2012 was a huge year for Silicon Valley. Facebook went public, Marissa Mayer joined Yahoo, laws changed to foster new industries, enterprise startups got hot, and billion-dollar companies were formed and acquired.
Now, after months of research, debate, and more research, we’re happy to present the latest instalment of the Silicon Valley 100, Business Insider’s authoritative compilation of the people who did the coolest things in Silicon Valley this year. That means people who:
- backed promising companies and saw big exits;
- were star executives;
- created new, interesting things;
- changed entire industries;
- and made industry-defining acquisitions or took their companies public.
In sum, these people aren’t riding on old reputations. All of them did something amazing in 2012, and they won big. A big shout-out to everyone named in the list: You earned it. And if you feel that we missed someone? Tell us—we’re not all-knowing, and we love telling stories about amazing people.
Thanks to our many readers who took the time to send us nominations. The Silicon Valley 100 was assembled by Megan Rose Dickey, Alyson Shontell, Nicholas Carlson, Jay Yarow, and Jim Edwards, and copyedited by Jill Klausen.
Founder and Executive Chairman, 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.
In 2012, Ng launched the camera and later gave up his position as CEO to become executive chairman.
Venture Capitalist and Founding Partner, 500 startups
Since launching his 500 Startups accelerator program in 2010, Dave McClure has invested in a slew of companies all over the world.
To help fuel investments abroad, 500 Startups filed documents with the SEC for two new funds that will likely focus on startups in India and Mexico. It's also expanding to China, and recently added a Beijing venture partner, Rui Ma.
In addition, 500 Startups launched a new coworking space in New York for early-stage startups, including companies from the 500 Startups portfolio.
President and CEO, Flurry
Flurry does mobile analytics better than Apple and it collects data across 99 per cent of iOS and Android devices. It's used by 95,000 companies across 275,000 mobile applications and it uses advertising to monetise the data.
Kevin and Julia Hartz, a husband-and-wife duo, have been able to grow their ticketing company into a concern that is now worth about $200 million. In February, Eventbrite issued its 50 millionth ticket and in March, Eventbrite launched its first piece of hardware: a portable box office for vendors to scan cards and check tickets at the door.
Kevin is also a highly sought-after angel investor. One of his portfolio companies, Behance, was acquired for $150 million. Pinterest, where he was one of the first investors, became a multibillion-dollar company. And another company Kevin cofounded, Xoom, filed to go public.
Partner, Sequoia Capital
Botha is a member of the PayPal mafia, thanks to his critical role as that company's CFO in its startup days. As a venture capitalist, he hardly needs another exit after backing YouTube and selling it to Google. But he scored another one with Meebo, which Google bought last summer. And he was briefly an investor in Instagram, which Facebook agreed to buy shortly after Sequoia invested.
There's more to come: Botha's current portfolio includes Evernote, Eventbrite, and Tumblr, among others.
VP of Display Advertising, Google
Under the watch of Neil Mohan, Google totally overhauled its DoubleClick ad platform. In June, Google introduced DoubleClick Digital Marketing to give its customers one place to manage all of their digital media campaigns. Mohan is so valuable to Google that the company even paid him big bucks not to leave when Twitter tried to hire him.
VP of Product, Facebook
Chris Cox is one of the Facebook employees whom Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg trusts the most. Cox first joined Facebook as an engineer in 2005 where he helped build the News Feed. In 2012, Cox played an instrumental role in Facebook's mobile efforts, requiring every employee to include a mobile mockup when pitching new products. He's since been put in charge of reinventing his original creation by turning the News Feed into an information-distribution hub for the entire Internet.
VP, Android Product Management, Google
Thanks to the leadership of Hugo Barra, as of September 12, there were half a billion Android activations, with devices activated at a rate of 1.3 million per day. In 2012, Barra and his team introduced the world to Google's answer to Siri: Google Now, which arguably puts Siri to shame.
Head of Mobile, LinkedIn
To Redfern's credit, LinkedIn saw huge growth on mobile from its iPhone, iPad, Android, and Windows Phone apps. Last year, the percentage of its members visiting LinkedIn on a mobile device doubled, going from 13 per cent the year before to 25 per cent.
Senior Vice President, Chrome
Sundar Pichai introduced the world to Google Chrome for iOS in May 2012, taking a big step to making Google's Web browser truly ubiquitous.
