We recently released the
Silicon Valley 100, Business Insider’s annual list of the most impressive people working in or influencing the world of tech.
We went through the SV100 list to pull out the most influential, innovative, and all-around inspiring CEOs in Silicon Valley in 2015.
Scroll down to see who the coolest CEOs in Silicon Valley are right now.
The SV100 list was compiled by Business Insider’s technology editors and written by Emmie Martin, Maya Kosoff, and Melissa Stanger. Additional reporting by Tanza Loudenback and Christi Danner. Photo research by Melia Robinson.
AddLive founder and CEO Kavan Seggie writes that he is 'passionate about conceptualizing, strategising, and developing great software products and businesses.'
Last May, Snapchat made its first acquisition in AddLive, a real-time communications startup that allows the picture-messaging app to power its video-calling feature. The deal cost Snapchat $US30 million.
AddLive's technology offers several useful tools to Snapchat, including screen-sharing, multiparty conferencing, and support for browser-based video chat via WebRTC.
Company: Brit + Co.
Touted as the 'Martha Stewart of Silicon Valley,' Brit Morin specialises in the intersection of tech and DIY -- and it's lucrative. Morin launched Brit+Co, a lifestyle website that features crafts, fashion, and decor, in 2011, and so far it's raised $US27.6 million in funding from investors including Oak Capital, Intel Capital, and Marissa Mayer.
Before diving into her own site, Morin grew her love for the tech world as an employee at Apple and Google, where she worked on iTunes and Google Maps, respectively.
Before co-founding Coinbase, CEO Brian Armstrong worked as a software engineer in the fraud prevention department of Airbnb. Today his company is on the rise despite slumping bitcoin prices. Coinbase, a digital wallet used to buy and manage the digital currency raised a $US75 million round in January -- a record-breaking amount for a bitcoin company at the time. Investors include the New York Stock Exchange, Andreessen Horowitz, and banks USAA and BBVA, and the round supposedly puts Coinbase's value at $US400 million.
Company: Luxe Valet
Co-founded by Curtis Lee and Craig Martin, Luxe Valet wants to take the hassle out of parking. The app, which calls someone to park your car for you with just a click, is picking up steam, even against competition from similar on-demand valet companies. It raised $US20 million in a Series A funding round in February, and is continuing to expand into new markets.
The idea was born after cofounder Curtis Lee and his wife spent 30 minutes searching for a parking space in San Francisco one night, nearly missing their dinner reservations. 'Circling is not good for anybody,' he told Forbes.
Anyone who's ever had to lug a package to the post office knows how annoying it can be. But with Shyp, all that hassle goes away. The startup is reinventing the shipping process; instead of schlepping your boxes to UPS, Shyp picks them up for a $US5 flat fee plus shipping.
CEO Kevin Gibbon's fellow co-founders Joshua Scott and Jack Smith quietly left the company earlier this year due to disagreements. Prior to Shyp, Gibbon led the engineering team that created Boeing's first iPad app approved for cockpit use and also founded Shoparound, a top 100 ranked iPhone app.
Shyp raised $US50 million in a Series B round of funding earlier this year, with investors including SherpaVentures and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. In the past year, the company has increased its number of shipments by nearly 500% and continues to grow.
Meerket CEO Ben Rubin has had his hands full lately thanks to Twitter's launch of his biggest rival, Periscope. Despite Perisciope's advanced features, like the ability to replay videos, Meerkat cofounder Ben Rubin is confident there's space for both to thrive. When he found out Twitter was launching its competition, he says 'it was Saturday -- all the team went back to the office to get ready to dive in.'
Perhaps it's Rubin's optimistic attitude that has helped bring his startup such quick success. He told Business Insider, 'If something excites you, I'm sure there's 10 teams working on it already. And if Twitter is one of them, that means you're on a good path.'
Meerkat makes it easier than ever to share live video with your friends and followers. Just open the app, click 'stream,' and share whatever you're doing with friends. The popular app, which launched in March, raised $US18.2 million in funding and has nearly 2 million users.
