Geeks Rule Fortune’s 40 Under 40 List

Silicon Valley’s tech company leaders shine bright in Fortune’s list of hottest young business stars

Photo: Charles Eshelman/Getty Images
Airbnb's Brian Chesky (left) and Uber's Travis Kalanick (right) top Fortune's 2014 list of 40 top business leaders under 40.
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Seventeen tech execs—14 of whom lead San Francisco Bay Area companies—made Fortune’s 2014 list of the world’s 40 top business leaders under the age of 40. Interestingly, the only two tech companies on the list that are not in California are completely outside of the U.S.

At the top of the list, in a tie for first place, are Travis Kalanick, cofounder of Uber, and Brian Chesky, cofounder of Airbnb, a selection that demonstrates how important the peer-to-peer economy has become to the business world.  Right behind them is Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer, number one on the 2013 list, has dropped to number six. This will be the last time Mayer can be honored as a “young” executive; at 39, she’s about to age out of those ranks.  Squeezing in ahead of her at number five this year is Jan Koum, cofounder of WhatsApp (recently acquired by Facebook). And Elizabeth Holmes, founder of tHeranos, a health technology company, is the sixth tech leader to make the top ten.

What’s not so impressive is the tech industry’s batting average in elevating women to the top business ranks. Overall, 16 of the 40 selected business stars are women; the tech industry only brought four of those to the party.

Here are the tech executives on the list, with their company, city, and what they studied in college if available (not all completed their degrees).

  • Travis Kalanick, Uber, San Francisco, computer engineering
  • Brian Chesky, Airbnb, San Francisco, industrial design
  • Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook, Menlo Park, computer science
  • Jan Koum, WhatsApp, Mountain View
  • Marissa Mayer, Yahoo, Sunnyvale, computer science
  • Elizabeth Holmes, tHeranos, Palo Alto, chemistry
  • Jack Dorsey, Twitter, San Francisco
  • Ben Silbermann, Pinterest, San Francisco
  • Nick Woodman, GoPro, San Mateo, visual arts
  • Evan Spiegel, Snapchat, Venice (Calif.), product design
  • Emily White, Snapchat
  • Lyndon Rive, Solarcity, San Mateo
  • Rahul Sharma, Micromax, Gurgaon, Haryana, India, mechanical engineering
  • Tang Yan, Momo, Beijing
  • Kevin Chou, Kabam, San Francisco, business
  • Vijaya Gadde, Twitter, law
  • Kevin Systrom, Instagram, Menlo Park, management science and engineering

And one more fun fact, though not exactly relevant to the tech exec headcount: two people descended from tech “royalty” made the list for their decidedly non-tech activities: filmmaker Megan Ellison is daughter of Oracle’s Larry Ellison, and Sam Nazarian, head of an entertainment conglomerate, is the son of Younes Nazarian, who was involved with Qualcomm early on.

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IEEE Spectrum’s blog featuring the people, places, and passions of the world of technologists in Silicon Valley and its environs.