We recently published our annual Silicon Valley 100 list, which ranks the most inspiring people in tech.
And while the tech industry is notoriously male-heavy, our ranking of who’s who included a number of women who are truly raising the bar in Silicon Valley.
From CEOs to engineers to investors, these women are showing the rest how it’s done. Scroll through to meet the most driven and innovative women in tech.
Founder, CEO, Chairwoman, Theranos
When she was a sophomore at Stanford in 2003, Elizabeth Holmes founded healthcare-technology company Theranos and within months she dropped out of school to pursue it full time. Today, she’s America’s youngest female billionaire with a net worth of $4.6 billion.
Theranos is a $9 billion biotech company that has a new approach to blood testing. Its goal is to make clinical testing cheaper and faster. Theranos wants to conduct blood tests for health issues through a single finger stick rather than by having to draw vials of blood in a doctor’s office. Theranos has drawn skepticism from the scientific community in part because Theranos is cagey about how its tests actually work. But for now, Holmes is on top of the world. Today, her blood tests are used in places like Walgreens.
In April, online-learning website Lynda sold to LinkedIn. The deal, a $1.5 billion cash-stock blend, closed in Q1. Most of Lynda’s employees joined LinkedIn following the acquisition, which lets LinkedIn’s 350 million users access the platform for skill building and education videos, LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner said.
Founded in 1995 by Lynda Weinman and her husband, Bruce Heavin, Lynda.com lets users learn business, technology, software, and creative skills through videos. People can access Lynda on their own, and corporations and schools can purchase subscriptions.
Weinman has been dubbed by many as “the mother of the internet.”
President, CEO, Chairwoman, Hewlett-Packard
HP announced that it would be undergoing massive multiyear layoffs in 2012. Since then, the company has eliminated 48,000 employees. It’s on its way to eliminating 55,000 by October. And in November, Whitman will split HP into two companies, and the layoffs will likely continue.
Whitman has also said she’ll be moving more jobs from HP’s Enterprise Services unit offshore after HP splits in two. Last year, Whitman got a $1.5 million raise and a $4.3 million bonus. She’s one of the most generously compensated CEOs in her field.
Shannon Liss-Riordan, a Boston-based champion of employee rights, is leading the charge against Uber and Lyft. She has represented drivers from both companies who have filed lawsuits, alleging they’ve been misclassified as “independent contractors” when they should be classified as “employees.”
Classifying workers as contractors is a common tactic for companies in the 1099 economy — it keeps them from having to deal with things like payroll taxes, job expenses, antidiscrimination protections, and overtime pay. In June, the California Labor Commission ruled that an Uber driver is an employee. Uber plans to appeal.
Ellen Pao is the interim CEO of Reddit, and she’s taking a stand against gender discrimination in the workplace. Previously a partner at venture-capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Pao sued for $16 million in lost wages and future earnings, claiming her gender was a major factor in her not being promoted to general or senior partner, and that it played a significant role in her termination.
Pao lost the case on all counts, but she filed to appeal and is still in debate with Kleiner Perkins over legal costs. Her highly publicized trial brought important issues of gender and diversity in Silicon Valley to the surface, sparking much-needed discussion of the issues.
SVP of retail and online sales, Apple
In spring 2014, Angela Ahrendts left Burberry, where she served as CEO, to go to Apple where she was named senior vice president of retail and online stores. Ahrendts, who is Apple’s only female executive, made more than $70 million last year; that’s more than anyone else at Apple, including CEO Tim Cook.
Ahrendts also oversaw the rollout of the Apple Watch this spring, though it didn’t go as smoothly as anticipated. Instead of having a seamless, easy ordering process online and in stores, the shipping date for many models of the Apple Watch was delayed for months. Apple even removed the April 24 availability date from the Apple Watch page on its website, signaling major delays with shipping.
Marissa Mayer is continually one of the strongest forces in Silicon Valley. She’s lauded for her “superhuman” energy and her perseverance. Mayer has been the public face and the private force behind Yahoo’s push to maintain its position in SV.
In September, Alibaba went public. Investors in Yahoo expected Alibaba’s public value to send Yahoo’s stock soaring but after Alibaba’s debut, Yahoo’s stock crashed.
Months later, Yahoo unveiled a plan to spin off its remaining 15% stake in Alibaba, tax-free, into a public, independent investment company called SpinCo. Yahoo shareholders would receive shares “distributed pro rata,” which means they’d own shares in two companies.
Oracle founder Larry Ellison stepped down from his CEO role in September and was succeeded by Mark Hurd and Safra Catz, who took over as co-CEOs. Ellison remains as chairman and CTO of the company; Catz, who was previously co-president and CFO, is now the world’s highest-paid female executive.
Catz and Hurd have a big vision for the direction of the company, and their stepping up led to the stock hitting an all-time high. While Catz has said there would be “no significant changes” in the company, Hurd points out that two CEOs are better than one as the company needs “a lot of leadership.” Meanwhile, Catz is decidedly sure Oracle’s position at No. 2 isn’t good enough.
When Susan Wojcicki, a longstanding Googler and ad executive, was picked to run YouTube in early 2014, she had her work cut out for her. Her main job was to help YouTube monetize its audience more effectively. Part of that included finding ways for YouTube to promote its home-grown stars like Bethany Mota and the Epic Rap Battles duo while attracting more high-quality and deep-pocketed advertisers to the service.
