The leading people behind the technology
Future recognizes 50 of the most influential people in technology today from across key organizational roles including, but not limited to, the following categories:
- CEOs & executive leadership
- Product managers, designers and engineers
- Content creators
- PR, communications, marketing & advertising
- Young professionals - under 40 years old
President and CEO
Andy Jassy joined Amazon in 1997 when it was an online bookstore competing with local brick-and-mortar booksellers and has been instrumental in making it the massive internet-based megacorporation it is today. In 2003, he and Jeff Bezos conceived the idea of building a cloud computing platform (AWS), which is now the world’s largest cloud platform. And this year, Amazon announced that Jassy would succeed Bezos as CEO of Amazon, a role he took over in July. Jassy has two degrees from Harvard.
Bob Chapek has been with Disney for three decades and became, at the end of last year, the media and entertainment company’s CEO. Before taking the helm of the largest entertainment company in the world, Chapek was Chairman of the Disney Parks, Experiences and Products. This year, he has made it clear that he is taking the company into the future, the metaverse, and virtual reality. He has a degree in microbiology from Indiana University Bloomington and an MBA from Michigan State University.
Bozoma Saint John
Chief Marketing Officer
Bozoma Saint John is the kind of marketing executive that every boardroom wants, which is why her resume includes Spike Lee, PepsiCo, Apple Music, Beats Music, and the fashion brand Ashley Stewart. She served as CMO at Endeavor and chief brand officer at Uber. She is currently the chief marketing officer for Netflix and, in 2021, was named one of the Top 50 Most Influential Female Leaders in Africa by Leading Ladies Africa.
In 2012, after witnessing firsthand how difficult it was to send money to South America while working as a software engineer at Airbnb, Brian Armstrong raised money and founded the cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase. As CEO of Coinbase, he established himself as a leader for troubled times when he offered severance to anyone who opposed the company mandate that the Coinbase workplace remain “mission-focused” and employees refrain from discussing political and social issues at work. This year, just nine years after founding Coinbase, Armstrong joined the elite billionaire’s club when he took Coinbase public.
Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne
If you installed an app during the pandemic to alert you if had contact with someone who’d tested positive for the virus, thank Carmela Troncoso. Her work on the Decentralized Privacy-Preserving Proximity Tracing system, or DP-3T, made passive contact tracing easy without asking citizens to surrender private data. It stores temporary, anonymized contact data on phones instead of a server, which makes hacks and data mining hard. Apple and Google used this technology to develop their tools.
Roblox – a metaverse where tens of millions of people play together every day – started with a game David Baszucki built with his brother called Interactive Physics. The two formed – and later sold – a gaming company, Knowledge Revolution, which sold millions of copies of that game. Baszucki then began work on an evolution of the same idea – with the late Eric Cassell – that eventually became Roblox. In 2021, Baszucki launched a philanthropic organization, which has funded research, so far, into COVID-19, bipolar disorder, and lymphoma.
SVP, Devices & Services
As you shout, “Alexa! Turn on the lights!” so you can better see the book you are reading in your Kindle, think of David Limp. Because, as SVP of devices and services, David Limp governs the development of all of Amazon’s hardware, including all the Amazon Alexa devices such as the Echo and Echo Show as well as media viewing tables like the Kindle and Fire. Limp has a degree in computer science and mathematics from Vanderbilt University as well as a management degree from Stanford.
Founder and CEO
When she was an engineering student at Stanford, Debbie Sterling was one of the very few women. She was also one of the few people who never played with construction toys as a child. She thought there was a correlation, so she founded GoldieBlox to bring female-focused STEM toys to girls. Rejected by the toy industry, she took her ideas to Kickstarter and went on to empower a generation of girls to embrace STEM, collect honors from Time, Fortune, the National Women’s History Museum, and – in 2021 – become one of the 120 3-D printed statues of STEM innovators in the IF/THEN exhibit.
Director of Health
At 20, Divya Nag dropped out of Stanford – where she had already authored many studies on stem cell technology – to found Stem Cell Theranostics and, later, a non-profit medical innovation accelerator program at Stanford that has helped launch over 100 health startups. Today, she leads the team at Apple that developed ResearchKit, a tool that enables doctors and researchers to share data as well as a groundbreaking emergency response system in the Apple Watch.
