11 Tech Heroes Of 2017 Who Aren’t CEOs

Meet the plebes among us who did something that changed the tech industry, spoke truth to power in a remarkable way that effected real change, or just made the world a little more interesting.

If you want to know which CEOs, founders, or celebrities are the most important people in tech this year, there are plenty of lists for you. And they’re great! No shade! But what about the plebes among us, the non-C-suite people who did something that changed the industry, spoke truth to power in a remarkable way that effected real change, or just made the world a little more interesting? This is them.

1. @TrumpsAlert, the bot twitter account.

IvankaTrump appears to no longer follow @UncleRUSH. (This bot cannot tell if this was an unfollow, suspension or block.)

The premise is simple: It’s a bot that tweets an announcement whenever Trump or a member of his family or close cabinet likes a tweet, follows a new account, or unfollows someone. It's rare that someone would notice these kinds of actions on Twitter, but they offer insight into the Trump administration’s mental state: what people they listen to, what news they’re reading, and which flattering tweets they like. How we consume Twitter says a lot about us, perhaps even as much as what we tweet; TrumpsAlert gives us regular glimpses at what the people in top levels of government are thinking about and following.

2. Susan Fowler, the former Uber engineer who led a reckoning on sexual discrimination in tech.

3. James Bridle, the artist and writer who started a crackdown on exploitative YouTube Kids with a Medium post.

4. Bahtiyar Duysak, the guy who deleted President Trump’s Twitter (for 11 minutes).

5. Nathan the Beach Cat, an Instagram cat who loves to swim.

6. Kate Wagner, the McMansion Hell blogger, who fought against Zillow for free speech and won.

7. Crazy Days and Nights and Blind Gossip

8. April the Giraffe

9. Snapchat’s dancing hot dog.

The only thing we cared about on Snapchat this year was a glorious, dancing, augmented reality hot dog. That little boogying weiner did more for Snap that Spectacles.

10. Fawzi Kamel, the Uber driver who recorded Travis Kalanick being a dick.

View this video on YouTube


When Uber’s then-CEO Travis Kalanick got into a car with two women in early February, the driver was recording a video. Kalanick shimmied to music in the backseat, to everyone’s cringe, and when his friends left the car, the driver confronted him about changes to the system that didn’t favor drivers. Kalanick did not take the criticism graciously. His parting words to Kamel were, “Some people don't like to take responsibility for their own shit. They blame everything in their life on somebody else. Good luck!” When the video leaked to Bloomberg, Kalanick issued an apology and promised to seek leadership help. Kamel’s video was one of several revelations, along with Susan Fowler’s viral blog post detailing an allegedly toxic workplace at Uber and a lawsuit accusing Uber of stealing trade secrets from a self-driving car competitor, that ultimately led to Kalanick resigning as CEO.

11. Scott Rogowsky, the favorite host of HQ Trivia.

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