Since then, Pichai has continued to make huge strides with Chrome. Chrome's latest beta release added voice control to let users do things like search with their voice and compose email by speaking. It's also the No. 1 web browser, according to StatCounter.
Pichai also oversees Google Apps, which are becoming a bigger and bigger deal in the enterprise.
Director of Ads, Facebook
Gokul Rajaram has been instrumental in expanding Facebook's ad offerings. In 2012 alone, Rajaram has led Facebook to launch several ad products, including the Facebook Exchange, mobile-only ad targeting, Sponsored Results search ads, Premium ads in the API, and Gifts.
Senior Vice President, Engineering; Vice President, Product Management, Google +
Vic Gundotra and Bradley Horowitz led the development of Google+. The two grew the social network to more than 135 million monthly active users in December, up from 100 million in September, by constantly iterating and adding new features.
Gundotra, who is in charge of Google+, oversees Google's developer relations and also played a key role at Google's I/O conference. In August 2012, Gundotra took a swipe at Facebook by explaining why Google+ is a better platform for developers.
Next, Gundotra must court advertisers, who have yet to take Google+ seriously. If the 2013 Super Bowl is any indicator, Google+ is teetering on the edge of irrelevancy. More than 50 per cent of ads mentioned Twitter, 8 per cent mentioned Facebook, and none mentioned Google+.
Under Kamangar's leadership, YouTube began putting hundreds of millions of dollars into original content and redesigned the site around 'channels' instead of individual videos.
This year, a report surfaced that YouTube would introduce subscription-based content to challenge standard cable providers.
In 2012, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer snatched up one of Google's top sales executives, Henrique De Castro, to make him Yahoo's new COO. In order to convince him to leave Google, Mayer and Yahoo had to agree to pay him $62 million over four years.
Castro's new role entails remedying Yahoo's relationship with big ad agencies and other buyers of display advertising.
VP of Corporate Development, Google
As VP of corporate development, David Lawee coordinated the acquisition of eleven startups in 2012.
Lawee is expected to move to a new position soon running a late-stage investment fund for Google.
Chief Strategy Officer, EMC; CEO, VMware
Paul Maritz 'graduated' from his CEO position at VMware to become chief strategy officer of its parent company. EMC. That puts him in line to be the company's next CEO when Joe Tucci retires (possibly in 2016).
Gelsinger became CEO of VMware after being the No. 2 executive at EMC. This also makes him a contender for CEO of EMC when Tucci retires.
Dalton Caldwell had a very ambitious 2012. He crowdfunded $500,000 within one month for his paid Twitter alternative, App.net, shortly after Twitter started restricting its API to developers. While Caldwell admittedly told GigaOm that App.net isn't very big right now and only has 30,000 paid users, the site has garnered a lot of respect and support from developers.
Toward the end of 2012, Quora founder Adam D'Angelo declared that he would be expanding the site to become an 'internet-scale Library of Alexandria' where people can essentially learn about anything.
In May, the company raised $50 million at a $400 million valuation; about $20 million of that round came from D'Angelo's pocket (he was Facebook's first CTO). In September, his cofounder, Charlie Cheever, departed.
Engineering Managers, Facebook
Tom Stocky and Lars Rasmussen are the two former Google employees who led development in Facebook's 'third pillar,' Graph Search. Rasmussen first joined Facebook in 2010, after spending six years at Google working on Google Maps and the now defunct Google Wave. Stocky spent about six years at Google working on search, client, and travel products. He joined Facebook in July 2011.
Last year, Pandora built the largest mobile-advertising business in the world, bar Google and Facebook. Few companies are making money at scale from mobile, and here Pandora is generating more money on mobile devices and cars than on desktops.
According to BI Intelligence, Mobile advertising revenue for Pandora's third quarter grew to $66 million, up from about $53 million in Q2. 'Mobile accounted for 62 per cent of total ad revenues, compared to 59 per cent in the second quarter,' the report says.
In addition, it released a big update for its streaming radio app in October.
CEO and co-founder, Netflix
Despite having a rough 2011, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings is going forward with an ambitious plan to totally disrupt the cable industry. 'The goal is to become HBO faster than HBO can become us,' Hastings recently said.
