PayPal’s “mafia” is justifiably famous.  PayPal alumni include: Peter Thiel, Reid Hoffman, Elon Musk, Roelof Botha, Max Levchin, Chad Hurley, Jeremy Stoppelman and too many more to mention.  Since leaving PayPal, they have founded companies worth billions of dollars.

Around the time that PayPal was beginning to work its magic (2000), I joined another bubble-era high-flyer, Ariba.  Ariba’s alumni cannot match the PayPal team for pure star power or entrepreneurial flair, but it is not a shabby group–especially when you consider it is the B2B space!

Over vacation, I was thinking about the folks I met during a decade at the company and how many talented people I had the good fortune to work with.  Whatever else you think about the company, the founders, and once high-flying stock, helped attract some really talented people.  Much of my 10 years working at Ariba consisted of executing strategies that were on slides from 1996-1999.

Here’s a completely biased (and random order) list of some of the alumni I have known, and whose subsequent exploits I am aware of:

  • Keith Krach, an Ariba co-founder, is Chairman of DocuSign (IPO candidate and unicorn) and former Chairman of Angie’s List.
  • Dave McCormick, former President of FreeMarkets, is President of Bridgewater Associates, a $150 billion hedge fund.
  • Craig Federighi, former CTO and all-around genius, is SVP of Software Engineering at a little company called Apple.
  • Marianna Tessel, former VP of Engineering, is SVP of Engineering at Docker.  STEM women rule!
  • Elaine Kitagawa, a director in Finance at Ariba is CFO of Lynda, which was recently bought by LinkedIn for more than $1 billion.
  • Eileen Martinson, who ran consulting, is CEO of Sparta Systems.
  • Speaking of Linkedin, there are so many talented Ariba alumni there that I’m not going to list them for fear of missing one.
  • Marcus Ryu, John Raguin, and several other ex-Aribians founded Guidewire Software (now public).
  • Joe Juliano, an SVP at Ariba and FreeMarkets, is CEO of IQNavigator.
  • David Rudnitsky, left Ariba sales (along with several other folks) for Salesforce, where he was highlighted in Marc Benioff’s book, Behind the Cloud.  He’s now running enterprise sales for InsideSales.com.
  • Paul Melchiorre, who also ran sales, is President of iPipeline.
  • Bhaskar Himatsingka, former CTO at Ariba, is CTO at Emdeon.
  • Tayloe Stansbury, former EVP at Ariba, is CTO and Intuit.
  • Jim Frankola, former CFO, is CFO of Cloudera.
  • John True, who also ran sales for Ariba, has run sales for at least three other successful companies.
  • Neil Lustig, who also ran sales (as you can see we cycled through that position), is now CEO at SailThru.
  • Greg Dickinson, John Abbatico, Allison Barry, Doug Udoff, Mark Deluca and several others successfully built a supplier information management company, Hiperos.
  • Ken Stanick, Peter Lugli, and others are making waves with Amazon Business.
  • David Middler, GC at Ariba, is now Chief Legal Officer at Cloudera.
  • Jim Steele, EVP of Sales at Ariba, became President of Salesforce and is now at InsideSales.com
  • John Baumstark was COO of  Tradex which was sold to Ariba for $5.6 billion and is now Chairman and CEO of Suniva.

Okay, at the risk of offending hundreds of people, I’m going to stop there.  Believe me, there were many more talented people we do not read about in every area from pre-sales to finance.  There are also more than a few still working at Ariba, as part of SAP!  We always hear about the CEOs and the top people, but often many of the unsung masses are even more important to the success of the enterprise.

It takes a village to build a b2b unicorn.

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