We launched Haute Living San Francisco in January 2009, and, since that time, we have been compiling our Haute 100 list for the Bay Area. We are proud to release this ranking to our readers. These are our picks for the region’s most important entrepreneurs, thinkers, entertainers, creators, philanthropists, socialites, power couples, and, of course, billionaires. See if you made the cut; if not, there is always next year, when we will revise the list with the biggest names of 2011.
Isha & Asim Abdullah
Category: Power Couples
Company: Emanuel Ungaro
What Makes Them Haute: He is a former Silicon Valley tech titan who now owns Ungaro, which has been honored as one of the 10 official haute couture houses in the past, and she is an M.D., nephrologist, and philanthropist. Together, they are one of the Bay Area’s most prominent and stylish couples.
Industry: Real Estate
What Makes Him Haute: He is one of the biggest real estate power players in the history of Silicon Valley. He and his partner Richard Peery made office space out of farmlands back in the 60s and gave birth to entire cities like Mountain View and Sunnyvale. Today, tech titans at Google have him and Peery to thank for the headquarters (aka Googleplex) that hundreds of staff members so famously call home. In 2006, Peery-Arrillaga sold 119 Silicon Valley buildings for $1.1 billion to RREEF, owned by Deutsche Bank. He is also one of Stanford’s major benefactors.
What Makes Her Haute: She’s been serving as the CEO and director of Yahoo! since 2006. Celebrating its 15th anniversary this year, Yahoo! is one of the most enduring brands to come out of Silicon Valley. Bartz is focused on small acquisitions and opportunities for Yahoo! to open up to new demographics.
Steve Jr. & Riley Bechtel
Company: Bechtel Corp
What Makes Them Haute: The Bechtel family name can be linked to some of the greatest man-made projects of the century. (Think the Hoover Dam, the largest civil engineering project in U.S. history.) Currently, Riley is leading the multibillion-dollar corporation as the chief executive, while his father, Steve Jr. serves as the chairman emeritus, a partnership tradition established a generation before between Steve Sr. and son. Notable projects that have the Bechtel stamp include the Bay Area Rapid Transit system, a project that set new standards for commuter rail systems; the Channel Tunnel, connecting England and France beneath the English Channel; and the Hong Kong International Airport.
Company: Charles and Helen Schwab Foundation
What Makes Her Haute: She is a giant among men in the arts and financial industries in San Francisco. In the business world, she made her name known at the Charles Schwab Corporation, but her official titles and responsibilities have been many, including CEO of Sugar Bowl Ski Resort; president and CEO of the San Francisco Symphony; CEO of J. R. Bechtle & Co.; vice chairman of Charles and Helen Schwab Family Foundation; and vice chairman of the National Park Foundation.
Company: Mission West Properties
Industry: Real Estate
What Makes Him Haute: Berg, chairman and CEO of Mission West Properties, bought the real estate investment trust in 1997, which now manages 8 million square feet across 100 properties. He unsuccessfully tried to sell in 2007 for $1.8 billion before the real estate market collapsed. He is also a venture capitalist, one of the billionaire principals of Berg & Berg Enterprises and Berg & Berg Developers, and his résumé of tech industry investments includes names like MoSys, Inc, Valence Technologies, Focus Enhancements, LynuxWorks, Hancock Fabrics, Inc.
What Makes Her Haute: Bianchini is CEO of Ning, an online platform for people to create their own social networks. Today, Ning houses more than 1.5 million networks, with 4,500 new ones created everyday. Bianchini also co-founded Harmonic Communications and worked as director of business development and investor relations at CKS Group. Early in her career, she served as a financial analyst at Goldman Sachs.
Company: Willie Brown Jr. Institute on Politics & Public Service
What Makes Him Haute He was the first person to grace the cover of Haute Living San Francisco. The New York Times once dubbed Willie Brown—one of the city’s most notable mayors and a member of the state assembly for more than 30 years—one of the country’s most powerful state legislators. No politician dominated California longer or more completely than Willie. No politician was more flamboyant. And if you measure a man by the enormity of his progressive impact on the world, former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown is undoubtedly one of the most extraordinary men in the City by the Bay.
John Buchanan Jr.
Company: Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco
What Makes Him Haute: As director of the FAMSF, Buchanan oversees both the de Young Museum and the Legion of Honor, which comprise the largest public arts institution in the city and one of the largest art museums in the United States.
John T. Chambers
Company: Cisco Systems
What Makes Him Haute: Chambers is the proud CEO and chairman of Cisco Systems. What does he have to be so proud about? How about the financial growth that he has helmed since 1991 when the company was valued at $70 million. In early February, the Wall Street Journal reported that for the second fiscal quarter, Cisco’s profit was up from 2009, ringing in at $1.85 billion. But it’s not just his ability to bring in the green that makes Chambers haute. His deep commitment to philanthropy has been nationally recognized. He was the first recipient of the Clinton Global Citizen Award, received the top corporate social responsibility award from Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the Woodrow Wilson Award for Corporate Citizenship, and the Excellence in Corporate Philanthropy Award, from C-level peers.