News & Politics

Washington’s 100 Top Tech Leaders

Our ranking of local tech titans.
Typography By Michael Brandon Myers
Typography By Michael Brandon Myers

Every two years, Washingtonian compiles a list of the most influential and exciting people in the local technology scene. It’s a snapshot of a sector that’s seemingly always in the midst of rapid change as our devices get smarter, start-ups get leaner, and the world becomes more connected.

But perhaps no Tech Titans roster has ever seen as much transformation as this year’s. Since 2013, the local scene has exploded, bringing deep reservoirs of talent to the region in an effort boosters hope will create a Silicon Valley on the Potomac. It’s a significant shift from just over a decade ago, when big legacy corporations like AOL and MicroStrategy dominated. Now midlevel executives from those firms are starting their own companies. Public-sector workers and federal contractors, faced with sequestration, are striking out on their own. Even a start-up now considered past its prime—LivingSocial—was instrumental in this influx, with former employees shifting around, developing new businesses and ideas.

The rebirth of the area’s tech scene can be witnessed in the co-working spaces that now abound, where start-ups can rent office space and collaborate. It can be seen in the angel groups and incubators that offer advice and funding, or in the massive, informal get-togethers where hundreds of people share ideas and job opportunities.

Apple got its start in a California garage, Facebook in a Harvard dorm room—not the likeliest origins at the time, perhaps, for companies that would come to hold such sway over our lives. Who knows what new technology could be brewing in a DC rowhouse?

Entrepreneurs | Industry Leaders | Media | Government | Connectors | Dealmakers

Entrepreneurs

  • Reggie Aggarwal

    In the past year, Aggarwal’s event-management software firm, Cvent, acquired two companies, opened new headquarters along Metro’s Silver Line, and helped plan thousands of events nationally for clients.

  • Brian Ballard

    As wearable tech becomes the next must-have, the CEO of APX Labs in Herndon is creating workplace-geared software for smart glasses.

  • Zvi Band and Tony Cappaert

    Band and Cappaert are cofounders of Contactually, a cloud-based contact-management company, and CEO Band gathers the city’s entrepreneurs at his monthly DC Tech Meetups.

  • Sid Banerjee

    This CEO’s company, Clarabridge, in Reston, helps clients mine and analyze customer feedback provided via social media, call centers, surveys, and online review sites.

  • Dan Berger

    Berger’s hospitality-software company, Social Tables, has raised nearly $10 mil-lion and grown to 79 employees since it was launched from his Dupont bedroom in 2011.

  • Phil Bronner

    Previously an education start-up investor at Novak Biddle, Bronner now runs Quad Learning, which has created an online program to help community-college students transfer to four-year schools.

  • Matt Calkins

    Calkins’s 16-year-old Reston company, Appian, connects an organization’s data across platforms and devices. Its heavy-hitter client roster includes the US Army, the Department of Agriculture, and Enterprise Rideshare.

  • Michael Chasen

    In 2013, after selling his e-learning company, Blackboard, for nearly $2 billion, Chasen launched SocialRadar, maker of an app that connects people in the same place—at a conference, for example—via their social networks.

  • Timothy Chi

    The CEO of Chevy Chase’s WeddingWire, a one-stop shopping site for engaged couples, launched his company in 2007 after experience showed him the need for a tech solution to the massive undertaking that is wedding planning.

  • Tom Davidson

    Since 2008, Davidson’s EverFi has provided more than 10 million K-12 and college students free online classes in areas such as civic engagement, financial literacy, and STEM training (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics).

  • Allen Gannett

    Gannett’s TrackMaven, in Dupont Circle, amasses social-media data for web marketers and counts General Electric, IBM, and NPR as customers.

  • Blake Hall and Matt Thompson

    In 2012, their company, ID.me, launched a verification tool for members of the military to validate their identity online. It has since expanded to students, teachers, first responders, and government workers.

  • Joel Holland

    Holland got the idea for his stock-video provider, VideoBlocks, after selling footage of DC monuments he shot while growing up around Washington.

  • George Kurtz and Dmitri Alperovitch

    In the age of online attacks such as the massive Sony hacking, nervous companies across different sectors look to the cyberprotection services provided by this pair’s firm, CrowdStrike.

