The 26 coolest women in UK tech

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Kate Unsworth Vinaya Kate Unsworth of Vinaya.

The UK technology industry has plenty of women in leading roles. It's still a male dominated arena, though, so we've collected some of the UK's most interesting women in tech, ranging from VCs, to startup founders.

Many of the people on this list have inested in innovate companies, both in the UK and abroad. Others are building those companies themselves.

With additional reporting by Oscar Williams-Grut, Lara O'Reilly, Will Heilpern, and Max Slater-Robins.

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26. Martha, Baroness Lane-Fox of Soho

26. Martha, Baroness Lane-Fox of Soho

Lane Fox launched online travel site Lastminute.com in 1998 during the dotcom bubble. It was one of the few businesses to survive the crash, going on to be purchased for £577 million in 2005. She entered the House of Lords in 2013, becoming its youngest female member.

Lane Fox continues to campaign for a better technology industry. She launched an initiative called Dot Everyone in April 2015 that aims to bring about a fairer and more equal internet for all. Lane Fox has also joined the Government Digital Service advisory board and signed a letter urging Prime Minister David Cameron not to clamp down on immigration in case it hurts the technology sector.

Twitter: @Marthalanefox

25. Seedcamp cofounder Reshma Sohoni

25. Seedcamp cofounder Reshma Sohoni

Reshma Sohoni is cofounder and partner at Seedcamp, a fund launched in 2007 by a group of European investors, including Saul Klein.

In December 2015, Sohoni joined up with Taavet Hinrikus, one of the cofounders of TransferWise, to back a new online payments startup called Curve.

Seedcamp focuses on investing in pre-seed and seed stage startups, backing ambitious founders in the process. In addition to funding, Seedcamp gives startups access to venture capitalists and mentors.

Total amount raised: $39.9 million (£27.5 million)

Headcount: 187

Twitter: @rsohoni

24. Legacy Russell of Artsy

24. Legacy Russell of Artsy

Legacy Russell works for Artsy, which is an online platform that aims to provide a way for people to discover art they’ll like, featuring work from leading galleries, museums, and private collections around the world.

Russell — who bases herself in Rohan Silva’s trendy London startup hub, Second Home — is the UK gallery relations lead at Artsy. Her job involves building Artsy's presence and driving new Artsy initiatives within the UK.

In March 2015, the New York headquartered company raised $25 million (£17 million) from a cohort of investors, including IDG Capital partners, Sandy Cass, Catterton Partners, and Thrive Capital.

Total amount raised: $50 million (£35 million)

Headcount: 161

Twitter: @LegacyRussell

23. Gadgette editor Holly Brockwell

23. Gadgette editor Holly Brockwell

Holly Brockwell founded technology news site Gadgette in May. It’s a gadget and technology news site that’s focused on women, an audience that many tech sites struggle to write for.

Brockwell has been outspoken about the abuse she has received online by internet trolls. Trolls targeted her after she criticised an iPhone game called “Stolen” that let people buy and sell Twitter users.

Read Business Insider UK’s interview with Holly Brockwell about Twitter trolls and online abuse »

Headcount: 4

Twitter: @holly

22. Alex Depledge

22. Alex Depledge

Alex Depledge is the cofounder of on-demand cleaning startup Hassle, which was acquired by German rival Helpling acquired last July for a reported €32 million (£25 million).

In February 2015, Depledge became the chair of The Coalition for a Digital Economy (Coadec), a policy advisory group started by Mike Butcher, editor of tech news website TechCrunch, and Jeff Lynn, chief executive of equity crowdfunding Seedrs, in 2010.

The following month she became a board member of Sharing Economy UK (SEUK), which represents the sharing economy community, and lobbies for changes to protect consumers and sharing economy businesses.