Dr. Lisa Su
Dr. Lisa Su has been an innovator, inventor, and leader in the semiconductor industry for decades. She has published more than 40 technical articles, has been honored by numerous trade organizations, worked in research at IBM for 13 years before she became SVP and GM at Freescale Semiconductor, and has served as AMD’s president and CEO since 2014. President Biden appointed her to the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, and she is being honored by the United States Institute of Peace during the 2022 International Peace Honors.
Elizabeth (Liz) Reid
VP of search
Elizabeth (Liz) Reid, VP of Search, leads product management and engineering for Google’s core search experiences. Liz joined Google in 2003 as the company’s first female engineer in its New York office and was part of the team that built Google Local, the foundation for much of the local information within Google Maps today.
Throughout her 17 years helping to map the world and surface local information on Google, Liz has led engineering across various Google Maps and Local Search products. Liz is also a passionate advocate of Google's diversity efforts, currently serving as co-chair of Women@Google, an internal Google organization committed to empowering women in the company.
Elon Musk is the co-founder and sits at the helm of Tesla, SpaceX, Neuralink, and The Boring Company. With a net worth of about $270 billion, he is currently the richest person in the world – and arguably one of the most influential, pushing for space travel, electric cars, and, among other things, artificial intelligence. He also altered the history of electronic payments in the late 90s and early 2000s when, after building and selling Zip2 to Compaq and then founding X.com, which became PayPal, he sold the nascent payment app to eBay in 2002. Today, he is such a powerful cryptocurrency trader that his tweets can affect pricing.
CEO & Director
In early 2021, Fidji Simo left Facebook – where she was Head of Facebook App and the company’s most senior female product executive – to take on the role of CEO at Instacart, which exploded during lockdown as people stopped shopping in person and tapped in-app delivery services instead. She has ambitious goals for Instacart, which include building out technology for retailers and grocery advertisers while adding a social layer to the app.
Data Scientist and Advocate for Public Oversight of Social Media
After working on ranking algorithms at Google, Pinterest, and Yelp, Francis Haugen was a specialist in algorithmic product management. Facebook recruited her to lead the civic misinformation team, focused on democracy and misinformation. She became alarmed by the choices Facebook made when it weighed profits over public safety and, in 2021, became the whistleblower who disclosed tens of thousands of Facebook’s internal documents to the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Global Director, Culture and Community
As global director of culture and community at Twitter, God-is Rivera elevates the underrepresented by inviting them to discussions, amplifying, and listening. Her goal is to improve the online experience for people from marginalized communities and help the executives at Twitter understand what’s happening with them and how to protect them, so they stay with the platform. In 2021, she ran a powerful campaign that reproduced #BlackLivesMatter tweets on billboards near George Floyd protests.
Chief Marketing Officer
During the pandemic, Zoom rocketed from relative obscurity to the main tool connecting humans around the globe. Directing the marketing efforts for Zoom, therefore, might sound easy. But the company could easily have crumbled under the pressure, the hiccups, by failing to deliver, or by being perceived as evil. Pelosi understood the responsibility Zoom had shouldered and showed the world a company with a heart by, for example, partnering with Dove to sponsor unlimited-length video calls for Mother’s Day weekend.
Chief Operating Officer
Jeff Williams has played a key role at Apple since he joined the company in 1998, when Steve Jobs was rebuilding it. He was key to the launch of the original iPhone, instrumental in the development of the Apple Watch, and is, today, innovating new developments in health and medical research. This year he oversaw huge developments in personal health on both the iPhone and Apple watch, which launched secure sharing and a better look at health metrics. He reports directly to CEO Tim Cook and many see him as Cook’s natural successor.
Chief Content Officer
As a chief content officer at Peloton, former TV and digital media executive Jennifer Cotter has had her work cut out for her in the last year as more and more people turned to the fitness app, and its connected exercise machines, to stay in shape while they stayed home. She manages both the New York and London content production teams, shooting fast-paced and inspiring workouts.
Founder, President & CEO
Jensen Huang was born in Taiwan and emigrated to the United States with his parents when he was nine. He co-founded Nvidia in 1993 and is currently the CEO and president. Nvidia products are ubiquitous and essential in computing and, more recently, automobiles. This year, the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) awarded Huang the 2021 industry’s highest honor, the Robert N. Noyce Award and he was named in the “Time 100,” list of the most influential people in the world.
