Alumni Spotlight is pleased to announce The Top 100 Duke Alumni in Technology of 2021. Known for being one of the finest institutions in the South, this university has seen countless students pass through its doors and head off to greatness. Consistently excelling in athletics and academics, Duke students know the value of ‘Work hard, play hard.' Today’s awardees are dedicated to progress and change with technology at their focus. They exemplify the university’s mission “to advance the frontiers of knowledge and contribute boldly to the international community.” These accomplished individuals have been working diligently to create new technologies or further develop existing ones in turn paving the way for a brighter future.
Alumni like Luis von Ahn, the Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of the language learning app Duolingo, are dedicating themselves to the betterment of society by bridging divides across the world. Others leading venture capital firms like Jeremy Levine of Bessemer or Ravi Gupta of Sequoia are investing in and guiding start up companies that will change the course of technology for years to come. Likely the most well known alumni featured today, Tim Cook of Apple, is continuously raising the bar using wisdom, strategy, courage and character, all attributes fostered and encouraged by Duke University. It is our distinct honor to be able to recognize such an accomplished group of industry leaders. Please join us in celebrating the achievements of the Top 100 Duke Alumni in Technology of 2021.
1. Tim Cook
Tim Cook is the Chief Executive Officer and Board Member of Apple. He first joined the company in 1998 as the Senior Vice President for Worldwide Operations. Since the start of his time as CEO of the multinational technology company, Cook has doubled the company’s revenue and profit as well as increased the company’s market value from billions to trillions.
Previously, Tim was a Vice President of Corporate Materials for Compaq and before that a Chief Operating Officer of the Reseller Division at Intelligent Electronics. Tim also spent 12 years with IBM, most recently as Director of North American Fulfillment. Tim earned an MBA from Duke University and an undergraduate degree in Industrial Engineering from Auburn University.
2. Fred Ehrsam
Fred Ehrsam is the Co-Founder of Paradigm. Paradigm automates bilateral price negotiation and settlement workflows for institutional digital asset traders. Ehrsam has 11 years in the venture capital and private equity industry. He began his career in 2010.
Before founding Paradigm, Ehrsam was a Co-Founder and President of Coinbase and before that a trader at Goldman Sachs. Eshram graduated from Duke University with an undergraduate degree in Computer Science and Economics.
8. John Burbank
John Burbank is the Founder of Passport Capital. He founded the company in 2000. Passport Capital is a global thematic investment firm that anticipates macro trends from emerging marketing to emerging technology across a range of early stage strategies.
Burbank has over twenty years of experience in the global equity markets. Prior to founding Passport Capital, he was a consultant to JMG Triton Offshore and a Director of Research at ValueVest Management. John holds a BA degree from Duke University and earned an MBA from the Stanford Business School.
12. Luis von Ahn
Luis von Ahn began his professional career 14 years ago. Today, he is the Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of Duolingo. Duolingo is the world’s most popular way to learn a language. Their mission is to develop the best education in the world and make language learning universally available.
von Ahn first got his start in 2007 as a Founder and Chief Executive Officer at reCAPTCHA, before eventually rising to a professor at Carnegie Mellon University, his most recent position prior to founding Duolingo. von Ahn graduated from Carnegie Mellon University with a Ph.D. in Computer Science and from Duke University with an undergraduate degree in Mathematics.
19. Pamir Gelenbe
Pamir is a Venture Partner at Hummingbird Ventures, a venture capital partner for extraordinary entrepreneurs building fast-growth tech companies. Hummingbird Ventures teamed up with transformative companies, including Deliveroo, Showpad, Kraken, Peak Games, Clear2pay, Amplidata, Gram Games, Shutl and many others.
Gelenbe previously founded CoinSummit, a series of events in the US and Europe focused on virtual currencies. He is a Managing Partner at Libertus Capital and previously worked at Morgan Stanley and D.E. Shaw. Gelenbe graduated from Duke University and Columbia University with a BSc. in Electrical Engineering and MSc. in Operations Research.
29. Yunha Kim
Yunha Kim is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Simple Habit. Simple Habit’s mission is to empower people to live better, every day. Simple Habit is a content marketplace for mental wellness. Consumers use their mobile and web platform to discover 5-minute audio content that focus on specific situations and moods. Hundreds of mental wellness experts use their platform to distribute, monetize, and analyze content. Kim has 9 years in the health, wellness and fitness industry. She began her career in 2012.
