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The 2011 Hot 20 Under (And Over) 40 Readers' Choice: The 49 Finalists

Photography by Robyn Twomey

You hear that the Bay Area is a hotbed of creativity and innovation a lot. So much, in fact, that it's easy to get a little jaded on the subject. But it's true —we live in a community brimming with do-gooders, entrepreneurs and risk takers, as evidenced by the extremely impressive group of Hot 20 Reader's Choice nominees below. After going through hundreds of submissions, we narrowed down the nominees to this list of 49 finalists. So read their quick stats, get inspired and then vote on who you think we should feature as the Readers' Choice Winner in our October Hot 20 Under (and Over) 40 issue, an annual celebration of the city's 20 most up-and-coming movers and shakers. The Readers' Choice winner will join the 19 other Hot 20 honorees chosen by 7x7 editors. (Check out the 2010 Hot 20 class here).

We had so many great nominees that we've decided to do rounds of voting (your votes will only be counted once for each round). 

July 6: 20 Finalists

July 13: 7 Finalists

July 20: Readers' Choice Winner Announced



1. Anna Weinberg, Owner of Marlowe

As the whirling dervish behind Marlowe restaurant and the forthcoming Park Tavern, Anna Weinberg is San Francisco's up-and-coming restaurant mistress.  At her 16-month-old Marlowe, Weinberg applies her winning formula for an eatery that serves all the senses and feels as casual as it does sophisticated.  The boisterous 33-year-old is poised to build on that success with her next venture, Park Tavern, which opens this fall in a North Beach space that has proven problematic for other restaurateurs — though it's no surprise that challenge doesn't scare Weinberg.  

2. Becky Tarbotton, Director of Rainforest Action Network

Becky Tarbotton is the director of the Rainforest Action Network (RAN), which was dubbed one of "the most savvy environmental agitators in the business" by the Wall Street Journal. RAN uses hard-hitting marketing campaigns to align the policies of multinational corporations with widespread public support for environmental protection. Headquartered in San Francisco, RAN works to create a world where each generation sustains increasingly healthy forests, where the rights of all communities are respected and corporate profits never come at the expense of people or the planet. 

3. Beth Spotswood, Writer, Blogger, Video Host

A fixture in the local media scene, Beth Spotswood pens SFgate's Culture Blog and Tourist Trapped column, chronicling the city's local events and soirees with humor and wit. She works in the CBS 5 newsroom and  also co-hosts the hilarious 70s news spoof Necessary Conversations with SF Examiner contributor Melissa Griffin.

4. Britt Govea of (((folkYEAH!)))

Innovative and trailblazing rock promoter of the moment, Britt Govea has been instrumental in the burgeoning garage and psych music scenes, locally and around the country. Aside from curating shows at countless SF venues, Govea started the excellent concert series that take place in the redwood forests of Big Sur at the Henry Miller Memorial Library and at the historic Brookdale Lodge near Santa Cruz. He's begun a boutique 7-inch record label called Spiritual Pajamas, which is sure to become a tastemaking force in Northern California.

5. Srijith Gopinathan, Chef at Taj Campton Place

Chef Srijith Gopinathan has been heating up the local and national culinary scene since setting up his kitchens at Taj Campton Place Restaurant back in 2008. His efforts have culminated in the restaurant's first Michelin Guide star in October.

6. David Lieb and Jake Mintz, cofounders of Bump

David Lieb and Jake Mintz came up with the idea for Bump, the content-sharing app, while exchanging contact information with other students at the University of Chicago's business school. Bump, now headquartered in Mountain View, has grown into a mobile social network, allowing friends and family to share an expanding list of content (photos, messages, applications, calendar appointments, music) by bumping their phones together. The free app has been downloaded more than 40 million times and is currently the seventh most downloaded app in the US Apple App store. 

7. David Lynch, Wine Director of Quince Restaurant

Sommelier, accomplished wine educator and award-winning author David Lynch directs the wine programs at Michael Tusk's two, highly acclaimed San Francisco restaurants, Quince and Cotogna. Formerly a senior editor at Wine & Spirits, Lynch has garnered widespread praise and awards for his writings, including the James Beard Foundation Award for Journalism.

8. Desi Danganan, founder of the Summit

The former New College space was transformed by proprietor Desi Danganan, previously of Poleng Lounge, into the Mission's Summit Cafe which, in less than a year, has become the go-to spot for the city's Blue Bottle-slurping idea-makers and laptop hordes. Packed to the rafters every day, it's home to numerous start-ups and ventures, an I/O Ventures incubation space, and Peek Gallery, an art space.

