- Business Insider named 10 figures in the consumer tech industry to its list of 100 people transforming business.
- We looked for individuals redefining the gadgets, services and companies that have become central to our lives and to society.
- See the full list of the 100 people transforming business here.
The tech world thrives on transformation. It’s the driving force that gave us the smartphone, virtual reality, and "Fortnite."
But the quest to innovate is no longer just about creating gadgets that are faster and smaller. With society facing challenges from climate change to equality, and with the boundaries between disparate industries crumbling, today’s generation of tech leaders are taking a much broader view of how to make their mark.
We identified 10 visionaries who are re-inventing the way tech produces are created and how tech businesses operate. Read on to see the full list of 10 people transforming our relationship with technology.
Profiles compiled by Nick Bastone, Lisa Eadicicco, Ben Gilbert, Paige Leskin, Becky Peterson, Rob Price, Dave Smith, Antonio Villas-Boas, and Troy Wolverton.
Jeff Dean, a senior fellow for artificial intelligence at Google, is making the AI of science fiction a reality
Google is synonymous with search. But the company’s CEO has made it clear that the future is artificial intelligence.
Leading the charge is Jeff Dean, a 20-year Google veteran credited with being the brains behind some of Google’s most significant back-end technology, including MapReduce, Google Search’s most important performance upgrade, and BigTable Spanner, Google’s internal database.
One of only two senior fellows at Google, Dean is such a celebrity within the company that he has Chuck Norris-like memes written about him.
Today, as the head of AI at Google, Dean’s focus centers on speech recognition, computer vision, language understanding, robotics, and healthcare. In February, Dean said healthcare excites him most as it relates to the opportunity for AI.
Already AI is being incorporated into popular Google consumer products — like the smart-compose option in Gmail and the voice-enabled Assistant that’s spreading across Google’s family of hardware products.
But the reality is that the applications for AI and machine learning are limitless, so Dean’s legacy at Google may just be getting started.
Katie Dill, VP of design at Lyft, is shaping the experience consumers have with gig-economy apps
Jason Henry for Business Insider
Katie Dill has a knack for grasping how things work and imagining how they should actually work. That’s an important skill for someone shaping the experience that consumers have every day with vital services like ride hailing and apartment sharing.
Dill’s influence can be seen across the sharing economy. She was Airbnb’s director of experience design for four years and is now at Lyft, where she is VP of design.
"It’s one thing to look at your design on your computer screen and say it’s great, but it’s another when it’s somebody standing in the rain on the street corner at night trying to use your app," Dill told Business Insider.
"There are so many people that use our product that I can’t and should not assume what they want — we need to learn. Every micro decision has a hell of a lot of dependency," she adds.
Dill originally considered going into architecture but said she would get frustrated with how long things would take in that field. That’s not the case at Lyft, where things move at lightning speeds.
"There’s a beauty and a great responsibility for the fact that you can make changes, in some cases, instantaneously," she says.
Arlan Hamilton, the founder of Backstage Capital, is shaking up Silicon Valley’s boys’ club so that anyone with a good idea can be a startup founder
Sarah Deragon/Portraits To The People
Arlan Hamilton noticed early on that the startup industry was rooted in doing things a certain way, and that underrepresented entrepreneurs and founders trying to launch companies — "people who were not white men" — were being turned down by investors more frequently.
As a gay black woman, Hamilton started Backstage Capital, a venture-capital firm, in 2015 from scratch to invest in companies led by underrepresented founders — women, people of color, and LGBTQ people.
The goal was to "shake up that status quo" and give a voice to those groups, Hamilton told Business Insider.
Since 2015, Backstage has invested an estimated $5 million in more than 100 companies, Hamilton says.
While plans to raise a $36 million fund have taken longer than expected after a couple of “anchor” investors fell through, Hamilton hopes to attain the target in the next year or two. The goal is to create a fund devoted to investing exclusively in black female founders, who currently earn less than 1% of all venture-capital funding.
In March, Hamilton handed over the CEO reins of the firm’s operational arm in order to focus on raising capital, working with founders and serving as an "ambassador" to promote the Backstage mission. With regular speaking engagements, several podcasts and a book deal, Hamilton is spreading the message that a more representative tech industry is a more innovative tech industry.
While Hamilton has noticed that progress in the tech industry is "already percolating," she says the boys’ club "still has so far to go."
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