The Silicon Valley 100

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.

Click here to see the coolest people in the Valley >
In A-Z Order

The Complete List 1-100


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.

#100 Jason Shellen

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.

#99 Michael Morell and Ali Behnam

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,, and other hot Bay Area companies.

#98 Mary Meeker

Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers

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.

#97 David Samuel and Josh Felser

Cofounders, Freestyle Capital

Sheesh! These guys funded 29 companies and guided 7 exits in 2011. Maybe they'll be able to sleep in 2012.

#96 Kevin Chou

CEO, Kabam

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.

#95 Ryan Howard

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.

#94 Vikash Varma

President and CEO, Stoke, Inc.

Varma and Stoke, a mobile broadband startup, raised a stunning $93 million in 2011.

#93 Sukhinder Singh Cassidy

Chairman and Founder,

Most e-commerce sites have pictures of their products. Former executive Sukhinder Singh Cassidy has a startup that posts videos instead. Joyus wants to become the pioneering platform for video-driven e-commerce.

#92 Mariam Naficy

CEO and Founder,

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, an e-commerce company that sells emerging designers' work, and raised a $5.5 million Series B round in 2011.

#91 Lars Dalgaard

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.

#90 Phil Libin

CEO, Evernote

This company makes one of the best organizational apps we've ever seen, and 2011 was a big year, as it raised $50 million in new funding and quietly bought a bunch of companies.

#89 Sam Shank

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.

#88 Satoshi Nakamoto

Founder, Bitcoin

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.

#87 Phil Fernandez

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.

#86 Salar Kamangar

Senior Vice President of YouTube and video, Google

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.

#85 David Drummond

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.

#84 Akshay Kothari and Ankit Gupta

Cofounders, Pulse

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.

#83 Scott Sandell and Peter Sonsini

Partners, NEA

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.

#82 Max Levchin

Founder and CEO, Slide

Max Levchin got the unfortunate news that his company Slide would be shut down within Google in early 2012--but he didn't waste any time getting ready for his next gig. The PayPal alumnus is already working on a new project, and he's hiring.

#81 David Lawee

VP of Corporate Development, Google

Google acquired 79 companies last year! The point man on a lot of those acquisitions was David Lawee, the head of corporate development.

#80 Alex Karp

CEO, Palantir Technologies

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.

#79 Matt Rogers and Tony Fadell

Cofounders, Nest

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.

#78 Aneel Bhusri

Co-CEO and Cofounder, Workday Inc

Human resources software company Workday announced an $85 million round of financing last fall. The round was raised at a $2 billion valuation.

#77 Uri Levine and Ehud Shabtai

Cofounder and President; Cofounder and CTO, Waze

Waze raised $30 million last year to build out its socially-powered traffic tracking app. It's one of a few companies that also has Mary Meeker, one of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers' top partners, on board.

#76 Peter Thiel

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.

#75 Aydin Senkut

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!

#74 Kara Swisher

Co-Executive Editor, AllThingsD

Kara Swisher continues to be one of the most formidable reporters in the valley, and all but owned coverage of the chaos within Yahoo as it searched for a new CEO and board.

#73 Sarah Lacy

Founder, PandoDaily

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.

#72 Steven Boal

President and CEO, 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.

It is privately held and has never taken venture money or private equity investments. In July, however, it raised $200 million from private investors at more than a billion-dollar valuation.

#71 Ernestine Fu

Associate, Aslop Louie Partners; Student, Stanford

20-year-old Ernestine Fu joined VC firm Alsop Louie Partners as an associate in March and made the cover of Forbes magazine in August. She was named the youngest investor in the Valley.

#70 Shawn Fanning

Cofounder, Airtime

Shawn Fanning is also working on Airtime, a stealth video-sharing startup that includes Facebook founding president Sean Parker. He worked with Parker at Napster.

#69 Marc Benioff

Chairman and CEO,

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.

#68 Mark Johnson

CEO, Zite

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.

#67 Ron Conway and David Lee

Founding Partners, SV Angel

SV Angel remains the premier angel investment firm in the Valley. It's the first stop for any startup in consumer technology that's on its way to bigger things.

#66 Sundar Pichai

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.

#65 Elon Musk

Cofounder and CEO, Tesla Motors, CEO and CTO, SpaceX

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.

#64 Daniel Rosensweig

President and CEO, Chegg

Over at Chegg, a textbook rental service, former Yahoo exec Rosensweig raised a bunch of money and bought several companies in 2011.

#63 Kevin Rose

Founder, Digg/Milk

After Digg started to fade in popularity in favour of Reddit, another news aggregator, Digg founder Kevin Rose left to start Milk. It's a startup incubator that's designed to rapidly churn through ideas--and its first product, Oink, is now incredibly popular.

#62 Frank Quattrone

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.

#61 Doug Mack, Alison Pincus and Susan Feldman

CEO; Cofounders, One Kings Lane

Flash sales site One Kings Lane is already bringing in more than $100 million in revenue after being up and running for about two years.

It also raised $40 million last year to expand even more and it's valued at $440 million.

#60 Mike Olson

CEO, Cloudera

Cloudera is one of a bunch of cloud-based enterprise companies raising enormous amounts of funding. It raised $40 million last year and now has a ton of support from Oracle.

#59 Kevin and Julia Hartz

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.

#58 Evan Williams, Jason Goldman, Biz Stone

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.

#57 Brian and Lisa Sugar

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.

#56 Rob Hayes

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.

#55 Jeremy Stoppelman

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.

#54 Paul Graham

Founding Partner, Y Combinator

Despite the wave of startup accelerators/incubators Y Combinator remains the most important in Silicon Valley. Paul Graham's is getting one submission every minute.