  • Justin Langseth

    The CEO of Zoomdata raised $17 million last October for his three-year-old data-analytics-and-visualization company.

  • David Link

    Link’s 12-year-old IT-monitoring company, ScienceLogic, in Reston, raised $43 million this past February in a funding round led by Goldman Sachs.

  • Dave Merkel

    Merkel is chief technology officer and lead Washington employee for the cybersecurity firm FireEye, which companies including Target and Home Depot came to for help after hackers breached their data.

  • Tobin Moore and Adam Vitarello

    The cofounders of Optoro, which creates software to redirect a store’s excess and returned inventory to online buyers, raised $50 million last year from several investors, including a fund chaired by Al Gore.

  • Laura O’Shaughnessy

    She’s cofounder and CEO of five-year-old SocialCode, the social-media advertising company that has partnerships with Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

  • Chip Paucek

    After going public with a $100-million IPO in 2014, Paucek’s 2U—which puts graduate courses online for Georgetown, Berkeley, Yale, and other universities—is on track to become the next big digital education company.

  • Martin Ringlein

    Nvite, the registration-and-ticketing platform for tech, education, and health-care events, was started last year by this former Presidential Innovation Fellow.

  • Fred Singer

    More than 2 million college and graduate students use the digital-learning software from Singer’s Reston-based Echo360, which raised $18 million in new funding in late 2014.

  • Susan Tynan

    Last year, Tynan launched Framebridge, an online custom-framing start-up, with funding from Steve Case, former LivingSocial CEO Tim O’Shaughnessy, and New Enter-prise Associates.

  • Daniel Yates

    A $130-million IPO last year put Yates’s Opower, which works with utilities to help people lower their home-energy consumption, on the road to becoming a tech giant.

Silicon Alleys: DC’s Tech Corridors

Entrepreneurs | Industry Leaders | Media | Government | Connectors | Dealmakers

Industry Leaders

  • Anne Altman

    Named last year’s Executive of the Year by the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce and the Professional Services Council, IBM’s general manager for government business has been active in moving Uncle Sam’s tech functions to the cloud.

  • Michael Beckerman

    Amazon, Google, Facebook, and more of the world’s most influential web companies are members of Beckerman’s Internet Association, which lobbies in areas such as net neutrality and patent reform.

  • Teresa Carlson

    This vice president at Amazon Web Services, the online marketplace’s cloud-computing business, began a national initiative last year to link young women with female tech leaders as mentors.

  • Steve Cooker

    The head of Global Government Solutions for Monster.com—which builds systems the government uses to find and hire people—has recently launched initiatives to boost veteran employment and attract cybersecurity experts to federal agencies.

  • Karen Dahut

    Dahut leads the Strategic Innovation Group at Booz Allen Hamilton, working to bring an entrepreneurial spirit to the massive corporation.

  • Marillyn A. Hewson

    The CEO of Lockheed Martin is working with NASA to design the next generation of spacecraft that may one day send astronauts to Mars and back.

  • Rachel Holt

    Uber’s East Coast general manager successfully navigated the regulatory minefield to keep ride-sharing services on the road in Washington and other cities.

  • Fred Humphries

    Microsoft’s vice president for government affairs uses his longtime DC connections to lobby policymakers on cloud computing, STEM education, and immigration reform.

  • Joel Kaplan

    The former George W. Bush White House aide is Facebook’s vice president of global policy, lobbying governments on privacy and security issues.

  • Kay Kapoor

    The president of AT&T Government Solutions won contracts late last year to help modernize mobile tech systems at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the US Postal Service, among others.

  • Sudhakar Kesavan

    Revenues at the consulting firm ICF International, in Fairfax, surpassed $1 billion for the first time last year with this CEO at the helm.

  • Bobbie Kilberg

    Since 1998, Kilberg has led the influential Northern Virginia Technology Council, a trade association that holds networking and education events and that lobbies state and local officials.

  • Tekedra Mawakana

    Yahoo’s head of global public policy has been working to protect the privacy of users against NSA surveillance.

  • Susan Molinari

    The former New York congresswoman leads the DC public-policy and government-affairs team at Google, which spent $16.8 million on lobbying in 2014.

