Home ShopTalk The Seattle24x7 “TOP 24” Techies of the Silicon Sound

The Seattle24x7 “TOP 24” Techies of the Silicon Sound

Seattle24x7 Inaugurates the TOP 24 TECHIES of Puget’s “Silicon Sound”

Top-Tech-24-BadgebOur Premier Honor Roll of “Meta Minds” is the first of seven Seattle24x7 Tech Leader Lists covering Net Achievements.

Presenting the inaugural 24 in a series of Seattle “Tech Leaders” fresh from the most lively and livable Internet capitol of the Western world. From Amazon to Zillow, Seattle24x7 casts the emerald limelight on the top “Seers and Sayers” of the Northwest region, those who have transformed the face of online business, industry and culture. In the weeks ahead, we will showcase the Top 24 in Puget Sound Web Design, Social Media, Search Marketing, E-commerce/E-tailing, Travel, Real Estate and Gaming.

The Seattle24x7 Top 24 traces its legacy back to the seminal, Society of Professional Journalists’ award-winning Seattle magazine cover story authored by our managing editor and founder and entitled “Who’s Building Our Dot.Com Empire?”  While advancing technology is a team sport, the team captains and MVP’s author the playbook, recruit the talent and march the team toward the goal line.

With our Seattle24x7 “Top 24” lists, our lean, mean, one true metric is “sphere of influence.” The 24 individuals recognized on each list are deemed by our editorial board to have had the greatest impact across the largest swath of Internet commerce, content and culture. Be it a critical technology or e-commerce advance, an integral component of the Net’s infrastructure, or a particular strand of the scientific DNA that permeates the entire ecosystem, it is reach and impact, not sales, income or market share that drive our ranking “algorithm.”

Herein, we present not just the magnificent seven but the preeminent “24” of the Silicon Sound.

#1. Jeff BezosAMAZON, BEZOS

Since becoming the Web’s iconic online bookseller in 1994, Amazon’s founder and chief executive has turned the company into the “Everything Store,” the biggest retailer on the Web, with annual sales of more than $48 billion. In 2007, Bezos introduced the Kindle electronic book reader and it is now Amazon’s top-selling item. The company is also a leading provider of cloud computing services. Bezos recently purchased America’s capitol newspaper, The Washington Post.  No wonder Jeffrey Preston Bezos is making every list in the #1 slot

If you haven’t yet visited the Bezos Center for Innovation at the Seattle Museum of History and Industry, you will. Meanwhile, its patrons are making an indelible impression on Seattle and the Internet in a multitude of ways. The newly emerging  Amazon campus is architected as three skyscrapers, but for a healthy dose of oxygen, there will be the intra-terrestrial atmospheres of two botanical gardens inside two giant terrariums. A Seattle Shangri-La, 24/7/365.

It is Bezos’ vision for transforming the totality of the e-commerce experience, from same-day delivery of grocery and general merchandise products, to buying and then re-selling the products you purchase, to marketing books or short-form “Singles” by the chapter, with prices changing by the minute in Amazon “Countdowns,” that gives Bezos our #1 nod.  It’s a jungle out there, and Amazon is taming the beast for the conspicuous consumer.

Website: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeff_Bezos

CrunchBase Profile: http://www.crunchbase.com/person/jeff-bezos


#2. Bill & Melinda Gates


“I am no longer involved in the day-to-day operations of the Microsoft campus,” says Bill, (and he qualifies that, at present, he does not intend to make a Steve Jobs’-like comeback). Yet, there is little doubt that board “Chairman Bill” still plays a leading navigational role in the corporate Microsoft road map. With his first lieutenant finally stepping down, Bill now needs to appease investors and a restless cadre of employees who are looking for a decisive succession plan from the founder’s circle. The decision about Microsoft’s next CEO is as important to the company, the Puget Sound and the Windows’ platform as any in its history. Bill is striving to manage that uneasy mission while also committing to the full-time role of a philanthropic missionary across the globe.

Melinda Gates amplifies the Gates’ profile and its global relationships, completing , not simply complementing the dynamic duo. The new Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Visitor Center located on Mercer across from Seattle Center has become a source for global inspiration and a major Seattle tourist attraction.

