Josh Kushner’s venture capital fund, Thrive Capital, has a successful track record of investments in Glossier, Warby Parker, Slack and Stripe. It’s already sold portions of Spotify, Twitch and GitHub. Following the fund’s $1 billion fundraising effort that closed in October, it now has $2.5 billion in assets. His other project, the startup health care provider Oscar Health, is valued at more than $3 billion. Despite his brother Jared’s role in the Trump administration, Josh is mostly quiet on politics.
The Tech Power 50 (continued)
The Tech Power 50 (continued)
After moving up through the ranks at IBM since 1981, Virginia Rometty was promoted to CEO in 2012 – becoming the first woman to lead the company in its more than 107 years. IBM, one of the 50 largest companies in the nation, recently announced a partnership with Columbia University to launch a center on blockchain technology and data transparency, and an upcoming quantum computing center in Poughkeepsie that will expand on work being done at its research center in Yorktown.
Marissa Shorenstein has long been influential in New York politics, first as press secretary and deputy director of communications for then-Gov. David Paterson and then as director of communications for Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s successful 2010 campaign. As she settles into her new role as president of AT&T’s northern region that stretches from Maine to Virginia, Shorenstein will oversee the company’s launch of 5G technology, which promises to have a major impact on the U.S. economy.
When President Donald Trump issued an executive order in 2017 banning refugees and people traveling from majority-Muslim countries, Julie Samuels demonstrated the reach of Tech:NYC’s network by bringing together more than 400 New York tech founders, investors and leaders to file an amicus brief arguing against the travel restrictions. Sometimes referred to as the “queen of New York tech,” Samuels is a go-to source for the local and national media on stories relating to the tech industry.
Together, Josh Gold and Sarfraz Maredia manage arguably the most beleaguered, battered and bruised startup in New York. Facing regulations from New York City and its powerful Taxi and Limousine Commission, Uber is ground zero for where the regulatory rubber meets the startup road. As the company prepares for what might be a $120 billion IPO in 2019, its continued growth in New York City will be pivotal.
Since opening the first WeWork location in 2010, Adam Neumann and Miguel McKelvey have been on a mission to transform commercial real estate. Newly branded as The We Company, the co-founders just wrapped up a monumental year during which their company became the largest office tenant in New York City. The company raised billions of dollars in funding and is working on growing its residential arm, WeLive, and its nascent education arm, WeGrow.
Running public policy is a tough occupation under the best of circumstances – but what if the company you work for is essentially at war with a city? That is the situation that Josh Meltzer, a former deputy chief of staff to then-state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, was confronted with when he joined Airbnb in 2015. Since then, Airbnb has smoothed relations to some degree with New York City and continues to grow.
Google’s expansion in New York City – which includes the recent $2.4 billion purchase of Chelsea Market – has raised the profile of William Floyd, who continues to oversee policy, public affairs and regulatory efforts for the company in New York. In many ways, Google could be seen as a model for Amazon to follow, having experienced few, if any, public relations gaffes or setbacks since it came to the city in 2000.
Brian Huseman and Braden Cox lead public policy for the biggest entrant into the New York City market – possibly in the history of the city. Last year, Amazon secured nearly $3 billion in tax incentives to make Long Island City, Queens, one of the company’s two new headquarters. If the initial wrangling of the HQ2 project seemed complicated, now comes an even bigger challenge: coordinating the project with input from a multitude of competing stakeholders.
Following a prolific career in politics that included working for both Hillary Clinton and Joseph Biden, campaigns for both lieutenant governor and state attorney general, and an appointment by Gov. Andrew Cuomo as senior vice president of Empire State Development, Leecia Eve is now focused on the private sector. In 2013 she took over as Verizon’s vice president of government affairs for the tri-state region, where she works to align the telecom and government worlds.
A former New York City deputy public advocate with a background in investment banking, Reshma Saujani launched the nonprofit Girls Who Code in 2012 to close the gender gap in technology, and has since reached nearly 90,000 girls nationwide. In 2010, she made headlines challenging stalwart Rep. Carolyn Maloney for her seat in New York’s 14th Congressional District. Saujani’s book, “Girls Who Code: Learn to Code and Change the World,” is a New York Times best-seller.
Kristen Titus previously served as the state’s chief technology and innovation officer, managing its digital and technology policy portfolios that included initiatives to invest in training and education. Now she is going national. Just announced as the executive director of the Cognizant U.S. Foundation, Titus will mobilize a recent $100 million contribution to bring digital education and training to those looking to obtain specialized technical skills for digital technology jobs.
