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The Top 10 Most Innovative People In The Cloud Industry

Denise Sullivan
By Denise Sullivan
— Last Updated: 2020-07-06T13:46:12+00:00

Cloud computing technology didn’t spring up overnight. It had someone out there to innovate and push it along. In order to recognize those technicians that have given us this amazing technology, we have compiled a list of the top 10 most innovative people in cloud computing.

Drew Houston

Even as a small child, Drew Houston was more interested in how programs worked rather than just using them. At the age of five, his father encouraged him to learn programming with BASIC when the family got their first computer.

While Houston enjoyed gaming, he was always more interested in how the programming was put together. 

That interest followed him through high school and on to MIT. At MIT Houston was able to dive into areas that interested him most. While on campus he was able to utilize the Athena environment to help backup his workstation even when he forgot to bring a thumb drive with him.

However, after uploading his entire development environment to a USB flash drive he forgot it when he boarded the bus to New York shortly after graduation. This error led to him creating one of the most popular programs available today.

The initial lines of code he wrote while on his way to New York became the foundation for Dropbox, the online cloud storage and sharing site used by over 300 million people worldwide. At this time Houston is still CEO of the company he created in a moment of frustration.

While his cloud storage solution may not have been the first, it is one of the most popular services, which is what earns him a spot on our list (you can compare online storage prices with our chart).

Aaron Levie

Aaron Levie wasn’t as fascinated with coding as others on our list, although he did have a healthy dose of excitement about technology. Instead, his interest lay in figuring out a way to help consumers and businesses develop a unified way to store data.

The idea was spawned in 2004 during a college business project Levie was working on.

For this project, he was examining how companies were using cloud based storage to save content. After multiple discussions with CIOs from different corporations he realized that the consensus was fragmented on how to use this powerful tool.

Determined to solve the problem, Levie and several of his childhood friends, launched Box the cloud storage platform. Originally, the group targeted individual users and consumers onto the easy-to-use program allowing them to store content while managing through an intuitive interface.

Focus has shifted recently to more of a business customer platform, while still maintaining the user-friendly front end. Aaron Levie is currently still leading the charge at Box. His skills at reading the market and understanding what companies need in their cloud platform is why he has made it onto our list.

Marc Benioff

Not all cloud programs are strictly about storage. There are creators and founders of cloud computing programs that certainly fit into our list. Marc Benioff, founder of Salesforce, is one such creator.

In 1999, Benioff had an idea to create a service that would replace tradition enterprise software and serve as an on-demand, information management platform. His plan, which he called “The End of Software” would use the Internet to change the way programs are designed and distributed.

While Benioff believed software-as-a-service would replace traditional programs, he ended up creating the term platform-as-a-service when he launched Over time, he has expanded the company to be more than just a customer relationship management business. Now customers can use mobile, social, and cloud technologies to launch their own applications.

In addition to building, Benioff has established a “1-1-1 model” for business. Under this structure of corporate philanthropy, his company contributes back to the community it serves. By giving one percent of product. one percent of employee hours and one percent of equity.

Currently Benioff serves as the Chairman and CEO of, serves on the board of Cisco, and is an author of three books. Marc Benioff has been the driving force that brings software-as-a-service to the cloud which is what puts him on our top 10 most innovated people in the cloud industry list.

Paul Maritz

Computer Science has always been an interest of Paul Maritz, so much in fact that he received degrees from both the University of Natal and University of Cape Town. Upon receiving his degrees he worked for Intel, starting in 1981, for five years and helped develop tools to help write software for the x86 platform.

Maritz left Intel to join Microsoft and continued working with the company until 2000. During his time with the software giant he was key in developing many major software titles such as Windows NT and Internet Explorer. His insights were used to not only further Microsoft, but the computer industry as well.

After leaving Microsoft following the antitrust trials of 1999, Maritz co-founded Pi Corporation which was later acquired by EMC where he rose to the level of president and general manager of EMC’s cloud computing division. Currently, Maritz is the CEO of GoPivital, Inc. a company that provides custom applications based on cloud computing technology.

Thanks to his many years in the information technology industry, and his innovations that has helped lead to the construction of cloud computing technology and his continued work in this field, we have named Paul Maritz to our list.

