Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
Mr. Michael has served as our Chief Executive Officer since our inception and as our Chairman since August 2020. He is one of Silicon Valley’s most highly regarded business executives having built three successful companies including Tellme Networks (sold to Microsoft in 2007), Klout (sold to Lithium Technologies in 2014) and Uber. Mr. Michael has extensive experience identifying high-growth, tech-enabled businesses with his investments spanning a broad range of companies including Bird, Codecademy, Docker, GoEuro, GoBrands, SpaceX, and Stripe. Mr. Michael has been the President of Technology and Management Consulting Services of M8 Enterprises LLC since January 2018.
During his tenure as Chief Business Officer of Uber from July 2013 to June 2017, Mr. Michael led Uber’s efforts in China and Russia, which resulted in substantial market value creation. Mr. Michael played a pivotal role in raising nearly $15 billion dollars in capital from investors globally and led the merger of Uber’s China operations with key competitor in China, Didi Chiuxing. Additionally, he led the efforts to strike partnerships globally with companies such as American Express, AT&T, Daimler, Softbank, Tata Motors, and Toyota. Mr. Michael also led the Ottomotto acquisition that became the core of Uber’s Advanced Technology Group, responsible for autonomous vehicle development. He is also responsible for creating UberMilitary, a program at Uber for military veterans and their families.
Prior to Uber, Mr. Michael served as Chief Operating Officer of Klout, where he played a pivotal role in growing the social media analytics company. Klout ultimately sold to Lithium Technologies for $200 million in 2014.
Before joining Klout, Mr. Michael served as a White House Fellow working for the Secretary of Defense as a Special Assistant. During his tenure at the Pentagon, he ran projects in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan as well as a department-wide budget cutting effort aimed at reducing overhead and bureaucracy.
Mr. Michael was also part of the founding team of Tellme Networks, a pioneer in speech recognition technology and systems, that is highly regarded for weathering the technology bust of 2000 and for building a sustainable and profitable business. Mr. Michael helped Tellme Networks raise over $250 million in venture capital from investors such as Benchmark Capital and Kleiner Perkins. He also led Tellme Networks through its $800 million sale to Microsoft in 2007.
Additionally, Mr. Michael has been a leadership coach and mentor to dozens of young CEOs over the years, giving him extensive exposure to early stage companies, technologies, and trends. He also serves as an advisor or investor in over 20 start-ups around the world, furthering his commitment to helping the next generation of entrepreneurs build and scale. He started his career at Goldman Sachs, where he was an Associate in the Investment Banking Division for a short period.
Mr. Michael received his B.A. from Harvard University and his J.D. from Stanford Law School. We believe Mr. Michael is well qualified to serve on our board of directors given his extensive leadership and entrepreneurial experience in the technology industry.
Dr. Diamandis has agreed to serve as one of our directors. He has been the Chief Executive Officer of PHD Ventures, Inc. since October 1993 which is his personal holding company for his writing, speaking and consulting activities. He is the Founder and Executive Chairman of the XPRIZE Foundation, a non-profit foundation which, since 1996, has designed and operated large-scale incentive competitions for the benefit of humanity. He is also the Executive Founder of Singularity University, a graduate-level Silicon Valley institution founded in 2010 that counsels the world’s leaders on exponentially growing technologies. Dr. Diamandis was a Founder, Vice Chairman and is currently a shareholder of Human Longevity, Inc. an advanced health diagnostic company committed to delivering data driven health diagnostics, he resigned from the board of directors in December 2018. Dr. Diamandis is the Vice Chairman and co-Founder of Celularity Inc., founded in July 2017, a commercial-stage cell therapeutics company delivering allogenic cellular therapies engineered from the postpartum human placenta Dr. Diamandis is also a founder and board member of Fountain Therapeutic Services, Inc. which was formed in November 2018 to increase lifespan and optimize healthspan by harnessing regenerative medicine technologies and integrating extensive wellness solutions. In March 2020, Dr. Diamandis co-founded and is the Vice-Chairman of Covaxx, Inc. a pharmaceutical company that has developed a COVID-19 lgG antibody test and a vaccine that is currently in clinical trials. Dr. Diamandis is also currently serving as a director of two other special purpose acquisition companies, Software Acquisition Group Inc., which completed its initial public offering in November 2019, and Software Acquisition Group Inc. II, which completed its initial public offering in September 2020.