Together the two have pledged to give away 95% of their wealth to cure the world’s  ills, and are on the verge of eradicating the scourge of polio from planet Earth.

Website: http://www.gatesfoundation.org/

Twitter Account(s):
Bill: http://twitter.com/BillGates
Melinda: http://twitter.com/melindagates

CrunchBase Profile: http://www.crunchbase.com/company/the-bill-melinda-gates-foundation


#3.  Paul AllenPaul Allen

Today, the ex-Microsoft magnate has all but  remade the Seattle skyline. From New Century Field, home of his Seattle Seahawks and Sounders FC to the Experience Music Project, and Sci-Fi hall of fame, and the Living Computer Museum.  Paul’s signature can also be found on a diverse range of  other top brands, including Charter Communications, Vulcan Energy Corp., DreamWorks SKG, Applied Proteomics, Redfin, and Biz.com, among others.

Allen’s fertile mind and imagination has earned him the moniker of “The Idea Man.” No coincidence that for  the past decade, Allen’s Brain Institute, based in Seattle, has been mapping the grey matter of mice, primates and humans. Paul Allen is making progress at the speed of thought.

Website: http://www.paulallen.com/Default.aspx

Twitter Account:  http://twitter.com/PaulGAllen

CrunchBase Profile: http://www.crunchbase.com/person/paul-allen


#4.  Steve Ballmersteve-ballmer-580

His tearful goodbyes indicate he will sorely miss his tenure at the helm of one of the world’s great  technology companies, but Microsoft’s CEO will remain on the board and his presence will continue to be felt throughout Pugetopolis and the Windows world. Some see this captain of industry as one of Seattle’s most valuable players in bringing an NBA or NHL franchise to the emerald city. The “ball ” in the Ballmer name will continue to carom in many directions.

Website: http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/news/exec/steve/

Twitter Account:  http://twitter.com/stevebmicrosoft

CrunchBase Profile: http://www.crunchbase.com/person/steve-ballmer


#5.  Howard SchultzHoward Schultz

During the government shutdown of 2013, the  CEO of Starbucks  mobilized his customer base, gathering 1.7 million signatures to breakthrough the impasse and hike the debt ceiling in order to stave off a U.S. default.  Earlier in the year year Schultz lead a group of more than 100 CEOs who pledged to halt all political campaign contributions until lawmakers, as Schultz put it, “stop the partisan gridlock in Washington, D.C.”

“I continue to believe we cannot be bystanders about our collective future,” he wrote. ” We are going to have to become more engaged so that Washington doesn’t fall back into this kind of unnecessary crisis every few months.”

In January 2012, Starbucks joined Microsoft (MSFT,Fortune 500) and Nike (NKEFortune 500) in announcing support of a Washington state bill to legalize same-sex marriage, which ultimately passed.

Website: http://news.starbucks.com/views/if-we-come-together-our-voices-will-be-heard

Twitter Account: http://twitter.com/HowardSchultz

 CrunchBase Profile: http://www.crunchbase.com/person/howard-schultz-2


#6.  Nathan MyhrvoldNathan Myhrvold

Formerly Chief Technology Officer at Microsoft, Myhrvold is co-founder of Intellectual Ventures — one of the largest patent holding companies in the world. He is also  the principal author of a seminal work on Modernist Cuisine.

Nathan cooked up Intellectual Ventures after retiring as chief strategist and chief technology officer of Microsoft Corporation. During his 14 years at Microsoft, he was the leading force behind Microsoft Research and numerous technology groups. He has always been an avid inventor. To date, he has been awarded hundreds of patents and has hundreds of patents pending.

Before joining Microsoft, Nathan was a postdoctoral fellow in the department of applied mathematics and theoretical physics at Cambridge University, and he worked with Professor Stephen Hawking.

On the darker side, CNET reported that IV could be “the most hated company in tech” as the holder of more than 40,000 patenta and an unapologetic plan to make money from them. According to some, Intellectual Ventures just may be the world’s biggest patent troll. “Congratulations on arbitraging the patent system,” quipped the former chief exec of Sun Microsystems.