In 2012, he announced that Netflix would be exclusively streaming the hit show 'Arrested Development,' along with a handful of other shows in 2013.
Founder and CEO, Square; Executive Chairman, Twitter
Jack Dorsey left his operational role at Twitter where he oversaw product, design, and brand last year. Dorsey is still a part of Twitter, but he spends more time on his payments startup Square, which now processes $10 billion a year.
In August of last year, Square announced a massive deal with Starbucks, which included a $25 million investment at a valuation of $3.2 million. It made Square the official processor for U.S. credit and debit transactions for Starbucks, and allowed Square users to buy coffee with their smartphones at Starbucks.
Cofounder and CEO, Okta
In December, cloud security startup Okta received another $25 million from investors after signing on 140 new clients in 2012.
Okta offers a service that lets businesses manage employee logins to various Web-based services the company uses, and it now manages logins for about 300,000 people.
It's doing so well that larger companies are starting to get into the space. Salesforce and Oracle are launching similar services.
Getaround, a car-sharing startup that lets users rent cars from each other, raised its first round of funding last year. Investors including Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, Shervin Pishevar, and Eric Schmidt's Innovation endeavours pumped in $13.9 million to the startup in August.
But Getaround is not the only one bringing in dough. Its users are too. Getaround car owners, on average, make $350 per month, Getaround CEO Jessica Scorpio told Business Insider back in August.
Getaround also launched a new business called Getaway last year, which enables car owners to rent out their cars for extended periods of times.
It wasn't easy getting the startup off the ground. Scorpio and her team had to get laws changed to do it, because insurance companies didn't like the idea of sharing cars with non-owners.
'We started to plant the seeds in Sacramento. Democrats really like it because it's green; Republicans really like it because it's small business,' Scorpio told Inc. of her law proposal.
Founder and CEO, Jawbone
Alexander Asseily and Hosain Rahman are two seriously dedicated entrepreneurs.
After Jawbone had to suspend production of its Up health device due to a critical flaw in 2011, the company tested the device for 2.9 million hours to make sure it was perfect before relaunching it in November 2012.
It also launched its Big Jambox last year, a 2.7-pound wireless speaker.
CEO and Cofounders, One Kings Lane
Flash-sales site One Kings Lane has established itself as one of the top brands in upscale home furnishings.
In August 2012, One Kings Lane CEO Doug Mack told us the company was on track to do $200 million in sales in 2012, which is nearly double what it did in 2011.
In December, One Kings Lane raised its fourth (and possibly final) round of financing: $50 million for a total of $117 million raised to date.
CEO and Cofounder, Path
Dave Morin is one reason why investors have poured millions of dollars into Path. In Path's latest round, it raised more than $30 million led by Redpoint Ventures. At the time, the firm said Morin was a huge draw. That's no surprise given that in March, many people said Facebook is afraid of Path. In September, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said he wants to work more closely with Morin.
But last year, Path had a big privacy misstep that cost it $800,000 in a settlement with the FTC. In addition, the app's growth stalled. After its relaunch in late 2011, Path signed up 1.5 million users in under three weeks. But it closed 2012 with about 5 million users--an agonizingly slow upwards climb.
Aside from the ups and downs at Path, Dave Morin has had other startup wins. Morin is an active angel investor and one of his portfolio companies, Behance, was acquired by Adobe for $150 million. Another startup he's invested in, Venmo, was acquired by Braintree last year for nearly $30 million.
CEO, Motorola Mobility
Following Google's $12.5 billion acquisition of Motorola, the company appointed former Google advertising executive Dennis Woodside to serve as Motorola Mobility's new CEO. He's spearheading Google's charge against Apple--while also competing directly with important Android partners like Samsung.
Cofounder and CEO, Uber
User love Uber, an app that lets them summon a car service. This love showed swelling user numbers in 2012.
That said, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick didn't have a very easy 2012. But his professionalism and dedication helped him keep his company afloat through a series of legal challenges and customers enraged over fluctuating 'surge' pricing.
Airbnb cofounders Nathan Blecharczyk, Brian Chesky, and Joe Gebbia took the home-sharing startup to new heights in 2012.
