We’ve had a lot of exciting guests cross our Disrupt stage — there was the time we had the HBO crew from Silicon Valley do an interview, and Ashton Kutcher is becoming a regular fixture, not to mention repeat appearances from Mark Zuckerberg and Marissa Mayer and Marc Benioff.
But perhaps more exciting than anything is our investor panel, which pulls together some of the most in-the-know investors in the world to discuss which big bets they think will pay off in the next year.
Omar Hamoui hasn’t always had success in his entrepreneurial ventures. He failed twice before launching AdMob in 2006 — one of the very first mobile ad networks to pick up traction. Venture capital firm Sequoia Capital was one of the first investors of the company.
Hamoui’s company took off and was sold to Google in 2009 for $750 million, after which he became VP of mobile ads at Google and was responsible for the development and innovation of Google’s mobile advertising. But Hamoui left soon after to continue helping companies grow. He founded an incubator, Churn Labs, which brought companies such as Maybe (which became a part of LinkedIn in 2013) and Metaresolver. He made angel investments in Gigwalk, Card.io (acquired by PayPal), and Pocket Gems, among others.
Currently, Hamoui is a partner at Sequoia Capital, partnering with early stage companies and is looking to do for other entrepreneurs what Sequoia did for him.
Working as a partner at venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers since 1999, Aileen Lee has been the lead or supporting partner with KPCB-backed companies Bloom Energy, Blue Nile and Friendster, among others. Alongside being one of the most fashion-forward investors in Silicon Valley, she also happens to be one of the leading minds on the intersection of fashion, ecommerce, and technology.
Traditionally, KPCB has been making bigger bets on companies, some of which are now leaders in the tech industry. Google, Facebook and Amazon all come to mind. But in 2012, Lee shifted her focus to create a smaller firm, Cowboy Ventures, that provides seed-stage investments. Cowboy Ventures, named after her son, received $40 million to focus on seed stage investment.
Lee, who was the founding CEO of RMG Networks, has held operating roles at Gap Inc., The North Face and Odwalla and started her career at Morgan Stanley.
Harvard graduate Danny Rimer has been in the venture industry for more than 12 years. He joined Index Ventures in 2002 and has since led investments in a variety of notable startups such as Etsy, Skype, Last.fm, and Dropbox.
Rimer, who helped established Index Ventures’ London and San Francisco office, is focused on investing in consumer internet and mobile, including networks, platforms, and marketplaces. Before Index Ventures, Rimer, who grew up in Geneva, Switzerland, was a general partner of The Barksdale Group and before that he was the managing director in Hambrecht & Quist’s Equity Research Group.
Few people, if any, have the same breadth in VC investing that he does.
James Slavet is a partner at Greylock Capital, a firm responsible for backing companies like Dropbox, Instagram, Groupon, and Airbnb.
Slavet finds that much of the developed world is now engaged in a last-second economy — where if someone forgets to book a hotel, repair their car, or reserve a table at a restaurant, it can all be fixed within minutes with a couple of taps via a smartphone. This is a departure from tradition from just 10 years ago, when plans had to be booked weeks in advance. Slavet believes if companies don’t evolve with the times, they will fail.
Slavet has visions for up-and-coming companies that challenge the traditional industries of education, healthcare, financial services, and retail.
Additional reporting by Julian Chokkattu.