Total amount raised: $6.8 million (£4.7 million)

Headcount: 47

Twitter: @adepledge

21. Avid Larizadeh Duggan of Google Ventures

21. Avid Larizadeh Duggan of Google Ventures

Along with Tom Hulme, Larizadeh Duggan is one of Google Ventures’ two remaining partners in Europe. She’s also the only female general partner at the fund. Larizadeh Duggan led Google Ventures’ investment into Yieldify, a two-year-old e-commerce startup that helps online retailers convince people to buy products online.

Aside from investing, Larizadeh Duggan also led the UK Hour of Code project and is a mentor for the Girls in Tech London scheme.

Before joining Google Ventures, Larizadeh Duggan was the cofounder of fashion retail startup Boticca. She also held product management roles at Skype and eBay in addition to being an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Accel Partners.

Twitter: @avidl

20. Sarah Drinkwater of Google Campus

20. Sarah Drinkwater of Google Campus

Sarah Drinkwater works for Google as head of Campus London, a seven-storey space operated by Google for entrepreneurs near Old Street Roundabout.

Since its inception just over three years ago, Campus has developed a community of 45,000 people. It aims to provide open access education, mentorship, working space and events that are of interest to the startup community.

In 2015, Drinkwater became a mentor to Girls in Tech London, which aims to help talented young women learn skills for tech roles.

Twitter: @sarahdrinkwater

19. Sonali De Rycker of Accel Partners

19. Sonali De Rycker of Accel Partners

Accel Partners is one of London's most respected venture capital firms, with a strong stable of tech talent. And de Rycker is one of Europe's most experienced capitalists, having worked for over 14 years investing in startups.

De Rycker lead Accel Partners’ investment into British online fashion startup Lyst, and also lead investment into online job hunting app Job Today, which raised $10 million (£7 million) in January 2016.

In recent years De Rycker has overseen investments in big-name European startup successes such as Spotify, Moo, Seatwave and Wonga. She was previously an independent director on the board of IAC. Starting her career as an Analyst at Goldman, Sachs & Co., she went on to join Atlas Ventures in 2000.

Total amount raised: $17 billion (£11.7 billion)

Headcount: 186

Twitter: @sonalidr

18. Elizabeth Varley of TechHub

18. Elizabeth Varley of TechHub

Elizabeth Varley founded TechHub in 2010 after realising that London was lacking in shared workspaces for tech companies. TechHub was one of the first hubs for tech startups in London, situating itself around the Old Street area. In 2012 it opened up office space in Google Campus, a larger workspace for internet startups sponsored by Google.

In February 2015 it was announced that TechHub will expand its partnership with Google into three new locations: India, Latvia, and Romania. TechHub members in those countries now have access to Google for Entrepreneurs services.

Varley also signed a letter in October warning Prime Minister David Cameron not to clamp down on immigration into the UK in case it harms hiring for technology companies and startups.

Headcount: 69

Twitter: @evarley

17. Sherry Coutu of The Scale-Up Institute

17. Sherry Coutu of The Scale-Up Institute

Sherry Coutu is an entrepreneur turned angel investor who’s keen to promote and support the UK’s fastest-growing technology companies.

In 2015 Coutu launched The Scale-Up Institute with LinkedIn cofounder Reid Hoffman. Backed by Google, the Business Growth Fund, the London Stock Exchange and several advisory firms, the organisation aims to provide promising startups with advice on leadership, export markets and raising finance alongside, access to a network of advisors.

Twitter: @scoutu

16. Alexandra Chong of Lulu

16. Alexandra Chong of Lulu

Alexandra Chong is the founder of Lulu, the app that lets women review and rate the men they date. She started the company in London in 2010. The site launched with $1 million in investment from VC firms Passion Capital and PROfounders Capital. But it changed focus in 2013 to expand to the US and embrace the college culture there that had helped Tinder grow.

It was announced in June 2015 that Lulu would re-enter the UK market, and that followed Chong’s star-studded wedding which was attended by Google cofounder Sergey Brin and actress Kate Winslet.

Lulu announced in February 2016 that it had been acquired by dating app Badoo, and Chong became the president of that company.