It made multiple acquisitions: Localmind, Fondu, NabeWise, Crashpadder, and DailyBooth. In 2012, 3 million users (out of 4 million total) booked nights at Airbnb's 300,000 listings in 192 countries. Guests booked somewhere between 12 million and 15 million nights using Airbnb, according to estimates by Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Patcher.
Now, the site could be on track to generate $1 billion a year in revenue. In the fall, a new financing round valued Airbnb at $2.5 billion.
Senior Vice President of Internet Software and Services, Apple
Eddy Cue is known as 'Mr. Fix-It.' When Apple royally screwed up its maps software last year, Cue took on the troubled product. Cue is also now in charge of Siri. He's gotten these increased responsibilities because of the phenomenal job he did launching and running Apple's iTunes Store. In addition to all of his responsibilities at Apple, Cue is a recent addition to Ferrari's board of directors.
Cofounder and CEO, Pinterest
In October 2012, Pinterest became the third-largest source of traffic to other websites. In May 2012, Pinterest raised $100 million in a deal that valued the company at $1.5 billion. Toward the end of last year, it rolled out a much-desired private pinboards feature.
Cloudera raised a massive $65 million round in December, bringing its total funding to $140 million.
It's one of the biggest Hadoop players in the big data industry and has a ton of support from Oracle.
Besides Olson, Hadoop commands massive respect because of its cofounders, Amr Awadallah from Yahoo and Jeff Hammerbacher from Facebook.
Waze had a big 2012. In July, the company reported that its user base doubled from 10 million to 20 million users within six months. Earlier this year, reports surfaced that Waze turned down acquisition offers from Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, and Google because it's holding out for an offer that values the company at $1 billion.
Late last year, DeWalt signed on to be CEO of hot security startup FireEye, which just raised $50 million in a deal that valued the company at $1.25 billion. He previously ran antivirus software company McAfee and sold it to Intel.
10gen became an even bigger enterprise play this year and attracted more than $40 million from venture capitalists in 2012.
A few weeks ago, Schireson was named CEO when Dwight Merriman decided to take a less active role in the company and become chairman. Schireson was formerly president.
Cofounders and CEO, Palantir Technologies
Palantir, a data security firm, raised $56 million in October 2012 at a valuation of approximately $2.5 billion.
Palantir's investors include Peter Thiel's Founders Fund, Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman, and former Google and Facebook executive Ben Ling.
CEO and Cofounder; CTO and Cofounder, Dropbox
Drew Houston's online storage company Dropbox is on fire. In November, Dropbox hit 100 million users, which is impressive given that Apple cofounder Steve Jobs previously told Houston Dropbox was a feature, not an actual product.
Some feature. Dropbox is now profitable and as of November, the company hadn't spent any of the $250 million it raised the year before.
Cofounder and CEO, Exec
After dabbling with online calendars and live video streaming, Justin Kan started his latest company, Exec, this year. Exec has a network of people you can hire to complete work around the office or home, similar to New York startup FancyHands.
He also sold one of his companies, Socialcam, for $60 million this year, just 18 months after it launched. (Socialcam was a spinoff of Kan's Justin.tv.)
CEO and Cofounder, HotelTonight
HotelTonight lets you book last-minute, overnight stays at discounted rates. In 2012, it raised a $23 million Series C round of financing, bringing its total funding to $36 million. As of August, the app had been downloaded more than 3 million times. Shank is one of the Valley's more self-effacing entrepreneurs, but don't let his modest demeanor fool you--he's building something big.
No one knows who really invented this all-digital currency. 'Satoshi Nakamoto' is a pseudonym, and even a New Yorker writer wasn't able to track down the creator.
Unlike other virtual currencies that let you buy digital objects within games, Bitcoin aims to be a real means of exchange, backed not by gold or sovereign governments but by computing power.
Although some 2011 predictions claimed Bitcoin would die, the currency went mainstream in 2012. The network around it grew to include more than 1,000 merchants, and at least tens of thousands of users. There were nearly five million Bitcoin transactions in 2012, which is more than double the number of transactions in 2011.
Bitcoin is a concept, not a company, but it's fueling related startup ideas.
Founding Partner, SV Angel
From Foursquare to Path and Airbnb, if there's a hot startup, odds are Conway's firm helped it get off the ground.
Conway's connections help him get in on later-stage and secondary deals, too: SV Angel recently facilitated a $30 million secondary purchase of Pinterest shares from early employees.