  • Tony Moraco

    The CEO of the McLean contracting giant SAIC led it through one of the largest spin-offs in Washing-ton history in late 2013, when it separated its $4-billion information-technology-service business from the parent company.

  • Robert Musslewhite

    Musslewhite counts 99 of the nation’s 100 largest hospitals as clients of his health-care and higher-ed technology firm, the Advisory Board Company.

  • James Patterson

    The head of Capital One Labs, which builds and tests new products, worked on its new mobile wallet, which augments the capabilities of the increasingly popular Apple Pay platform.

  • Michael J. Saylor

    The longtime chair-man of MicroStrategy is turning his company’s attention to cyber-security, including a project that aims to replace the password with stronger identity-authentication measures.

  • David W. Thompson

    After completing a merger in February, Thompson’s aerospace and defense company, Orbital ATK, grew from 3,200 employees and $1.35 billion in revenue to 12,000 and $4.4 billion.

  • Steve Trundle

    By allowing users to access their home-security system through a mobile app, Trundle’s Alarm.com, headquartered in Vienna, is poised to adapt well to the “internet of things” phenomenon that seeks to connect our houses, cars, and other belongings to the web.

  • John Wood

    The Telos Corporation CEO was recently appointed to serve on Governor Terry McAuliffe’s new Virginia Cyber Security Commission.

Source: investment-management firm Jones Lang LaSalle

Entrepreneurs | Industry Leaders | Media | Government | Connectors | Dealmakers

Media

  • Jim Bankoff

    In his desire to build a Time Inc. for the next generation, the CEO of Vox Media has built a digital publishing behemoth of sites including Eater, Curbed, and Vox.com that’s said to be valued at close to $400 million.

  • Amy Eisman

    As director of media entrepreneurship in the School of Communication at American University, Eisman helped establish a partnership with the tech incubator 1776 for AU students.

  • Molly Greenberg

    The senior staff writer for the local tech blog DC Inno covers the area’s campus and education-tech start-ups.

  • Alexander B. Howard

    The Huffington Post editor with a Twitter following pushing 250,000 launched his government-meets-technology blog, E Pluribus Unum,two years ago.

  • Walt Mossberg

    After a 22-year tenure as personal-technology columnist for the Wall Street Journal, Mossberg formed a tech-media company, Re/code, with journalist Kara Swisher in 2014.

  • Rob Pegoraro

    The Washington Post alum now writes weekly tech columns for Yahoo! and USA Today that focus on how the industry affects consumers.

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Entrepreneurs | Industry Leaders | Media | Government | Connectors | Dealmakers

Government

  • Marvin Ammori

    The lawyer and tech-company consultant led the effort to get the FCC to institute net neutrality, preventing internet service providers from creating “fast” and “slow” online access lanes.

  • Jerry Brito

    The executive director of Coin Center is the nation’s first “bitcoin lobbyist,” advising policymakers and testifying before Congress on the best ways to regulate the opaque world of cryptocurrency.

  • Bridget Coyne and Sean Evins

    The two former congressional staffers now man Twitter’s Government and Elections team, helping policymakers, government agencies, and campaign staffs exploit the social-media service and talk directly to the public.

  • Christopher Darby

    The president and CEO of In-Q-Tel ferrets out new tools for the intelligence community and is chairman at Endgame, a company that provides cybersecurity services to federal clients.

  • Mikey Dickerson

    The ex-Google engineer helped save HealthCare.gov and now leads the White House’s United States Digital Service, a team assigned to craft better and more intuitive government websites.

  • Bob Goodlatte

    As chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and cochair of the Congressional Internet Caucus, the Republican congressman from Virginia has sponsored legislation on pressing topics such as abusive patents and internet-access taxes.

  • Katie Harbath

    The onetime lead digital strategist for the Republican National Committee and the National Republican Senatorial Committee now heads political outreach at Facebook, helping elected officials leverage the social network.

  • Gerrit Lansing

    In advance of the 2016 elections, the former digital director for the National Republican Congressional Committee recently founded the online donation platform Revv for GOP campaigns.

  • Michelle Lee

    The director of the US Patent and Trademark Office is former head of patent strategy for Google and is addressing the complex issue of trolls who stymie innovation through lawsuits.

