Photo: Jon Terbush/Business Insider
2011 was a huge year for Silicon Valley. Larry Page took over Google and dropped $12.5 billion on Motorola a couple of months later.
IPOs finally returned to tech as Zynga and LinkedIn found their ways to public markets.
The greatest innovator and CEO of his generation left us.
Now, after months of research, debates, and more research, we’re happy to present the latest instalment of the Silicon Valley 100, a compilation of the people who did the coolest things in Silicon Valley this year.
A big shout out to everyone named in the list; you earned it. We apologise if we missed anyone, we’re not all-knowing.
Thanks to our many readers who took the time to send us nominations. The Silicon Valley 100 was assembled by Abby Rogers, Alyson Shontell, Nicholas Carlson, Jay Yarow, Matt Rosoff, and Julie Zeveloff, and copy edited by Jill Klausen.
Head of AOL's AIM team, Responsible for new AIM
AOL's Palo Alto office is a long way from the company's east coast bases in New York and Dulles, Virginia. And yet, Shellen and a crew of reinvigorated engineers did good work in 2011. The highlight: a re-done AIM.
Managing Partners, Riviera Partners
There's a talent war on in Silicon Valley, and these guys are the big guns. They recruit for Twitter, LinkedIn, Groupon, Zappos, Box.net, and other hot Bay Area companies.
Mary Meeker, one of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers' most prized partners, joined a lot of high-profile boards last year--including SoundCloud, as part of its $50 million round.
She's one of the most knowledgeable tech gurus in the valley--so be sure to see her knock-out presentation on the state of the web from the Web 2.0 conference in San Francisco last year.
Cofounders, Freestyle Capital
Sheesh! These guys funded 29 companies and guided 7 exits in 2011. Maybe they'll be able to sleep in 2012.
Kabam is like a hardcore version of Zynga--it relies on a smaller number of players that are willing to spend more money on its Facebook games. Kabam's Kevin Chou raised $85 million in May this year.
Founder and CEO, Practice Fusion
This startup is building an electronic platform for health records. It raised $36 million in 2011 and moved into some swanky new offices to make space for its quick expansion.
President and CEO, Stoke, Inc.
Varma and Stoke, a mobile broadband startup, raised a stunning $93 million in 2011.
CEO and Founder, Minted.com
During the first dotcom bubble, then 28-year-old Naficy and her cofounder Varsha Rao sold their online makeup company Eve for $110 million to Idealab.
Now Naficy is back in the startup scene. She founded San Francisco-based Minted.com, an e-commerce company that sells emerging designers' work, and raised a $5.5 million Series B round in 2011.
CEO and Founder, SuccessFactors
Dalgaard is the Danish founder of SuccessFactors, which helps big companies manage employees. A decade of hard work finally paid off when SAP bought the company in December for $3.4 billion and appointed him to lead the German giant's cloud computing strategy.
CEO and Cofounder, HotelTonight
Hotel Tonight lets you book last-minute, overnight stays at discounted rates. In 2011, it raised both a Series A and Series B round of financing for a total of $12.3 million. Investors include Battery Ventures, Accel Partners, First Round Capital and angels Rich Barton, Erik Bachford, Brad Gerstner, and Hugh Crean.
It was also named one of the 20 Hot Silicon Valley Startups To Watch last summer.
Bitcoin was rampantly popular among geeks in Silicon Valley for a while last year. It was touted as something that would replace modern currencies--a purely digital currency that can be transferred directly from person to person over the internet.
CEO and President, Marketo
Marketo is one of the valley's new enterprise darlings, and plays in the field of marketing automation. It raised more than $50 million, and more than doubled its revenues in 2011.
Larry Page appointed Salar Kamangar as one of Google's 7 top leaders this year, and gave him a hard mission: turn YouTube from a site where users upload cat videos into a mainstream entertainment platform like TV.
Under his leadership, YouTube began putting hundreds of millions of dollars into original content and redesigned the site around 'channels' instead of individual videos.
Senior Vice President--Corporate Development and Chief Legal Officer, Google
As Android resellers faced patent lawsuits from Apple, Microsoft, and others, Chief counsel David Drummond fought back with angry screeds about the patent system. Then, when Google lost a bid to get a bunch of smartphone patents from Novell, Google went and bought Motorola for $12.5 billion--in large part because of its more than 17,000 patents. Drummond has also been trying to defend Google against antitrust vultures in the U.S. and Europe.
Pulse is a reader app that gives a you a very nice visual look at your RSS feed. Kothari and Gupta made lots of great media partnerships in 2011. They also raised an additional $9 million in venture funding.