David Tisch has his fingerprints all over New York City’s tech world. He was adviser to then-New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Council on Technology and Innovation, which helped write some of the blueprints for the city’s tech explosion during the 21st century, and co-founded Techstars, one of the most influential startup incubators in the city. Tisch is also a managing partner of venture capital fund BoxGroup and a professor at Cornell Tech.
The former Facebook AI Research director of engineering just raised $15 million for Spell, a new startup designed to make artificial intelligence more accessible. Serkan Piantino plans to shrink the barriers of entry to AI – which is now cost-prohibitive due to the expensive hardware it requires – by building an interface that works with hardware at Google, Amazon Web Services and other platforms. He previously served on then-New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's Council on Technology and Innovation.
If cryptocurrency and blockchain become viable technologies, it will be due in large part to the efforts of Joe Lubin, co-creator of the Ethereum blockchain and founder of the blockchain startup incubator ConsenSys. While the crash of cryptocurrency prices seems to have led to layoffs at the company, which employed 1,200 people worldwide last year and is headquartered in Brooklyn, Lubin remained optimistic. “From my perspective the future looks very bright,” he tweeted.
In 2008, Mayor Michael Bloomberg initiated a program to bring a new engineering school to New York City. Nine years, $700 million and 700,000 square feet later, the first phase of Cornell Tech was completed on Roosevelt Island, a joint initiative between Cornell University and Technion-Israel Institute of Technology. Daniel Huttenlocher, a renowned inventor and researcher who previously worked at Xerox and holds 24 patents, was selected to lead Cornell Tech.
This father and son duo are kingmakers in media and tech. Kenneth Lerer co-founded HuffPost (along with Jonah Peretti, No. 30) and is now the chairman of BuzzFeed. His son, Ben Lerer, built his own media startup, Thrillist Media Group, which grew into Group Nine Media, a holding company for media properties Thrillist, The Dodo and NowThis. The Lerers (along with Eric Hippeau) manage Lerer Hippeau, one of New York City’s elite venture capital funds.
Jelena Kovačević comes to New York University’s Tandon School of Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University, where she was the head of the Electrical and Computer Engineering department. The school, which has more than quadrupled its research funding over the past decade, committed $500 million to improving its facilities and programs, and to develop an engineering hub along Brooklyn’s Jay Street. Kovačević – the first woman to lead Tandon – has an impressive research career, with 20 patents to her name.
Charlie O’Donnell has seen his star rise in recent years, as his investments in The Wing (founded by No. 46 Audrey Gelman) and Ample Hills Creamery have both proved wise and his social media presence has made him stand out. With O’Donnell’s background both at Union Square Ventures and First Round Capital, his relatively modest Brooklyn Bridge Ventures fund has more influence than its bank account might indicate. A native Brooklynite, O’Donnell co-founded the volunteer-run nonprofit Brooklyn Bridge Park Boathouse.
Rachel Haot leads the Transit Innovation Partnership, a public-private partnership between the MTA and the Partnership for New York City. With its advisory board including leaders from academia, private industry and civic organizations, the Transit Innovation Partnership is designed to generate solutions to the city’s many public transportation problems. The organization recently launched the Transit Tech Lab, an initiative meant to facilitate promising ideas in transportation. Haot has a background in both tech and government, previously serving as the state’s chief digital officer and as the managing director of startup incubator 1776.
After serving as a U.S. Army captain in Iraq, where he worked on economic rebuilding, Jukay Hsu returned to his home borough of Queens and founded Pursuit (formerly known as Coalition for Queens), a company that trains New Yorkers for jobs in the innovation economy. The Stuyvesant High School and Harvard University graduate, who is considered a major player in New York City’s tech industry, served on Mayor Bill de Blasio’s transition team.
New Lab, an 84,000-square-foot tech hub with more than 100 member companies – including some of the city’s most promising startups – based at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, is the crown jewel of the Brooklyn tech world. David Belt, also the founder of real estate development firm Macro Sea, serves on the boards of Pioneer Works, a cultural center in Red Hook, and St. Ann’s Warehouse, an arts space in Dumbo.
Warby Parker, a direct-to-consumer, millennial-friendly eyeglasses retailer, is a name now used to describe similar startups selling everything from strollers to shoes. Since launching the New York City-based retailer in 2010, Neil Blumenthal and Dave Gilboa have expanded nationwide and raised nearly $300 million. Warby Parker has partnered with the New York City Department of Education, providing free eye exams and glasses to students through its Pupils Project.
