27 Most Successful LGBT+ Entrepreneurs, Executives and Opinion Leaders

In honor of LGBT STEM day, we're taking a look at some of the most successful and powerful leaders in the LGBT community.

27 Most Successful LGBT+ Entrepreneurs, Executives and Opinion Leaders
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July 5th, 2018 marks the first inaugural LGBT STEM Day, where the contributions of the LGBT+ community in the fields of science and technology are recognized and applauded.

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From Engineers to Entrepreneurs: Why Millennials Must Build a Business ?

It's a much-needed celebration of the work of LGBT entrepreneurs and gay business leaders, helping to represent the community like never before. With that in mind, we'll be taking a look at some of the most powerful LGBT CEOs, LGBT celebrities, and successful gay entrepreneurs in honor of the event.

Here are just some of the top gay business leaders, and other members of the LGBT+ community, who are working today. 

The individuals listed are in no particular order, and have not been ranked. 

Tim Cook: CEO of Apple

Tim Cook has been at the helm of the technology giant, Apple Inc., since 2011. Prior to becoming CEO, he held the position of Chief Operations Officer at the company, and is credited with giving Apple's inventory and outgoing expenses a much-needed overhaul.

Cook publicly came out as gay in 2014, though he had always been open about his sexuality in his personal life. His announcement made him the first openly gay person to be included in the Fortune 500 list.

Tim Cook CEO of Apple
Source: Mike Deerkoski/Wikimedia Commons

Alan Joyce: CEO of Qantas Airlines

Irish-born Alan Joyce rose to the position of CEO of the Australian airline, Qantas, in 2008. Prior to working for Qantas, Joyce had worked in numerous positions for Irish airline, Aer Lingus.

Joyce has been open about his sexuality throughout his career, and has been in a committed gay relationship for almost 20 years. Last year he became a Companion of the Order of Australia - the highest civil honor that can be bestowed upon someone by the state.

Alan Joyce CEO of Qantas Airlines
Source: Jetstar Airways/Wikimedia Commons

Peter Thiel: Co-Founder and Former CEO of PayPal 

Peter Thiel served as PayPal's CEO from its launch until its sale to eBay in October, 2002. Since then, he has founded a global hedge fund and is well-regarded as a philanthropist, funding primarily efforts in artificial intelligence and the extension of life.

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As an openly gay man, Thiel has also supported a number of LGBT+ causes over the years. He was a guest speaker at 2010's HomoCon and continues to support the American Foundation for Equal Rights and GOProud.

Peter Thiel Co-Founder of PayPal
Source: Dan Taylor/Wikimedia Commons

Martine Rothblatt: CEO of United Therapeutics

Martine Rothblatt is currently the highest-earning CEO in the biopharmaceutical industry, as well as the founder of her company, United Therapeutics. Her fascinating and storied career has spanned the fields of law, aerospace, and medicine.

Martine publicly came out as a trans woman in 1994, and remains a fierce advocate for trans rights. She's married with four children, and dedicates much of her time to transhumanist efforts.

Martine Rothblatt CEO of United Therapeutics
Source: Andre Chung/Wikimedia Commons

Nick Denton: Founder of Gawker Media

Controversial entrepreneur, Nick Denton, founded Blogwire Inc. in 2003. In 2004, he renamed the company Gawker Media, which went on to become the parent company of popular online media sites such as Deadspin, Gizmodo, and Jezebel. 

Nick Denton is open about his sexuality, and in 2014 married his partner, Derrence Washington. Gawker was dissolved in 2016 in the aftermath of a much-publicized lawsuit. Since then, Denton remains hopeful about his future in media.

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Nick Denton Founder of Gawker Media
Source: nrkbeta/Wikimedia Commons

Inga Beale: CEO of Lloyd's of London

In 2013, Inga Beale became the first female CEO of Lloyd's of London. In 2017 she was named a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire for her efforts as CEO and her contributions to the British economy.

Beale is openly bisexual, and has been instrumental in the creation of a number of LGBT+ friendly policies and structures at Lloyd's. Chief among these is an internal LGBT resource group for Lloyd's employees.

Peter Arvai: CEO and Co-Founder of Prezi

Swedish entrepreneur, Peter Arvai, is best-known as the CEO and co-founder of Prezi, a software company which specializes in cloud-based presentations. In 2009 the company was successfully funded, in part, by TED Conference.

Arvai came out in a Forbes article in 2015. He felt it was important for LGBT+ youths to have role models within the fields of entrepreneurship and STEM, and this is what pushed him to come out publicly.

27 Most Successful LGBT+ Entrepreneurs, Executives and Opinion Leaders
Source: PicturedFutures

Hayley Sudbury: Founder and CEO of WERKIN

Entrepreneur Hayley Sudbury is the founder and CEO of WERKIN, an analytics platform that utilizes behavioral science to improve diversity in company hiring practices. Before founding her own company, Sudbury was an executive at Barclays.

