Top 10 techies with Seattle connections

Jul 12, 2010, 2:22 AM | Updated: Mar 28, 2011, 3:46 pm

Steve Jobs is the smartest person in technology on the planet. He knows that, and Fortune Magazine agrees. Fortune’s ranking of the 50 smartest people puts Jobs at the top, and includes 10 people with connections to Seattle.

The Fortune article notes that Jobs returned to Apple in 1997 when the company was close to bankruptcy and 13 years later it is the world’s most valuable tech company with a market cap of $250 billion.

Local smartest people in tech, and their ranking:

2. Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon.com, who “never stops innovating.” He launched Amazon in 1994, turning it into a “massive virtual mall open to other vendors’ wares.”

3. Dr. Mitch Gold, CEO of Seattle-based Dendreon. The company has won approval from the FDA for its drug Provenge, a prostate cancer vaccine that stimulates the body’s own immune system to attack tumors.

8. Indrani Medhi, Microsoft Research India. While more than 1.8 billion people use PCs around the world, another 2 billion people can’t because of illiteracy. That’s where Microsoft Research has made a difference. Medhi is an expert at text-free user interfaces which are “the result of spending more than 450 hours studying 400 low-income subjects in Indian slums, South African farms, and Filipino fishing villages.”

9. Shigeru Miyamoto, Nintendo. He is the genius behind Nintendo’s beloved brand characters, like Mario and Luigi, Donkey Kong and Zelda. Fortune says he’s “singlehandedly responsible for the modern videogame juggernaut.” Nintendo’s North American headquarters are based in Redmond.

12. Michael Arrington, Founder and co-editor of Techcrunch. Arrington’s local connection is recent – he relocated to Seattle from the Silicon Valley in May. Arrington was a corporate lawyer before he started TechCrunch in 2005.

21. Christophe Bisciglia, Co-Founder of Cloudera. The smartest engineer in tech grew up in Gig Harbor and before he started his own company in California, he taught a class at the University of Washington called “Google 101.” He showed engineers how to program on a cloud-size scale. While Bill Gates wanted a computer on every desk top, cloud computing makes information accessible in many ways.

23. Luke Rajlich, CTO FarmVille. Laugh at FarmVille all you want, more than 20 million people play the online social game every day. Rajlich leads the engineering team. He’s a former Microsoft software engineer. At one time he worked on an early prototype of Windows Vista Meeting Space.

26. Danah Boyd, Microsoft Research. Fortune calls Boyd the smartest academic who’s “made a career of questioning the status quo.” I think she’s one of the most influential women in technology.

35. Nathan Myhrvold, Co-founder, Intellectual Ventures. Myhrvold, from Seattle, was Microsoft’s first chief technology officer and founder of Microsoft Research. He’s brilliant, and personally holds more than 18 U.S. patents and has applied for more than 100.

48. Michael Grimes, Investment Banker, Morgan Stanley. Adding Grimes to the local list of techies is a stretch, but one of the many deals he was behind was huge – Amazon.com’s acquisition of Zappos.

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Top 10 techies with Seattle connections