In addition to his work with SV Angel, Ron Conway has been helping to change laws in San Francisco and California to benefit startups. In San Francisco, Conway supported a tax law called Proposition E, which won in the last election by a landslide.
Before Proposition E, companies were paying payroll taxes on every job they created, even if they weren't generating much revenue. Proposition E replaces payroll taxes with a gross receipts tax. It could save San Francisco startups millions of dollars.
Founding Partners, Andreeseen Horowitz
Andreeseen Horowitz has rapidly established itself as one of Silicon Valley's most prominent investment firms. This past year it led investments in GitHub, Pinterest, Fab, Rap Genius and more.
Andreessen is on the board of Facebook, eBay, and HP, all of which had eventful years. And Horowitz has established himself as a hugely important mentor to entrepreneurs.
In the past year, they saw huge exits from Instagram and Nicira. But we think their investments in people were just as interesting. They were able to steal away angel investor Chris Dixon from New York, and get early Foursquare employee Tristan Walker to join as an entrepreneur in residence. By hiring well, their influence just keeps expanding.
James Park introduced two new Fitbit models last year, the One and the Zip, to help keep the company relevant as competitors like Nike and Jawbone started to enter the health and fitness tracking market.
Earlier last year, Fitbit raised a $12 million Series C round, bringing its total funding to $23 million. Since launching in 2007, Fitbit users have taken more than 80 billion steps.
Within just eight weeks of launching, ridesharing startup Lyft grew to more than 100 drivers who were collectively transporting hundreds of passengers per day. After about three months, Lyft served up thousands of rides.
In November, the California Public Utilities Commission fined Lyft, among other on-demand transportation apps, $20,000. But that didn't stop Zimmer and Green from moving their business forward.
Shortly after Lyft reached an agreement with the CPUC, it expanded its offerings to Los Angeles.
Prismatic has been touted as one of the most disruptive apps of 2012. Prismatic, an app for reading news on your iPhone, is the brainchild of Bradford Cross and Aria Haghighi.
Together, they're attacking the problem of finding relevant news and content. Already, investors are flocking to the social news reader. In December, Prismatic raised $15 million from Facebook investors Jim Breyer and Yuri Milner.
Coursera is one of the hottest startups in the education tech space. Under the direction of co-founders Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller, Coursera is changing the face of education by bringing top-notch educators to the masses.
Coursera connects everyday people looking to learn with professors from some of the top universities in the U.S., like Princeton University, Stanford, and the University of California, Berkeley. As of July 2012, Coursera hit 1.6 million enrollments.
In 2012, Coursera raised two rounds of funding totaling $22 million from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, and New Enterprise Associates. It has continued to expand its offerings and in July, announced 12 new partnerships with universities.
Hunter Walk and Satya Patel are looking to raise $25 million for their new venture capital firm, Homebrew.
Walk and Patel are two former Google employees who have vast connections in Silicon Valley. Both Patel and Walk joined Google in 2003. After four years, Patel left to work as a partner at Battery Ventures, and later joined Twitter in 2011 to run product.
Walk, on the other hand, worked on products at Google and then YouTube, after the search giant acquired the video site. Last year, Walk also co-created 'The Startup Chef' cookbook featuring recipes from Silicon Valley's finest to help raise money for charities.
Tyler Bosmeny, Dan Carroll, and Rafael Garcia spent 2012 trying to change how schools manage student data and information. Their startup, Clever, launched in June and quickly raised $3 million from the likes of Y Combinator, Start Fund, SV Angel, Jeff Clavier, Google Ventures, Bessemer Venture Partners, Mitch Kapor, Benn Parr, Ashton Kutcher, and Floodgate.
Founder and CEO, Highlight
If SXSW had a winner last year, it was Paul Davison's iPhone app Highlight. Highlight was known for pushing privacy boundaries further than any startup had ever done.
Highlight is a subtle way to stalk people you've never met but share common interests with. It shows who has been nearby throughout the day and pulls in Facebook data on them, including where the person works and their pictures. It shows the person's location in relation to yours on a Google map. In-app messages can be sent to nearby people too.
It raised a seed round of capital last February.
