by Matt Kapko

Meet the 9 most influential tech leaders on LinkedIn

Aug 13, 2015
IT LeadershipSocial Networking Apps

With more than 380 million total LinkedIn members, it’s difficult to find the most relevant people in IT to follow. These nine individuals are among the most active and respected users in the technology industry, according to LinkedIn, and they're all worth a follow.

IT pros you should follow on LinkedIn

LinkedIn recently combed through its massive user base, exclusively for, to identify the most active and influential users in the IT industry. The professional network narrowed down the results to members with the most followers, who list IT as their primary industry. LinkedIn paired the list down further by focusing on individuals who regularly publish on the platform and excluding users who don’t list English as their primary language or are in a career transition. The final nine members all gave LinkedIn permission to be included in this roundup. If you’re not following these IT pros, you’re missing an opportunity to learn from the technology leaders who most effectively leverage LinkedIn to grow their reach and advance their careers.

(Editor’s Note: Seven of the nine LinkedIn members identified in this slideshow are “LinkedIn Influencers,” a designation given to approximately 500 professionals who were invited by LinkedIn to publish on the site, and as such, their follower counts are public. The last two members mentioned are not Influencers, and therefore, their follow counts are private and are not included.)

Naomi Simson

02 naomi simson

Founding director, RedBalloon 877,973 LinkedIn followers

Naomi Simson’s career began in marketing management when she worked at Apple Computer Australia in the early ’90s. Since 2001, Simson has served as founding director, CEO and executive director of RedBalloon and is the first of seven LinkedIn influencers in this roundup. She has written three books, stars as one of the investors on Australia’s version of “Shark Tank” and has published nearly 1,000 blog posts during the past decade.

In her latest post on LinkedIn, titled “What does leadership mean to me?” she wrote: “Great leaders continually learn, grow and develop. No leadership is static.” Simson is based in Sydney, Australia.

Mark Hurd

03 mark hurd

CEO, Oracle 322,998 LinkedIn followers

Mark Hurd, Oracle CEO, choses not to share many details about himself on his LinkedIn profile, but he published 13 posts on the site during the last two years. Before joining Oracle in 2010, Hurd spent 25 years at NCR Corp. and five years as Hewlett-Packard’s CEO. He now shares the responsibilities and title of CEO at Oracle with Safra Catz, who previously served as president and CFO of the company.

In Hurd’s most recent post on LinkedIn, titled “Take this template and shove it,” he wrote: “If your organization doesn’t have smart tools that employees can use on their smartphones from just about anywhere on the planet, you might as well roll out electric typewriters.” Hurd is based in Silicon Valley.

Clara Shih

04 clara shih

CEO, Hearsay Social 231,266 LinkedIn followers

Clara Shih may have one of the most impressive experience sections on all of LinkedIn. After a yearlong stint at Microsoft, Shih joined Google just four months after it went public in late 2004. She developed the first social business application, Faceforce, during her time at Salesforce in 2007 and wrote the bestselling book, The Facebook Era, in 2009. Shih has also served on the board of directors at Starbucks for almost 4 years. Her company Hearsay Social raised more than $51 in venture capital and is a preferred partner with LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Google.

In her latest post on LinkedIn, “Lessons from a new mom in tech, 3 months post-launch,” Shih wrote: “Life, especially tech life, is full of trade-offs. But being a mom and running a company are not zero-sum.” Shih is based in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Giovanni Colella

05 giovanni colella

Cofounder and CEO, Castlight Health 205,898 LinkedIn followers

Dr. Giovanni Colella has been a health technology entrepreneur for more than 25 years and currently serves as CEO of Castlight Health, a company he cofounded in 2008. He has written 31 posts on the platform since late 2012. McKesson acquired Colella’s previous company, RelayHealth, in 2006. He also held senior titles at Sapient, SAI and the Boston Consulting Group, and he practiced medicine in Manhattan before transitioning to health IT.

In his latest post on LinkedIn, titled “My appeal to American business executives,” Colella wrote: “It’s time for great healthcare that will build — not burden — great businesses. And now, for the first time, it’s possible.” Colella is based in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Tim O’Reilly

06 tim oreilly

Founder and CEO, O’Reilly Media 196,391 LinkedIn followers

Tim O’Reilly is a stalwart of the tech industry. His technical-publishing, training and events company launched in 1983 and played a large role in evangelizing the Internet, programming languages and Web-based services. O’Reilly plans to participate in at least 17 conferences during the next 10 months, including Strata+Hadoop World and Solid.

In O’Reilly’s most recent post on LinkedIn, titled “Data science, better outcomes,” he wrote: “There is still quite a distance between the aspiration to apply data science and the messy reality of doing it effectively.” O’Reilly is based in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Francisco D’Souza

07 francisco dsouza

CEO, Cognizant 185,549 LinkedIn followers

Since Francisco D’Souza took over as CEO of Cognizant in 2007, a company he cofounded in 1994, the company’s employee base nearly quadrupled, from 55,000 to more than 200,000. He serves on the board of directors at GE, as well as on the boards of trustees at Carnegie Mellon University and the U.S. India Business Council. D’Souza is routinely cited among the youngest CEOs in the software services industry.

In his latest post on LinkedIn, titled “Should organizations focus on efficiency or innovation?” D’Souza wrote: “We have to innovate continuously to sustain our growth.” D’Souza has lived in nine countries and is currently based in the New York City area.

Blanca Trevino

08 bianca travino

CEO, Softtek 133,724 LinkedIn followers

Throughout her 30-year career in IT services, Blanca Trevino collaborated with government agencies and businesses to promote greater participation from Latin Americans and women in IT. Since 2000, Trevino has served as CEO at Softtek, the largest private IT vendor in Latin America, with more than 10,000 employees in Mexico and abroad. She has served on the board of directors for Walmart Mexico since 2006 and speaks frequently about the role of women in business.

In her most recent post on LinkedIn, titled “Take advantage of disadvantage,” Trevino wrote: “Some of the best outcomes in my life have happened amidst the most trying of moments.” Trevino is based in Monterey, Mexico.

Neil Hughes

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Service improvement manager, NEC Group

Neil Hughes has more than a decade of experience in IT management. He has worked for organizations including BT Broadband, IBM, Goldman Sachs and the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games in London. Hughes currently manages NEC Group’s various IT improvement projects, including work on the LG Arena and National Exhibition Centre.

In his most recent post on LinkedIn, titled “Battle of the digital assistants,” Hughes wrote: “My only fear is we slowly desensitise our humanity and allow an epidemic of loneliness to engulf our world.” He is based in Wolverhampton, England.

David Evans

10 david evans

Cofounder and CTO, Stringify

After nearly 24 years with Cisco, David Evans cofounded Internet of things (IoT) startup Stringify and now serves as the company’s CTO. During his tenure at Cisco, Evans was responsible for assessing disruptive technologies and determining their future impact on Cisco’s ecosystem. He holds seven patents for inventions, including a virtual dashboard, multi-touch detection and virtualization of physical spaces for online meetings, according to his LinkedIn profile.

In his most recent post on LinkedIn, titled “Why the Internet of Things will drive a knowledge revolution,” Evans concludes the following: “How we choose to use this opportunity may very well define our future.” Evans is based in Silicon Valley.