New Enterprise Associates was the most successful venture capital firm last year, with stakes worth more than $2.5 billion in companies like Groupon, Boingo and Fusion-io. Sandell led the investment in Groupon, which ended up as NEA's largest payout.
Palantir, a data security firm, raised $70 million in October of 2011 at a valuation above $2.5 billion. Karp is the one-time interim CEO with a philosopher's air that has pushed Peter Thiel's latest startup success to such heights.
This pair worked on Apple's iPod, then left to found this startup to build ... thermostats? It sounds crazy, but the company is smoking hot: The first run of Nest's impeccably designed, wirelessly controlled thermostats sold way faster than the company expected, and Google's Marissa Mayer put it on her holiday wish list.
Investor, Founder's Fund
Former PayPal alumnus and early Facebook investor Peter Thiel invested in PandoDaily, Sarah Lacy's new tech news site, and also serves as an advisor for high-profile startup Palantir Technology.
Founder and Managing Director, Felicis Ventures
There are not very many people on the planet who haven't heard of Rovio's Angry Birds, or seen Angry Birds merchandise. Aydin Senkut is the ex-Googler who funded Rovio. 2011 was a pretty big year!
Sarah Lacy left TechCrunch last year to found her own news site called PandoDaily. She said she wants to build the 'site of record' for startups in Silicon Valley, and she raised $2.5 million from a ton of investors to do it.
President and CEO, Coupons.com
Coupons.com keeps a much lower profile than a lot of its companions in the billion-dollar club. The company has been around for more than 13 years, and its goal hasn't changed: It wants to take the old-fashioned newspaper coupon business and move it entirely online.
Chairman and CEO, Salesforce.com
Salesforce continues to launch product after product and Marc Benioff, the company's CEO, isn't pulling any punches. Just last year he decided to run his own keynote after being booted from Larry Ellison's Oracle OpenWorld conference.
If you need any proof of Salesforce's hot streak, check out videos of their Metallica concert at its annual Dreamforce conference.
Zite is similar to Flipboard -- a personalised magazine for the iPad and iPhone. Johnson launched Zite on March 9 and the company was acquired by CNN less than six months later for around $20 million.
Senior Vice President, Chrome
Google's Chrome web browser made huge strides this year, growing by as much as 84%, according to StatCounter. The Chrome browser also includes Chrome 'apps'--which include high-profile games like Bastian and apps like Evernote. Chrome is rapidly evolving into a web-based operating system built on top of a shell of a browser.
The United States has decided to privatize the space industry and Elon Musk's SpaceX seized the opportunity in 2011, grabbing up all sorts of contracts to launch pay-loaded rockets for profit. That's great, but Musk could probably be on this list for his spectacular entry onto Twitter alone.
Founder, Qatalyst Group
If there's money changing hands in Silicon Valley, Frank Quattrone probably played a role (and got paid for it). You don't know which deals he was involved in in 2011, and he likes it that way.
CEO and Cofounders, Eventbrite
Eventbrite raised $50 million last summer, opened an office in London, and hired ex-Googler Stephanie Hannon, as VP of International. It might even toy with the idea of an IPO in late 2012.
It was founded by husband-wife team, Kevin and Julia Hartz.
Former CEO; Cofounder and Former VP of Product; Cofounder, Twitter
These guys got the band back together to form 'Obvious Corp,' which is an incubator similar to the company they had that launched Twitter. They're all pretty well-off from Twitter now, so it will be curious to see what kinds of projects they cook up next.
Founder and CEO, Sugar Inc.
Sugar is a ladyblog empire. In 2011, cofounders Brian and Lisa Sugar put some serious muscle behind its video production, and millions of unique viewers found their way to the content.
Managing Partner, First Round Capital
First Round was an active investor this year and Hayes had his pedal to the metal all year.
In December, he capped the year with a very smart hire: CeCe Cheng from Qwiki.
Cofounder and CEO, Yelp
2011 was a big year for Yelp--the company filed to go public in November last year, making Jeremy Stoppelman worth more than $100 million. Yelp brought in $58.4 million in the first nine months of 2011.
CEO and cofounders, GetAround
GetAround was the winner of TechCrunch Disrupt 2011. It allows users to rent cars from each other. If you don't mind getting eye rolls, you can call it the 'AirBNB of car rentals.'
It was a big year for Twitter and by extension Dick Costolo. The company started moving into a new HQ, it relaunched its iPhone app, got deep integration into iOS, and started to figure out a real business model.
CEO, Addepar (Cofounder, Palantir)
Lonsdale, 29, is the Silicon Valley billionaire you've never heard of. He founded Palantir Technologies a couple of years ago. In 2011, he created Addepar, a platform for private wealth managers.
