The atmosphere in Silicon Valley has been very toxic, and “bro culture” is rampant there, but there has been a rise in diversity in the past 5 years. There are a number of groups and associated out there that aim to diversify the tech industry, like Lesbian Who Tech, TransTech Social Enterprise and StartOut. So, without further ado, let’s dive into this blog and learn about some of the most powerful and influential queer people in tech.
1. Tim Cook- CEO of Apple
Okay, if we are honest with this one, Tim Cook is not the most influential queer person in tech; he is arguable the most powerful in tech, period. He was originally Apple’s chief operating officer, and in August 2011, he was named the CEO of the company. He came out in a personal essay back in 2014, and this was published in Bloomberg Businessweek.
He is still pretty private about his personal life, and he said that he felt a sense of duty, and this is why he openly came out gay. He says that being gay has had its ups and downs, but this gave him the confidence to be who he is, which helped him rise above bigotry and adversity.
2. Arlan Hamilton- CEO and cofounder of Backstage Capital
She is currently a managing partner at Backstage Capital and a VC firm that she started back in 2015 while she was unhoused. One of Backstage’s major things and why we love them is that they invest in companies led by underrepresented founders. They invest in companies that are led by minorities like people of color, queer people or even women.
Back in 2018, she openly came out as “the only black queer woman to have ever built a venture capital firm from stretch.” She is also one of the very few openly queer black women that are very influential currently in the tech industry, and we bow down to her.
3. Joel Simkhai- Founder of Grindr
He founded this queer dating app back in 2009 and is an app that is especially for men in The LGBTQIA+ community. Joel Simkhai told Business Insider that the creation of the app was born out of selfish desires, and he wanted to create an app that would make app queer men meet up for fun. Grindr is currently one of the most popular and used queer dating apps out there, and it has almost 4 million daily users.
As a queer person, I would be dishonest if I said I never used Grindr, and this is why Joel Simkhai is on our list of the most influential queer figures in the tech world. Joel Simkhai was the CEO of Grindr up till January 2018, when the app was sold to a Chinese gaming company. He sold his app for over 150 million dollars.
4. Peter Arvai- CEO and founder of Prezi
He helped found Prezi, which is a presentation formation alternative to PowerPoint, back in 2009. Peter Arvai is also considered the first openly gay Hungarian CEO, and he has made inclusion and diversity a significant component of Prezi’s work environment. In a 2018 interview with Financial Times, he said that being openly gay was very challenging for him, but this made him a better version of himself in the long run.
5. Angelica Ross- CEO and Founder of TransTech Social Enterprise
Most of us know her as Candy from the famous queer TV show, Pose, but she is also a very influential figure in the tech industry. Ross believes that most trans people are not welcomed, if not violently removed, in both work and educational spaces. She currently runs TransTech Social Enterprises, which is an incubator that helps gender-non-conforming and trans people. This organization helps prepare for their career paths and find a job.
Her organization also gives people a place where they are valued for who they are. Ross has been an out individual for over 2 decades and came out in 2000. She was in the military before living and later starting her transition. As a non-binary person of color, I can’t help but respect Angelica Ross for all she is striving to do for our community at large, especially when it comes to the tech world.
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