#53 Dave McClure

Venture Capitalist and Founding Partner, 500 startups

McClure launched his accelerator program at the start of the year, and continued to invest in companies around the world.

#52 Charlie Cheever and Adam D'Angelo

Founders, Quora

Quora changed its product at the end of 2011, adding 'boards' allowing users to gather more of their interests in one place. We also hear it's gearing up to raise a big round.

#51 Sam Zaid, Elliot Kroo, Jessica Scorpio

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.'

#50 Dick Costolo

CEO, Twitter

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.

#49 Joe Lonsdale

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.

#48 Reed Hastings

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.

#47 Eddy Cue

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.

#46 Reid Hoffman

Cofounder, LinkedIn; Partner, Greylock

It was another big year for Reid Hoffman, whose first big act since PayPal--LinkedIn--finally went public in one of the most successful IPOs, if not the most successful, of the year. It priced its IPO at $45, but it's now trading higher than $75.

#45 Eric Grosse and Leah Busque

CEO; Founder and CPO, TaskRabbit

Busque launched TaskRabbit in 2008; Grosse joined this year as CEO. TaskRabbit is a local network that allows users to post and complete tasks in their neighborhoods. Think Craigslist and Twitter mushed together.

#44 Jim Breyer

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.

#43 Dustin Moskovitz

Founder, Asana

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.

#42 Joe Fernandez and Binh Tran

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.

#41 Dave Goldberg and Ryan Finley

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.

#40 Bing Gordon

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.

#39 Chamath Palihapitiya

Former Vice President, Facebook

Facebook is getting into the phone-making business. Chamath, who has since quit the company, started the audacious project.

#38 Yuri Milner

Cofounder and CEO, Digital Sky Technologies

Just as Yuri Milner's early, big bets were ready to pay out this year, he zigged to a new strategy, funding early stage companies through a fund with Ron Conway for Y Combinator startups.

#37 Mike McCue

CEO, Flipboard

McCue's startup raised $50 million in funding at $200 million valuation. It also released a slick version of its app for the iPhone.

#36 Gregg Zehr

President, Lab126

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.

#35 Tony Zingale

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.

#34 Sergey Brin

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.

#33 Alexander Asseily and Hosain Rahman

Founder; CEO, Jawbone

Jawbone, the company behind the Bluetooth headsets and the UP health device, raised another $40 million from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and DST's Yuri Milner in December 2011.

#32 Ben Horowitz, Marc Andreessen, Jeff Jordan

Partners, Andreeseen-Horowitz

Andreeseen Horowitz became the venture firm in the Valley. It made big and small bets across a number of tech sectors. It just raised a $1.5 billion fund last week.

#31 Bill Nguyen


After a rocky start, Bill Nguyen's colour pivoted from a photo-sharing app to a video sharing app. colour has raised more than $40 million to date.

#30 Robert Kyncl

Vice President--Content, Global Head of Content--YouTube at Google

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.

#29 Andy Rubin

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.

#28 Dag Kittlaus

Cofounder, Siri

Siri was just about the only high-profile addition to the iPhone this year--which was essentially the same device with more powerful guts. Then Dag Kittlaus, the co-founder of the service, left the company.

He plans to start a new business, though we don't know what it is just yet.

#27 Blake Irving and Ross Levinsohn

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.

#26 Tony Bates

CEO, Skype

Bates sold the company to Microsoft for $8.5 billion, becoming a president at Microsoft.

#25 Joe Kennedy

CEO, Pandora

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.

#24 Travis Kalanick

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.

#23 Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger

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.

#22 Bret Taylor

CTO, Facebook

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.

#21 Sheryl Sandberg

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.

#20 Keith Rabois

COO, Square

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.

#19 Michael Arrington and MG Siegler

Cofounders, CrunchFund

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.

#18 Ren Ng

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.

#17 Mark Zuckerberg

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.

#16 Drew Houston and Arash Ferdowsi

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.

#15 Nathan Blecharczyk, Brian Chesky, Joe Gebbia

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.

#14 Mark Pincus

Founder, Zynga

It was big year for Zynga and Pincus. The company IPO'd making Pincus a billionaire. And Zynga released a slew of new games.

#13 Sean Parker

Partner, Spotify

Sean Parker is a partner at Spotify, which launched in the United States last year. He also started working on a new startup that's still in stealth mode called Airtime last year. And threw one of the defining parties of the new Internet boom.

#12 Dave Morin

CEO and Cofounder, Path

Path was nearly out of Silicon Valley's radar until a complete redesign in November, which turned it around. Smartphone owners have now downloaded Path more than 2 million times--and Path CEO Dave Morin is getting ready to raise a big round to accompany his shiny new app.

#11 Aaron Levie

CEO and Cofounder,

26-year-old Aaron Levie's 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.

#10 Sam Lessin

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.

#9 Ben Silbermann, Paul Sciarra, and Yashwanth Nelapati

Cofounder; Cofounder; Engineer, Pinterest

Pinterest grew like wildfire last year, ending the year with more than 11 million visits in a week in December. It's been described as a 'Reddit for girls,' and the company bills itself as 'an online pinboard to collect and share what inspires you.'

#8 Jeff Weiner

CEO, LinkedIn

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.

#7 Gideon Yu and Jim Harbaugh

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.

#6 Ray Lane and Meg Whitman

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.

#5 Jack Dorsey

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.

#4 Vic Gundotra and Bradley Horowitz

Senior Vice President--Engineering; Vice President--Product Management, Google +

Google+ is Google's huge bet on social--it now powers Google's search engine and it has more than 90 million users. Vic Gundotra and Bradley Horowitz are a huge part of that network, which launched in June last year.

#3 Tim Cook

CEO, Apple

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.

#2 Larry Page

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.

#1 Steve Jobs

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