SVP, Hardware Engineering
As senior vice president of hardware engineering at Apple, John Ternus has a heavy hand on at least one of the devices you probably have in your hand right now. He reports directly to Tim Cook, and leads the teams that make the iPhone, iPad, Mac, AirPods, and more. Ternus led the team responsible for the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro and has been instrumental in moving the Mac to Apple silicon. He was promoted to this role this year, replacing Dan Riccio.
Algorithmic Justice League
Joy Buolamwini knew there was a problem with the AI when she had to don a white mask to be recognized by it as a researcher at the M.I.T. Media Lab. Today, she is fighting for equality in the code that powers everything from job applications to law enforcement. She founded the Algorithmic Justice League, authored a study that led tech giants to improve their AIs, and made a documentary – Coded Bias – that’s available on Netflix. This year, her study exposing bias in Amazon’s facial-scanning technology stirred the retailer to push back against the use of this technology.
While finishing his engineering master’s thesis, Khalil Zahar became obsessed with boxing and spotted a need for a tool that could provide boxers with stats and feedback. FightCamp was born and has, for years, helped serious fighters train. In 2021, with Mike Tyson and Floyd Mayweather signing on as investors, FightCamp transitioned into an interactive home boxing gym with a bag, gloves, mat, two wearable sensors, and a library of classes taught by champion boxers.
Chief Sustainability Officer and VP, Sustainable Workplaces
In May of 2021, Kristen Siemen took over the role of leading General Motors into a future that includes bold efforts to combat climate change and to further the company’s commitment to becoming carbon neutral by the year 2040. Siemen has been with the automaker for 25 years and has already introduced significant fuel economy improvements in her previous role as executive director of global energy strategy.
Ford Motor Company
Chief Engineer, All-Electric F-150 Lightning
If you find yourself driving an impressive pickup and suddenly believing in electric vehicles, thank Linda Zhang. She is the 44-year-old engineer who led the team responsible for the first all-electric F-150, which is not only powerful and fast but can power your home in an emergency. Zhang joined Ford almost 25 years ago, straight from collecting an electrical engineering degree from the University of Michigan. Her astonishing success electrifying Ford’s flagship truck into visceral proof that electric vehicles work hard put her on the cover of Time magazine this year.
Chief Environmental Officer
When Microsoft announced in 2020 that it would become carbon neutral by the year 2030, the world gasped. And Lucas Joppa took on the job of making sure it would happen. He is the company’s first ever chief environmental officer, and his day job is, pretty much: Save the planet. He is perfect for the role, though. He has been an environmental scientist for Microsoft since 2017 and has a Ph. D. in ecology from Duke.
Senior research scientist and quantum electronics engineer
There are nerds and then there are the researchers who work at Google’s Quantum AI lab. Marissa Giustina, a doctor of experimental quantum physics, is both. This year, she made Fortune’s 40 Under 40 list for her work building a quantum computer that can do – in just over three minutes – calculations that would take any other computer 10,000 years to complete. Google’s CEO likened this accomplishment to “touching the edge of space.”
Owner and presenter, MKBHD
With over 15 million subscribers and 2.7 billion total views of his YouTube channel – MKBHD, Marques Keith Brownlee is one of the most influential technology reviewers working. His work is promoted on Engadget, The Verge, Forbes, HuffPost, CNET, and Time. He has interviewed celebrities such as Will Smith, President Barack Obama, and tech luminaries such as Bill Gates and Google’s Sundar Pichai.
When she was named CEO of General Motors in 2014, Mary Barra became the first female CEO of a big American automaker and broke the glass ceiling like no one before her. She started working at GM when she was just 18 and graduated from the General Motors Institute (now Kettering University) in 1985 with a degree in electrical engineering. In 2021, she was named in Time’s annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world.
President, CEO and Director
Have you considered switching to T-Mobile lately? That’s the effect the compelling arguments Mike Sievert’s team – when he was President and COO of the business – had on all of us. With innovative market strategies and wildly customer-focused support teams, the company became hard to resist. Last year, he took over as CEO and, under his leadership, overtook AT&T to become the number two wireless provider in the US (behind Verizon) and created a nationwide standalone 5G network.