Though DoorDash is a meal-delivery service, CEO and co-founder Tony Xu envisions the company expanding to become a delivery service for all kinds of goods -- like FedEx or UPS, but with same-day delivery. By focusing on the logistics of efficient delivery, Xu hopes to create infastructure capable of large-scale delivery.
DoorDash, the startup co-founded in a Stanford dorm room by Xu with Evan Moore, Stanley Tang, and Andry Fang that delivers food from local restaurants, raised $US40 million in March from a round of funding led by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Unlike other meal-delivery services, DoorDash provides its own drivers, which makes it possible to order from restaurants that aren't available on places like GrubHub.
Earlier this year, data-management startup Domo announced a $US200 million Series D round of financing led by BlackRock that brought its total funding up to $US450 million. It's now valued at about $US2 billion.
Founder Josh James held Domo in stealth mode for nearly five years to keep the competition at bay while he built a platform for collecting and visualising business data, making it easy for executives to skim and understand. Though Domo has only 1,000 customers compared to competitor Tableau Software's 23,000, he said that Domo 'makes a higher average revenue per customer than Tableau does' during Re/code's Code/Enterprise: San Francisco event.
Instacart CEO Apoorva Mehta worked as a fulfillment optimization engineer at Amazon for two years before leaving to become an entrepreneur. He faced many startup failures before finding success with Instacart and learned that, 'The reason to start a company is not just to start a company. It's to solve a problem that you care about.'
Often dubbed 'Uber for groceries,' Instacart eliminates the need to ever set food in a grocery store. For $US3.99 plus your bill, the service will deliver your full load of groceries, hand-picked by a personal shopper at local stores like Whole Foods and Costco.
The startup, co-founded by Apoorva Mehta, Max Mullen, and Brandon Leonardo, is valued at $US2 billion, notably bringing in a $US220 million round of funding in December, following a $US44 million round led by Andreessen Horowitz in June. And it's still on the rise: Instacart is in 15 cities and plans to continue growing in those places while expanding to others.
Formerly the CEO of Hulu, Vessel cofounder Jason Kilar is no stranger to video-streaming services, and he plans to take the Hulu Plus model and optimise it for a younger, mobile audience with Vessel. The new video-subscription service launched in March with over 135 YouTubers on board.
Co-founded by Jason Kilar and Richard Tom, Vessel lets users watch short-form videos, like music videos or TV segments, 72 hours early for $US2.99 a month. The company raised a boatload of cash before it even launched and a $US57.5 million Series B round in April led by Institutional Venture Partners. The young startup has raised $US132.5 million total.
Lyft co-founder and CEO Logan Green has always been fascinated by transportation infrastructure and has tested a variety of ride-sharing companies since beginning college at UC Santa Barbara in 2002, with the goal of revolutionising public transportation systems worldwide. He says that Lyft took off thanks to its simple mobile interface and effortless user experience it offers.
It was a huge year for Lyft: It raised two major rounds of funding -- $US530 million in March and another $US150 million from Carl Icahn in May -- rebranded with a more sophisticated look, and announced huge growth for the company. And in March, the ride-hailing service reached a $US2.5 billion valuation, making it one of Silicon Valley's growing number of unicorns.
Though the startup, co-founded by Logan Green and John Zimmer, still faces serious competition from Uber, it continues to prove itself a worthy opponent.
Deerah Pandey founded Nutanix in 2009 when he realised that Google, Facebook, and Amazon were far ahead of their competition partially due to data center software that these companies had written, that most companies could not afford to design on their own. Nutanix would provide storage and analytics services to these other companies.
Enterprise virtualization and storage company Nutanix became of the first enterprise unicorns of 2014, with a valuation of $US2 billion. The company raised over $US141 million in 2014, and $US312 million to date from investors including Lightspeed Venture partners, Blumberg Capital, Khosla Ventures, and Goldman Sachs.
Nutanix has become so emblematic of successful enterprise hardware companies that, in Silicon Valley, other startups dream of becoming 'the Nutanix of' their markets. Nutanix also has plans to take down incumbent VMware. The two companies are intensely competitive.