When Gov. Andrew Cuomo dedicated $25 million to spur startup development in the Finger Lakes region last fall, he needed someone to channel that money. Enter Theresa Mazzullo, who has led Rochester-based venture capital and private equity firm Excell Partners for 13 years. Mazzullo, a seasoned executive with 30 years of experience in business and finance, will oversee investments of up to $1.5 million from the fund to build a fleet of upstate startups in key high-tech industries.
BuzzFeed has transitioned from a peddler of listicles and memes to a journalism heavy hitter, though some of that momentum has been dampened by a story that was publicly contradicted by special counsel Robert Mueller’s office, and by a round of layoffs. Ben Smith came up through the wringer of New York media, with stops at the New York Sun, the Observer and the Daily News. Jonah Peretti is considered a new media visionary, having founded BuzzFeed and co-founded HuffPost.
Tim Wu is leading two of this century’s main policy battles in tech. The Columbia Law School professor coined the term “network neutrality” back in 2002, and has since been driving the national conversation on the issue. Now, Wu is focused on what he sees as a monopoly among the top companies in tech and is leading a trust-busting campaign for the new economy. His book, “The Curse of Bigness: Antitrust in the New Gilded Age,” came out last year.
Jennifer Hensley oversees the LinkNYC program that provides free public Wi-Fi to more than 5 million people who are utilizing at least 1,600 kiosks throughout New York City. Hensley’s government and nonprofit experience is deep: She previously worked for Empire State Development, the Association for a Better New York and the Alliance for Downtown New York. Last year, she was named to the Crain’s New York Business 40 Under 40 list.
Craig Newmark invented Craigslist after nearly 20 years as a programmer, and only after he was laid off from Charles Schwab. The homespun website would go on to dominate the early internet and made Newmark a billionaire. Craigslist is often blamed for the decline of newspapers, but Newmark now seems intent on refilling the coffers of journalism with gifts of $20 million to the now-renamed Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY and $20 million to journalism startup The Markup.
When New York City reporters have questions about transportation, they call Sarah Kaufman as a go-to source. In her role as associate director of New York University’s Rudin Center for Transportation, Kaufman has focused her research on the previously planned L train shutdown (a subject ripe for revisiting now) and paratransit in New York, particularly for seniors. Kaufman also serves as an adjunct professor of urban planning, having previously taught courses on designing intelligent cities.
Jonah Goodhart made news in New York tech circles recently when he reportedly sold the digital advertising company he founded, Moat, to Oracle for more than $850 million. Moat served as an auditor for ad sales on platforms like Google and Facebook, ensuring that targeted ads were served to the correct users. Goodhart, who is now senior vice president at Oracle Data Cloud, previously co-founded Billions.org and the early-stage venture capital fund WGI Group.
Back in the 1990s, Jeff Dachis had the idea to use the internet for marketing. It proved fruitful. His company, Razorfish, eventually merged with Avenue A to create the internet’s largest independent buyer of interactive media on the web. A few years later, he created social media analytics company Dachis Group, which went on to serve leading brands like Estee Lauder and Nestle. Dachis’ new project, One Drop, which provides newly designed and updated diabetes management products.
A former investment banker and private equity investor, Dan Doctoroff stepped into public service after 9/11, joining then-New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration to rebuild and rezone New York City. The former deputy mayor for economic development and rebuilding went on to be president and CEO of Bloomberg LP, leading the financial organization through the Great Recession. He now heads Sidewalk Labs, an Alphabet Inc. company focused on building innovative cities.
Since he founded Dataminr in 2009, Ted Bailey has built a homegrown New York company now valued at $1.6 billion. Dataminr, which employs more than 400 people and is headquartered in midtown Manhattan, collects and analyzes social media data to provide insights on major events. An influencer who has spoken at the World Economic Forum and the Aspen Ideas Festival, Bailey has been named to Crain’s New York Business’ and Business Insider’s 40 Under 40 lists.
Andrew Rasiej is a connector. The New York Tech Alliance board member devotes his time to running Civic Hall, a hub for civic tech in New York City. The organization was recently selected by the New York City Economic Development Corp. to develop a 250,000-square-foot technology center designed to help New Yorkers develop digital skills. Rasiej founded Personal Democracy Forum, an annual conference that looks at the intersection of technology, politics and government.