Teen Scientist and Inventor
At 16, Neha Shukla is already an influential scientist. Her invention – Six Feet Apart – is a wearable device that helps people maintain social distance. While developing it she discovered her passion: To help teens channel their excitement about technology into real-world solutions and started Innovation Corner, where she has coached more than 23,000 students. This year, she won the Diana Award, was featured in the New York Times, and was named a 2021 Global Teen Leader by the We Are Family Foundation.
Head of Global Marketing
When it comes to getting people to look at a screen, Nick Tran is an influencer. When he was VP of brand and culture at Hulu, he spearheaded the “Better Ruins Everything” campaign that asked celebrity spokespeople not to get Hulu or it would destroy traditional TV. (So long, traditional TV.) This year Tran is head of global marketing at TikTok, which is where everyone is looking this year.
Chief Sustainability Officer
Noel Kinder is the man behind sustainability at Nike and considers the company’s aggressive sustainability missions not just important but central to the identity of the company. He has been responsible for incorporating this mission into every part of the business and in 2021 deputized the entire company to drive climate change. Kinder joined Nike in 1999 but has been a strong advocate for this mission since his time in the Peace Corps.
Nyla Hayes may be in middle school, but she has already managed to do something most adults consider impossible: Build a successful career as an artist. She began drawing when she was four. At nine, she switched from crayons and pencils to digital art and began developing her unique style. Her collections, which are inspired by the long, strong necks of the Brontosaurus, feature long-necked women of all races. This year, at 12, she earned $3.4 million in digital currency selling her hand-drawn, computer-generated NFTs.
VP of engineering for Chrome
When you log onto the web, chances are high that you do it by first launching Google Chrome. That product is Parisa Tabriz’s purview. She manages the team that builds and maintains it and makes sure it stays safe and secure. She also manages Google’s Project Zero, a team of skilled hackers who find vulnerabilities in hardware and software systems used by all of us. She also mentors teens, women, and other underrepresented groups in technology.
CEO and Founder
America loves its hamburgers and steaks, but the planet doesn’t: Cattle are an enormous contributor to global warming. So Pat Brown turned a degree in biochemistry and a marvelous understanding of genetics into a food-science revolution: plant-based meat products that taste as good as the real thing. From burgers and sausage to nuggets and meatballs, Brown has literally done the impossible.
Executive Vice President of Gaming
For many, Phil Spencer’s role at Microsoft is the dream job. He is the executive vice president of gaming, which means he heads up Xbox, Xbox Live, and Microsoft Studios and reports directly to CEO Satya Nadella. He started at Microsoft as an intern in 1988 and has seen the company through many divisions that are now historical artifacts. He launched the industry-shaking Game Pass service that pleased consumers and has proved to be financially viable. This year Bethesda games joined Microsoft, bringing the wildly popular Skyrim series under his purview.
SVP, Devices & Services
Rick Osterloh has been leading the hardware division at Google since 2016 – or longer if you count his stint as president of Motorola Mobility when Google briefly owned it. In that time, he oversaw the launch of the Google Pixel phones, Google Home speakers, Daydream VR headsets, the Pixelbook tablets, and much more. This year, his team launched a phone boasting Google’s own custom silicon, an idea he and Google CEO Sundar Pichai began discussing in 2016.
Senior Vice President and Head Scientist for Alexa
When you tell Alexa to turn on the lights or ask her about the weather, you can thank Rohit Prasad for her understanding you. He leads the team that works to make your conversations with that AI seamless and natural. With degrees in electrical engineering and business from the Birla Institute of Technology, the Illinois Institute of Technology, and MIT, he was promoted this year to head scientist for Alexa.
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
In 2014, Satya Nadella succeeded Steve Balmer as CEO of Microsoft and in 2021 took over from John W. Thompson as chairman. In these influential roles, he has led some massive projects, including the company’s move to cloud computing and the development of one of the largest cloud infrastructures in the world. He was born in Hyderabad, India, and has degrees from the Manipal Institute of Technology, the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, and the University of Chicago.