Founder and CEO, Gumroad
Sahil Lavingia was only 18 years old when he helped design Pinterest. About a year later, in 2012, Lavingia left Pinterest to start his own company called Gumroad. With Gumroad, Lavingia aims to totally disrupt social shopping and e-commerce. He's already raised $8.1 million from investors like Chris Sacca, Accel Partners, Max Levchin, First Round Capital, and CrunchFund to help him do that.
It was another big year for Reid Hoffman. He made $111 million on his initial $37,500 investment in Facebook, and continued to pump in cash to startups through his role at Greylock.
In 2012, Hoffman invested $1 million in microlending platform Kiva and Greylock invested $5 million in social-gifting service Wrapp, where Hoffman now sits on the board.
And LinkedIn, where Hoffman remains chairman, just wowed investors with its earnings report, announcing much higher revenues than expected.
Founders of Karma, acquired by Facebook
Lee Linden and Ben Lewis joined Facebook when the social network acquired their mobile commerce startup Karma. Before launching Karma, the two founded mobile app platform Tapjoy. Thanks to Karma, Facebook was able to add a new Gifts feature.
Co-founder and CEO, Stripe
Under the leadership of Patrick Collison, payments startup Stripe grew to new heights in 2012.
It raised $20 million from Sequoia Capital and other investors, and started expanding internationally. A lot of developers are switching from services like PayPal to Stripe, which is much easier to implement on a web page.
Co-founder and CTO, Nicira
Just a few months after Martin Casado launched his networking startup Nicira, VMware announced that it would be acquiring the company for $1.26 billion.
As part of the acquisition, Casado joined the VMware team and continues to work on Nicira through VMware's networking unit.
CEO, 3D Robotics
Chris Anderson, former editor-in-chief at Wired, left his job last year to focus his energy on the DIY drone movement. He's now the CEO at 3D Robotics and founder of online community DIY Drones, which has about 33,000 active members who fly drones that they have either made themselves, or bought.
Founding Partner, Y Combinator
Y Combinator remains the most important startup accelerator program in the world, creating billion-dollar brands out of little-known startups. One of its startups, Airbnb, was valued at $2.5 billion in October.
Last year, YC changed the way its program is run and said it would start accepting fewer startups per class. It announced a new venture fund called YC VC to invest $80,000 in each startup instead of $150,000. Graham realised a $150,000 investment was simply too much for startups and it caused fights among founders when the companies failed or needed to pivot.
YC also just teamed up with Upverter to host its first-ever hackathon centered around hardware.
Co-founders, Medium and Obvious Corp
Twitter co-founders Ev Williams, Jason Goldman, and Biz Stone, teamed up again last year to launch a new startup.
Unlike Twitter, Medium is a blog platform that encourages people to express themselves in long-form.
In addition, the three created Obvious Corporation, a startup incubator that helped Branch and Lift get off the ground.
CEO, Orchestra Inc (maker of Mailbox app)
Underwood created the most brilliant app launch of all time. His team made Mailbox, an email manager that promises to help users reach inbox zero.
Mailbox was reviewed favourably by the press pre-launch. There was so much hype surrounding the app, Underwood created a reservation system for those who wanted to download it. Essentially, Underwood created a virtual line and those who wanted to try Mailbox could save their spot.
By the time Mailbox launched last week, more than 260,000 people had reserved a spot. Now, there are more than 650,000 people still on the waitlist.
Chairman and CEO, Salesforce.com
Salesforce dropped a hefty $700 million in June 2012 to acquire marketing company Buddy Media.
In September, Salesforce teamed up with Facebook to integrate its Marketing Cloud, which lets companies launch ad campaigns on Facebook, into Facebook's audience targeting feature.
Bret Taylor, former CTO at Facebook, quit the social network to launch his own startup. It's still pretty much under wraps, but it appears that the site has something to do with editing documents. Taylor is also working on it with former Googler Kevin Gibbs.
CEO and Co-founder; CTO and Cofounder Klout
Under the leadership of Klout CEO Joe Fernandez and CTO Binh Tran, Klout raised an undisclosed amount of money from Microsoft last year.
As part of the multi-year deal, Microsoft integrated Klout into its Bing search engine.
John Donahoe helped turn around a struggling eBay in 2012 by placing a huge emphasis on innovation and betting early on mobile.
Now, things are looking pretty good for eBay. Its user base recently surpassed 100 million active users and its stock is approaching the high of $58, which it set in late 2004.
