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Four extraordinary leaders that have shaped the Silicon Valley sphere and beyond

Tim O’Reilly at the 2014 SVForum Visionary Awards
Tim O’Reilly at the 2014 SVForum Visionary Awards
DJ Cline -

At the SVForum 17th Annual Visionary Awards this month four exceptional leaders in the technology, education, media, entrepreneurship and VC industry were honored. Each year, SVForum and a team of experts selects four Silicon Valley visionaries who represent entrepreneurship and innovation, and whose influence continues to shape not only the San Francisco Bay Area but also has a significant impact around the world.

Here are the 2014 visionaries, who made a difference by pursuing their dreams, passions and commitment to social responsible action:
Tim Draper - Entrepreneur, Venture Capitalist and investor, founding partner of Draper Fisher Jurvetson, established Draper University of Heroes, and the “Six Californias” initiative.

Jessica Jackley - Entrepreneur and investor, Co-founder of Kiva (the first microlending website), co-founder of ProFounder (a crowdfunding platform for US entrepreneurs), a visiting practitioner at Stanford’s Center for Philanthropy and Civil Society, an advisor to the Collaborative Fund, and more.

Tim O’Reilly - Author of the “animal books”, a leader in the Web 2.0, established GNN (the first commercial website), founder of O’Reilly Media, Maker Faire, and more.

Dr. Tina Seelig - A remarkable professor, author, consultant, entrepreneur, and neuroscientist. Teaches in the Dept. of Management Science and Engineering (MS&E) at Stanford University, Executive Director for t he Stanford Technology Ventures Program (STVP), the entrepreneurship center at Stanford University School of Engineering, and more.

Held at the historic Stonebrook Court Estate in Los Altos Hills, honoraries were introduced by their chosen family member, or a friend, or a colleague. Counter to their family, friends, and business colleagues advice, each of these leaders took risks by pursuing their vision, and in making a difference.

Tim Draper is a second generation visionary! His father, William Draper, received the Vision Award from SVForum (formerly SDForum) in 2005. Knowing Tim as his dad, Billy Draper said he looked up Tim’s profile on Wikipedia to get an overview of his father's accomplishments, in preparation for the evening's introduction. The list of his dad's achievements were impressive. As the case with a number of great innovations, entrepreneurs often come up with products or solutions by accident (for example: Velcro, peanut butter reese, etc.) At times, visions expand in ways that were not imagined in inception. Take for example Draper University: originally it was established to attract entrepreneurs, however it has evolved to a unique education institution.

Jessica Jackley was introduced by her husband, Reza Aslan. He talked about Jessica’s perseverance and persistence in focusing on offering affordable financial opportunities and her commitment to a sharing-economy and social justice everywhere in the world. Through a crowdfunding platform, KIVA provides a gateway for individuals to support the entrepreneurial poor. KIVA helps launch small businesses in underdeveloped communities, granting small loans to motivated entrepreneurs in undeserved societies.
Jessica’s vision helps KIVA recipients to move from 'how can I feed my children' to building small businesses and job creation, where entire neighborhoods or villages get employment opportunities! Aslan said that to be able to create, foresee and implement a program like KIVA - is truly to be a visionary.

Steven Levy talked about Tim O’Reilly, his long time friend. He said that O’Reilly was popular in the early days by geeks, who liked his various ‘animal books’. Levy said that Tim O’Reilly is not motivated by technology per-say, but he has a passion for innovation and change that driven by technology. He also said that O’Reilly has a great recipe for cupcakes!

O’Reilly said he paid attention to the leaders who followed their social responsible and business passions, who created a change that they really wanted, that cared about what they wanted, and pursued the dreams. As the dot com boom turned into dot com bust, the surviving and resilient business leaders were different: they believed in what they did; not just focused on profits. These leaders created more value than just money for self benefit.

He called the audience to not allow our government, whether local, state or federal, to fail. “We need to get better in applying technology to solve the problems we face together,” he said.

Tom Byers, a colleague, talked about Professor Tina Seelig contributions. Celebrating 15 years at Stanford, he said that Seelig, an engineering professor, brings outstanding expertise to entrepreneurs and to her students.
He commended Seelig for her ability to form truly tight connections with her students and called her “Stanford University’s greatest champion of creativity”. Based on her students' testimonies, Seelig is an innovative leader who teaches by inspiring and motivating others. Here are a few quotes her students shared: "Professor Seelig brings life and a rainbow into the classroom. ", "She cares and accessible.", "Lives from the heart. ", "Her guidance and encouragement are exceptional.", "A teacher who says she is student."


SVForum is the leading non profit organization in Silicon Valley, active with technology companies in the Bay Area for the past 30 years. as a premier org for exchange of knowledge, resources, and connections, SVForum creates a playing field (test bed?) for future innovators and leaders to create new opportunities, products, services, businesses, ventures and partnerships, and most importantly, new jobs.

At the awards ceremony, Kelly porter commended SVForum for their achievement in bringing together and engaging players, investors, businesses, entrepreneurs, academia, and more around trends and future technologies. The next generation of SVForum is focused on global technological ecosystems and global innovation hubs.
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