CEO and founder, Netflix
2011 was a tough year for Netflix. It tried to spin off its DVD business, only to turn around and re-integrate it into its normal service.
After a few bumps and missteps last year, though, Reed Hastings turned Netflix around with a bombshell fourth quarter that sent its shares skyrocketing to start off 2012.
Senior Vice President of Internet Software and Services, Apple
Cue led development of iTunes Match, which was a big leap forward at Apple, where Internet innovation is way behind software and hardware work.
Managing Partner, Accel
Accel investments Groupon and Fusion-io IPO'd in 2011, netting the firm a $700 million return on investment. Partner Jim Breyer led the way. He also got Accel into Facebook, which is supposed to IPO at a $100 billion valuation in 2012.
Dustin Moskovitz launched the first web-based version of his workflow software called Asana. He also launched a beta version of the mobile app. It's kind of like Yammer and other enterprise social networks, but it uses keyboard shortcuts to make it easier and faster to breeze through tasks.
It is kind of baffling, though.
CEO and Cofounder; CTO and Cofounder Klout
Klout measures your influence online with your Twitter, Google+ and other social networking accounts.
It may or may not be a measure of how much less influential you are on the Internet than Justin Bieber (who has a perfect 100 Klout score)--but it's still incredibly popular. Klout's top team also raised around $30 million last year.
CEO andFounder; Vice President--Product and Design, SurveyMonkey
In December, SurveyMonkey, a platform that lets users easily create surveys, partnered with TPG to acquire a competitor, MarketTools. The deal valued the new company at $1 billion.
Partner, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers
Bing Gordon got a gigantic payout from Zynga's initial public offering this year and he's served as a consigliere for the largest IPO since Google. He's still involved at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, but the Electronic Arts alumnus' invisible hand at Zynga is present in just about everything it does.
2011 was a big year for the Kindle. Lab126 is the Amazon subsidiary that's responsible for Amazon's flurry of new devices--including a much cheaper ad-supported E-reader. Amazon also released a touch-enabled Kindle device.
CEO and Chairman, Jive software
Jive went public last year and raised more than $160 million. It's the first IPO from a recent slew of 'enterprise 2.0' companies, which take lessons learned from Web 2.0 companies like Twitter and Facebook and apply them to the workplace. It's now worth nearly $1 billion.
Cofounder and President-Technology, Google
Brin was the most prominent internal voice pushing for Google+ over the last year, then ended up with a smaller, more secretive role at Google after this year's big management shake up. He's currently running Google X, the company's secret project division that is trying to imagine big products like self-driving cars.
Google is trying to turn YouTube into a destination for premium content AND premium ad dollars. To lure high quality shows, Kyncl spent much of 2011 throwing around hundreds of millions of dollars in Hollywood. It was the kind of bold move that will get you on this list every year.
Senior Vice President of Mobile, Google
Google came out with two new versions of its Android operating system in 2011. It gobbled up tons of market share from Apple's iPhone. Andy Rubin was the man pushing the action at Google.
Executive Vice President and Chief Products Officer; Executive vice president of the Americas region, Yahoo
While Yahoo's board did its best to tank the company during the second half of 2011 by firing Carol Bartz and not replacing her for many months, Irving and Levinsohn quietly went about their work. Levinsohn got Yahoo to finally define itself--it was, for a time, the 'premier digital media company.' Irving is working on a product pipeline that one agency exec recently told us is the best in the space.
Pandora's cloud-based music service was another one of the highest-profile tech IPOs this year, though it's been performing under its price for most of the year since it made its debut. Pandora priced at $16, but it's traded below $14 in recent months.
Cofounder and CEO, Uber
You wouldn't expect to find a lot of disruption in the taxi industry, but that's just what Travis Kalanick saw--and exploited--with hits smartphone app for hailing town cars.
Uber, which lets you order a town car directly from your phone and charges your credit card automatically, is now growing like wildfire and expanding to new cities just about every month.
Cofounder and CEO; Cofounder and Design and Development, Instagram
Kevin Systrom built one of the most popular iPhone apps of all time (it was voted the best app of 2011)--all with a tiny team by Silicon Valley standards.
Instagram picked up more than 13 million users in less than a year, and they just picked up their 8th employee in early January.
Bret Taylor is working on Facebook's top-secret phone project. When the phone is released (this year, according to reports) it will be one of the biggest stories in the Valley. He also helped with development of the new Facebook Timeline.