Website: http://www.nathanmyhrvold.com/

Twitter Account:  http://twitter.com/nathanmyhrvold

 CrunchBase Profile:  http://www.crunchbase.com/person/nathan-myhrvold


#7. Prof.  Oren Etzioni  Oren Etzioni

In his latest incarnation, the former UW computer science professor, Oren Etzioni, is leading a new institute on artificial intelligence founded by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen.

Etzioni sees huge opportunities to apply artificial intelligence to medicine, making it easier to get high-quality information to doctors in remote regions. He’ll also bring new approaches to Allen’s long-running Digital Aristotle project, which is how Etzioni first got introduced to Allen’s team.

The founder of airfare prediction company Farecast (which Microsoft bought in 2008 for around $110 million and turned into Bing Travel, Etzioni also hatched Decide.com with several of his former Farecast colleagues .

Website:  http://homes.cs.washington.edu/~etzioni/

Twitter Account:  http://twitter.com/etzioni

CrunchBase Profile: http://www.crunchbase.com/person/oren-etzioni 


#8.  Rich Barton Rich Barton

In addition to founding and running Expedia, Zillow and Glassdoor, Barton sits on half a dozen BoDs, including Netflix and Avvo, as well as  RealSelf.com, Nextdoor and Common Sense Media. Barton says that the common thread in his investments is the idea of bringing “power to the people” by making key information accessible in new ways.

Website: http://www.hopperanddropper.com/

Twitter Account:  http://twitter.com/Rich_Barton

 CrunchBase Profile: http://www.crunchbase.com/person/rich-barton-2


#9. Matt  McilwainMatt Mcilwain

Managing Director of Madrona Venture Partners, Matt  Mcilwain focuses on a broad range of software-driven companies. He currently serves on the boards of 2nd Watch, Animoto, Apptio, ExtraHop, GraphLab, Mixpo, Optify, PayScale, Placed, Qumulo, Smartsheet, Skytap, and Tier 3. He was on the boards of iConclude (acquired by Opsware), Isilon Systems (NASDAQ: ISLN, acquired by EMC for $2.4 billion), Farecast (acquired by Microsoft), Performant (acquired by Mercury Interactive), and World Wide Packets(acquired by Ciena). “Overall, venture is currently in a healthy, positive cycle. Madrona continues to believe the market opportunities are exceptional for early-stage, information technology in the Pacific Northwest. We are committed to that strategic focus.”

Twitter: http://twitter.com/mattmcilwain

 CrunchBase Profile: http://www.crunchbase.com/person/matt-mcilwain


#10.  Greg GottesmanGreg Gottesman

Another MVP, Greg joined Madrona Venture Partners  in 1997 and currently serves on the boards of Bocada, BuddyTV, Cheezburger, Intrepid Learning Solutions, Jobaline, Nimbic, ThinkFire, and WildTangent.  He is the founder, current board member, and former CEO of Rover.com.

Twitter: http://twitter.com/greggottesman 

CrunchBase Profile: http://www.crunchbase.com/person/greg-gottesman


#11. Dan Weld

Dan Weld

The third leg of MVP’s Hat Trick trio, Dan Weld is the WRF/TJ Cable Professor of Computer Science & Engineering at the University of Washington. He co-founded Netbot Inc. (acquired by Excite), AdRelevance (acquired by Nielson Netratings) and Nimble Technology (acquired by Actuate).  At the University of Washington, Dan leads a research team applying machine-learning techniques to problems of Web search, information extraction, and adaptive user interfaces.

 Twitter: http://twitter.com/dsweld

CrunchBase Profile: http://www.crunchbase.com/person/dan-weld


#12.  Julie Larson-Green

Julie Larson-Green

Microsoft corporate vice president for Windows Experience, oversees the design of the Redmond company’s flagship PC operating system and is part of a team of executives who has shifted from Microsoft Office to overhaul the Windows division and lead the development of Windows 7.

 CrunchBase Profile: http://www.crunchbase.com/person/julie-larson-green




#13.   Spencer Rascoff and Mark Britton

Mark Britton

Spencer RaskoffRascoff, who co-founded Hotwire.com (acquired by Expedia), currently sits on the boards of Switchfly and Room77.

