Panel of Experts

Last year our expert judges asked the tough questions and kept the debate lively.

Anxious to know who’s judging TechCrunch50 this year?

Keep reading the conference blog. Our 20+ judges will be announced over the coming weeks.

Marc Andreessen

Marc Andreessen is the co-founder and chairman of Ning, the create-your-own social network platform company that has raised over $100 million in funding. Marc is best known as a co-founder and chief technical mind behind Netscape Communications Corporation and co-author of Mosaic, the first widely- used web browser. He also co-founded Opsware, a datacenter automation software company that was sold in 2007 to Hewlett-Packard for over $1.6 billion. Marc also serves on the board of Facebook. CrunchBase profile.

Roelof Botha

Roelof Botha is a partner at Sequoia Capital focused on services and software investments. Prior to joining Sequoia Capital in 2003, Roelof served as the Chief Financial Officer of PayPal (EBAY) and worked as a management consultant with McKinsey & Company. Roelof is a certified actuary (Fellow of the Faculty of Actuaries), has a BS in Actuarial Science, Economics, and Statistics from the University of Cape Town and an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. CrunchBase profile.

Ron Conway

Ronald Conway has been an active angel investor for over 15 years. He was the Founder and Managing Partner of the Angel Investors LP funds (1998-2005) whose investments included: Google, Ask Jeeves, Paypal, Good Technology, Opsware, and Brightmail. He was recently named #6 in Forbes Magazine Midas list of top “deal-makers” in 2008 and is actively involved in numerous philanthropic endeavors. Ron was with National Semiconductor Corporation in marketing positions (1973-1979), Altos Computer Systems as a co-founder, President and CEO (1979-1990) and took Altos public on Nasdaq in 1982 and served as CEO of Personal Training Systems (PTS) (1991-1995). PTS was acquired by SmartForce/SkillSoft (Nasdaq SKIL). Ron has served/serves on Boards/Advisory Boards including: Twitter,, Bright Mail, Ask Jeeves, Rupture (acquired by EA), Associated Content, Facebook, RockYou, ScanScout, Zappos, Trulia, StumbleUpon, Plaxo (acquired by Comcast), Photobucket (acquired by Fox), and Anchor Intelligence (co-founder).

Philanthropically, Ron is Vice Chairman of the UCSF Medical Foundation in SF, Board Member of The Tiger Woods Foundation, and SF Homeless Connect, and on the Benefit Committee of Ronald McDonald House, College Track, and the Blacked Eyed Peas-PeaPod Academy Foundation. CrunchBase profile.

Dick Costolo

Dick Costolo is the COO of Twitter. He has co-founded and sold 3 companies, the last of which was Feedburner (acquired by Google in 2007). Additionally, Dick has performed comedy routines in Chicago’s Annoyance Theater and has been involved with various improv shows and festivals. CrunchBase profile.

Satish Dharmaraj

Satish Dharmaraj is a Partner with Redpoint Ventures where he focuses on investments in SaaS, Software Infrastructure / Applications, Consumer and Mobile areas. He led Redpoint’s investments in VMOps and CloudStor and serves on the boards of those companies. Before Redpoint, Satish’s prior investments include Posterous, DimDim, Zelfy and Milo (sold to Voxeo) and is also an advisor to several early stage technology companies. He is also a founding board member of a Non-Profit Organization based in the bay area called HelpingHands and a charter member of TiE. Prior to Redpoint, Satish was the founder/CEO of Zimbra where he grew sales from inception to $20M in subscription sales in the first year of selling and nearly doubled sales the next year. He was responsible for the sale of Zimbra to Yahoo for $350M – a contract he negotiated directly, without using a banker, on behalf of the board. Satish has B.S. and M.S. degrees in Computer Sciences and an executive management degree from the Harvard Business School. CrunchBase profile.

Don Dodge

Don Dodge is a veteran of five start-ups including Forte Software, AltaVista, Napster, Bowstreet, and Groove Networks. Don is currently Director of Business Development for Microsoft’s Emerging Business Team. Don has been in the software business for more than 20 years. He started his software career with Digital Equipment, aka DEC, in the database group. He worked with 5 software start-ups over the next 12 years. Forte Software was the first multiplatform object oriented development environment. AltaVista was the first search engine on the web. Napster was the first P2P file sharing network. Bowstreet was the first web services development environment. Groove Networks was the first secure P2P collaboration platform. Now he is at Microsoft… “the biggest start-up in the world”… working with VC’s and start-ups in the greater Boston area. CrunchBase profile.