Read Business Insider UK’s full interview with Alexandra Chong »

Total amount raised: $3.5 million (£2.4 million)

Headcount: 13

Twitter: @AlexandraCChong

15. Net-a-Porter founder Natalie Massenet MBE

15. Net-a-Porter founder Natalie Massenet MBE

Natalie Massenet founded online fashion portal Net-a-Porter in 2000 when she was trying to find designer goods for a fashion shoot. The site sells clothes using a layout similar to traditional fashion magazines.

Net-a-Porter was merged with Italian fashion site YOOX in 2015. Massenet stood to earn £46 million from the deal. However, Massenet left the company in September following the merger. She reportedly received a payoff of over €100 million (£77 million.)

Before starting Net-a-Porter, Massenet worked as a fashion model in Tokyo, assistant at Tatler, fashion stylist, and also worked with photographer Mario Testino. She’s Chairman of the British Fashion Council, and received an MBE in 2009 for services to the fashion industry.

Twitter: @NatalieMassenet

14. Joanna, Baroness Shields, OBE

14. Joanna, Baroness Shields, OBE

Baroness Shields was appointed the UK’s Minister for Internet Safety and Security in May. And in December she was named a Home Office minister, making her a joint minister at both the Home Office and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

Shields previously worked as a managing director for Google in Europe, ran Bebo, worked at AOL, and was then recruited by Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg to run Facebook in Europe. She was also the CEO of Tech City UK.

Twitter: @joannashields

13. Alice Bentinck of Entrepreneur First

13. Alice Bentinck of Entrepreneur First

Matt Clifford and Alice Bentinck are the cofounders of Entrepreneur First (EF), which is a London-based company-building programme for individuals who possess exceptional technical talent.

In the last year, EF has raised £6.5 million in funding and expanded its platform to Singapore, which is also home to one of its key investors. It has also expanded the number of places on its course in London from 30 in 2011 to over 200 today.

EF has helped to create companies like Blaze, famed for its laser bike light, and StreetHub, which allows people to find products on sale at small and independent stores in their local area.

Total amount raised: $13.3 million (£9.1 million)

Headcount: 145

Twitter: @matthewclifford, @Alicebentinck

12. Emily Brooke of Blaze

12. Emily Brooke of Blaze

Emily Brooke is the founder and CEO of Blaze, a London startup that has built a laser bike light that can help save cyclists lives.

Blaze's “Laserlight” is designed to improve rider safety by projecting a green laser image five to six metres in front of the cyclist, thereby making them more visible to drivers, pedestrians, and other cyclists.

Brooke, who took part in the first ever Entrepreneur First startup building programme, scored a major win for Blaze in December when it was announced that Santander planned to fit every “Boris bike” in London with a Blaze Laserlight. The deal is said to be worth close to £1 million.

Total amount raised: $500,000 (£345,000)

Headcount: 9

Twitter: @buzzbrooke

11. Jo Bertram of Uber

11. Jo Bertram of Uber

Jo Bertram joined Uber in 2013 after working as a management consultant for McKinsey and Accenture. Now she manages the on-demand ride service's operation in the UK.

2015 was a big year for Uber in the UK. It became even more of a political topic thanks to comments by London Mayor Boris Johnson and mayoral candidates. It also launched UberPOOL here, which allows strangers to share rides to get a cheaper fare.

Bertram also talked about the amount of abuse she receives on Twitter from cab drivers and internet trolls.

Uber has seen off two major threats to its business in London in recent months: Transport for London dropped plans for a series of harsh proposals that would affect ridesharing apps like Uber, and the company also won a High Court battle against taxi drivers who claimed that its driver app met the legal definition of a taximeter.