As an entrepreneur, Dr. Diamandis has started over 20 companies in the areas of longevity, space, venture capital and education. Dr. Diamandis also co-founded BOLD Capital Partners, a venture fund investing in exponential technologies, in 2015, and is a New York Times Bestselling author.
Dr. Diamandis earned degrees in Molecular Engineering and Aerospace Engineering from MIT and holds an M.D. from Harvard Medical School.
Peabody Award-winner Desiree Gruber has agreed to serve as one of our directors. She founded and has been the Chief Executive Officer since inception of Full Picture, a brand accelerator, content production, communications, and consulting services company now in its 21st year, with a passion to help her clients more effectively tell their stories and launch new ideas into the world. Ms. Gruber continues to evolve her mission of shaping zeitgeist-defining moments and reimagining how brands delight and engage global audiences in her work as an entrepreneur, business strategist, and venture capitalist.
Through DGNL, Ms. Gruber has embraced a preeminent role in developing and supporting female founders and C-suite executives. With a goal of creating real opportunities for women to achieve measurable success, DGNL invests in and architects transformational deals across the consumer, technology, and media spectrum in order to establish a legacy of female empowerment.
Among Ms. Gruber’s many accomplishments to date is co-founding the Project Runway television series. In addition to her Peabody Award, as executive producer of the groundbreaking show for 16 seasons she has received a GLAAD Media Award and earned 14 Emmy nominations.
A lifelong advocate for a more equitable and inclusive world, she proudly serves on the boards of UNICEF USA, Tech:NYC, and God’s Love We Deliver, and was the recipient of UNICEF’s 2018 Spirit of Compassion Award. She is also an advisor to leading organizations such as Anthos Capital, Pharrell Williams’ Something in the Water and Chegg.
Ms. Gruber lives with her husband, Kyle MacLachlan, and their son, and splits her time between NYC and LA.
Mr. West has agreed to serve as one of our directors. He is a founding partner of Connectivity Ventures Fund, an early stage and mission oriented fund focused on innovations that transform the way we live and work, where he currently serves as Chief Investment Officer.
Prior to Connectivity, Mr. West was an executive at Viacom, serving at BET as President of Digital Media, and at Viacom Media Networks as both EVP of Strategy and Business Development and Chief of Operations (EVP) for the Global Digital Media Group. During his tenure at Viacom, he launched Viacom’s first vertical ad network, first episodic web series (Webby nominated), and first mobile TV companion app. He led strategy for social media and video games, drove over $1B in M&A transactions, ran post-merger integration initiatives, and oversaw the e-commerce P&L. He also oversaw new online audience records every year while at BET, and supported the first event on Twitter to capture all Top 10 Trending topics simultaneously.
Prior to Viacom, Mr. West worked at Microsoft in the Corporate Development & Strategy Group and as the Chief of Staff of Windows Client Division ($12B in revenues at that time). There he helped to incubate new businesses, notably Xbox and Windows Media. He supported joint ventures with Qualcomm, Softbank and Ford. He led strategy initiatives for the Microsoft CEO and the board of directors, respectively, around streaming media, software as a service, and open source software. He also led Corporate Venture investments in internet infrastructure companies including Akamai and supported over $12B in strategic investments and M&A transactions.
Mr. West also has passion around and speaks on technology trends and financial markets. He has appeared on The Today Show, CNBC, Al Jazeera and CCTV. He also has been referenced in business books like Stealing MySpace, the New York Times best seller The Facebook Effect, and Leapfrog: The New Revolution for Women Entrepreneurs. He started his career on Wall Street with Smith Barney and Goldman Sachs.
Mr. West is a strategic advisor to the USO and the National Basketball Players Association, the union for NBA players. He is an operating advisor to K1 Investment Management, a private equity fund focused on enterprise software with over $1B AUM. He is also a member of the board of directors for SOCAP Global, Questbridge, Culture Shift Labs, IDEA Initiative and Mirror Digital.
Mr. West received both his A.B. in Applied Mathematics and his M.B.A. from Harvard University.