9. Different Fur Studios

The Mission's Different Fur Studios has produced some of the biggest names in music like Brian Eno and the Talking Heads' David Byrne, Neil Young, Flo Rida, The Black Lips, Stevie Wonder, and up-and-coming local acts. Owned and operated by a small staff, it's upheld the Bay Area as a birthplace of new and exciting music for decades.

10. Erica Varize, Owner of Evarize Apparel

Erica Varize is the owner of Evarize Apparel in West Berkeley, a cut and sew store that creates custom clothing for women of all sizes. She teaches sewing and design to children in Oakland and also runs a sewing camp for at risk youth in her store each summer. 

11. Drew Houston and Arash Ferdowsi, Founders of Dropbox

Dropbox, the service that allows files to be accessible at any time from any device, is one of the hottest start ups in the Bay Area. Drew Houston (28) and Arash Ferdowsi (25) are behind this company, which now boasts more than 25 million users. 

12. Edgar Blazona, Founder of TrueModern

Edgar Blazona is a modernist American furniture designer who founded the prefab backyard structure company Modular Dwellings and the modern furniture brand TrueModern. He just built a 400-square foot portable home with a full bathroom, kitchen, master bedroom, foldable bunk beds and a pop out room that houses a Murphey bed and flat screen.  Before starting TrueModern and Modular Dwellings, Edgar designed for Pottery Barn. 

13. Eric Vishria, Co founder and CEO of RockMelt

Eric Vishria is co founder and CEO of RockMelt, the new browser that combines Google Search and social media and is backed by backed by Netscape founder Marc Andreessen.

14. Eric Woods, CEO and Founder of Switchboard

Eric is the CEO and founder of the newly launched Switchboard, a non profit that uses mobile phones to network health professionals in developing countries.  Their main program, MDNet, has nearly all of physicians working in Ghana and Liberia, allowing every doctor in the country to call or text any other doctor for free. More than 2.5 million calls have been made thus far. MDNet has also provided the doctors in Ghana and Liberia with a printed countrywide directory of physicians so that doctors can expand their social networks and consult with new colleagues.  Using their upcoming MDNet bulk SMS platform called Ensembl, the government will be able to leverage the MDNet physician directory to send critical information straight to doctors' mobile phones and collect data in real-time.

15. Erik Tomasson, Photographer

Erik Tomasson has been the full-time photographer for the San Francisco Ballet for the past six years and recently completed a new marketing campaign for the upcoming 2012 season that's focused around a "ballet meets fashion" look. He's also a local fashion and lifestyle photographer. 

16. Eye Heart SF

Eye Heart SF includes Crawl SF, Nate Mezmer presents and 1M Entertainment. The team has worked at virtually every top venue in San Francisco and has produced large-scale events, including Streets of San Francisco 2011 featuring Steve Aoki.

17. Garrett Camp, CEO of StumbleUpon

In 2001, Garrett Camp embarked on a project to increase serendipity and that aha moment of surfing the web.  That grad school project is now known as StumbleUpon, with more than 15 million registered users.

18. Greg Bass, Product Design Director of Timbuk2

As director of product design at Timbuk2, Greg Bass leverages his creative abilities toward his passion for the outdoors and bicycling community. Bass is spearheading Timbuk2's charge to develop new designs for their backpack and consumer electronics portage line.  

19. Jared Rivera, Publicist

Restaurant publicist and marketer Jared Rivera has more than 250 restaurant, bar, nightclub and liquor launches under his belt and is the founder of Rivera Public Relations.

20. Jason Mark, Co manager of Alemany Farm

Jason Mark is the editor of the Earth Island Journal and the co-manager of Alemany Farm, a 4.5-acre farm in the middle of the city. Alemany Farm uses organic fruit and vegetable cultivation to give at-risk youth meaningful job training and to educate the public about our reliance on natural systems. 

21. Jason Shellen, Head of AIM Products, AOL

As head of AOL's AIM team since September, Jason oversees the revamp of the tool that got us all chatting online more than a decade ago. Under his leadership, the AIM team just launched AV by AIM, which lets you instantly video chat with up to four people with just a shared url.

22. Jeffrey Wurtz, Pastry Chef, Seasons Restaurant at Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco 

As pastry chef at Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco, Jeffrey Wurtz has spent nearly a decade working with world-renowned chefs, including Daniel Boulud, Alain Ducasse and Joel Robuchon. A New York transplant, chef Wurtz blends his New York style with elements of California. 

