Anchor List 2021

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Every winning startup has leaders that transform the trajectory of the business. You know them when you see them. They are relentlessly resourceful. They run over, around, and through walls. They solve problems in surprising ways and take 100% accountability. Without them, their companies wouldn’t have made it from zero to one, let alone reach hypergrowth scale.

We don’t think these unsung heroes should be forgotten. With your help, we identified heroes across 7 categories that have been recognized by their peers as instrumental for building the world’s fastest growing startups. Here they are.


Michelle Cruz Parsons
Chief Product Officer at Hinge
Gabriella Rosen Kellerman
Chief Product Officer at BetterUp
Josh Ackerman
Senior Product Manager at Stripe
Jiaona Zhang
Vice President of Product Management at Webflow
Lane Shackleton
Chief Product Officer at Coda

Anchor product leaders can see the future. To echo Henry Ford, they’re not looking to give customers faster horses. They’re dreaming up products at the edge of our imagination, ones that customers are desperate for. They rally teams behind them to build, iterate, and execute at lightning speed. They have a founder mentality and are the critical nexus of technology and business within the company.



Rich Bessel
Head of Design at Robinhood
Katie Witkop
Founding Designer / Art Director at Faire
Samantha Berg
Head of Design at Chime
Michelle Tang
Head of Design at Hatch

Anchor designers are the great artists of our time. They know how to tell amazing visual stories that transcend demographics and culture. They are endlessly creative, and totally unbound by rules and convention. They are perceptive students of human behavior that know how to get people to magical moments of delight.



Yasi Samimi
VP of Growth at Truebill
Melissa Tan
Head of Product Growth and Lifecycle | Growth Advisor at Webflow
Holly Chen
Marketing & Growth Advisor at Loom, Impira, nTopology, ServiceNow
Timothy Wu
Head of Growth and Marketing at Hatch

Anchor marketers don't just capture demand, they create demand. They know their job is to think like an entrepreneur and get the most results they can for the most effective use of money and time. Rather than succeed conventionally, they win by communicating in surprising and unexpected ways. They market differently, rather than better. They avoid comparison games with other companies.



Sandy Kwon
Head of Operations at Sym
Paul Jun
CFO at, Inc.
Kenny Mendes
COO at Coda
Douglas Hanna
COO at Grafana Labs

Anchor operations leaders keep the bus running. They’re the adults in the room that get the backbone processes in place that set up a startup for hypergrowth. This means finance, legal, compliance, and all the workflows in between. They squeeze out every optimization possible across the value chain so that the bus runs on time, then quicker, and then more efficiently when more passengers jump on.



Jen Ong Vaughan
Head of Sales & Customer Success at Assembled
Kristen Habacht
Chief Sales Officer at Shogun
Armando Mann
Chief Business Officer and Board Member at Hopin
Jennifer Burke
Head of Sales and Account Management at Faire

Anchor sales leaders are day one revenue machines. They can teach a masterclass in the art of relationship building. They serve on the front lines and can close deals in their sleep. They intuitively know how to pave a path to get the customer to “yes”; the word “no” is simply not in their vocabulary. They go beyond the call of duty to make customers successful.



Anthony Nardini
Program Director at On Deck First 50 Fellowship
Veronica Pohls
Head of People at Mercury
Ashley Alexander
Head of People at Front
Ragini Holloway
SVP, People at Affirm

Anchor talent leaders build out legendary founding teams. They have a reputation for discovering “diamonds in the rough” and recognize amazing people before anyone else does. They convince veterans to take a chance on the unpredictable startup journey. They empower people to do their best work. They architect community and set the tone for culture.



Asif Makhani
Chief Technology Officer at Handshake
Karan M Gupta
CTO at Shift Technologies
Andrew Fong
Chief Technology Officer at Vise
Julianna Lamb
Chief Technology Officer at Stytch

Anchor engineers apply logic, data, and math to push the boundaries of what we are capable of building. A 10X engineering leader is constantly learning and elevating the work of everyone around them. In the software world, they eat code for breakfast. In the hardware world, they are mad genius inventors. They understand the challenges of hypergrowth and massive scale.