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The 20 Most Notable UCSD Alumni in the Business World


Our parents always drum it in our heads how important it is to go to school although some of us do not understand the importance when people like Mark Zuckerberg dropped out of college and rank among the most successful businessmen. For those who use Mark as an excuse to avoid going to college, fail to understand that he had to get into Harvard first, which in itself is a feat that most people cannot accomplish. Well, those that need more convincing should check out the 20 most notable UCSD alumni in the business world, below.

1. Nicholas Woodman

Nicholas, known as Nick is the founder as well as CEO of GoPro, a product that has enabled him to gain a net worth of $800 million currently according to Wealthy Gorilla . GoPro is a camera that is designed to capture clear videos and pictures for sports enthusiasts. In 2014, Nick was the highest paid CEO in the US in 2014, but in 2017 his salary was cut due to the company experiencing a poor performance in which they had losses amounting to $182.9 million.

2. Philip Rosedale

Philip is a creator who according to CNBC began in 1995 by creating FreeVue, an innovative internet video conferencing product that was acquired by RealNetworks. In 1996, Philip became the Vice President and Chief Trading Officer in RealNetworks but left in 1999 to found Linden Lab and build Second Life. However he also left Second Life in 2010 and 2013, Philip became a co-founder of High Fidelity Inc. Future of StoryTelling reports that a million people still use Second Life. Philip had a dream of building an internet-connected, open-ended, virtual world and High Fidelity has helped him attain this goal since it facilitates doing anything like conducting business and more with other people around the globe.

3. Michael Robertson

Michael debuted the entrepreneurial world in 1997 by creating, a digital music company which brought online music to the mainstream and made it accessible to millions of consumers. The company went public in 1999 and made history by having the largest IPO in the internet industry. By 2003, was raking in millions of dollars, and he sold it to Universal, the world's largest music company. It seems like his creations always make headlines because he launched Linspire in 2001 and sold it to Xandros Corporation. Other companies he has founded include Gizmo5, MP3tunes, and where he is the current CEO.

4. Robert J. Pera

Robert is among the richest men in the world ranking at number 152 with a net worth of $9.82 billion according to Bloomberg. He is the founder and CEO of Ubiquity which manufactures enterprise wireless products such as routers, switches, and antennas. Besides being in the technology industry with a 76% ownership stake, he has invested in sports and owns the Memphis Grizzlies. Although some of the minority stakeholders of the team are not his fans and would have preferred to have him out, Pera decided to remain the owner of Memphis Grizzlies.

5. Greg Papadopoulos

Greg graduated from UCSD in 1979 and believed the university provided him with the educational foundation for his life. Maybe that is the reason he still is an active advisor at the school as well as in MIT and UC Berkeley. He joined New Enterprise Systems (NEA) in 2010 as a Venture Partner after gaining over 20 years' worth of experience in various companies including Sun Microsystems. He also helped establish other companies such as PictureTel, Honeywell and HP with his engineering knowledge.

6. Brandon Nixon

Brandon has made use of his computer engineering degree to make strides in the business world. He founded communications practice at Housatonic Partners before moving on to executive roles in various firms including HP, SAIC and Texas Instruments, all of which spent an accumulated period of twenty years. Brandon then went on to become the Senior Vice President at Viasat, a position he acquired after the firm in which he was working on previously, Enerdyne Technologies Inc. was purchased by Viasat. Brandon is currently the chairman and CEO of Lytx, which leads the market with a share of 65%.

7. Jasper Kim

Jasper wears many hats; besides being the CEO of Asia-Pacific Global Research Group, he is an attorney, professor, media contributor, author and an expert in various legal and socio-economic issues. Asia-Pacific Global Research Group, which Kim is also the founder, focuses on the Asia-Pacific markets as South Korea and aims to provide value-added analysis. His clientele base ranges from private sector firms to government agencies. For Kim, the sky is the limit, and he is currently enrolled at Ewha Woman's University, in the Graduate School of International Studies.

8. Gary E. Jacobs

Gary first ventured in the business world after graduating from UCSD by working at his father's firms, Linkabit and Qualcomm initially as a programmer and later as a software engineer. He, along with his brothers, owns a minor stake in Sacramento Kings, an American professional basketball team. Jacobs and his wife founded Gary and Terri-Ann Jacobs International Tech High Charter School in 1999. Jacobs has been at the helm of 5 companies and founded Jacobs Investment company LLC which is a venture capital firm that serves customers in the U.S.

9. Garrett Gruener

We all depend on Google to know anything, but there are other search tools you can use. For instance,, founded in 1996 by Garrett allows users to search for information by asking questions instead of using a word or phrase. Before creating which was formerly called Ask Jeeves, Garrett had also founded Virtual Microsystems in 1982. He is a co-founder of a venture capital firm known as Alta Partners and is on the board of various firms including Nanomix, Tacit Knowledge Systems, nCircle Network Security and Ellie Mae. He is among the few wealthy people who would prefer to be taxed more for the sake of the country.

10. D. E. Shaw

David is an American computer scientist, investor, and manager of a hedge he created, D. E. Shaw & Co which fortune magazine once referred to as the most mysterious and intriguing forces on Wall Street. The hedge fund manages more than $50 billion in assets, and in 2011, it was forced to slash fees from a 3% management fee and 30% performance fee to a 2.5% and 25%. However, as the costs keep rising, the firm, which did not accept new investors since 2013, is now going back to the 3% and 30% level.