23. Jill Dailey, Founder of the Daily Method

Jill Dailey McIntosh is the founder of the workout class The Dailey Method, a unique combination of ballet barre work, core conditioning, stretching and orthopedic exercises. After studying Pilates for nine years, she started the Dailey Method as a way to help people reshape their bodies in a more assertive manner while still maintaining proper alignment and structure.

24. John Dwyer of Thee Oh Sees

John Dywer is the singer, guitarist and mastermind behind Thee Oh Sees and the now-dufunct Coachwhips and Pink & Brown. An underground hero in the national garage rock arena, he and his bandmates are some of the most prolific around, producing multiple albums and 7-inch singles a year, as well as putting on some of the most breathless live shows you'll ever see. Dwyer also runs his own label called Castleface Records, which nurtures smaller local acts such as Blasted Canyons, Bare Wires, and Ty Segall.

25. Jonah Ward, Artist

California College of the Arts graduate  Jonah Ward creates original art that uses molten glass and fire to burn wood and paper. He was the first visiting artist selected to show his artwork at 12 Gallagher Lane and has his next show there this September.

26. Kai Hasson, Nate Houghteling, Zach Blume of Portal A Interactive

Kai Hasson, Nate Houghteling and Zach Blume are the team behind digital media and video production company Portal A Interactive. Their Don't Stop Believing anthem for the San Francisco Giants was the most watched YouTube video in the San Francisco Bay Area in 2010 and was featured on ESPN, CNN and Yahoo sports. Lately, they've made a splash with their White Collar Brawler web series and Wednesday Was a Good Day video for Jawbone, poking fun at SF's start-up scene. 

27. Kate Sofis, Executive Director of

As executive director of, Kate Sofis helps to build and support San Francisco's vibrant manufacturing sector. SFMade's goal is to create a diverse and sustainable local economy and create quality jobs for the community. In addition to working directly with manufacturers, SFMade offers educational workshops and factory tours.

28. Katherine Priore, Founder of Headstand

Katherine Priore puts her yoga skills and public school-teaching background to use at Headstand, the non profit she founded and provides yoga and wellness classes for over 1,000 at-risk youth.  Headstand teaches breathing exercises, yoga postures, and stress reduction techniques to K-12 students in Bay Area public schools, in which more than 60 percent of kids are eligible for free or reduced-priced lunch. 

29. Kelly Malone of Workshop

Kelly Malone has worked tirelessly for years to get San Franciscans away from their computers and work with their hands again at her DIY haven Workshop. As the creator of IndieMart, she's provided a place for local designers and artisans to showcase their talent. Through Workshop, you can learn how to screen-print, sew, make terrariums, brew ginger beer, and even learn bicycle maintenance. 

30. Kirsten Hove, Owner at Paul's Hat Works

Hat manufacturing and retail store Paul's Hat Works opened in the Richmond District back in 1918. Since taking it over, Kirsten and her other partners have expanded the store with community events, collaborating with young fashion students, and encouraging young people to dress up again. 

31. Kim Goldfien and Anjelika Deogirikar Co founders of Infusion 

Infusion is a young professionals group that is a part of the UCSF non profit Partners in Care. It's devoted to raising awareness and funds for patient care and family services at UCSF Medical Center and UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital through social events and fundraisers. Anjelika Deogirikar and Kim Goldfien launched Infusion this past fall and have been moving full-speed ahead with events at California Academy of Sciences, Tipsy Pig and Cinta Salon. 

32. Lauren Geremia, Designer

Lauren Geremia is the keen design eye behind bar hotspots such as the new Churchill, Bloodhound, and 330 Ritch, as well as players in SF's tech boom like Dropbox and Path. Her extensive work has helped form SF's cultured, cool aesthetic.

33. Liz Caruana, Photographer

Liz Caruana is a fashion, beauty and lifestyle photographer. She has shot for Elle and Italian Vogue. 

34. Mac McClelland, Journalist

Mac McClelland is the human rights reporter at Mother Jones magazine and author of the book For Us Surrender Is Out of the Question: A Story from Burma's Never-Ending War. She won several awards for her BP oil spill coverage and in 2010 was recognized as an Outstanding Emerging Journalist by the Society of Professional Journalists.

35. Matt Flannery and Premal Shah,

Started in San Francisco seven years ago, has helped facilitate millions of dollars of loans to entrepreneurs in developing countries and in the United States. Matt Flannery and Premal Shah have grown the organization from a scrappy group of volunteers. Kiva's mission is to chip away at global poverty and facilitating access to credit where none existed before.

