Articles > People & Politics
Tech Titans 2011
100 leaders of Washington’s tech world, from LivingSocial’s Tim O’Shaughnessy to Capitals owner Ted Leonsis.
Photo-illustration by Sean McCabe.
Our tech scene is the hottest it’s been since the dot-com glory days of the 1990s, with big investment by government in IT, surging green-energy programs, growing biotech research, and start-ups such as LivingSocial. Here are the people who are making this region grow.
Gov 2.0 and Politicos
Director, National Security Agency. The head of the Defense Department’s cybersecurity efforts, Alexander leads a workforce that includes some of the best mathematicians and technologists on the planet.
Curtis “Bob” Burns
Social-media analyst, Transportation Security Administration. Writing under the handle Blogger Bob, Burns helps pen TSA.gov’s official blog, which is regarded as the best in the government and one of the few with both a devoted readership and a thoughtful policy discussion.
Manager, Federal Web Managers Council at the General Services Administration. Working with her colleague Bev Godwin, Campbell is a key player helping to move the federal government online.
US chief technology officer, and Vivek Kundra, US chief information officer, the White House. The two men, both with local ties, are helping the nation spend its $80 billion-plus annual IT budget more wisely and inventively.
Linda Y. Cureton
Chief information officer, NASA. The Howard graduate is a leader in the government’s push for cloud computing services.
Director, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. Trained as a mechanical engineer and an expert in explosives detection, Dugan in 2009 became the first woman to lead the Pentagon’s elite Clarendon-based technology, Skunkworks.
Chief technologist, Federal Trade Commission. The Princeton computer-science professor and data-privacy expert started earlier this year as the first technologist within Jon Leibowitz’s FTC, which is taking a larger role in regulating and policing the Internet.
Chairman, Federal Communications Commission. The appointment of Genachowski, a veteran of the DC venture-capital world, was a signal to techies that the Obama administration was going to elevate and engage with technology policy.
US congressman from Virginia. The ten-term Roanoke Republican is cochair of the Congressional Internet Caucus and a leader on high-tech issues.
Chief technology officer, Department of Health and Human Services. The cofounder of Athenahealth, Park is at the forefront of the nation’s discussion about moving health-care information online.
White House director of new media. Since day one of the Obama administration, Phillips has been building an impressive team to bypass the White House press corps and speak directly to citizens.
Senior adviser for innovation, Department of State. The driving force behind much of State’s digital-communication initiative and Hillary Clinton’s “Net freedom” agenda, Ross cofounded the nonprofit One Economy.
Patrick Ruffini and Mindy Finn
Cofounders, Engage. The two GOP operatives scored big in the fall elections, helping several tea-party candidates to victory. They’ll likely be at the center of the Republican 2012 presidential race.
Digital strategist, US Chamber of Commerce. House speaker John Boehner’s former top digital strategist is starting a new job boosting business’s use of new media.
US senator from Virginia. The former governor and venture capitalist has made technology a centerpiece of his agenda since the beginning of his career, when he made buckets of money helping to launch the cell-phone industry.
Senior adviser to the director for technology and innovation, National Economic Council, the White House. The President’s point person on “winning the future,” Weiser is a key liaison to the tech community.
Industrial-innovation program director, National Science Foundation. The grantmaker, who focuses on small businesses, has been a consistent presence on the local scene, including participating in DC Lean Startup Circle.
Managing general partner, New Enterprise Associates. Through a score of companies, including Vonage, Barris has an eye for worthwhile investments, but his firm’s investment in the Chicago-based company that spawned Groupon might make his backers the richest.
Novak Biddle Venture Partners. Since Jack Biddle and Roger Novak founded it in 1997, NBVP has established itself as the area’s top venture-capital firm, and Bronner is the go-to for local start-ups, including Approva, Clearspring, and Webs.
Managing general partner, Updata Partners. The cofounder of the Reston growth-stage venture-capital firm is head of the Mid-Atlantic Venture Association.
Brooke B. Coburn
Managing director, the Carlyle Group. David Rubenstein’s Carlyle Group, a private-equity firm, remains one of the regions biggest pocketbooks.
Carol Thompson Cole
CEO, Venture Philanthropy Partners. The onetime DC mayoral aide now heads the prestigious philanthropy group founded by Mario Morino.
CEO, In-Q-Tel. Not many government agencies have their own venture-capital firm, but the CIA does—and if Darby spots promising technology, he has deep pockets to play with.
Managing member, ZG Ventures. A key ally of Steve Case, Gilburne—a former AOL vice president—has a particular interest in biotech and life sciences.
Partner, Cooley Godward Kronish. Working with his colleague Adam Ruttenberg, Lincoln is the key mergers-and-acquisitions and venture-capital lawyer for Northern Virginia.
