My former Kernel colleague James Cook, Business Insider‘s intrepid European tech reporter, published a list of the “coolest” women in the UK technology industry this week. But I think he’s missed a trick. I mean, “cool” is such a subjective, nebulous thing, when all anyone really wants to know is how eligible these babes are in addition to their intergalactic-sized brains and tremendous business success.
So, here’s the same list of women, but re-ranked by hotness. To pre-empt any obviously spurious allegations of sexism, we asked some well-known lesbians and gay dudes in tech to assemble the list for us. That may or may not affect its authoritativeness. Anyway, you be the judge.
Hint: if B.I. ever does a “coolest dudes” list, we’ll be happy to re-rank that too…
25.= ELIZABETH VARLEY
Considered a minor deity of the European tech scene following the successful roll-out of her TechHub co-working franchise across the continent, “Lefty Liz” Varley has nonetheless never fully escaped the legacy of an infamous mooncup fiasco, familiar to long-time tech observers. Her shared workspace company now operates in such exotic locales as Bucharest and Swansea.
25.= JO BERTRAM
Jo Bertram manages the UK, Ireland and Nordic part of on demand taxi service Uber’s business. Her tenure has seen the Silicon Valley newcomer become the pre-eminent player in London, probably the most competitive taxi market in the world. We’re fans.
25.= NATALIE DOWNE
Natalie Downe is chief product officer at Lanyrd, a conference and professional event discovery app. (We don’t know what that means either. Apparently the company pretty much died a few weeks after launch, sadly.) She moonlights as “director of organiser acquisition” at Eventbrite, the online ticketing service.
22. JOANNA SHIELDS
Subject of a blisteringly bitchy recent profile in the Sunday Times, Shields’s star is definitely on the wane, with most of her greatest achievements behind her, according to the Times. Shields is lauded by the tech press but industry insiders are left scratching their heads when asked to explain why she is put on such a pedestal by the Government and WIRED magazine. Minus points for neediness, and how obvious she is about crowbarring that rock into her press shots. #TTH
21. JANE NÍ DHULCHAOINTIGH
What a mouthful! Jane Ní Dhulchaointigh is the inventor of wonder product Sugru, a type of self-setting rubber. She has turned her brainchild from novelty item into profitable business, boasting $2 million in annual sales. A quintessential British success story, and our Jane’s got a natty personal style.
20.= JULIA FOWLER
Co-founder of EDITD Julia Fowler is becoming a major player in the online fashion world. Her company works with major brands such as Gap, ASOS and Target, leveraging big data to ensure they are stocking and pricing their products correctly.
20.= NICOLA MENDELSOHN
A long time hot-shot in the advertising agency (but let’s not hold that against her), Nicola Mendelsohn made the jump to Facebook in 2013. She oversees the social networking giant’s presence in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
18. MICHELLE YOU
Michelle You is Chief Product Officer of Songkick, the company she co-founded in 2007. The live music discovery service has gone on to become one of the few proper success stories to come out of London’s Silicon Roundabout and You raised a packet from big-name US investor Sequoia, also highly unusual for a European business.
17.= RACHEL BREMER
Former PR bigwig Rachel Bremer was drafted in to manage Twitter’s communication team in Europe, where she liaises with journalists desperate to get verified on Twitter. (Hi, Rachel!) The hottie count in agency PR plummeted when she trotted off to the social network.
17.= JUDITH CLEGG
A commanding presence and close intimate of startup stars such as Mind Candy’s Michael Acton Smith, Judith Clegg is a serial start-up founder and occasional business angel. She connects corporates to startups as well as running high-profile events for entrepreneurs in London and New York.
15. AVID LARIZADEH
Avid Larizadeh is a general partner at the European office of Google’s in-house VC, Google Ventures. She previously co-founded the fashion retailer Boticca and leads the non-profit code.org in the UK.
14. KATHRYN PARSONS
Kathryn Parsons’ coding education company has become the number one choice for businesses wanting to introduce their staff to computer code. Kathryn describes herself as a “Digital Enlightenment Evangelist”, which sounds super.
13. JENNIFER ARCURI
Jennifer Arcuri is the founder of The Innotech Summit, one of London’s premiere tech gatherings. She too has an interesting moniker, describing herself as a “storyteller for the digital audience”. Close links to government and an effervescent personality make Arcuri unmissable.