Before founding Simple Habit, Kim was a Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer at Locket and before that an Investment Banking Analyst at Jefferies & Company. Kim graduated from Duke University with an undergraduate degree.
37. Ethan Anderson
Ethan Anderson is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of MyTime, first founding the company in 2011. MyTime is the leading cloud-based point of sale and appointment scheduling solution for franchises and enterprise organizations. It works to maximize revenue by reaching customers wherever they are at the moment they are ready to transact.
Previously, Anderson was a Founder and Chief Executive Officer at Redbeacon (acquired by Home Depot) and before that a Product Manager of Consumer Search at Google. Earlier in his career, he worked with McKinsey & Company as a Business Analyst. Anderson earned an MBA from Harvard Business School and an undergraduate degree in Economics and Public Policy Studies from Duke University.
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47. Nicholas Chang
Nicholas Chang began his professional career 15 years ago. Today, he is the Executive Chairman and President of Pill Club. He first joined the company in 2014 as Chief Executive Officer. The Pill Club is making women’s healthcare more accessible and affordable by creating a simple, personal and convenient patient experience. They have built in-house medical and pharmacy capabilities all integrated with insurance, to create a superior customer experience.
Chang first got his start in 2006 as a Patient Care Associate at Leahi Hospital. Chang graduated from Stanford University with a JD and MS in Biological and Biomedical Sciences, from Duke University with an MD, and from Stanford University with an undergraduate degree in Biological Sciences.
54. David Rubenstein
David Rubenstein is the Co-Founder and Co-Chairman of The Carlyle Group. He first founded the company in 1987 and previously served as Co-CEO. The Carlyle Group is one of the world's largest and most successful private equity firms that caters to early and later stage companies. They currently have around $221 billion in assets under management.
Previously, Rubenstein practiced law at Shaw, Pittman, Potts & Trowbridge LLP and before that he was a Deputy Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy. Earlier in his career he worked with Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP as a lawyer. Rubenstein earned a graduate degree from University of Chicago Law School and an undergraduate degree from Duke University.
60. Howard Lerman
Howard Lerman began his professional career 21 years ago. Today, he is the Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Yext. Yext's mission is to transform the enterprise with AI search. Yext offers a modern, AI-powered answers platform that understands natural language so that when people ask questions about a business online they get direct answers, not links.
Lerman first got his start in 2000 as the Founder and President at Justatip.com. Lerman graduated from Duke University with an undergraduate degree in History.
63. Alexander Kvamme
Alexander Kvamme is the Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Pathlight. Pathlight is empowering everyone to achieve their professional best with real-time performance management. By consolidating performance data, coaching, and communication in one place, the platform empowers data-driven management at every layer of the organizational chart. Kvamme has 11 years in the internet industry. He began his career in 2010.
Before founding Pathlight, Kvamme was a Chief Executive Officer of SeatMe at Yelp. Kvamme graduated from Duke University with an undergraduate degree.
64. Natalie Hwang
Natalie Hwang began her professional career 15 years ago. Today, she is the Founding Managing Partner of Apeira Capital. Apeira Capital is a creative investment and advisory firm focused on disruptive distribution technology.
Hwang first got her start in 2006 as an associate at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP, before eventually rising to vice president at The Blackstone Group, her most recent position prior to founding Apeira Capital. Hwang graduated from the University of Virginia School of Law with a JD and from Duke University with an undergraduate degree in public policy, economics, and philosophy.
71. Joanna Rees
Joanna Rees is the Managing Partner of West. She first joined the company in 2016. West is a venture studio that specializes in the end-to-end process of designing, building, and launching purpose-driven brands.
Previously, Rees was a Senior Partner at The B Team and before that a Partner at Soda Rock Partners. Earlier in her career, she worked with VSP Capital as a Managing Partner. Rees earned an MBA in Finance from Columbia Business School and an undergraduate degree in Psychology from Duke University.
75. Garheng Kong
Garheng Kong began his professional career 21 years ago. Today, he is the Founder and Managing Partner of HealthQuest Capital. HealthQuest Capital is a sector-specialist manager that provides growth capital to transformative companies that are optimizing value in healthcare, either by improving outcomes or improving efficiency and delivery and lowering cost.
