Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

Finalists For Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year Awards

Posted by Tom Foremski - June 21, 2013

There's alway lots of interesting finalists at Ernst & Young's Entrepreneur of the Year awards. There are 1700 nominees taking part in regional programs.

Here is a selection of finalists for Northern California: (via Gary Good at Trainer Communications.)

Lyndon Rive, SolarCity, CEO and co-founder. 

- Rive is positioning SolarCity to transform the energy industry by offering consumers a choice in their source of energy.

- Under the leadership of Rive, SolarCity is changing the energy industry and eliminating “the grid.”

- SolarCity had a very successful IPO in December 2012 and was said to have punched “through the ‘solar curse.’”

- Chairman of SolarCity Board is Elon Musk of Tesla.

- SolarCity has grown to 3,000 employees since its founding in 2006.


Dr. Katie Rodan and Dr. Kathy Fields, Rodan + Fields Dermatologists.

- Drs. Rodan and Fields have a “do-it-yourself” attitude in all of their ventures including the creation of Proactiv, one of the most successful over-the-counter acne solutions in history.

- The doctors sold the product to Estee Lauder only to turn around and buy it back from the cosmetics giant in order to continue the prescriptive nature of their products and begin a direct-selling model utilizing infomercials.

- They created a custom technology platform in 2009 utilizing the cloud and social media that allows consultants to create their own website and set up their own businesses online.


Tod Sacerdoti, BrightRoll, CEO. 

- As one of the early leaders within an up-and-coming industry, Sacerdoti has transformed his company into one of the most profitable and successful online video advertising firms, competing with such tech-giants as Google.

- BrightRoll technology has disrupted the online video industry by creating a fully-automated exchange to connect buyers and sellers on a video advertising network.

- Sacerdoti has made a $1 million pledge from BrightRoll toward industry innovation and research around online video and advertising.

- Sacerdoti transformed BrightRoll from a direct sales business to a platform-based business, and, as of last year, became the largest private video company by revenue.


Maky Zanhaneh, Pharmacyclics, COO.

- Pharmacyclics is a biopharmaceutical company dedicated to designing, developing and commercializing new therapies.

- Pharmacyclics is creating a cancer drug that allows patients to treat their disease without the horrible side effects of chemotherapy and radiation through a once daily pill.

-  Recognizing she needed to accelerate the testing and commercialization of the new compound, she went the partner route and struck a deal with Johnson & Johnson, which sped the availability to patients across multiple oncology disease groups.

- Maky has increased Pharmacyclics' market cap from $15 million to $5.7 billion.


Aaron Bell, AdRoll, Founder and CEO.

- Bell was a high school student and full time engineer at Microsoft (the youngest engineer ever at the company) helping to launch Microsoft Exchange Server, one of the cornerstones of modern technology – email.

- In 2012, Inc. Magazine named AdRoll the #1 fastest growing private company in California and the #1 fastest growing advertising firm in the entire country.

- Bell has been recognized by Forbes as a “true prodigy” in America’s Most Promising CEOs under 35 article, and AdRoll was #30 on America’s Most Promising Companies List.

- Bell revolutionized the pricing model via dynamic CPM. Rather than charge per click – which encourages competitors to place ads on spam sites – AdRoll charges a set margin ensuring high quality click-throughs


Christian Freidland, Build.com.

- While working for a plumbing supply company after college, Freidland strategized ways to bring the home improvement business into the 21st century and founded Faucetsdirect.com – a kind of Amazon for home improvement.

- Faucetsdirect.com produced approximately $1m in revenue in its first year and is now one of more than 12 specialty home improvement websites under the umbrella of Build.com.

- Build.com is one of the top employers in Chico, CA and did over $324 million in sales in 2012.

- The company is planning on revenues of $500 million in 2013 and strives to hit $800 million in the next five years. Although, Freidland has set $1 billion as his personal growth goal.

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