Co-founder and CEO, Crowdtilt
James Beshara's startup Crowdtilt is solving a pretty common problem: group payments. Crowdtilt launched to the public in April, and within six weeks, it fuelled more than $1 million in funding projects.
Temo Chalasani and Marc Provost defied the notion that VCs aren't investing in fast-growing mobile apps anymore. In October, Cinemagram shot up to the top of the App Store following a new release that turned the app into more of a social network, rather than merely a GIF creation tool. In November 2012, the animated GIFs app raised $8.5 million led by Menlo Ventures, with participation from Atlas Venture, Khosla Ventures, and Real Ventures.
Goldberg has shown there's a lot of money to be made in online surveys. And he's doing something a lot of startup execs dream of doing: keeping his company private for as long as possible, while still making investors happy.
Recently, Goldberg's company raised $444 million and it plans to raise $350 million in debt, making SurveyMonkey worth $1.35 billion.
Eric Migicovsky broke Kickstarter records in 2012 with his Pebble smart watch. The watch become the most-funded project of all time on crowdfunding site when it raised $10.26 million from 69,000 people in just one month.
Chief Strategy Officer; Head Coach, San Francisco 49ers
Gideon Yu, the former Facebook and YouTube CFO, and Jim Harbaugh, former head coach at Stanford, came on board in 2010. Since then, the two have led the 49ers to two playoffs and one Super Bowl.
CEO and Co-founder, Wildfire
Over the last four years, Victoria Ransom has grown social marketing startup Wildfire to nearly 400 people and 21,000 clients. In 2012, Google took notice and bought the startup for $350 million and set up $100 million in earn-outs and retention bonuses.
Twitter had a big 2012, largely thanks to the steady management of CEO Dick Costolo.
It acquired a handful of startups, including Cabana, Hubspot, and Vine. And 2013 is looking good for the company: It just bought Crashlytics and Bluefin Labs.
As a result of the Vine deal, it just launched an exciting new video-sharing service, which some have called the most exciting app we've seen in months.
Besides Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Moskovitz is the only cofounder still working in Silicon Valley. After leaving Facebook, he held on to 133.7 million shares. Following Facebook's IPO, Moskovitz's net worth was about $5.1 billion. Moskovitz now runs his own company, Asana.
Tom Preston-Werner hit a big milestone with his company last year. After bootstrapping since 2008, it accepted one of the largest initial venture-capital rounds of all time from Andreessen Horowitz. The $100 million round was also the largest check Andreessen Horowitz has ever written.
Former Interim CEO, Yahoo
Ross Levinsohn stepped in as CEO at Yahoo last year after Scott Thompson resigned amidst allegations that he lied on his resume.
Ultimately, Yahoo picked former Google executive Marissa Mayer to lead the company. But many of Mayer's best strategic decisions so far have been ones that Levinsohn set in motion before his departure.
Just last month, Levinsohn became the new CEO at Guggenheim Digital Media.
Infoblox was a hot IPO in 2012. Demand was so strong for shares that it opened at $16, higher than its initial target, and immediately soared to $22.
The IPO proved investors are still interested in enterprise 'plumbing' companies, core technologies that make networks (and therefore everything else) work.
Senior industrial designer on Google Glass, Google Project Glass product lead, Co-founder, Google
Isabelle Olsson is the design genius behind Google Glass. With help from Sergey Brin and a few skydivers, she demonstrated the Internet-connected eyewear at Google's I/O conference in June.
Steve Lee, a six-year Google veteran, helped launch Project Glass to the world in April. Brin oversees the entire special division of Google.
Co-founder and CEO, Yelp
Jeremy Stoppelman is the CEO of Yelp and in March 2012 he took his company public.
After a successful first day on the stock market, the stock bounced up and down for months, particularly around Facebook's Graph Search announcement.
Still, Yelp was able to secure a partnership with Apple Maps, and its site grew to 84 million uniques per quarter.
Facebook's earliest investors
These people scored big when Facebook went public. Peter Thiel, who manages Founders Fund, was the first outside investor in Facebook; he put in half a million in 2004. Yuri Milner is now worth $1.1 billion post-IPO. Mark Pincus, Zynga founder, is now worth around $1.3 billion. Jim Breyer, a partner at Accel, led the firm to invest $12.7 million in the company.