When Animal Crossing: New Horizons launched during the depths of the pandemic, it became an island of calm and human connection for Nintendo Switch users around the world. It was a cheerful, happy place to hang out with people you could not see in person. Shuntaro Furukawa, Nintendo’s sixth global president told Fast Company in April that the game’s success surprised everyone, even him. Furukawa has been with Nintendo for 27 years and grew up – in Tokyo – playing Nintendo games.
Google and Alphabet
Sundar Pichai is the CEO of both Alphabet, Inc. and Google, which puts him in a seat of power in the universe of technology like no other. Born in Madras, India, he has engineering degrees from IIT Kharagpur and Stanford and an MBA from Wharton. He began his career as a materials engineer and joined Google in 2004. In 2021, he told the Times of India that while other companies may be focusing on AI, the future of Google is timeless: Search.
With her elemental role in the creation of Google, the development of AdSense and Google Analytics, and her current position as the CEO of YouTube, Susan Wojcicki is a household name for anyone who follows technology. This year, she received a “Free Expression” award from the Freedom Forum Institute for the impact YouTube has on protecting free speech around the world.
Apps Without Code
Founder and CEO
Tara Reed is a pioneer of no-code development and the founder of Apps Without Code. Her adventures started when she created an app – Kollecto, which matches people with art – without writing a single line of code. In the process, she discovered that people were hungry to know how to do what she had just done. So she founded this “no-code university,” which has taught 150,000 people who have no coding background how to create apps.
Co-CEO and Chief Content Officer
Ted Sarandos joined Netflix in 2000, when it was a mail-order CD-rental business, and a decade later initiated much of the company’s early original content – including Lillehammer, which incongruously puts mobbed-up Steven Van Zandt in isolated Norway – House of Cards, and much more. He made headlines in 2021 for brokering a difficult dispute between the LGBTQ+ community, including Netflix employees, and Dave Chappelle’s jokes that target them.
Tim Cook’s career is the stuff of tech legends, from his start at Apple in 1998 to taking over as CEO in 2011, the same year Steve Jobs died, he has been changing the world. Cook has been an advocate for the reform of government surveillance, the environment, and LGBT rights while launching the Apple Watch, creating Apple’s incredible supply chain, and leaning into services as the future of revenue for the company, among many other things. It’s no surprise that, in 2021, he was on the “Time 100” list of the 100 most influential people in the world.
VP of Platform Architecture
Tim Millet has been at Apple for 16 years and has served as the vice president of platform architecture since 2015. His group develops Apple’s system-on-chip architecture. In this role, Millet oversaw the rollout of the A14 chip, which is capable of 11 trillion calculations per second. That’s a huge leap over the 2017 iPhone X, the first with face unlocking, which could process 600 billion operations per second. He holds over 60 patents.
Cofounder and CEO
During the pandemic, DoorDash became an essential service for many homebound humans. Tony Xu is at the company’s helm and started the business as a way to help small businesses succeed after spending his youth working at his mother’s restaurant. The company was initially born of a project he conceived of while he was a student at Stanford and, this year, claimed more than half of the meal delivery market.
Principal Product Manager
In Trang-Thien Tran’s world, Amazon is not a place to shop but a way to help. She leads a team that goes into humanitarian disasters and helps the people in need. Her team coordinates transport – often Amazon’s own aircraft and vehicles – to rush supplies to the scene. The supplies usually come from Amazon’s own stores or those of Whole Foods, which it owns. Since 2017, Amazon has donated more than 15 million relief items to support people impacted by over 70 natural disasters around the world.
The Center for Humane Technology
As president and co-founder of the Center for Humane Technology, Tristan Harris devotes his time to contemplating ways technology can be more humane. In 2013, Harris, who was a design ethicist at Google, created a presentation called “A Call to Minimize Distraction & Respect Users’ Attention.” The presentation went viral and led to two Ted Talks and a 60 Minutes interview that sparked a movement. His podcasts, courses, research, and toolkits are designed to help people reclaim their attention in the face of tools that are engineered to distract.
Head of Snap Originals
Snap Inc. – the company behind Snapchat – is making big efforts to develop original, short-form, mobile content to keep the attention of its teen and early 20s demographic and Vanessa Guthrie is leading this charge. She took on the role of Head of Original content in July of this year, while much of the world was staying home due to the pandemic, and has been building out shows and adding augmented reality and immersive programs at a dizzying rate, with original programming that rolls out new episodes fast, sometimes every 48 hours.