General partner, Valhalla Partners. Marks, who now works at Valhalla with cofounder Gene Riechers, has spent more than 25 years in local venture-capital circles and is still active in many deals.
Managing partner, New Vantage Group. One of the only local “angels” who provide key early-stage funding to start-ups, May is a must-meet for any budding entrepreneur.
Former president and COO, Capital One. The cofounder of the credit-card powerhouse has moved on to being one of the region’s most prolific dealmakers and negotiators.
General partner, Grotech Ventures. A longtime Washington investor, Rainey has his fingers in many pots, from military projects to LivingSocial, a move that will make his partners at Grotech a lot of money.
Korn/Ferry. The leading headhunter for the Northern Virginia tech industry, Shanahan has many top executives on speed dial.
General partner, ABS Capital. The former CTO/CIO of the Washington Post Company hosts regular dinners that bring together a who’s who of the local tech scene.
Cofounder and CEO, Clarabridge. The customer-feedback-mining start-up led by Banerjee—one of the first employees of MicroStrategy—is a big hit, as was his previous venture, Claraview.
CEO, SB Nation. Bankoff is a former AOL executive and senior adviser at the private-equity powerhouse Providence Equity Partners. SB Nation has a network of more than 300 blogs that dominates the online sports conversation—and he hopes it’ll be global as he moves into European soccer.
Cofounder and CTO, LivingSocial. The head technologist for this rapidly growing company is a big local presence and is helping to push the start-up scene forward.
CEO, Revolution. With his fingers in lots of deals and boards (including LivingSocial), Case and his right hand, Tige Savage, are key drivers and funders of many projects.
CTO, JackBe. The rest of the company’s motto, “nimble and quick,” underscores what it sees as the key to Presto—real-time business intelligence on the company’s custom dashboards—which has helped the government’s own stimulus Web site, Recovery.gov.
CEO, EverFi. Fresh off $11 million in Series A funding from New Enterprise Associates and others, Davidson is set for a big expansion of his financial-literacy programs.
Mark D. Ein
Founder and CEO, Venturehouse Group. The tech entrepreneur has a variety of projects, from the Kastle Systems security company to the pro tennis team he has named after it—the Washington Kastles.
CEO, ObjectVideo. After taking his company Proxicom public and selling it for nearly $450 million, Fernandez is busy with his video-analytics company and his co-ownership of the Wizards, Capitals, and Mystics.
President, GeniusRocket. Under CEO Mark Walsh, LaMotte, a veteran of the Corporate Executive Board, is the power behind the “curated crowdsourcing” site, which helps connect creatives and businesses.
Entrepreneur/investor. Now owner of the Verizon Center and its teams, Leonsis is a fan favorite for his stewardship of the Capitals and perhaps the biggest player in the local tech community—from his SnagFilms start-up to fast-rising Groupon, in which he invests.
Robert S. Marshall
CEO, Earth Networks. Best known for his Germantown-based company’s WeatherBug, the University of Maryland grad operates the world’s largest weather and lightning observation system.
CEO, LivingSocial. The Georgetown grad is on top of the hottest thing to hit the local tech world since AOL, with an ever-growing valuation—helped recently by a $400-million venture-funding round—and a staff that’s been expanding by six a day.
Cofounder and CEO, Clearspring. After some growing pains, the McLean-based firm has seen its social-sharing widget, AddThis, make it one of the largest Web sites in the world—and one that possesses an enormous amount of valuable data on user behavior and preferences.
Michael J. Saylor
Founder and CEO, MicroStrategy. The long ride of MicroStrategy hasn’t been steady for Saylor—who lost billions when the tech bubble burst—but it’s going gangbusters now and looking the best it has in years, thanks in part to the hard work of COO Sanju K. Bansal.
CEO, HealthCentral. The Washington Post Company has helped launch many a career locally, and the former Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive CEO’s is one. His health-care information provider has an A-list team of backers, from Barry Diller to Sequoia Capital to the Carlyle Group.
Founder and CEO, New Media Strategies. The Rosslyn-based communications firm has been singled out for its success by Virginia governor Bob McDonnell and continues its recent hiring spree.
Founder and CEO, Opower. His Arlington-based energy-efficiency start-up, perhaps more than any other outside of LivingSocial, seems poised for a big IPO down the road.
Next: Entrepreneurial Couples
Jen Consalvo and Frank Gruber
Founders, Tech Cocktail. Their start-up, which began as a local networking group, has be-come a national gathering point for budding entrepreneurs, attracting thousands at the South by Southwest Interactive conference.
Phillip and Caren Merrick
The cofounders of webMethods, which was the most successful software IPO of its time, have their own projects now—with Phillip overseeing the online résumé site VisualCV and Caren running for the Virginia state Senate.