Britton, who was general counsel and a vice president at Expedia and founded lawyer referral service Avvo.com, sits on the boards of Orbitz and Gonzaga University.

CrunchBase Profile, Spencer Rascoff: http://www.crunchbase.com/person/spencer-rascoff

CrunchBase Profile, Mark Britton: http://www.crunchbase.com/person/mark-britton


#14. Dr. John Tracy, Chief Technology Officer, Boeing CorporationDr. John Tracy

Dr. John J. Tracy is chief technology officer of The Boeing Company and senior vice president of Engineering, Operations & Technology. He reports to Boeing Chairman, President and CEO Jim McNerney.  Tracy is a Member of the National Academy of Engineering and is a Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) and the Royal Aeronautical Society. He is also a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) and the past chair of the ASME 6,000-member Aerospace Division.



#15.  Paul ThelenPaul Thelen

Over the past few years, Big Fish has distributed more than 2,000 informal, easy-to-learn games and reached 1 million daily downloads. Through constant new games and special offers, hour-long free trials and acquisitions of developers such as Thinglefin and Grubby Games, Big Fish has risen to the top of the casual computer game industry’s food chain.

Most recently, Big Fish introduced some new products with increased options for interactivity (casual community and massively multiplayer online games). And it established a partnership with People.com for its “New Title Every Day” feature, which will be geared to hook the celebrity magazine’s mostly female readership.

Twitter: http://twitter.com/Picman67


#16. Dr. Jim Olsen,  Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centerdrjamesolsen

Olson worked with researchers at Seattle Children’s and the University of Washington to develop an innovative “tumor paint” – a drug that finds and attaches to tumor cells, illuminating them to show surgeons exactly where to cut. The experimental technique has been shown to illuminate brain, prostate, breast, colon, skin and other cancers and is now advancing to human clinical trials.

But it was not until Olsen’s  team launched Project Violet and  tapped into the power of Net crowdsourcing by offering “drugs for adoption” that he truly began to leverage the power of the Internet.

Each drug adopted through Project Violet is actually part of the drug discovery process and may be the key to a new therapy. Netizen donations help the scientists build a growing library of potentially lifesaving drugs.

Twittter: http://twitter.com/HutchinsonCtr/status/394887824753037314


#17.  Sunny Gupta

Sunny Gupta

Bellevue’s prolific infopreneur, Sunny Gupta, has been a perennial creative force in the Northwest. In 2001, he founded Vigor Technology, which was later purchased by Rational Software. Gupta went on to found IT automation company, iConclude, in 2005 and sold it to Opsware less than two years later for $70 million. Today, his new company, Apptio, a provider of on-demand IT software for chief information officers (CIOs), raised $14 million in an August venture round, led by Gupta’s long-time backers, the Madrona Venture Group.




#18.   Christian Chabot, Tableau Software CEO

chabottableauTableau cofounder and CEO Christian Chabot says part of that passion comes from relocating the firm early on from Silicon Valley to Seattle. “In Silicon Valley,” Chabot told Forbes, “there is a lot of groupthink. Everyone sits in the same coffee shops and talk about the same things and knows the same investors. … Seattle is different and is a great canvas for creative thinking.”

Prior to Tableau, Christian was with Softbank Venture Capital, where he specialized in enterprise software.

Before Softbank, Christian was CEO and co-founder of BeeLine Software, a pioneer of next-generation digital mapping technology that was acquired by Vicinity Corporation (NASDAQ: VCNT). Christian started his career as a data analyst at Cornerstone Research, an economic consulting firm, where he first became a bona fide data geek.

He is the author of Understanding the Euro: The Clear and Concise Guide to the Trans-European Currency (McGraw-Hill, 1998), which he wrote as a Robert Bosch Foundation Fellow.

CrunchBase Profile: http://www.crunchbase.com/person/christian-chabot


#19.  Jeremy Jaech

jaechJeremy Jaech is a serial entrepreneur with a magic touch. He co-founded Aldus, which was sold to Adobe, then Visio, which was acquired by Microsoft, and most recently Trumba. When he took over as CEO of Verdiem in November 2008, the company had already been around for seven years, but had trouble making headway. Verdiem’s management software helps companies save energy by regulating their computers’ power consumption.

