a network engineer who was CEO of Ericsson before he came to Verizon. In less than a year as CEO, Vestberg helped Verizon become the first US telecom to offer 5G, launching a home 5G broadband service in October. Its plan is to launch mobile broadband service in 30 US cities in 2019.
Elizabeth Warren, the US senator from Massachusetts, is fighting to improve capitalism
Elizabeth Warren, the Democratic senior US senator from Massachusetts, has built her 2020 presidential bid on fighting for a better capitalism.
Warren, 69, submitted the Accountable Capitalism Act last year, and it’s a representation of her core values. The bill would require the largest corporations to file for a charter that recognises their greater commitment to all stakeholders (like a federally recognised B Corp certification), and that employees would elect 40% of board members.
She is also for companies publicly disclosing their greenhouse-gas emissions, and for regulators to bolster America’s antitrust laws, which would force the biggest tech companies to spin off some of their businesses.
Emily Weiss, the founder of Glossier, is upending the beauty industry
Emily Weiss was working as a fashion assistant at Vogue when she set up a beauty blog called Into the Gloss in 2010.
Eight years later, Glossier, the direct-to-consumer makeup and skincare brand that Weiss built from the foundations of the blog, generated $US100 million in annual revenue.
Weiss has turned traditional beauty retail on its head and cracked the code for selling directly to the consumer via Instagram, where the brand has more than 1.9 million followers.
Brian Whipple, the CEO at Accenture Interactive, is disrupting traditional ad agencies
Nothing makes advertising agencies shudder more than the thought of consulting firms coming to eat their lunch, and none as much as Accenture Interactive.
As the head of the agency wing of the consulting giant, Brian Whipple has proved that a consultancy can pose a real threat to agencies.
In the past year, Whipple has led Accenture Interactive to produce work for clients including Disney and Marriott and led the company into programmatic advertising with the creation of its Accenture Interactive Programmatic Services unit.
He’s also expanded its global footprint with the acquisitions of Kolle Rebbe in Germany, New Content in Brazil, and Storm Digital in the Netherlands, and, most recently, Droga5 in the US, its biggest acquisition since being formed in 2009.
Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss, founders of Gemini, are bringing transparency to the crypto market
The Winklevoss twins founded Gemini under the belief that the cryptocurrency markets were a place that should exist with much of the same regulatory oversight as traditional markets.
And so as digital currencies exploded in 2017 with seemingly everyone looking to get in on the action, Gemini stayed the course. The Winklevosses were deliberate in their choice to ensure they received the proper regulatory licenses. Gemini also led the establishment of a self-regulatory organisation for crypto exchanges similar to what exists in traditional markets.
“One of our values is the long game,” Tyler Winklevoss said. “We want to have a business tomorrow. And if you don’t play by the rules, if you don’t help shape the rules, then you could wake up the next day and all of a sudden you just don’t have a business.”
Anne Wojcicki, the CEO of 23andMe, is helping people learn what their DNA could mean for their identity and their health
Anne Wojcicki, the CEO and cofounder of genetic-testing startup 23andMe, thinks that by giving people a glimpse at their DNA, we can begin to prevent diseases instead of dealing with them after they’re diagnosed.
“If I know your blueprint, I know essentially what you’re made of,” Wojcicki told Business Insider.
23andMe’s tests provide insight into your ancestry and your risk of diseases like Alzheimer’s and breast cancer. With 8 million customers, the company is one of the first to give people a basic understanding of how genetics affect their lives, something experts say will be increasingly important as our DNA becomes a cornerstone of personalised healthcare.
Linda Yaccarino, the chair of advertising sales and client partnerships at NBCUniversal, is pushing for innovation to preserve the $US70 billion TV business
There’s universal agreement that the $US70 billion TV industry needs to evolve how it sells and measures itself as viewers migrate to multiple devices. But few have as big a perch and megaphone to do something about it as the sales chief of Comcast’s NBCUniversal, where Linda Yaccarino oversees more than $US10 billion in annual ad revenue.
Yaccarino is a reliable critic of Facebook and other digital platforms as inferior ad channels, and she has spearheaded efforts to get other TV giants to put aside their rivalries and work together to evolve how TV is measured.
A big initiative underway is getting other TV sellers to adopt its cross-platform measurement system called CFlight.
Slack VP of product Tamar Yehoshua is building a smarter way for people to talk to each other at work
Slack, the IPO-bound workplace chat app last valued at $US7 billion, has plans to get smarter, much smarter. And Tamar Yehoshua, who joined the company in January, is the exec who’s working to get it there.
So far, Slack has been best known as a workplace chat room that lets you share files or links to other apps. But it’s working on becoming more of collaboration tool, and just bought the email app Astro. Going forward, all eyes will be on Yehoshua and her team for delivering new products and features.
Heidi Zak, cofounder and co-CEO of ThirdLove, is challenging the way women shop for bras
Heidi Zak was in her early 30s when she cofounded online bra brand ThirdLove with her husband, David Spector.
The couple was driven by what they saw as a lack of innovation in the underwear market, and specifically that bras were hard to shop for online. The couple launched ThirdLove’s online quiz, which enabled customers to find their perfect bra shape without going near a store.
To date, more than 12 million women have taken the quiz; each time a customer does, the algorithm becomes that much smarter, Zak told Business Insider.
ThirdLove is challenging longtime market leaders with more inclusive marketing, extended sizing, and bras that are fitted on and advertised by real women. It offers 78 different sizes, including half cups.
The company recently raised $US55 million in a round of funding led by consumer-focused private-equity firm L Catterton. The CEOs of 23andMe and YouTube were among the other investors.
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