  • Zoe Lofgren

    Silicon Valley’s Democratic congresswoman is pushing for reforms to fix the controversial Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, which detractors say can result in excessive punishment for minor online offenses, such as violating a website’s terms of service.

  • Willie May

    The chemist and acting director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology has been at the federal agency more than 40 years, recently working on protocols for the nation’s cybersecurity infrastructure.

  • Jared Polis

    The Colorado congressman was a tech entrepreneur in the early days of his career, creating BlueMountain.com and ProFlowers.com. He now promotes legislation to help start-ups get off the ground.

  • Arati Prabhakar

    As director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Prabhakar oversees the development of some of the US military’s most innovative technology.

  • Michael Rogers

    In the post-Snowden era, the new head of NSA and US Cyber Command faces tough challenges on questions of privacy and surveillance.

  • Patrick Ruffini and Kristen Soltis Anderson

    After former House majority leader Eric Cantor’s 2014 primary loss, longtime Republican digital strategist Ruffini and pollster Anderson founded the new firm Echelon Insights to help GOP candidates analyze voting data and trends.

  • Tony Scott

    The new US chief information officer, in charge of the country’s huge IT infrastructure, previously had the same responsibility at Microsoft and the Walt Disney Company.

  • Megan Smith

    The Google executive turned US chief technology officer helped launch a job-training campaign and is trying to get more women and minorities into STEM fields.

  • Aaron Snow

    Snow is a founding member and current head of 18F, a team of tech experts inside the General Services Administration who swoop in and fix systemic IT problems across federal agencies.

  • Mark Warner

    The senator from Virginia, formerly a telecom executive and start-up investor, spent his first term making federal spending data easier to access and working to bring broadband to rural areas.

  • Tom Wheeler

    The Federal Communications Commission chairman was celebrated by many tech evangelists when he gave the green light to net neutrality this year.

Entrepreneurs | Industry Leaders | Media | Government | Connectors | Dealmakers

Connectors

  • Evan Burfield and Donna Harris

    Two years after opening in downtown DC, their incubator and seed fund, 1776, works with more than 260 start-ups in an effort to make the District a global tech powerhouse and has scored visits from President Obama and British prime minister David Cameron.

  • Vint Cerf, Steve Crocker, and Robert E. Kahn

    People call each a “father of the internet,” and they’re still helping it along, right here in Washington. Cerf is chief internet evangelist at Google, Crocker helps shepherd internet-governance issues at ICANN, and Kahn is CEO at the nonprofit Corporation for National Research Initiatives in Reston.

  • Dean Chang, Jim Chung, and Jeff Reid

    The heads of entrepreneurship programs at the University of Maryland, George Washington University, and Georgetown, respectively, are grooming the next generation of innovators.

  • Raul Fernandez

    The longtime tech entrepreneur who sold one of his first companies for $450 million in 2001 now sits on the board of several start-ups and chairs his own video-analytics company, ObjectVideo.

  • Paul Gleger

    Since the 2013 opening of General Assembly’s DC training site, which offers courses in programming, business, design, and more, Gleger has seen 14,000-plus people pass through his doors looking to enhance their tech skills.

  • Shana Glenzer and Stephanie Nguyen

    The pair who help run DC Tech Meetup in 2014 also founded DCFemTech, a brain trust of women tech leaders trying to increase diversity at local companies.

  • Kay Koplovitz and Amy Millman

    Every year, their Springboard Enterprises connects up to 40 female-led tech companies to funders and partners who will help expand their business.

  • Erin Horne McKinney

    As tech-and-innovation-sector manager for DC, McKinney is the liaison between the start-up community and the DC government courting more of them.

  • Carl Pierre

    The head of DC’s three WeWork coworking spaces oversees 1,500 occupants and hosts regular events and forums for the tech community.

  • DJ Saul

    The DC Tech Meetup cofounder gathers hundreds of local entrepreneurs and programmers to share pitches, demos, and job opportunities at the monthly meetings.

  • Gary Shapiro

    The head of the Consumer Electronics Association is an important advocate for the consumer applications of newfound technologies such as 3-D printing, drones, and self-driving cars.

  • Christopher Soghoian

    The ACLU’s principal technologist, a leading voice on privacy issues, most recently brought congressional attention to law enforcement’s use of the secret cell-phone surveillance tools known as “stingrays.”