Senior Vice President of Mobile, Google
Google came out with its best mobile operating system yet in 2012: Jelly Bean. Now, Android has a 53.4 per cent market share compared to Apple's 36.3 per cent. That's all thanks to Andy Rubin and his team.
SVP of Industrial Design, Apple
In 2012, Apple promoted Jony Ive to lead the company's software design to guide all major product decisions. Ive was already in charge of hardware, but after CEO Tim Cook fired Scott Forstall, Ivy became the ultimate product guy.
Before Steve Jobs passed away, Jobs told his biographer Walter Isaacson that if he had a spiritual partner at Apple, it was Jony.
Co-founder and CEO, Google
In his first full year as Google CEO, Larry Page widely expanded the company's mission.
Google continues to dominate search, but now it's also striving to invent products that people use as much as they use tooth brushes.
It's first success has been Android, a mobile operating system that is now more popular than iOS.
Next, Page has Google working on self-driving cars, computerized watches, computerized glasses, and more.
Page is the leading force for innovation in Silicon Valley right now.
In 2012, Dave Duffield and his company Workday completed the most highly anticipated IPO in the enterprise tech world. Its stock soared on the first day of trading and has continued to do well, trading over $50 with a market cap of $8.63 billion.
Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy came up with the idea of Snapchat while attending Stanford University. Since then, Snapchat has soared to the top of Apple's App Store charts and generates more than 50 million photos shared per day. Snapchat proved to be so promising that Facebook decided to launch a near complete copycat of the app called Poke, which hasn't taken off.
David Sacks sold his company, Yammer, to Microsoft last year for $1.2 billion. Shortly after the news came out--thanks to Business Insider--but before the official announcement, Sacks threw a massive party in Los Angeles to celebrate his 40th birthday with Snoop Dogg as the entertainment.
Sacks also raised a ruckus by declaring that 'Silicon Valley as we know it may be over.' What he meant: The bar has been raised for new startups, and entrepreneurs should think carefully about new industries to disrupt. That hasn't stopped him from backing truly innovative startups like Twist and Houzz.
Senior Vice President -- Corporate Development and Chief Legal Officer, Google
Thanks to its control of the operating system market, Microsoft could have easily controlled the entire Internet.
But, in the late 1990s, the federal government went after Microsoft, accusing it of antitrust violations.
Eventually, the government won and Microsoft has not been the same since.
For years, everyone assumed that Google, which owns a near monopoly in search, would suffer the same fate.
In 2010, the government finally launched its investigation. The writing was on the wall and people assumed Google was going to suffer.
But 20 months later, the government walked away from the case with only a few minor concessions.
It was a huge win for Google and its top lawyer, David Drummond -- one that will shape Silicon Valley for the next decade at least.
LinkedIn continues to surpass Wall Street expectations with user growth, revenues, and profits. Jeff Weiner, who joined the company when it was struggling in the shadow of Facebook, deserves credit for spurring innovation and disciplined execution.
Tim Cook and Apple introduced the world to bunch of new devices in 2012: the highly-anticipated iPhone 5, new iPods, three new iPads, including the iPad Mini, and new Macs in October.
Under Cook's leadership, Apple has become more transparent about how it deals with suppliers and their labour issues. Apple has also become more charitable, and now matches employee donations.
After the Apple Maps fiasco, Cook made the strategic decision to fire Scott Forstall, the guy who made Apple Maps and reportedly refused to sign an apology.
CEO, COO, CFO, Facebook
Because expectations were so high, it's easy to remember the Facebook IPO as a failure.
Facebook raised billions of dollars for its own coffers, selling stock at a valuation close to $100 billion. So it was a transactional success for COO Sheryl Sandberg, CEO Mark Zuckerberg, and CFO David Ebersman.
Sure, the stock dropped in half over the next couple months. But it's rallied back since then, to a price near the IPO offering.
Approaching a year after the fact, we need to start looking at Facebook's IPO in the big picture.
And when you do that, you see a dorm room project that turned into a $60 billion company with 1 billion users in half a decade.
Co-founder and CEO; Co-founder and Design and Development, Instagram
Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger created Instagram in 2010.
In April 2012, they sold it to Facebook for $1 billion.
That's pretty cool.
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