36. Matt MacInnis, CEO of Inkling

After an eight-year stint at Apple helping schools put technology to better use, Matt MacInnis was inspired to create a better textbook that was dynamic, more engaging and taking full advantage of a new generation of mobile devices. His start up Inkling brings some of the world's best textbook content to the iPad with interactivity, social collaboration and simple ease-of-use. 

37. Megan Swoboda, co Director of the Ruckus Society

Megan Swoboda is the co director of the Ruckus Society, the Oakland organization that has trained and assisted thousands of activists in the use of nonviolent direct action. The Ruckus Society holds classroom-style instruction for action planning, communicating with the media, building leadership and political analysis, and nonviolent philosophy and practice. 

38. Michael Fertik, Founder of

Regarded as the pioneer of online reputation management, Michael Fertik started to help customers control, manage and protect their online reputations and privacy.

39. Punsri Abeywickrema, CEO of

Punsri Abeywickrema is the founder an CEO of Bay Area-based, one of the leading person-to-person rental and sharing sites. With a goal to help reduce our carbon footprint and help people save and earn money, Rentalic's platform connects people who need things with people who have things.

40. Rebecca Ruggles, International Hospitality Designer at Gensler

As an international hospitality designer for architecture and design firm Gensler, Rebecca Ruggles spends as much of her time as possible in hotels and restaurants around the world. She volunteers regularly with One Brick and is a regular participant in Dining by Design for a local AIDS charity. 

41. Rebecca Solnit, Writer

Writer Rebecca Solnit is the author of 13 books including November 2010's Infinite City: A San Francisco Atlas, a book of 22 maps and nearly 30 collaborators and last year's A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities that Arise in Disaster. She is a contributing editor to Harper's and frequent contributor to the political site 

42. Ren Ng, Founder and CEO of Lytro

Ren Ng heads up Lytro, the Mountain View company that's set to introduce light field cameras later this year that capture all of the light rays in a scene and let you focus a picture after it's taken.

43. Sarah Dvorak, Founder and Owner of Mission Cheese

Sarah is the founder, owner, and head cheesemonger of recently opened Mission Cheese, a cheese shop, wine bar and cafe that celebrates American artisan and farmstead cheeses at its finest. Mission Cheese offers pressed sandwiches, cheese flights and an ever-changing domestic cheese selection that rotates through 60-some cheeses at any given time. 

44. Susan Sarich, Owner of SusieCakes

Combining her business savvy with her grandmother's  4x6 recipe cards, Susan Sarich created one of California's top destinations for satisfying the sweet tooth, SusieCakes bakery.  

45. Trevor Hewitt, Club Owner and Promoter

Trevor Hewitt is the co-owner of SF's Ruby Skye and founder of Mixed Elements, one of SF's longest-running nightlife promotion companies. He's also the founder and CEO of Guest List Nation, an iPhone and web application company that delivers free nightlife guest list offers to user's mobile device and the co-founder of eVelvetRope.

46.Tom X. Lee, Founder of One Medical Group

Tom X. Lee founded One Medical Group in 2007 as a new model for primary care. The concierge practice welcomes email communication with primary care doctors, accommodates same-day appointments and have developed an iPhone app to check symptoms for common ailments. One Medical (which has offices in the Financial District, Noe Valley, Marin County and New York) accepts a variety of insurance, including Medicare. 

47. Wendy MacNaughton, Artist

Artist Wendy MacNaughton documents the minutia of daily San Francisco life with her paints and pens. Her artistic style captures everything from riding Muni to the bars and bartenders of the Mission to the Market Street chess players. 

48. Will Abramson, Nate Chan, Caleb Moriarty, and Babak Khoshnoud, Founders of Yours Truly

Although Yours Truly founders Will Abramson, Nate Chan, Caleb Moriarty, and Babak Khoshnoud all have day jobs, they've thrown passion into their video production company that aims to capture and document emerging musicians and artists. Each film is raw, intimate and beautifully constructed, making the viewer feel like they're right next to the artist while they're playing. It's not a money-making venture, yet they've managed to also start a record label called Love Letters Ink, featuring releases from a diverse roster of artists, from Big K.R.I.T. to Camera Obscura.

49. William Werner, Chef at Tell Tale Preserve Co.

William Werner crafts delicate, sophisticated and unexpected savory and sweet pastries, desserts and preserves. He cut his teeth as a pastry chef at Quince, Spruce, and the Ritz Carlton Half Moon Bay, and channels that experience into his baking operation.