  • Shannon Turner

    In 2013, wanting to see more diversity at tech events, she began offering free women-only coding classes that have transformed into the nonprofit Hear Me Code and taught 1,000-plus people.

  • Mark Walsh

    A former AOL exec and a fixture on the local tech scene, Walsh currently finds himself executive chairman of the real-estate start-up Homesnap, a venture partner at Revolution, a member of several boards, and an angel investor on the side.

  • Adam Zuckerman

    The Fosterly founder has brought the tech community together through workshops, panels, and 1,000-per-son conferences.

Entrepreneurs | Industry Leaders | Media | Government | Connectors | Dealmakers

Dealmakers

  • Jonathan Aberman

    The managing director of Amplifier Ventures has lately been leading Tandem NSI, a public/private effort to connect federal agencies with local start-ups working on national-security issues.

  • Peter Barris and Harry Weller

    These two local partners at New Enterprise Associates—which has invested in CareerBuilder, Diapers.com, and TiVo—just raised an astonishing $2.75 billion, the largest venture-capital fund ever.

  • Steve Case and Ted Leonsis

    The two AOL veterans and legends of the local tech scene continue to expand their portfolio Revolution with a slew of local start-ups including Optoro (page 86),Framebridge (page 86), and Sweetgreen.

  • Brooke Coburn

    This managing director at the Carlyle Group leads the firm’s Carlyle Growth Partners unit and the Equity Opportunity Fund, which focuses on smaller and middle-market buyouts.

  • Mark Ein

    The chairman of the security firm Kastle Systems and owner of the Washington Kastles tennis team is also founder of the Venturehouse Group, which funds half a dozen IT companies, including NewBrand Analytics.

  • Elana Fine

    As head of the University of Maryland’s Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship, Fine oversees an incubator of student-run businesses as well as the Dingman Center Angels investor network, whose members provide seed funding for early-stage companies in the region.

  • Sean Glass

    The founder’s first fund, Acceleprise, invested in more than 40 companies, and he has personally provided seed funding for many Washington start-ups, including TrackMaven (page 85) and Zoomdata (page 86).

  • Mike Lincoln

    Lincoln cofounded the first East Coast branch of the Cooley law firm in Reston 16 years ago; in 2014, Cooley was the number-one firm in the country for tech and life-sciences IPOs.

  • Robert McHale

    This local headhunter for Korn Ferry helps find the tech sector’s C-suite talent.

  • Dan Mindus and Brett Gibson

    As heads of NextGen Angels, Mindus and Gibson lead a network of 85 young investors who have funded 11 local start-ups, including UrbanStems and Revmetrix, and are now expanding to other cities.

  • Nigel Morris

    The cofounder of Capital One now invests in financial-services technology as managing partner of QED Investors.

  • Don Rainey

    The general partner at Vienna’s Grotech Ventures sits on the board of local companies such as Intellinote and the Mindshare forum, which advises CEOs of the region’s most promising start-ups.

  • Fredrick D. Schaufeld

    The managing director of SWaN & Legend, which has stakes in CustomInk and Quad Learning (page 85), is raising money for the Leesburg firm’s third fund, targeting $100 million to $150 million.

  • Paul Singh

    The Northern Virginia native moved back to Washington from Silicon Valley in 2014 to launch the $50-million Crystal Tech Fund.

Entrepreneurs | Industry Leaders | Media | Government | Connectors | Dealmakers

Photograph of Ballard by Chris Niewinski; Davidson by Kevin A. Koski; Gannett by Sarah Bradshaw; Thompson by Picture Moments Photography; Kurtz by Nathan Padilla Bowen; Link by Len Spoden; Merkel by Michael Clements; Yates by Erin Scott; Altman by Carl Cox; Beckerman by Alexander Morozov; Cooker by Jeff Mauritzen; Kesavan by Matthew Borkoski; Molinari by Weinberg-Clark Photography; Moraco by James Ward; Saylor by Melissa Golden; Eisman courtesy of American University; Cerf by Weinberg-Clark Photography; Reid by KateHaus Photography; Saul by Dakota Fine; Shapiro by Risdon Photography; Leonsis by Scott Bryant; Coburn by Bill Denison; Morris by Joanne S. Lawton.

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