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Sudbury is also an openly out lesbian, who campaigns for LGBT+ rights and diversity in the tech industry. She is a member of the committee for LB Women and is a mentor for Stemettes.

Joel Simkhai: Founder and Former CEO of Grindr

Joel Simkhai is the founder and former CEO of Grindr, one of the most successful dating apps and, arguably, the most successful dating app for gay men. Simkhai launched the app in 2008, and announced his departure from the company in January of this year following the app's acquisition by Chinese company, Kunlun.

Simkhai has always been open about his sexuality, and has used his platform to promote gay rights and raise money for LGBT+ causes. 

Joel Simkhai Founder and Former CEO of Grindr
Source: TechCrunch/Wikimedia Commons

Jon Hall: Board Chair for the Linux Professional Institute

Jon "Maddog" Hall is a veteran computer programmer, and currently serves as the board chair for the Linux Professional Institute. He's also the CEO of OptDyn, a tech company which produces open-source technologies to be used in P2P cloud computing and the Internet of Things.

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In a 2012 article for Linux Magazine, Hall publicly came out as gay. His decision was made in honor of Alan Turing.

Jon Hall Board Chair for the Linux Professional Institute
Source: Cristiano Sant'Anna/Wikimedia Commons

Chris Hughes: Co-Founder of Facebook

In 2002, Chris Hughes co-founded Facebook along with Mark Zuckerberg, Dustin Moskovitz, Eduardo Saverin, and Andrew McCollum in Harvard University. Since then, he has gone on to become the co-chair of the Economic Security Project.

Hughes is openly gay, and in 2012 married Sean Eldridge. Earlier this year he published his book, Fair Shot: Rethinking Inequality and How We Earn, which primarily addresses income inequality in the United States.

Chris Hughes Co-Founder of Facebook
Source: Lisa Berg/Wikimedia Commons

Megan Smith: Former CTO of the United States

Megan Smith has had a storied career. She was a vice president at Google, and the former CEO of Planet Out. In 2014 she became the first female CTO of the United States, and the third person to ever hold that position. She served as CTO under President Barack Obama until 2017. Today she is a member of the board of MIT.

Smith is openly lesbian, and has been recognized by both Out Magazine and GLAAD for her visibility as an LGBT+ leader.

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Megan Smith Former CTO of the United States
Source: Chuck Kennedy/Wikimedia Commons

David Geffen: Founder of DreamWorks

David Geffen is, arguably, one of the most powerful figures in the American entertainment industry. In addition to founding DreamWorks in 1994, he co-founded Asylum Records with Elliot Roberts.

Geffen came out as gay in 1992, and is frequently regarded as one of the most successful LGBT+ business people in America. He's a dedicated philanthropist, who frequently donates to medical research and the arts.

David Bohnett: Founder of GeoCities

David Bohnett was behind one of the first ever social networking sites, GeoCities, back during the early days of the Internet. After founding the site in 1994, Bohnett has gone on to found the David Bohnett Foundation which seeks to improve society through social activism.

Bohnett is openly gay, and has been recognized throughout his career for his contributions to tech and the LGBT+ community.

Tim Gill: Founder of Quark

In 1981, Tim Gill founded Quark Inc., which produced an early and important software for the layout of graphics. Gill sold his stakes in Quark in 1999 in order to focus more on his interests in LGBT+ activism and philanthropy.

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Gill married Scott Miller in 2009, and continues to advocate for the LGBT+ community through the Gill Foundation. He is believed to be the largest single donor to LGBT+ rights in America, having donated over $422 million to various LGBT+ causes throughout his lifetime.

Jennifer Pritzker: Founder of the Tawani Foundation

Jennifer Pritzker is best-known for being the first transgender billionaire. She served as a Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Army, and founded the Tawani Foundation in 1995. Through the foundation, she seeks to donate to numerous civic causes.

Pritzker publicly came out in 2013 via a statement to her employees. She has received many accolades for her work in advancing the visibility of and discussion around gender identity.

Jennifer Pritzker Founder of the Tawani Foundation
Source: Sgt. 1st Class Chuck Burden, U.S. Army/Wikimedia Commons

Vivienne Ming: Co-Founder of Socos

Vivienne Ming is a theoretical neuroscientist and entrepreneur, and is the co-founder of Socos. Socos aims to combine machine learning and neuroscience to maximize the potential of students. In 2013, Ming was named one of Ten Women to Watch in Tech by Inc. Magazine.

Vivienne came out as trans to her then-fiancé, Norma, on her 34th birthday in 2005. She and Norma married the following year, and went on to found Socos together. Today, Ming sits on the boards of StartOut, The Palm Center, Emozia, Engender, and Genderis Inc.

Jason Grenfell-Gardner: CEO of Teligent

Jason Grenfell-Gardner is the current Chief Executive Officer, President, and Director of Teligent. Prior to working for Teligent, he was Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing for West-Ward Pharmaceuticals. He is also a current Director at IGI Laboratories.