Company: Virtual Instruments
John Thompson is the CEO of a five-year-old startup called Virtual Instruments, which offers software that helps big companies keep their most important applications from crashing.
Thompson had a huge comeback in 2014 when he was named chairman of Microsoft. Thompson led the Microsoft CEO search committee, ultimately hiring Satya Nadella last year. He has been a huge proponent of Nadella, encouraging him to roll out initiatives at Microsoft.
VI is on track to hit $US100 million in revenue. Thompson began at IBM and later became CEO of Symantec, and grew Symantec from $US600 million to $US6 billion in revenue when he left in 2009.
CEO Marissa Mayer was hired at Yahoo to save the declining company, and since July 2012 she has sucessfully tripled the company's stock price. Though she has done much to contribute to the company, there are uncomfirmed rumours that Mayer may be planning to sell Yahoo.
In September, Alibaba went public. Investors in Yahoo expected Alibaba's public value to send Yahoo's stock soaring. But after Alibaba's debut, Yahoo's stock crashed.
Months later, Yahoo unveiled a plan to spin off its remaining 15% stake in Alibaba, tax-free, into a public, independent investment company called SpinCo. Yahoo shareholders would receive shares 'distributed pro rata,' which means they'd own shares in two companies.
Reed Hastings founded Netflix in 1997. In April of 2015, the company's stock prices rose to over $US530, making its founder and CEO's shares worth more than $US1 billion.
Netflix has been crushing the online-streaming-video category. The company raised a $US1.5 billion round of debt financing in February to produce more original content. Wall Street also can't get enough of it: When news broke in May that Netflix may be entering China, its stock jumped to an all-time high. A month later, its stock broke a new record.
In September, Apple announced partnerships with a number of retailers and payments companies for its Apple Pay service. Among them was Stripe, a five-year-old mobile-payments startup co-founded by brothers Patrick and John Collison.
As the founders see it, their startup is helping to bring about an Internet economy that should already exist. 24-year old CEO Patrick Collison said, 'It's part of the promise of what the Internet should enable.'
Mark Pincus is back on top. Though he stepped down as CEO of gaming company Zynga less than two years ago, the billionaire resumed his CEO role in April. Pincus launched Zynga in 2007 and found success through well-known games 'FarmVille' and 'Words With Friends.'
However, the company failed to adapt to changes in the gaming landscape and its stock fell tremendously. But with Pincus back at the helm, things are shifting, and it looks like it's for the better. Zynga beat earnings estimates for Q1.
A Princeton graduate with a Harvard MBA, Meg Whitman made her fortune as the CEO of eBay before joining Hewlett-Packard in 2011. Last year, Whitman got a $US1.5 million raise and a $US4.3 million bonus.
HP announced that it would be undergoing massive multiyear layoffs in 2012. Since then, the company has eliminated 48,000 employees. It's on its way to eliminating 55,000 by October. And in November, Whitman will split HP into two companies, and the layoffs will likely continue.
Though he's faced several ups and downs in his career, Parker Conrad's hub-and-spokes model -- give Zenefits away and sell services through it -- is proving effective as the company continues to grow.
Zenefits, a startup aimed at making administrative tasks such as payroll and benefits easier, is shaping up to be one of the fastest-growing cloud companies ever, in terms of both revenue of number of users. In May, it raised $US500 million in Series C funding, bringing the company's valuation up to $US4.5 billion. However, it reportedly only generated $US20 million in 2014. Only two years old, Zenefits employs 1,000 people and has 10,000 customers. Parker Conrad co-founded the startup with Laks Srini.
When Page took over as Google's CEO, he wanted to reinvigorate the company's vision. Today the company continues to dominate search, makes a ton of money with ads, and is leading a number of other innovative projects, including Google Glass. In the past year, Google generated nearly $US18 billion in profits -- money that Page will be able to use to forward his grand visions for granting internet access to the world.
