Technology, digital, Financial Services...
Superhero – noun, ‘a benevolent fictional character with superhuman powers, such as Superman.’ Perhaps we could compare Superman’s arc to that of a startup founder. A humble person with a mission to change the world, a fall from grace after fallings out with a corporate billionaire (thanks Bruce Wayne), and subsequent return to the forefront with fresh ideas following a series of positive appearances in the media. Sound familiar? Probably because it is.
Ok, maybe it’s a bit of a stretch, but that’s not to say we can’t have heroes in the tech industry of our own. These can be anyone who we feel have had a positive contribution to our daily lives.
To celebrate National Superhero Day, we look at some of our modern-day tech heroes, the people who are at the forefront of innovations – some have contributed to where we are, others are contributing to where we are going.
Steve Jobs - ‘The Revolutionary’
Before I go any further, It feels apt to start this list with the ‘Billion Dollar Hippy’. Jobs’ numerous design innovations have been so groundbreaking that we’ve seen Hollywood portraying his life from Michael Fassbender and Ashton Kutcher. The creation of the smartphone is credited to IBM in the 90's with Simon Personal Communicator, but it was Apple’s 2007 iteration that led to a revolution. In 2020, the world is truly connected.
Ken Kutaragi – ‘The Gamer’
In my humble opinion, the PlayStation is the birth of modern gaming (fanboys don’t @ me). Kutaragi actually developed the console during a partnership with Nintendo, but after the tech giant backed out of the deal, he joined PlayStation to finish the concept and the rest is history. Numerous successors have been led by Kutaragi, with Sony selling over 100million PS4s as of 2020 and consumers eagerly anticipating the next generation of consoles.
Mary Allen Wilkes – ‘The Remote Worker’
It’s amazing to think a majority of people’s remote working experience has only come this year, especially when you consider Mary Allen Wilkes started her LINC project in the 1960s. Not only is she credited with developing what is widely considered as the first personal computer, but she also took the LINC home to work on it further, thus paving the way for Monday morning washing machine loads alongside meetings.
Reed Hastings & Marc Randolph – ‘The Streamers’
“Are you still watching?” If I had a £1 for every time I saw this message come up on my TV…
It seems like only yesterday that we were renting physical copies of videotapes from Blockbuster to watch at home. But Netflix’s switch from physical media to streaming service has flipped the industry on its head. After controlling the market for most of the decade, we’re seeing a streaming war develop between large corporations that we don’t yet know the outcome of. The consumer is winning, more than ever streamers are treated to large budget productions never before seen on TV at such a scale, and it has the film industry scrambling over how to better treat cinemagoers. This can all be attributed to some of Netflix’s original series and the dreaded ‘Next Episode’ option.
Tom Blomfield – ‘The Challenger’
The future of banking is something that is heavily debated daily. While there are question marks over the long term suitability of millennial-friendly financial institutions, it can’t be denied that they have captured the imagination of younger generations. I believe Blomfield as CEO of Monzo has done just that.
Special mention must go to Nikolay Storonsky of Revolut and Anne Boden of Starling, but it is Monzo’s user experience, tone of voice and overall brand that stands out here. Pulling out your hot coral debit card has almost become a status symbol at the moment, it stands out from a crowded banking market and they seem to be churning out truly new features for their customers.