Bradley and Sheryl Schwartz
The husband-and-wife team that runs Blue Canopy—a government-tech contractor founded in 2001 that has twice made Inc. magazine’s list of the 500 fastest-growing private US companies—both came to the start-up with extensive corporate backgrounds.
Amy Senger and Steven Mandzik
Founders of the consulting firm 1X57, they’ve become influential in Gov 2.0 circles—and have helped usher the CIA into the age of social media.
Keith Shepherd and Natalia Luckyanova
Founders, Imangi Studios. Their small-game development company has churned out a number of popular iPad and iPhone apps, including the game Harbor Master.
Jesse Thomas and Leslie Bradshaw
Cofounders, Jess3. The creative geniuses behind one of the region’s hottest agencies, they helped an astronaut check into Foursquare from space and helped C-SPAN establish itself as a digital innovator.
Next: Industry Leaders
Founder and CEO, Cvent. A leader in the Indian high-tech world, he heads an 800-plus-person event-management software company that has helped put together more than 275,000 events worldwide.
Deborah H. Alderson
President, SAIC’s Defense Solutions Group. While she oversees a workforce of 12,500, Alderson has made mentoring women a focus of her energies and developed SAIC’s Women’s Network.
General manager, Global Public Sector, IBM. The experienced IBM leader continues to rise, most recently taking over all of the giant’s public-sector work.
CEO, Approva. The company has embraced a lighthearted marketing campaign targeting “control freaks” with its access-control software, which has become the industry standard for most of the large audit firms.
CEO, Northrop Grumman. The decision by the new head of Northrop to move the company’s headquarters to the Washington area—creating a bidding war among Virginia, Maryland, and the District, eventually won by Falls Church—was a coup. It was also a recognition of the importance of the government IT sector, where Linda Mills heads Northrop’s $8.4-billion-a-year information-systems business.
Vice president, global public sector, Amazon Web Services. The move of the influential vice president of Microsoft Federal Services to Amazon in December showed how seriously the retailer took cloud computing.
Edward J. Casey Jr.
CEO, Serco (North America). A former energy executive, Casey has led Serco through two successful acquisitions since 2006 and has grown the company into more than a billion dollars in revenue.
Michael L. Chasen
CEO, Blackboard. The education-services provider continues to grow, allowing Chasen increasing flexibility to involve himself in other local start-ups and deals.
Pablo Chavez and Mike Bradshaw
Managing policy counsel and director (respectively) of Google Federal, Google. Google’s presence is expanding yearly in Washington—its $5.2 million in lobbying expenses last year was up by nearly a third from 2009. Chavez, a former John McCain aide, is one of the leading Silicon Valley voices on Capitol Hill, and Bradshaw is the face of Google in the federal sector.
CEO, Invision. The former head of Advertising.com for AOL and a onetime Arnold & Porter lawyer, Clarizio is among the foremost experts on digital advertising.
James F. Coakley
CEO, Power Loft. The Prince William County data center is one of the area’s largest storage facilities and a green model for similar projects.
Matthew J. Desch
CEO, Iridium. As head of one of the world’s largest mobile-satellite companies—relied upon by mariners, explorers, and even the Defense Department—Desch helped take the company public in 2009.
CEO, Noblis. The nonprofit consulting firm—which traces its history to MIT’s World War II efforts to help the government solve complex problems—remains a force in federal circles.
Nelson M. Ford
CEO, LMI. The health-care executive turned undersecretary of the Army now heads the nonprofit management consultancy born of Defense Secretary Robert McNamara’s frustration with the Pentagon’s business practices 50 years ago.
Executive vice president, Lockheed Martin Information Systems & Global Solutions. With more than $10 billion in annual sales, Gooden oversees a business roughly the size of Cambodia’s GDP.
Donald E. Graham
CEO, Washington Post Company. As a regular Facebook user, a board member of the social-media powerhouse, and overseer of the print newspaper business’s transition to a multi-platform media experience, Graham is at the forefront of technological change. Products such as Trove, built by his team and led by CDO Vijay Ravindran, are causing excitement in media circles.
Walter P. Havenstein
CEO, SAIC. The newish leader of the region’s biggest government-technology contractor, with 17,500 local employees, is seen as a breath of fresh air, raising employee morale. He’s also a leader in education, chairing the nonprofit FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology).
Vice president, US government affairs, Microsoft. The top representative of the Redmond, Washington, software giant is, along with Ed Ingle, a powerful voice in DC.
CEO, ICF International. The green-tech consulting firm—perhaps best known for helping launch the Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star program—has developed into a global leader under Kesavan, who has worked at the firm since 1983 and is now vice chair of NVTC.
President, Bell Labs. More than a decade after he made many millions on the sale of his tech start-up to Lucent Technologies, Kim has settled into his role as head of the storied Bell Labs.