Under Jaech, Verdiem won over major customers like Fidelity and the city governments of Seattle and Chicago, extending its reach to 1 million desktops at client companies. The company says it saves $30 to $60 per PC per year for its clients while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It offers two products-Surveyor, an advanced application with automated management and Edison, a free version that includes only monitoring features.

Jaech says the company, which continues to improve on its software, has a great future. “We’re just getting started here,” he says. “There are a lot of opportunities to expand.”

Twitter: http://twitter.com/jjaech

CrunchBase Profile: http://www.crunchbase.com/person/jeremy-jaech


#20. Dr. Leroy Hood, Biosciences

Leroy HoodIn the world of Northwest biomedicine, few names are more prominent than Dr. Leroy Hood. For the last nine years, this renowned molecular biologist and immunologist has built Seattle’s Institute for Systems Biology (ISB) into a global leader in genetic science, with 14 faculty members and a staff of more than 250.

Dr. Hood has won countless prestigious awards for his lifetime of innovations, most notably his invention of the automated DNA sequencer, which played a key role in mapping the human genome.

Twitter: http://twitter.com/ISBLeeHood


#21. Gabe Newell Gabe Newell

After having dropped out of Harvard University Newell spent thirteen years working for Microsoft Corporation, ultimately becoming a “Microsoft Millionaire”. Newell has described himself as “producer on the first three releases of Windows”.  Inspired by Michael Abrash, who left Microsoft to work on the computer game Quake at id Software, Newell and another Microsoft employee, Mike Harrington, left Microsoft to found Valve in 1996. He and Harrington used their money to fund Valve through the development of Half-Life.

Newell has helped turned Steam into a stand-alone gaming platform and has criticized the Xbox Live service, referring to it as “a train wreck”. He was also intensely critical of Microsoft’s latest operating system Windows 8, calling it a “catastrophe” and a threat to the usually open nature of PC gaming.


#22.  Craig McCaw

Craig McCawConsidered one of the most intriguing wireless entrepreneurs, Craig McCaw started his career in the cable business, taking over from his father after his death when McCaw was just 19 years old. In 1981, McCaw started researching the cellular telephone market and began bidding on cellular phone licenses. He and his brothers purchased spectrum licenses and built the early cell phone giant McCaw Cellular, which they sold to AT&T in 1993 for $11.5 billion.




#23. Ben Huh

When the first image of a cheeseburger-obsessed cat appeared in cyberspace in January 2007 accompanied by a silly caption, no one could have imagined the wild success this peculiar form of entertainment would achieve. Nobody, that is, except Ben Huh, who acquired the website, created a company called Pet Holdings and gave himself the official title “Chief Cheezburger.” Huh has since created a network of silly sites that continue to pull in millions of viewers per day, helping to foster a cultural phenomenon Ben Huhand even spawn a musical.

Along with the grammar-challenged caption cats at I Can Has Cheezburger?, Huh’s empire includes FAIL Blog, which pokes fun at real-life. [24×7]






#24.   Rand FishkinRandFishkin

Ascribing to the philosophic principal of “Radical Transparency,” which early Moz consultant Andy Beal espoused, Fishkin has used SEOMoz, now named simply ‘Moz,” to conduct an energetic, ongoing, open-source dialog with thousands of subscribing SEO’s, all in the hopes of educating a cottage industry.  Along the way, Moz has added meta-tools to help search practitioners separate “white hat” from “black hat” search tactics. The firm has attracted $16 million in VC funds and hosts a “must watch” Friday afternoon search soliloquy titled ‘Whiteboard Friday” on the latest in search marketing techniques.

Twitter: http://twitter.com/randfish

CrunchBase Company Profile: http://www.crunchbase.com/company/moz

Want to nominate a candidate for the Seattle24x7 Leader Lists in Web Design, Social Media, Search Marketing, E-commerce/E-tailing, Travel, Real Estate or Gaming?  Send us your candidate’s  name and supporting evidence to [email protected]  [24×7]