Kong first got his start in 2000 as a General Partner at Intersouth Partners. From there, he went on to Sofinnova Ventures, his most recent position prior to founding HealthQuest Capital. Kong graduated from Duke University with an MD, PhD in Biomedical Engineering, an MBA and with bachelor's degrees in Chemical Engineering and Biological Sciences.
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81. Kunal Agarwal
Kunal Agarwal is the Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of Unravel Data. Unravel is radically simplifying the management of big data applications and systems. Unravel is built by data experts from the ground up to tackle unique challenges in modern data systems such as Spark, Kafka, Presto and more. The world's most innovative companies use Unravel to make data live up to its promise. Agarwal has 15 years in the computer software industry. He began his career in 2006.
Before founding Unravel Data, Agarwal was a Sales Director at eOne Infotech and before that a Business Intelligence Consultant at Express Scripts. Earlier in his career, he worked with Sun Microsystems as a Grid Computing Specialist. Agarwal graduated from Duke University with an MBA in Entrepreneurial Studies and from Valparaiso University with an undergraduate degree in Computer and Electrical Engineering.
85. Odysseas Papadimitriou
Odysseas Papadimitriou is the Chief Executive Officer and Founder of WalletHub. WalletHub is a leading personal finance website that helps consumers make smarter financial decisions. They offer free credit scores and reports, credit monitoring, reviews of financial products and companies, and extensive financial education. Papadimitriou has 21 years in the internet industry. He began his career in 2000.
Before founding WalletHub, Papadimitriou was a Chief Executive Officer and Founder of CardHub and before that a Senior Director in Marketing and Analysis at Capital One. Papadimitriou graduated from Duke University - The Fuqua School of Business with an MBA in Finance and from Brown University with an undergraduate degree in Civil Engineering and Economics.
91. Jonathan Seeber
Jonathan Seeber began his professional career 24 years ago. Today, he is a General Partner of Updata Partners. Updata Partners provides growth capital to market leading software companies. Led by a team averaging more than 20 years of operating and investment experience in the software industry, they invest in high-growth businesses where the combination of their capital and growth expertise help accelerate success.
Seeber previously served in the Air Force as an Officer. From there, he went on to IBM working in Corporate Development, his most recent position prior to joining Updata Partners. Seeber graduated from Harvard Business School with an MBA and from Duke University with an undergraduate degree in Computer Science and History.
92. Jan Bouten
Jan Bouten is a Partner of Innova Memphis. He first joined the company in 2009. Innova Memphis is a venture capital and private equity company based out of Memphis, Tennessee. Their mission is to enable and create high-growth companies and jobs in the healthcare, technology and AgTech fields by providing seed capital and experienced hands-on mentorship and leadership.
Previously, Bouten was an Executive Director of Tecworks at Memphis Bioworks Foundation and a Venture Partner at Aurora Funds. Earlier in his career he worked with Madge Networks as a Marketing Engineer. Bouten earned an MBA from Duke University - The Fuqua School of Business and an undergraduate degree in Computer Science from Fontys University of Applied Sciences.
93. Justin Wickett
Justin Wickett is the Founder and CEO of Informed.IQ, an AI startup serving the financial
services industry. Informed uses machine learning models to classify, analyze, and extract data
from documents used in consumer lending, mortgage, and bank account openings.
Prior to founding Informed.IQ, Wickett was Director of Product at Credit Karma, responsible for offerings to consumers in the auto loan refinancing and insurance categories. Earlier, Wickett worked at Lyft during its rapid growth phase, reporting to the CEO and overseeing all passenger growth initiatives. At Lyft, Wickett also helped restructure the product management and engineering groups to give product managers ownership over metric goals. Wickett started his career at Zynga Poker, a top 20 Grossing app across several platforms and Zynga’s evergreen product. He rose to Director of Product, hiring and leading a 12-person product team and overseeing revenues of $250M. For the last six years, Wickett has served as an Advisor to PicsArt, the world’s largest mobile photo editing app with over 150M Monthly Active Users. He advises PicsArt on social use cases, growth channel upside, new user experience, and international market expansion. Wickett has a bachelor’s in Computer Science from Duke University and holds several US patents.
94. Akshita Iyer
Akshita Iyer is the Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Ome. Ome is reinventing how consumers cook at home. Ome will instantly turn a stove into a smart one with their easy-to-use smart knobs so users can focus less on cooking and more on living. Iyer has 2 years in the consumer electronics industry. She began her career in 2019.