Senior vice president, US public-sector theater, Cisco. One of the largest providers of networking products to the government, Klein manages an extensive portfolio.
Vice president, global public policy, Facebook. The arrival of Larry Summers’s chief of staff from the National Economic Council as the social-networking site’s lead policy person shows how seriously the company is now taking Washington.
Mark D. McLaughlin
President and chief executive officer, VeriSign. The Web-security firm’s relocation last summer to Northern Virginia was a sign of the energy in the tech sector regionally.
President, CGI US, Europe, and Asia. Just about the entire world except Canada now falls under the purview of this 25-year veteran of the IT industry.
CEO, GeoEye. High-quality satellite images once were the exclusive domain of a handful of governments, but now GeoEye’s work is provided through Google, Yahoo!, and Bing to any computer user in the world.
CEO, Consumer Electronics Association. The longtime head of the powerful trade association is taking a bigger role in policy, arguing in his new book, The Comeback: How Innovation Will Restore the American Dream, that the United States needs to rethink its strategy for economic competitiveness.
David W. Thompson
Cofounder and CEO, Orbital. The commercial space-launch company, which has its own space facility off of Maryland’s Eastern Shore, will grow only more critical as NASA wraps up the space-shuttle program.
CEO, Alarm.com. The onetime MicroStrategy CTO now runs a hot security company that allows users to connect to their home security systems remotely.
John B. Wood
CEO, Telos. The head of the cybersecurity firm is proving a key booster of Loudoun County growth with his formation of the local CEO Cabinet to advise policymakers on economic-development issues.
Robert D. Atkinson
President, Information Technology & Innovation Foundation. With “innovation” becoming a major policy area, Atkinson has been at the forefront of pushing it as a cornerstone of economic development.
CEO, ICANN. The body that governs Internet addresses and names (such as .com and .us) is headed by Beckstrom, an author and entrepreneur.
CEO, Computer & Communications Industry Association. Head of one of the industry’s top trade groups since 1995, Black was involved with the State Department and is active in other government projects on tech policy.
Social-media strategist, NPR. Beloved in the local tech community, the prolific tweeter has become a worldwide resource as the hub of first-person accounts about the unrest and revolution across the Arab world.
Vint Cerf (vice president and chief Internet evangelist, Google); Steve Crocker (board-of-directors vice chair, ICANN); and Robert E. Kahn (president, CEO, and chairman, Corporation for National Research Initiatives). Not too many people can claim to have invented the Internet (and Al Gore’s not one of them), but these three can. Decades later, all are still leaders in the industry.
CEO, Center for Democracy & Technology. The Georgetown Law grad turned policy wonk has helped establish CDT as a key resource for privacy rights online.
Personal-tech columnist, Wall Street Journal. Mossberg’s reviews are considered definitive by many, and his expanding empire of projects, such as AllThingsD, keep him influential.
Lynn St. Amour
CEO, Internet Society. Her organization, based in the United States and Switzerland, works on increasing Internet access to developing countries and setting standards to ease communication.
Next: Community Leaders
Zvi Band, founder of skeevisArts, and Michael Mayernick, cofounder of Giv.to. Hoping to spur more collegiality among the local community, the two energetic techies launched a Web site, Proudly Made in DC, that showcases start-ups.
Shashi Bellamkonda, director of social media, Network Solutions; Peter Corbett, founder, Twin Tech; and Justin Thorp, community manager, Clearspring. Online and offline, these three are among the tech community’s top cheerleaders and boosters, helping to forge connections, deals, and friendships.
Founder, Bisnow on Business. His networking schmooze-fests and speaker series, a spinoff of his e-newsletters, have been a big success.
Phillip J. Bond
CEO, TechAmerica. For nearly 20 years, Bond has moved back and forth between government and the private sector. He now leads one of the most powerful industry voices.
Founding partner and executive creative director, Rad Campaign. Kapin’s Women Who Tech conference and her boundless energy helped lead Forbes to name her one of the top 30 women entrepreneurs to follow on Twitter.
CEO, Northern Virginia Technology Council. Kilberg has led the region’s most influential tech trade group for more than a decade—and her Hot Ticket Awards event, hosted at her McLean house, is the community’s event of the year.
Presidents of George Mason University and Northern Virginia Community College, respectively. The IT world continues to hunger for employees, and these two higher-education leaders are providing thousands of educated students.
CEO, Digital Sisters/Sistas. University of the District of Columbia graduate Mitchell—who goes by the name Digitalsista online—works to deliver technology to underserved women and children.
Founder and president, Accession Point. The serial entrepreneur now runs a consulting firm to encourage others’ ideas and is respected for her energy and connections.
This article first appeared in the May 2011 issue of The Washingtonian.