Arik Hesseldahl

Recent Posts by Arik Hesseldahl

Look at This Impressive List of Startups Headed by Alumni

One of the traditions of Silicon Valley and tech companies in general is that great companies have a way of fertilizing the ground for other companies to follow in their wake years later. Execs who come up through the ranks at one company learn at the knee of one or a few entrepreneurs and take what they’ve learned and apply it to new ideas.

The classic example of this phenomenon are the so-called Fairchildren — the companies that followed the old Fairchild Semiconductor, which include such venerable names as Intel and Advanced Micro Devices. Then there’s the PayPal Mafia, named for the many early employees of the payment company who went on to start companies as varied as Tesla Motors, YouTube and LinkedIn.

Another company that appears to be having a similar effect is Since its founding in 1999, enough people have passed through its doors and gone on to start companies of their own that it’s now worth going to the effort of buildings a list of such people, and its getting to be a little lengthy.

The person who has done it — and who is also on the list — is Leo Tenenblat, founder and CEO of AppMesh, a would-be Salesforce rival that’s looking to build a customer relationship management tool aimed at mobile devices. (I first wrote about it earlier this year.)

Tenenblat’s list, which he readily admits is probably incomplete, shows 43 people at 34 companies all founded since 2007. Among the names are Todd McKinnon of cloud identity startup Okta (which just raised a $27 million Series D funding round), Tien Tzuo of Zuora, (which just raised $50 million) and Clarah Shih of Hearsay Social, (which just raised $30 million). He even suggests a collective phrase for them all: The Salesforce Startup Cloud.

Of course, Salesforce’s Benioff had his own formative years, too; they were spent at Oracle, where he was a student of its founder and CEO Larry Ellison. It’s worth noting that Oracle alumni can be found all over the place, too, and include not only Benioff but NetSuite CEO Zach Nelson among numerous others.

Here’s a partial screen-grab of the first dozen or so companies on Tenenblat’s list, but if you want to see the whole thing, check out his blog post here.

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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus