Ten Iowa expats in tech you should know (updated)

Since identifying Iowa expats is one of the primary purposes of this blog, I thought I'd start with a the following list: "Ten Iowa expats in tech you should know". It's an updated version of a list that I researched, wrote and published on Silicon Prairie News in February 2013. Names are presented in alphabetical order.

Marc Andreessen, general partner at Andreessen Horowitz

Menlo Park, Calif.

The Netscape founder turned venture capitalist has been called "the most powerful man in Silicon Valley."

Expat status: Born in Cedar Falls

Iowa ties: Andreessen Horowitz is an investor in Des Moines-based Dwolla and Solum, a Mountain View, Calif.-based company that operates a labratory in Ames.

Online:  blogLinkedIn and AngelList 

Craig Elliott, founder and CEO, Pertino, Inc.

Cupertino, Calif.

Former Apple general manager who took Packeteer, his first networking startup, to IPO and is now building, Pertino, his second. Elliott was famously given a Porsche by Steve Jobs in 1984, the year Macintosh debuted, for selling the most units.

Expat Status: Grew up in Iowa and attended Iowa State University

Iowa ties: Board member for Ames-based Global Vet LINK

Online:  LinkedIn and AngelList

Scott Heiferman, co-founder and CEO, Meetup

New York City

Meetup, a way to organize local groups online, was founded by Heiferman more than 10 years ago and reports to be used by more than 11 million members each month.

Expat status: Attended the University of Iowa

Iowa ties: Spoke at the Startup Iowa Town Hall in Iowa City in October 2013

Online: @heifLinkedIn and AngelList

Ashton Kutcher, founder of A Grade Investments

Los Angeles 

Perhaps the most well-known celebrity tech investor, Kutcher has invested all sorts of well known startups from Skype to AirBNB.

Expat status: Cedar Rapids native and attended the University of Iowa

Iowa ties: Kutcher is an investor in Des Moines-based Dwolla. He was the final guest on PrairieCast in April 2012.

Online: @aplusk and AngelList

Steve Lee, director at Google, "Project Glass"

San Francisco

Project Glass is Google’s augmented reality project that’s built into wearable eyeglasses that debuted with a dramatic skydive/bmx/rappelling demo at the Google I/O conference in 2012.

Expat status: Grew up in Slater, Iowa and attended Iowa State University

Iowa ties: none identified

Online@moneyballLinkedIn and AngelList

Aayush Phumbrha - Founder & Senior Vice President of Chegg

Palo Alto

Almost every college student in Iowa knows about Chegg, the textbook rental company, but few know of its birth in Ames as a college town version of Craigslist. Phumbra, a Chegg user, purchased the site from its student founders and pivoted it into the "Netflix for textbooks" that is today.

Expat status: Attended Iowa State University

Iowa ties: Phumbhra was a guest on an early episode of PrairieCast in July 2010. He offered personal advisory consultations to the winning teams at Startup Weekend Ames 2013.

Online: @aayushcheggLinkedIn and AngelList

Chris Pirillo, founder of LockerGnome and tech personality


Pirillo is the technologist, TV/web personality, entrepreneur and author behind LockerGnome.com and the GnomeDex conferences.

Expat status: Grew up in Des Moines and attended the University of Northern Iowa

Iowa ties: Founded and held the Gnomedex conference in Des Moines from 2001-2003.

OnlineblogLinkedIn and AngelList 

Tom Preston-Werner, co-founder of GitHub, founder of Gravatar

San Francisco

Preston-Werner co-founded GitHub, self proclaimed as the "largest code host in the world" in 2008. Priot to GitHub he created Gravatar and sold it to Automattic, the company behind Wordpress.

Expat status: Grew up in Dubuque.

Iowa ties: None identified.

Online: @mojomboLinkedInAngelList and GitHub 

Harper Reed, CEO of Lunar Technology Corporation, former CTO of Obama for America and former CTO of Threadless


Reed, the lead technologist of the Obama 2012 campaign, and his team have been the subject of numerous news and magazine stories about how technology played a role in their November election victory.

Expat status: Attended Cornell College

Iowa ties: Recruited two Des Moines-area developers, Derek Brooks and Nick Leeper, to join him on the technology organization of Obama's reelection campaign. Brooks - who returned to the Des Moines area after the campaign - is on Reed's team at Lunar

Online: @harperLinkedIn and AngelList 

Ben Silbermann, co-founder and CEO of Pinterest

Palo Alto

Pinterest, self-described as a “tool for collecting and organizing things you love” is one of the world’s most popular websites, was founded by Silbermann and launched in March 2010.

Expat status: Grew up in Des Moines

Iowa ties: Spoke at the inaugural Thinc Iowa in 2011

Online: @8enLinkedIn and AngelList