Total amount raised: $8.6 billion (£5.9 billion)

Headcount: 14,299

Twitter: @jo_bertram

10. Kate Unsworth of Vinaya

10. Kate Unsworth of Vinaya

Kate Unsworth is the CEO and cofounder of Vinaya (formerly Kovert Designs), a London-based fashion startup that makes connected jewellery, including rings and necklaces that buzz when you receive a WhatsApp message or email, for example.

Vinaya raised a $3 million (£2 million) seed round in November with Passion Capital’s Eileen Burbidge leading the round and Bebo’s Michael Birch also taking part.

Vinaya said it was going to use the funding to set up a “research lab” in Shoreditch that would provide insights on brain/human habits that could be used in its product design process.

Read Business Insider UK’s review of a Vinaya ring »

Total amount raised: $3 million (£2 million)

Headcount: 24

Twitter: @kateuns

9. Former Liberty director Shami Chakrabarti

9. Former Liberty director Shami Chakrabarti

Shami Chakrabarti is a giant of British civil society. For more than ten years until earlier this year, she was the director of Liberty, an 82-year-old London human rights organisation.

Liberty’s remit extends well beyond the tech sphere — but in the years since Edward Snowden’s revelations about Western governments’ surveillance, Liberty has championed digital rights just as it has traditional civil liberties.

A former Home Office barrister, she has honourary degrees from Southampon, Glamorgan, and Middlesex universities, and is the chancellor at the University of Essex. She was even a flag-bearer at the 2012 Olympics in London.

Having served as Liberty’s director since 2003, she announced in January 2016 she her departure, with her post taken over by Matha Spurrier. Chakrabarti is now leading an independent inquiry into anti-Semitism in the Labour Party.

8. Leanne Kemp of Everledger

8. Leanne Kemp of Everledger

Everledger is a startup that wants to make diamond theft a thing of the past.

It uses the blockchain — the ledger of all bitcoin transactions — to make a public record that valuable diamonds can be registered to, recording their unique characteristics. This should make it harder to pawn stolen diamonds, and help cut down on fraud.

The company was created by the Australian Leanne Kemp in 2015, and took part in the Barclays Techstars accelerator in June.

Nearly 900,000 diamonds have been registered to Everledger’s platform already, and another 900,000 are queued up. Later down the line, it intends to start registering other luxury goods.

Read Business Insider UK’s profile of Leanne Kemp and Everledger »

Total amount raised: $118,000 (£81,000)

Headcount: 3

Twitter: @leanne_kemp

7. YouTube star Zoella

7. YouTube star Zoella

Zoella is the well-known British YouTube vlogger who shares updates about fashion, make-up, and her life. Earlier in February 2016 it was announced that she has reached 10 million YouTube subscribers, and her videos have been watched over 1 billion times.

Zoella has also released two books, the first of which had the highest first-week sales for a novelist since records began in 1998. And her second book was named one of the highest-selling books of 2015.

Twitter: @ZozeeBo

6. Nicola Mendelsohn CBE of Facebook

6. Nicola Mendelsohn CBE of Facebook

Nicola Mendelsohn is Facebook’s most senior executive outside of the US, and runs the social network’s presence in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.

Facebook opened its first office in Africa in July, and Mendelsohn was there to oversee the company’s expansion.

Mendelsohn was given a CBE in the Queen’s birthday honours list in June for her work in creative industries. Aside from her work at Facebook, she’s also co-chair of the Creative Industries Council, a joint forum between the creative industry and the UK government.

Mendelsohn joined Facebook in July 2013, having previously served as executive chairman of advertising agency Karamarama. She spent 20 years working for advertising agencies before making the move to the social-networking giant.

Read Business Insider UK’s June 2015 interview with Nicola Mendelsohn »

Headcount: 14,352

Twitter: @nicolamen

5. Claire Valoti of Snapchat

5. Claire Valoti of Snapchat

Claire Valoti was recently poached from her role as joint head of agency relations at Facebook to head up Snapchat’s European operation from London.

She works as Snapchat’s general manager of UK sales, overseeing the company’s first office outside the US. The company has made a series of hires for its European team from rival digital media and tech businesses over the past year.