In addition to her roles at Ome, Iyer is currently working with Techstars and BSH Home Appliances Group. Iyer graduated from Duke University with an undergraduate degree in Neuroscience and Consumer Behavior.
95. Russell Fadel
Russ Fadel is CEO and Co-Founder of Augmentir, the world’s only AI-powered Connected Worker platform. Connected Worker software is designed to close the rapidly expanding skills gap in the industrial frontline workforce. Augmentir uses Artificial Intelligence to provide personalized guidance and support to manufacturing and service workers to enable them to perform complex operational and maintenance tasks at their personal best.
Prior to founding Augmentir, Russ founded four other successful manufacturing software companies, the most recent include: ThingWorx (acquired by PTC) and Lighthammer (acquired by SAP). Russ graduated from Duke University with a BS in Mechanical Engineering.
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96. Brian Model
Brian Model is the Managing Partner of Topmark Partners. At Topmark Partners they collaborate closely with management teams to build high growth technology-enabled businesses. The team at Topmark Partners has invested together for 20 years and has invested approximately $84 million in 48 growth stage companies.
Model currently serves on the board of directors of Clerio Vision, GTR, Ride Health, itopia, CoachCare, Lumetrics, and Critical Mention (observer). Model is active in the regional venture investing community, serving as executive committee member and past president of the Upstate Capital Association of New York and a member of the board of directors of the Florida Venture Forum. Model earned an undergraduate degree Economics from Duke University and an MBA, with honors, from Columbia Business School.
97. Bant Breen
Bant Breen is the Founder, Chairman, and Chief Executive Officer of Qnary. He first founded the company in 2016. Qnary is an award-winning executive reputation management and talent branding solutions company. By leveraging executives’ social media presence, Qnary helps establish and elevate their thought leadership, ultimately positively impacting business growth, brand awareness, and talent acquisition/retention for their respective organizations.
Previously, Breen was a Chief Executive Officer and consultant at Harte Hanks and before that a worldwide Chief Executive Officer at Reprise Media (IPG). Earlier in his career, he worked with Leo Burnett as a Regional Digital and Integrated Communications Director. Breen earned a Ph.D. in Artificial Intelligence and Marketing from Blanquerna, an MA in History from the University of Cambridge, and an undergraduate degree in History and Art History from Duke University.
98. Meranee Phing Naaman
The Riverside Company
Meranee Phing Naaman is a Senior Partner at The Riverside Company, a global private equity firm, focused on the lower end of the middle market or companies with enterprise values under $450 million. She first joined the firm in 2005 and heads the firm’s consumer focused technology investments globally.
Prior to joining The Riverside Company, Naaman was a Private Equity Associate at DB Capital Partners, Deutsche Bank and before that an Investment Banking Analyst at The Robinson-Humphrey. Over the years Naaman has served as a Board Member for several organizations. Naaman has a bachelors in Biology, History and Chemistry from Duke University and an MBA in Finance, Management & Strategy and Marketing from Northwestern University.
99. Brian Bolze
Brian Bolze is the Director of Software Engineering, Mind Technologies at Hyperice. Hyperice is the leader in recovery and movement enhancement technology, utilizing ice, heat, percussion, and vibration to accelerate recovery times and enhance muscle and joint movement. He first joined the company in 2021.
In addition to his role with Hyperice, Bolze is the Co-Founder and CTO of Core. He first got his career start with HoneyChord as a Lead Developer and Designer. Bolze graduated from Stanford University with a masters in Management Science and Engineering and from Duke University with a bachelors in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.
100. Neil Sharma
Neil Sharma is a CoFounder and the Chief Operating Officer of SolarKal. SolarKal is the largest commercial solar energy marketplace in the U.S, connecting businesses to a network of solar providers to arrive at the customer's optimal outcome. Through a tech-driven proprietary bidding platform, real estate owners, non-profits, businesses and corporations can easily compare customized quotes from dozens of pre-vetted solar providers.
Sharma brings 25 years of experience spanning finance, venture capital, sales and marketing, technology product management, and national and international expansion. Prior to SolarKal, Sharma held senior management roles at two Series A stage startups, responsible for fundraising and growth strategy. Prior to this, Sharma worked for Viacom, launching new technologies in the media space, and in banking and VC at Bank of America and Spire Capital Partners. Sharma holds a Bachelor degree in Science from Duke University and an MBA from Columbia Business School.
View the complete list of awardees.