Page also appointed senior vice president of product Sundar Pichai to becoming the 'second most important person in the company,' leaving Page free to make his grand visions a reality.
Under Brian Chesky's leadership, Airbnb has grown to over 1,200,000 listings in 190 countries. He is in charge of driving the company's vision, strategy, and growth -- a feat he has been accomplishing successfully, considering that Airbnb is at the forefront of the sharing economy and is revolutionising the hospitality industry.
With at least $US1.5 billion each, Airbnb founders Nathan Blecharczyk, Joe Gebbia, and Brian Chesky are some of the world's youngest billionaires. The home-sharing site raised $US475 million in Series D funding last year and it is now raising at a rumoured $US24 billion valuation. It's available in 34,000 cities and been used by more than 30 million guests.
Ben Silbermann, CEO of Pinterest, describes his website as a 'visual discovery tool.' He founded Pinterest in 2010 and found acceptance in an enthusiastic user-base, mainly in the mid-west, before it was embraced by the tech crowd.
The online scrap-booking site that lets users organise photo pins onto different boards, is now worth $US11 billion after raising a $US367 million round of funding in March, followed by another $US186 million in May. Investors include Andreessen Horowitz, Fidelity Investments, and Bessemer Venture Partners.
The site, co-founded by Ben Silbermann and Evan Sharp, continues to grow and adapt its business model, most recently releasing new options for advertisers. Instead of just choosing to pay for views or clicks on promoted pins, advertisers can choose to pay with a cost-per-engagement model or cost-per-action model. Pinterest just lost its head of partnerships however, Joanne Bradford. The rumour is Pinterest wasn't generating as much revenue as it should have.
Zuckerberg has been talking up Internet.org, his plan to bring cheap Internet access to millions of people in developing countries, every chance he gets. Despite making changes to address net-neutrality concerns, he received criticism for the project. Facebook's founder and CEO responded to this criticism by describing the naysayers as people who put the 'intellectual purity of technology above people's needs.'
At Facebook's annual F8 developers' conference, David Marcus, who was hired from PayPal to head up messaging products at Facebook, made big announcements regarding the Facebook Messenger app -- expansion into e-commerce and mobile payments inside the app. This year, Facebook also acquired a video startup called QuickFire, which could let it take on Siri.
Elon Musk has been busy. Last summer he announced he would be building a SolarCity plant in Buffalo, New York. The facility will be 'one of the single largest solar panel production plants in the world,' Musk said.
In addition, Musk announced he'd be building a five-mile-long Hyperloop track in Texas, designed for companies and students to test his design for a super-fast transportation system that will move people at 500 miles per hour in little 'pods.' Another Hyperloop track is set to be built starting in 2016, halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles.
Before joining Hortonworks, Rob Bearden was the chief operating officer of SpringSource and JBoss, two of the most successful open source companies in history. His current company, HortonWorks, went public in December. HortonWorks distributes and supports an open-source technology called Hadoop, which was invented at Yahoo to store and arrange huge amounts of web data on low-cost hardware.
Hortonworks priced at $US16 on its opening day and jumped almost 50% to over $US24. HortonWorks raised about $US100 million and was valued at about $US1 billion at the time it went public.
Mikkel Svane is the CEO of Zendesk, an enterprise cloud-based customer-service software company that handles businesses' technical and customer support. He took his company public in May 2014 despite early 2014's shaky SaaS market. He told his co-founders, 'We should just do it because we can. This is a big challenge, but we should take on the challenge because we can.' Svane's confidence paid off.
Zendesk ended up pricing its shares at $US9, much less than the $US12.50 per share it valued itself at just a couple months before. But Zendesk shares popped 49% on the day the company went public and have jumped nearly 150% so far. Zendesk, co-founded by Mikkel Svan, Alexander Aghassipour, and Morten Primdahl, is now worth roughly $US1.7 billion.
When Box released its prospectus last year, it shocked the tech community with its high burn rate. After delaying its IPO several times, it finally got out the door and went public this year. 'I'm living the life I dreamed of as a 12-year-old. I don't have hobbies. I want to build a big company, and this is it,' Levie told Forbes' Victoria Barret.