11. Olin Hyde

Olin is the Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of LeadCrunch, a marketing platform that utilizes artificial intelligence to help businesses improve their sales processing by finding ideal customer target audiences. His product is so effective that Bernhard Peters Vice President of sales at Ebsta keeps paying $250 to get 200 leads; this is after he experienced a 30% conversion rate and time-saving when he used the product. While that fee may seem small, the amount may change as more businesses discover its effectiveness.

12. Suman Kanuganti

Suman is the CEO and co-founder of Aira Visual Interpreter for the Blind. Aira uses the technology in smart glasses such as Google Glass to help blind people per visual feedback through the information that the glasses transmits. The glasses use a camera and other sensors to transmit and send visual information to the agent's dashboard. Suman founded Aira in 2015, and so far the company had been recognized for being the 2017 Startup of the Year, and PC Magazine named it the Best New Technology.

13. Steve Hart

Steve holds degrees in Mathematics, and his education led him to be a staff engineer at Linkabit corporation and computer security analyst at Merdan Group. His achievements include helping Viasat, which he co-founded and acted as the CTO, grow from having three employees to its current workforce of over 2,200 employees. His contribution to the computing world also came in the form of authoring technical papers on satellite networking as well as computer and communications security. In 2004, Steve received the Outstanding Executive Award from UCSD in honor of his proactive support in collaborating the university and technology companies, as well as his leadership in the communications industry.

14. Ashley Van Zeeland

Ashley was the CEO and co-founder of Cypher Genomics which is a cloud-based genome interpretation firm that was bought by Human Longevity in 2015. Ashley currently works at Illumina where she serves as the Vice President of Product Development Business Operations and Systems Integration. Before starting up Cypher Genomics, Ashley was the Director of Strategic Partnerships at Scripps Translational Science Institute. Besides her work on genomics, Ashley has published works relating to autism and anorexia. She received the Emerging Leader Award from UCSD in2016 and taught break-dancing in college.

15. Giovanna Scheidler

Giovanna did not plan on having her second child, and that led her to create OvaPal, a device that helps women plan their families naturally. OvaPal is a wearable gadget which measures the basal body temperature of the wearer before transmitting it to their smartphone. However it was not easy to get the company off the ground, and she not only had to use the prize money won in a Quick Pitch competition at San Diego Tech Coast Angels, but she also had to look for a medical company with a portfolio in development of hardware.

16. Carlos Gonzalez

Carlos has been at Clark construction since 2001 though he joined the construction in 1995. He has led projects worth millions of dollars, and between 2010 and 2013, he was the Project Director that led $450 million construction of the Naval Hospital; he facilitated the completion of the project six months before the schedule and a million dollars less than the budgeted amount. He currently is the Regional Executive Officer and Senior Vice President for Clark Construction. Besides his professional competence, he is charitable and serves on the board of Rebuilding Together and Ace Mentor Program.

17. Ciara Kennedy

Ciara is the CEO and president of Amplyx Pharmaceuticals, Inc. but before her promotion, she was the Chief Operations Officer, yet another promotion she received after a $50 million Series B financing. Before joining Amplyx, Ciara worked for several other companies in executive positions; she was the COO at Lumena Pharmaceuticals before Shire acquired it. One of her major achievements while at Lumena was helping the firm to raise $78 million from venture capital to get enough funding for taking the company public. Before working at Lumena, she was at Cypress Bioscience Inc. and Biogen Idec. While at Cypress Bioscience Inc. she was one of the key people behind getting FDA approval for Savella.

18. Sergey Sikora

Sergey Sikora is the president and CEO of CardioCell LLC who has one two years of biomedical-research experience and eight years of management. In 2013, Sergey started to work for Stemedica where he shared his expertise on therapeutics and cardiology diagnostics. Before joining CardioCell LLC, he was the Senior Vice President at GenWay and made a name for himself by not only founding and leading the FirstMark Cardiology Diagnostics Division but also divesting two GenWay divisions to Sigma-Aldrich. Sikora also was the co-founder of Mc-Fibers where he also was the Vice President.

19. Martin Sabarsky

Martin is the CEO of Cellana, which is a major developer of algae-based bioproducts using marina microalgae to photosynthetically manufacture animal feeds, biofuel feedstocks and a range of Omega-3 DHA and EPA oils. The company has invested more than $100 million in its technology through venture funding, government contracts, and grants, joint venture funding and angel investments. Martin also was the president of the company from April 2011 to May 2013, before which he was the Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operating Officer. Before joining Cellana Martin worked at Diversa Corporation as the Vice President of Corporate Development.

20. Pierre Sielman

Pierre is the founder and CEO of an innovative firm which uses hydroponics in high-tech greenhouses to grow produce. The company is called Go Green Agriculture. The main objective of the company is to provide the community with jobs and fresh and nutritious foods through setting up greenhouses. In 2012, San Diego magazine named Pierre among the 50 people to watch in 2013. He is on the board of directors at the San Diego Farm Bureau.

Garrett Parker

Written by Garrett Parker

Garrett by trade is a personal finance freelance writer and journalist. With over 10 years experience he's covered businesses, CEOs, and investments. However he does like to take on other topics involving some of his personal interests like automobiles, future technologies, and anything else that could change the world.

Read more posts by Garrett Parker

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