Paul Graham

Paul Graham is an essayist, programmer, and programming language designer. In 1995 he developed with Robert Morris the first web-based application, Viaweb, which was acquired by Yahoo in 1998. In 2002 he described a simple statistical spam filter that inspired a new generation of filters. He’s currently working on a new programming language called Arc, a new book on startups, and is one of the partners in Y Combinator.

Paul is the author of On Lisp (Prentice Hall, 1993), ANSI Common Lisp (Prentice Hall, 1995), and Hackers & Painters (O’Reilly, 2004). He has an AB from Cornell and a PhD in Computer Science from Harvard, and studied painting at RISD and the Accademia di Belle Arti in Florence. CrunchBase profile.

Jason Hirschhorn

Jason Hirschhorn is Chief Product Officer for MySpace. As one of the company’s foremost senior leaders, Jason is dedicated to transforming the MySpace brand and product by providing an unparalleled user-experience. His unique approach emphasizes innovation, rejects the notion of the media company as tastemaker, and lets the audience guide the direction of product and content offerings. CrunchBase profile.

Reid Hoffman

Reid Hoffman is Executive Chairman and a co-founder of LinkedIn. Prior to LinkedIn, Reid was Executive Vice President of PayPal where he was in charge of all business relationships: business development, corporate development, international, government relations, and banking/payments infrastructure. During his tenure at PayPal, Reid was instrumental to the acquisition by eBay and was responsible for partnerships with Intuit, Visa, MasterCard and Wells Fargo. Reid also has held management roles in significant technology companies, including Fujitsu Software Corporation and Apple. In addition to LinkedIn, Reid serves on the Board of Directors for SixApart,, and Mozilla Corporation. Reid graduated with distinction from Stanford University with a BS in Symbolic Systems and from Oxford University with a Master’s degree in philosophy and a Marshall scholarship. CrunchBase profile.

Bradley Horowitz

Bradley oversees product management for Google Apps, including Gmail, Calendar, Google Talk, Google Voice, Google Docs, Blogger and Picasa. Before joining Google, Bradley led Yahoo’s advanced development division, which developed new products such as Yahoo! Pipes, and drove the acquisition of products such as Flickr and MyBlogLog. Previously, he was Co-Founder and CTO of Virage, where he oversaw the technical direction of the company from its founding through its IPO and eventual acquisition by Autonomy.

Bradley holds a bachelor’s degree in computer science from the University of Michigan, and a master’s degree from the MIT Media Lab and was pursuing his Ph.D. there when he co-founded Virage. CrunchBase profile.

Tony Hsieh

Tony Hsieh is the CEO of, which was recently acquired by Amazon. Since he joined Zappos full time in 2000 Zappos has grown gross merchandise sales from $1.6M to $840M in 2007 by focusing relentlessly on customer service. Prior to joining Zappos, Tony co-founded Venture Frogs with Alfred Lin. Venture Frogs is an incubator and investment firm that invested in Internet startups, including Ask Jeeves, Tellme Networks, and of course, Prior to Venture Frogs, Tony co-founded LinkExchange, an advertising network that was successfully sold to Microsoft for $265M in 1998. CrunchBase profile.

Marissa Mayer

Marissa Mayer is VP, Search Products & User Experience at Google. She joined Google in 1999 as Google’s first female engineer. Her efforts have included designing and developing Google’s search interface, internationalizing the site to 100+ languages and launching numerous features and products. Several patents have been filed on her work in artificial intelligence and interface design. Before Google, she worked at UBS research lab (Ubilab) and SRI International. Marissa has been featured in various publications, including Newsweek (“10 Tech Leaders of the Future”), Red Herring (“15 Women to Watch”), Business 2.0, BusinessWeek, Fortune and Fast Company. CrunchBase profile.

Tim O’Reilly

Tim O’Reilly is the founder and CEO of O’Reilly Media, Inc., thought by many to be the best computer book publisher in the world. O’Reilly Media also hosts conferences on technology topics, including the Web 2.0 Summit, the Web 2.0 Expo, the O’Reilly Open Source Convention, and the O’Reilly Emerging Technology Conference. Tim’s blog, the O’Reilly Radar, “watches the alpha geeks” to determine emerging technology trends, and serves as a platform for advocacy about issues of importance to the technical community. Tim is an activist for open source and open standards, and an opponent of software patents and other incursions of new intellectual property laws into the public domain. Tim’s long-term vision for his company is to change the world by spreading the knowledge of innovators. CrunchBase profile.