Grenfell-Gardner is one of the few openly gay CEOs of publicly traded American corporations. In a 2014 article with the New York Times, Grenfell-Gardner and C1 Financial CEO, Trevor Burgess, both said they were unaware of any other openly gay CEOs in their field.

Jason Grenfell-Gardner CEO of Teligent
Source: Jason Grenfell-Gardner/Twitter

Claudia Brind-Woody: Vice President of IBM

Claudia Brind-Woody is one of the most powerful women working in tech today. She is currently employed as the Vice President and Managing Director for IBM Global Intellectual Property Licensing. She has worked for IBM for over twenty years, and has held multiple different positions.

Brind-Woody is also an out lesbian, and has served on the boards of numerous LGBT+ organizations over the years. She was awarded the Out & Equal Trailblazer Award in 2011 and has spoken publicly on issues of diversity and LGBT+ rights globally.

Anthony Romero: Executive Director of the ACLU

Anthony D. Romero is the current Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union. He previously served as the Director of the Ford Foundation, where he facilitated as much as $90 million in funding for various civil and human rights projects.

In 2001 he became not only the first Latino man to be Executive Director of the ACLU, but also the first openly gay man. In 2005 he was named one of Time Magazine's 25 Most Influential Hispanics.

Anthony Romero Executive Director of the ACLU
Source: Rsd315/Wikimedia Commons

Harvey Levin: Founder of TMZ

Harvey Levin is the founder of popular and polarizing celebrity news site, TMZ. Levin got his start as a lawyer, and transitioned into the entertainment industry in the early 1980s. He founded TMZ in 2005, which has since become one of the most up-to-date and important celebrity news sources in the world.

Levin publicly came out as gay in 2010 when speaking to the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association. He frequently appears in Out Magazine's Power 50 list of influential figures in the LGBT+ community.

Harvey Levin Founder of TMZ
Source: SupportPDX/Wikimedia Commons

Trevor Burgess: Former CEO of C1 Financial

Trevor Burgess is the former CEO of C1 Financial, and is known as being the first openly gay CEO of a bank on the New York Stock Exchange. Before rising to the position of CEO, Burgess worked as an investment broker for Morgan Stanley for ten years.

Burgess has been very vocal about his position as a gay CEO, in an effort to better represent the LGBT+ community. He was featured in The G Quotient-Why Gay Executives are Excelling as Leaders. In 2016 he stepped down as C1 Financial CEO following its acquisition by Bank of Ozarks.

Stephen Clarke: CEO of WH Smith

Stephen Clarke is the Chief Executive Officer of British bookshop chain, WH Smith. Last year he spearheaded a training initiative in the company to better accommodate workers suffering from mental health issues.

Mental health is an important issue to Clarke, who has spoken in the past about his husband's struggle with mental health. He also privately mentors fellow members of the LGBT+ community who work in the business sector, guiding them on how to come out among other things.

António Simões: CEO of HSBC Bank

Portuguese banker, António Simões, is the current Chief Executive Officer of HSBC Bank, presiding over Europe and the UK. He previously worked for both McKinsey & Company and Goldman Sachs.

He has always been open about his sexual orientation, and in 2015 was named number one in the Out at Work & Telegraph Top 50 LGBT Executives list. Prior to this, he was recognized by many publications for his status as an influential gay executive.

António Simões CEO of HSBC Bank
Source: Richter Frank-Jurgen/Flickr

Gigi Chao: Executive Director of Cheuk Nang Holdings Limited

Gigi Chao was thrust into the media spotlight when, in 2012, her father and owner of Cheuk Nang Holdings offered $65 million to any man who would marry her. In 2014, Chao's father raised the amount to $180 million.

Chao responded to her father's offers by publishing a letter in the China Morning Post, where she revealed that she was a lesbian and that she had been married her partner, Sean Eav, in 2012. In 2008, Chao founded the Faith In Love Foundation, a charitable organization aimed at lifting under-privileged youths out of poverty.

Juergen Maier: CEO of Siemens UK

Juergen Maier is the current Chief Executive Officer for Siemens UK. Before rising to the position of CEO, he held numerous senior positions within the company, including Industry Sector Lead for the UK and Ireland.

Early in his career, Maier was worried that his sexual orientation might affect his career opportunities, and remained secretive. In recent years, he has opened up about his struggles as a gay man and now speaks out against homophobia in the workplace.

Mark McBride-Wright: Chair and Co-Founder of InterEngineering

Mark McBride-Wright is a chartered chemical engineer, and the chair and co-founder of InterEngineering - an organization that seeks to connect LGBT+ engineers and support them in the field of engineering. InterEngineering was instrumental in the development of LGBT STEM Day. He is also the founder of EqualEngineers, an organization dedicated to connecting employers with diverse candidates working in STEM, and in consulting on matters of diversity within various companies.

McBride-Wright is, himself, a gay man and has worked tirelessly to provide more inclusive spaces within engineering for the LGBT+ community. He appeared in the Financial Times Future LGBT Leaders List in both 2015 and 2016.

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