Startup Founders to Watch in 2014
Visionary Leaders Helen Grenier | CyPhy Works Darrell Cavens | Zuilily Dr. Alex Karp | Palantir Aaron Levie | Box Jack Dorsey | Square Travis Kalanick | UberChet Kanojia | Aereo Alex Hawkinson | SmartThingsNick Woodman | GoPro Shauna Mei | Aha Life Matthew Prince | CloudFlare
These visionary founders are making their mark on everything from cybersecurity and e-commerce to mobile payments and robots. And that's only what they've accomplished so far. Here are the founders you'll want to keep your eye on in 2014.
Why she’s important: Grenier spearheaded the creation and deployment of PackBots who fought with our troops and the mega-hit Roomba Vacuuming Robot. Now she’s on her second act, a startup for flying robots.
Watch for: Grenier’s name being spoken in the same breath as drones, which Congress may deem legal by 2015. With lawmarkers considering commercial use of flying robots, CyPhy might become a household name.
Why he’s important: Valued at $5.04 billion, Cavens’ Seattle-based startup soared 88 percent in its initial public offering last month. It’s also nearly tripled its workforce to 950 employees in the past two years.
Watch for: The four-year-old company breaking new ground in retail, proving flash sales can work. It’s profitable, though it could stand to earn a lot more.
Why he’s important: Pay Pal’s old anti-fraud strategy has metamorphosed into one of the biggest players in the burgeoning “big data” industry. This week, the company closed a funding round pegging its value at $9 billion. It also received $107.8 million in new funding.
Watch for: More hiring (employee ranks have grown to 1,200 from 700 a year ago), lucrative partnerships with pharmaceutical and investment companies, and
IPO rumors. Palantir has yet to turn profitable.
Why he’s important: The 28-year-old CEO of the billion-dollar cloud-computing company was named Inc. entrepreneur of the year.
Watch for: Box to go public. Rumor has it Levie tapped Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse, and JPMorgan Chase & Co. to and raise about $500 million.
Why he’s important: Dorsey’s mobile payments startup set the standard for everyone else. Last we checked, it was processing $10 billion annually. Meanwhile, more than 40,000 retailers were using its mobile card readers.
Watch for: An IPO as soon as next year, according to The Los Angeles Times. Today Square is used at more than 250,000 locations in the U.S. and Canada.
Why he’s important: Kalanick has some saying Uber "has the potential to radically remake the American landscape.” And $258 million in funding from Google is nothing to sniff at.
Watch for: Home deliveries and brand partnerships with the likes of Home Depot. It’s all about exposure, and the startup’s Christmas tree delivery service is just the beginning of its commercial binge.
Why he’s important: His Internet streaming service is so innovative, it’s transforming the way we watch television. Traditional broadcasters view this as copyright infringement and keep taking him to court--where he's winning.
Watch for: More legal victories and perhaps a visit to the Supreme Court. Kanojia hopes to expand from its New York home base to 22 cities by the end of this year and could wind up in even more next year.
Why he’s important: After a successful launch on Kickstarter with the SmartThings starter kit, Hawkinson devoted the past year to building a platform that connects a range of devices to the web.
Watch for: With $12.5 million in Series A funding to toy with, Hawkinson hopes to broaden the company’s reach online and offline. He'll also encourage more products to be built for SmartThings' platform.
Why he’s important: GoPro sales have reportedly more than doubled each year since the camera’s debut in 2004. Woodman says the company sold 2.3 million cameras in 2012 and grossed $521 million.
Watch for: Serious growth. The nine-year-old company comprised 21.5 percent of digital camcorder shipments in the first half of last year, according to IDC data cited in Forbes, and the introduction of an interchangeable lens and smartphone lens ensures mass appeal.
Why she’s important: From Goldman Sachs to Casall, a Swedish lifestyle company, Mei knows what makes startups tick and how to keep those customers coming back—the well-edited e-commerce site draws over 3 million visits while shipping to over 200 countries.
Watch for: More luxury partnerships that put its name on the map. The startup recently teamed up with luxury leather maker Treccani Milano.
Why he’s important: Nonstop computer attacks, better known as distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, are a real pain in the neck for corporate websites. Trusted applications, like Prince's, can protect them.
Why he’s important: Who wants to be held liable for a data breach? As security and speed become bigger musts for consumers, small businesses will flock to CloudFlare.