Chief Operating Officer, Facebook
In 2011, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg grew the company's ad business to a $4 billion revenue run rate. When Facebook finally sells stock to the public this year, she has a chance to become one of the world's few self-made billionaire women.
Keith Rabois is the chief operating officer of one of the hottest companies in the valley right now. He also stands to make a nice chunk of change off Yelp's impending IPO (filed last year), and he's now running business operations at Square.
What do you do when you're tired of being a journalist? Start a venture capital fund, apparently--and that's just what former TechCrunch reporters MG Siegler and Mike Arrington did.
The CrunchFund already has some high-profile investments, like social networking app, Path.
Founder and CEO, Lytro
In 2011, Ng's team invented a new kind of camera. With it, you take the picture and then decide where to set the focus. It's so cool that Steve Jobs wanted to build it into the next iPhone.
Founder and CEO, Facebook
Facebook did a lot last year: It grew into a real business, shuttered products that weren't working, made a bunch of acquisitions, and made some employees rich through a private offering with Goldman.
It also launched the timeline last year. It's a beautiful display of all your Facebook activity through the years. rumour has it that Zuckerberg was involved in the final decision to push it through.
CEO and Cofounder; CTO and Cofounder, Dropbox
Drew Houston's online storage company Dropbox raised $250 million last year at a valuation of $4 billion. Houston also reportedly rejected an offer from Steve Jobs to buy the company.
If there's a startup to watch in the coming year, it's Dropbox.
CEO and Cofounder; CTO and Cofounder; CPO and Cofounder, AirBNB
Despite a nightmare story about an Airbnb renter's apartment being ransacked, the apartment-sharing company raised more than $100 million at a $1 billion valuation. It's one of the hottest startups in silicon valley right now.
CEO and Cofounder, Box.net
26-year-old Aaron Levie's Box.net is on a hot streak. After turning down a $500 million plus offer, the company raised more than $90 million toward the end of the year. It's generating between $25 million and $40 million in revenue annually.
Product Manager, Facebook
Lessin led the team assigned to build Timeline, Facebook's most important profile redesign ever. Timeline turns your life on Facebook into a series of boxes highlighting what you've done, who you became friends with, and what songs you've been obsessed with. It represents a fundamental shift away from the old Facebook 'wall' and turns Facebook into a platform for blogging your life.
Reid Hoffman might have founded LinkedIn, but Jeff Weiner ran it up to its massively successful initial public offering. LinkedIn priced its IPO at $45 and at one point was trading north of $100--though it's now trading respectably above $75.
Weiner also cashed out 10 per cent of his shares earlier this year, which brought him $28 million.
Chief Strategy Officer; Head Coach, San Francisco 49ers
In 2010, 49ers had a record of six wins and 10 losses. The team fired its coach, Mike Singletary. Then, in the spring it hired Gideon Yu, the former Facebook and YouTube CFO, as its chief strategy officer and Jim Harbaugh, the head coach at Stanford in Palo Alto, as its new head coach.
With Silicon Valley brains and determination running the place, the 49ers cruised to a record of thirteen wins and three losses in 2011. The Niners went to the playoffs and ended the season one win away from going to the Super Bowl.
Executive Chairman; President and CEO, HP
It was a wildly tumultuous year at HP and Lane and Whitman were right in the middle of it all. Lane fired new CEO Leo Apotheker and installed Whitman. Together they're trying to restore order to the company which was rocked by the sudden departure of Mark Hurd.
Founder and CEO, Square, Director of Product at Twitter
Jack Dorsey is putting in 16 hour days split between his two startups, Twitter and Square. At Twitter he's overseeing the direction of the product. At Square he's the boss.
Tim Cook has huge shoes to fill now that Steve Jobs is gone. What has he done to keep up with his predecessor, who was one of the most successful CEOs of all time?
Well, for starters, he ran the company through its most successful quarter of all time, when it brought in more than $46 billion in revenue and $13 billion in profit.
He launched the iPhone 4S, which was first viewed as an incremental upgrade. The iPhone went on to generate more than $20 billion in revenue and amounted to 53 per cent of Apple's total revenue. He led Apple to becoming the largest smartphone vendor in the world--larger than Samsung, even.
He's also sitting on $96 billion in cash. You can do a lot with that kind of money. Tim Cook is ready for 2012.
Cofounder and CEO, Google
Larry Page took the reins at one of the most important, and most closely-watched companies in the world. He quickly reorganized the company. He tried to make the company much more streamlined. He also centered the company's strategy on improving its social efforts with Google+.
He also said Google is no longer just a search company. What that means, and how it plays out will be an important story to watch over the next five years.
If all that weren't enough, he bought Motorola in a deal valued at $12.5 billion.