Tom Gonser

Tom Gonser started his career working with wireless data communications and web-based transactions. Feeling that there had to be a better way to handle electronic paperwork and signatures, Gonser branched out to develop that system.

He founded DocuSign in order to make this idea a reality. Utilizing cloud technology, Gonser’s DocuSign company has become the global standard for digital transactions. He has used an automated process to replace the pen and paper way to transact business, which may slow companies down. His software is designed to securely manage all document transactions digitally.

Gonser is heavily involved in the day-to-day operations at DocuSign by serving as the company’s Chief Strategy Officer. Thanks to his innovation with digital transaction management, Tom Gonser has earned a spot on our list.

Mark Belk


Beginning his career in Naval Intelligence, Mark Belk became very familiar with the data systems required by government standers. After serving in the Gulf War, Belk left to work for BTG as a Solutions engineer and later on software-as-a-service projects.

After leaving BTG, Belk went on to work with Homeland Security as their Chief Architect from Microsoft. Here he distinguished himself by developing, validating, and executing IT strategies that were associated with the public sector of Homeland security.  

This worldwide network has helped to change the face of cloud computing and cyber security. Now, Belk works with Juniper Networks as the Chief Architect. His work on global industry, federal cyber security, and technical architecture solutions has earned him a spot on our list.

Yung Chou

As a Technology Evangelist for Microsoft, Yung Chou he has many opportunities serving customers in the areas of support account management, technical support, and technical sales.

Before joining Microsoft, Chou established himself as an expert in system programming, application development, and IT management. He has also offered consulting services to companies in these areas. Chou also hosts a blog where new users can come to learn about the cloud and all it has to offer.

His insights on hybrid cloud and enterprise computing architecture has been used to help Microsoft continue to build their enterprise and personal cloud platforms. Thanks to his work with Microsoft, his education of IT departments and the present demand as a speaker at TechNet and Microsoft events — we have added him to our list.

Mitch Coopet

Being able to share files and folders is only half the equation when it comes to cloud computing. At least that is the way Mitch Coopet has always seen it

As Head of Production and co-founder at Code42, the company behind CrashPlan and SharePlan, backup and sharing are only part of the equation.

He has always seen security as the biggest factor. In fact, he has used his knowledge and innovation to bring a safer and more secure experience to the cloud platform. Coopet still works with the company that he helped found.

His work to offer a more secure cloud storage experience as well as educating the public on how to have a safer storage and sharing experience is what has landed him on our list.

Chris Pinkham

One of the first well-known cloud solutions didn’t come about by itself, Chris Pinkham, had a hand in that creation.

Pinkham began his career in the world of computers by co-founding South Africa’s first ISP called TICSA/Internet Africa. Several years later the company was sold to UUNET and Pinkham went to work with Amazon. While at Amazon, Pinkham was responsible for the global infrastructure engineering and operations of the company’s website.

During this time he began to work on a side project that would turn into the highly successful Elastic Compute Cloud.

Although he left the company in 2006 to begin operation of Nimbula, a company focused on cloud computing software, his contribution to the cloud storage world cannot be overlooked. Later on, Oracle bought Nimbula.

Willem Van Biljon

 Willem Van Biljon began his adventure with computers when he graduated from University of Cape Town with a degree in Computer Science.

He went on to hold positions with The National research Institute for Mathematical Sciences and LinkData. Van Biljon helped to co-found Mosaic Software and created the first high-end payment transaction switch for hardware and operating systems. This company was one of the top three payment processing software titles when it was sold in 2004.

After working with Mosaic, Van Biljon went to work at Here, with the help of co-worker Chris Pinkham he helped to develop the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud. He assisted with product management and marketing of the new public cloud service.

After leaving Amazon in 2006, he collaborated with Chris Pinkham to create Nimbula a cloud computing software title. After it’s purchase in 2013 by Oracle he joined as Co-CEO and CTO. His role in the development of Nimbula and Elastic Compute Cloud has earned him a spot on our list.


There are many more innovators and specialists to name. There are names that remain faceless and are working behind the scenes to bring the cloud to the forefront of computer technology.

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However, we believe these ten outstanding computer gurus have lead the charge in innovation and cloud computing technology.