12. BINDI KARIA
Karia has reigned supreme in London as the “Queen of Startups” for years. She’s one of the best-connected and glamorous women in the industry, rarely seen without her trademark Louboutins and an armful of glitzy accessories. Karia single-handedly made Microsoft fashionable to young companies before jumping ship to Silicon Valley Bank a few years ago, where she continues to hold court, with an army of adoring startups and VCs.
11.= RESHMA SOHONI
As a co-founder of Seedcamp, Reshma Sohoni has been part of some of Europe’s biggest success stories. The luminaries that have been invested in and supported by Seedcamp include Frontback, EDITD and TransferWise. Sadly, Sohoni’s off the market: she’s happily married.
11.= SONALI DE RYCKER
“Probably the best venture capitalist in Europe,” according to present and past coworkers, de Rycker is a formidable presence who’s known for her straight-talking. Indeed, we know of at least one startup left in tears by her ferocious critique. That slice of gossip alone guarantees her a solid spot on our list.
9. MARTHA LANE FOX
Owner of the most cringeworthy Twitter account in history, Baroness Lane Fox of Soho nonetheless remains the original startup MILF, and one of the few genuinely successful women in the European tech industry, deserving of her closeness to the Establishment. Like a fine wine, Martha seems to get better with age–though we do wish she’d dial down the tiresome faux modesty on social media.
8. ROXANNE VARZA
Roxanne Varza is the founder of the TechBaguette blog which reports on the French start-up scene. She also heads up the Microsoft Ventures and Bizspark start-up relations teams. Varza’s greatest claim to fame was of course as a columnist for one-time pre-eminent European tech publication The Kernel.
7. NATALIE MASSENET
One of the great female entrepreneurs of her generation, Natalie Massenet generally eschews the limelight in favour of knuckling down to business, relative to her success. Founded Net-A-Porter.
6. EMILY BROOKE
It’s tough to take the inventor of a bike light seriously as a trailblazing entrepreneur, but what Emily Brooke’s business, Blaze, lacks in imagination it makes up for with the quiet charm of its founder. We hear she’s a no-nonsense sort of lady… which is fine by us, matron.
5. ROBYN EXTON
Lesbians might be renowned for their dreary sex lives, but that hasn’t stopped Robyn Exton from making them their very own Grindr, replete with knitting tips and links to local cat shelters. Okay, we jest. But Exton, to the disappointment of men everywhere, does indeed dig the ladies and her “take it slow and get to know each other first”approach to inter-female dating seems to be gaining traction.
4. ALICIA NAVARRO
Perhaps the best known and most admired female entrepreneur of her generation, the half-Spanish half-Australian Alicia Navarro is a force of nature, which is how men in the tech scene describe her crackling sexual energy. Navarro’s startup Skimlinks powers some of the most well-known content brands on the web. Sadly for you, she has been snapped up already by her long-term boyfriend, Aaron Ross of CityHawk.
3.= COLETTE BALLOU
It’s wonder this elegant lady is still on the market–though she doesn’t want for admirers, we’re told. Colette Ballou, who launched her pan-European public relations empire in 2002, recently began angel investing, so business is clearly booming. In demand on the conference and speaking circuits and as an advisor to the founders of WhatsApp, AOL, Facebook and Pinterest–not to mention a procession of billionaire bankers–she lives in Berlin, where she oversees the newest office of Ballou PR, which specialises in high-growth technology.
3.= EILEEN BURBIDGE
Spotted without her wedding ring in recent months by eagle-eyed Shoreditch scenesters, Burbidge is probably the most eligible woman in London right now. A venture capitalist at the publicly-funded Passion Capital, Burbidge is an arresting beauty and the subject of many a sleepless night (we speculate) for the enthusiastic young studs in her portfolio of wannabe Zuckerbergs.
1. SHERRY COUTU
Few things are as attractive as success married with humility, and for her grace and unassuming class in the face of extraordinary professional accomplishments, including the most over-subscribed IPO in the history of the market at the time, and her prolific mentoring, investing and numerous initiatives to help young people get into technology, Sherry Coutu is the leader of our pack. Her lilting Canadian accent, cheeky hairdo and penchant for eye-catching embroidered jackets don’t hurt either.
Additional reporting by Milo Yiannopoulos