To help build out YouTube’s tech offerings, Wojcicki has made a number of internal “hires.” She also confirmed onstage at Re/code’s Code/Mobile conference in October that YouTube would explore the launch of an ad-free subscription service.
Wojcicki was honored on TIME Magazine’s 100 most influential people list in 2015.
As the country’s CTO, Megan Smith oversees IT policies and initiatives across every sector of the economy. Since taking the post last September — the first woman to ever hold the position — Smith has advised President Obama on decisions surrounding net neutrality, helped improve how technology was used in the fight against Ebola, and built a website dedicated to celebrating women in science and tech.
Smith’s no stranger to the consumer side of the tech industry. Before joining the White House team, she served as vice president of Google’s secretive Google X division.
She’s also a champion of equal rights. Smith is working to build a legacy before Obama leaves the White House – her new initiative TechHire aims to bring more women and people of color into the tech job market.
Cofounder, VP Marketing, Nextdoor
Leary has been a tech executive for nearly 20 years, lending her expertise to companies such as Microsoft and Ebay.
Nextdoor connects users with those who live close to them, creating a forum for discussing everything from neighborhood crime to the best places to eat. In the long term, the app also hopes to find a way to monetize the user recommendations.
Founder, CEO, Brit+Co.
Touted as the “Martha Stewart of Silicon Valley,” Brit Morin specializes in the intersection of tech and DIY — and it’s lucrative. Morin launched Brit+Co, a lifestyle website that features crafts, fashion, and decor, in 2011, and so far it’s raised $27.6 million in funding from investors including Oak Capital, Intel Capital, and Marissa Mayer.
Before diving into her own site, Morin grew her love for the tech world as an employee at Apple and Google, where she worked on iTunes and Google Maps, respectively.
Swisher, a graduate of Georgetown University, got her first reporting job when she called the editor of The Washington Post to complain about mistakes in an article. She was hired as a freelancer on the spot. She later got her start in tech reporting when she began covering digital issues for The Wall Street Journal in San Francisco.
From 2007 to 2013 Swisher was coexecutive editor of AllThingsD.com alongside Walt Mossberg where she won a Loeb Award for her excellence in reporting on Yahoo and cohosted the highly coveted D:All Things Digital tech conference.
Together, Swisher and Mossberg launched Re/code, a website dedicated to the latest in tech news, reviews, and analysis. In May, Vox Media, which owns SB Nation and The Verge, bought Swisher and Mossberg’s 18-month-old tech blog Re/code in an all-stock deal. Multiple sources told Business Insider at the time of the sale that the value of the deal was between $15 and $20 million, in addition to some stock incentives for Re/code’s executives. Swisher and Mossberg will continue to break tech news for Vox under new leadership, and they’ll help Vox build out a strong conference business.
James is the No. 2 executive at Intel and she seems to be everywhere these days, mainly thanks to her audacious goal to hit “full representation” of women and minorities at Intel by 2020, and have its workforce mimic actual demographics, which would mean a male-female ratio closer to 50-50. Intel has always rated high as a place for women in tech, but James is taking this even further, and Intel is investing $300 million to reach its goal.
James, who has been described as “bullheaded, impatient, and very smart” by former Intel CEO Andy Grove, could be starting a model that would hopefully be duplicated by other tech companies in Silicon Valley where women and minorities have historically been underrepresented.
Aarthi Ramamurthy is the founder of Y Combinator-backed Lumoid, a try-before-you-buy gadget marketplace. It allows potential consumers to try out the expensive products they’re thinking of buying — like the Apple Watch, which users can rent for between $45 and $55 (and usually retails for $349 and up).
Ramamurthy spent six years at Microsoft working on its popular Visual Studio software-development tool and on Xbox Live, and also cofounded a bra-fitting company called True&Co.
CEO, Cofounder, Campus Job
At just 24 years old, Wessel is a former Google product marketing manager and the CEO and cofounder of Campus Job. Her startup is a rapidly growing marketplace for US college students searching for part-time jobs and internships. About 90% of the positions offered on Campus Job are paid, and the startup sees about 10,000 new college-aged users signing up every week.
It’s currently going through the startup accelerator Y Combinator and just raised over $9 million in May, bringing the total funding to $10.3 million to date. Wessel said in an interview in May that she often works 20-hour days, six to seven days a week – evidently it’s paying off.
CEO, Founder, The League
Bradford’s elite dating app, The League, is just shy of six months old and has already raised over $2 million in seed funding. Her goal is to pair professional, accomplished, and ambitious singles together to date “intelligently.” How does she do it? The app has a specific algorithm that curates daters based on LinkedIn profiles and friend networks.
The League has been open for a few months to users in San Francisco and recently, New York City, where there’s a waiting list of thousands. She’s eyeing London as her next audience.
Partner, Kleiner Perkins
Megan Quinn was brought on as an investment partner in 2012 from Square, a payments startup partner John Doerr backed. Since being at Kleiner Perkins, she’s invested in startup giants like Slack and Uber. Quinn previously spent seven years at Google where she held leadership positions in communications, business development, and product management.
Partner, Kleiner Perkins
A seasoned vet, Mary Meeker joined Kleiner Perkins five years ago from Morgan Stanley where she served as managing director and research analyst for nearly 20 years. Her current portfolio of investments includes Spotify, Jawbone, and One Kings Lane. Every year, Meeker releases her highly anticipated Internet Trends report – this year marked its 20th anniversary.