Having achieved unparalleled success as head of brand management company Full Picture – she helped create both the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show and the television show “Project Runway” – Desiree Gruber recently turned her attention to venture capital investing. Her fund, DGNL Ventures, invests in consumer products like Icelandic Provisions, which sells the popular Icelandic dairy product skyr. In addition, Gruber has a hand in civic involvement, as a member of the Tech:NYC board.
One of the biggest criticisms of the startup world is that it is built by and for wealthy white people, the very group that ultimately benefits from it. Clayton Banks is working to make the industry more inclusive, and he partnered with WeWork and New York City to launch several programs aiming to bring the tech world uptown. Earlier in his career, he worked with former President Bill Clinton on a college guide for underserved communities.
Nick Beim stands at the entrance to the most iconic and storied fortune in New York City: that of the Rockefeller family. In 2017, Venrock announced it had raised $450 million for its latest fund focused on health care and technology investments. Beim, whose investments have included Dataminr and global online marketplace Care.com, is leveraging his voice and platform to build momentum for New York’s tech industry. He started investing here in 2003, years before the recent tech boom.
In the decade that he has run the startup studio and venture capital fund betaworks, John Borthwick helped change New York City from an also-ran in the tech world to the industry’s second-largest hub. During this time, betaworks made some impressive early investments, including in Giphy and Twitter. Taking a stand on policy issues, Borthwick (along with No. 39 Andrew Rasiej and No. 47 Anil Dash) has called on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to support campaign finance reform.
Andy Saldaña heads the New York Tech Alliance, a 60,000-member nonprofit organization that has transformed the New York tech scene. What started in 2004 as a meetup of early-stage startup founders has turned into a major gatekeeper to the city’s tech sector, where entrepreneurs clamor to be seen by investors. Saldaña, who previously managed the organization’s monthly meetup events, wants to foster even greater community engagement among its members.
In his recent role as New York City’s chief technology officer, Miguel Gamiño Jr. spearheaded initiatives to upgrade the city’s connectivity and fight for net neutrality. His novel approach to public-private partnerships took intractable city programs directly to startups – a strategy he plans to continue at Mastercard as he forges partnerships to solve challenges like transit and internet access. Before moving to New York, Gamino was the chief information officer in San Francisco.
Audrey Gelman is the woman behind The Wing, a chain of coworking spaces geared toward women. The Wing was sued in August by a man claiming he was discriminated against because of his gender, seeking up to $12 million in damages, Business Insider reports. The Wing recently announced their new policy indicating that the space is designed for people who “express their gender in a variety of ways.” Gender equity complaints aside, The Wing raised $75 million in venture capital funding in 2018. It reportedly agreed to move its corporate headquarters to 137 Second Ave. in the East Village.
One of New York City’s best-known tech leaders, Anil Dash spreads his vision of a more inclusive and equitable tech industry to his more than 500,000 followers on Twitter. Dash runs Glitch, an online community coding site that allows users to share code for use in each other’s projects. A previous incarnation of Glitch, Fog Creek Software, created the popular project management app Trello as well as co-created Stack Overflow, an online community for web developers.
When Wired does a story, people pay attention. And the man greenlighting those stories at the prestigious tech publication is Nick Thompson (who travels from Brooklyn to San Francisco every month for the job). Wired’s most-read articles in 2018 included critical stories about Facebook, Tesla and cryptocurrency. Thompson, who served as senior editor at Wired from 2005 to 2010, rejoined the magazine in 2017 after several years at The New Yorker.
Before developing TransparentBusiness, a technology platform that streamlines remote work and is an official partner of Google, Microsoft and Facebook, Alex Konanykhin built a banking and investment business in Russia. He fled for the United States in 1992, seeking political asylum. The banker-turned-entrepreneur tells the story in his book, “Defiance: How to Succeed in Business Despite Being Hounded by the FBI, the KGB, the INS, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice, Interpol and Mafia Hit Men.”
Frank Poore has built a billion-dollar company around a business model some might consider a lost cause: helping companies compete with Amazon. Poore started the Albany-based company in the 1990s with just $10,000 while he was working at a video game store. Last year, the company was sold to two private equity firms for $1.1 billion, making it one of the state’s biggest tech deals in recent memory.
Corrections: The Transit Innovation Partnership is a public-private partnership between the MTA and the Partnership for New York City. An earlier version of this post mischaracterized the oraganization. Also, titles have been updated for Uber's Sarfraz Maredia and Brooklyn Bridge Ventures' Charlie O’Donnell. Audrey Gelman's profile has been updated to more accurately reflect the lawsuit against The Wing.