Chris O’Brien’s Influencers of Silicon Valley


Chris O’Brien over at the Merc published The Influencers of Silicon Valley, a list of 10 important influencers in Silicon Valley. I’m on record as one who likes lists, and I’m recommending you read this one. These are people you may want to get to know. Plus, Chris revealed a bit about how he compiled the list, and you’ll find that of interest if you’re compiling your own list of market influencers.

First, who’s in: Marnie Webb, Susan Wu, Dave McClure, Charlene Li, Kevin Surace, Vish Mishra, Criag Hampel, Lisa Stone, Steve Blank and Tim O’Reilly. These are not just the usual suspects. The group is made up of people who each influence the industry in a special way. They don’t seek influence for the sake of influence. They’re driven by innovation and furthering business.

Next, Chris’ approach to list building:

Through conversations, emails and tweets with colleagues, friends and sources, I compiled an initial list of more than 100 candidates, including many I had never heard of. Then I whittled it down, in part by focusing on those who are having a real, quantifiable impact. In many cases, these people might be superstars in their realm yet barely known outside of it. My final 10 are not necessarily the most influential, but they are playing an essential role in shaping the valley’s innovation economy.

Take-aways for building your own list of influencers:

  • It’s a great idea to talk to people on the ground when you’re compiling a raw list of influencers. Like Chris, you’ll discover people you don’t know and would otherwise overlook. Talking to people can also help in validating and ranking your list. You’ll begin discovering which of the big-name luminaries really hold sway and which are filtered out.
  • Articulate a clear objective for compiling the list, and stick to it. Are you looking for the famous? The rich? The movers and shakers? The people who talk to start-ups or mid-size enterprises?
  • Document the reasons for including each person on your list. A simple numerical ranking is not enough. Human beings need human reasons to pursue relationships. What kinds of relationships do your influencers build and why are these relationships important to you?

Congrats to everyone, and hats off to Chris for great work.