Total amount raised: $1.2 billion (£830 million)

Headcount: 607

Twitter: @clairevaloti

4. Janine Gibson of BuzzFeed UK

4. Janine Gibson of BuzzFeed UK

Janine Gibson was appointed editor-in-chief of BuzzFeed UK in summer 2015. She started in the role last September after losing out to Katharine Viner in the race to replace Alan Rusbridger at the helm of The Guardian. Previously she was deputy editor at The Guardian. Prior to that, she was responsible for launching Guardian US, where she was editor-in-chief.

While leading Guardian US, Gibson played a key role in the Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage of the Edward Snowden leaks. The Oxford graduate began as a reporter in the media trade press, before becoming a media reporter at the Guardian in 1998 and rising within the organisation.

Total amount raised: $296 million (£204 million)

Headcount: 1,365

Twitter: @janinegibson

3. Sarah Wood of Unruly

3. Sarah Wood of Unruly

Button and Wood, Unruly co-CEOs, sold their video ad tech company to Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp in September last year for $90 million (£62.4 million) in cash, plus up to a further $86 million (£59.6 million) if the London-based startup meets its performance targets.

Unruly specializes in serving and analysing video advertising and brand videos that appear outside the confines of YouTube and Facebook. Its technology allows marketers to buy “native” video ad formats using automated technologies and track their performance across social. The company also offers an analytics tool that predicts whether videos are likely to viral.

Unruly posted a 35% increase in revenue year-on-year to $45.9 million (£28.7 million) in 2014.

Read Business Insider UK’s interview with Sarah Wood from September 2015, shortly after Unruly was acquired by News Corp »

Total amount raised: $25 million (£17.4 million)

Headcount: 224

Twitter: @scottbutton, @sarahfwood

2. Julie Adenuga of Beats 1

2. Julie Adenuga of Beats 1

The tech world was abruptly introduced to 27-year-old Londoner Julie Adenuga in June 2015, when she was announced as one of three global presenters for Beats 1.

Along with veteran BBC radio DJ Zane Lowe and New Yorker Ebro Darden, Adenuga is the face of Apple’s flagship new internet radio station — broadcasting from her London studio.

She may be a new face to techies, but she has strong roots in London’s music scene. In 2010, she joined the city’s underground radio station Rinse FM. “We had no DJ experience, but we just played the music and were talking rubbish,” she said. “It worked. Luckily.”

And let’s not forget her family: Alongside Julie, there’s also Joseph and Jamie Adenuga — better known as London grime artists Skepta and JME.

Twitter: @JulieAdenuga

1. Eileen Burbidge MBE of Passion Capital

1. Eileen Burbidge MBE of Passion Capital

Eileen Burbidge founded investment fund Passion Capital in 2011 with Stefan Glaenzer and Robert Dighero. Since then, Passion Capital has invested in a series of successful London companies including DueDil, GoCardless, GoSquared, and Smarkets.

Burbidge was given an MBE in the Queen’s birthday honours list in June for her services to business. And in July, Burbidge was named the UK Treasury’s special envoy for fintech, a type of technology that London is particularly good at due to the tech sector’s close proximity with banks and politics. She was also named as one of Prime Minister David Cameron’s group of business advisors.

But the biggest news of 2015 for Burbidge was when she took the job of Chair of Tech City UK, the organisation that works to promote the UK’s tech startups, in September. She’s the new public figurehead for the organisation.

2015 was the year when Burbidge really became the face of London tech: she’s been profiled in The Guardian, The Evening Standard, Techworld, Fortune, and The Sunday Times.

Prior to founding Passion Capital, Burbidge worked at Apple, Yahoo, Skype, and Sun Microsystems.

Read Business Insider UK’s interview with Eileen Burbidge about her appointment to Tech City UK »

Total amount raised: $129 million (£89.5 million)

Headcount: 12

Twitter: @eileentso

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