Box, co-founded by Levie and Dylan Smith, offers online storage and document collaboration tools for enterprises. The company went public in January, and investors ate up its stock. Box opened at $US20.20, up 44%. Its IPO was priced at $US14. On its first day, it closed at $US23.23, up 66%.
More than just a self-made billionaire CEO, Marc Benioff is a force for equal rights. Recently he made headlines for his plan to ensure equal pay for both men and women at Salesforce, through which the company will examine the salaries of all 16,000 employees. 'My job is to make sure that women are treated 100% equally at Salesforce in pay, opportunity, and advancement,' he said.
He also made waves when he threatened to reduce the company's investment in Indiana after the state passed a law that allowed business owners to refuse service to gay married couples. Pressure from Benioff and other business leaders eventually helped convince Indiana lawmakers to revise the law.
Benioff is regarded as a tech visionary, and his company continues to see record growth. Salesforce ended its last fiscal year with $US5.37 billion in revenue, a major milestone for a 100% cloud-computing company. He's also a major force in his home town of San Francisco: The Salesforce Tower is under construction and will be the tallest building in the city when done, and a childrens' hospital named after Benioff opened earlier this year.
Company: Lending Club
Renaud Laplanche is the CEO of Lending Club, one of the world's biggest online lending marketplaces. Laplanche founded Lending Club to let people provide low-cost financing to their peers. Now, it lets institutional investors do the same.
One of Twitter's founders, Jack Dorsey was named the company's interim CEO this spring. Embattled CEO Dick Costolo announced that he would be stepping down effective July 1. Dorsey, who is also the CEO of payments company Square, said he would lead both companies concurrently. We have been speculating as to how Dorsey will manage to run two multi-billion-dollar companies simultaneously.
Just after news broke that Dorsey would step in as Twitter's interim CEO, reports surfaced that Square was planning to go public. Sources say the company may have already filed a confidential registration document with the SEC, which is permitted for companies with less than $US1 billion in revenue. Square's most recent fundraise came late last year, when it raised $US150 million at a reported $US6 billion valuation.
Over the past year, Apple has rolled out two major new products under Tim Cook's leadership, the iPhone 6 and the Apple Watch. In addition, Apple has announced plans to break into music streaming with the launch of Apple Music. It also announced iOS 9 and rolled out a new line of MacBooks.
Uber, the most valuable private tech company in the world, is known for its spitfire CEO, Travis Kalanick. He believes that the transportation system is broken, and he aims to fix it, as he told Vanity Fair: 'I'm a passionate entrepreneur. I'm like fire and brimstone sometimes. And so there are times when I'll go -- I'll get into the weeds and too into the debate, because I'm so passionate about it.'
The 5-year-old ride-hailing company, which has raised $US5.9 billion at a $US41 billion valuation, could soon be worth as much as $US50 billion with a new cash infusion.
Uber operates in 311 cities and 58 countries. While the company is working to overcome regulatory hurdles, Uber has its sights set on plans bigger than just chauffeured transportation. The company has rolled out features like UberEATS and UberRush to test out logistics and delivery services. In May, Uber poached 40 Carnegie Mellon robotics researchers for its own Pittsburgh-based labs. Presumably, this will allow Uber to create self-driving cars.
When she was a sophomore at Stanford in 2003, Elizabeth Holmes founded healthcare-technology company Theranos (a few months later, she dropped out to focus on the company). Today, she's America's youngest female billionaire with a net worth of $US4.6 billion.
Theranos is a $US9 billion biotech company that has a new approach to blood testing. Its goal is to make clinical testing cheaper and faster. Theranos wants to conduct blood tests for health issues through a single finger stick rather than by having to draw vials of blood in a doctor's office. Theranos has drawn scepticism from the scientific community in part because Theranos is cagey about how its tests actually work. But for now, Holmes is on top of the world. Today, her blood tests are used in places like Walgreens.
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