Sean Parker

Sean Parker is the co-founder and Chairman of Causes on Facebook and MySpace, a new network that aims to enable large-scale political and social activism on the Internet. Sean is also a Managing Partner at The Founders Fund, an early stage venture capital firm based in San Francisco . Previously, Sean was the co-founder of the category defining Web ventures Napster, Plaxo, and Facebook. At Napster, Sean helped to design the Napster client software and led the company’s initial financing and strategy. Under Sean’s leadership, Napster became the fastest adopted client software application in history. Following Napster, Sean co-founded and served as President of Plaxo, where he pioneered the viral engineering techniques used to deploy Plaxo’s flagship smart address book product, ultimately acquiring more than 15 million users. In 2004, Sean left Plaxo to become the founding President of Facebook, one of the most rapidly growing sites on the Internet today. Sean sits on the boards of several private companies. CrunchBase profile.

Kevin Rose

Kevin Rose is the founder and chief architect of Digg. Kevin started Digg in September 2004 as a personal project. His initial idea was to conduct a social experiment in how masses of users could control and promote news and other content on the Web, without external editorial control. After a very short time, he realized the power of his idea, as Digg was becoming a resource for breaking news stories and developed a strong user following. Kevin is also a co-founder of the Internet Television Network Revision3 where as a member of the board he provides strategic direction to the company. CrunchBase profile.

Mike Schroepfer

Mike Schroepfer is the Vice President of Engineering at Facebook. Mike is responsible for harnessing the engineering organization’s culture of speed, creativity and exploration to build products, services and infrastructure that support the company’s users, developers and partners around the world. Before coming to Facebook, Mike was the Vice President of Engineering at Mozilla Corporation, where he led the global, collaborative, open and participatory product development process behind Mozilla’s popular software, such as the Firefox web browser. Mike was formerly a distinguished engineer at Sun Microsystems where he was the Chief Technology Officer for the data center automation division (”N1″). He was also the founder, Chief Architect and Director of Engineering at CenterRun, which was acquired by Sun. Mike worked with several startups at the outset of his career, including a digital effects software startup where he built software that has been used in several major motion pictures. Mike holds a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degrees in computer science from Stanford University and has filed two U.S. patents. CrunchBase profile.

Robert Scoble

Robert Scoble is a leading blogger, technical evangelist, and author. He is currently working for Rackspace where he is building a community for people fanatical about the Internet called Building43. Scoble is best known for his popular blog, Scobleizer, which came to prominence during his tenure as a technical evangelist at Microsoft. He is also the co-author of Naked Conversations: How Blogs are Changing the Way Businesses Talk with Customers. CrunchBase profile.

Yossi Vardi

Yossi Vardi is an Israeli entrepreneur most famous for being the original investor in ICQ – the first Internet-wide instant messaging system. Vardi has invested in over 50 tech companies in diverse areas of software, energy, Internet, mobile, cleantech, and others. Vardi has been an active civil servant in Israel through projects involving energy and infrastructure. He also co-founded Alon, an Israeli oil company. Vardi acted as an advisor to the World Bank and the United Nations Development Program on issues of energy in the developing world. Vardi has received many awards including The Prime Minister Award, The Industry Award, Entrepreneur of the Year (Tel Aviv University), and the CEO!’s Entrepreneurs Hall of Fame from the Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization. CrunchBase profile.

George Zachary

George Zachary is a Partner at Charles River Ventures. He provides more than 17 years of operating and investing experience in computing and consumer technology. George’s focus is on building great services and software technology companies. George led CRV’s investments in Areae,, GoTV, Millennial Media, Skyrider, SocialMedia Networks and Twitter and is a board member at Twitter. CrunchBase profile.

Lior Zorea

Lior Zorea is a Partner in the Perkins Coie Menlo Park office and a member of the firm’s Emerging Companies practice group. Lior has a corporate and securities law practice encompassing venture capital, debt and other private financings, public offerings, mergers and acquisitions, corporate governance and general business counseling. Lior focuses on representing emerging growth technology companies and their founders in the information technology space including the internet, software, digital media and semiconductor sectors. CrunchBase profile.