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Alumni companies on TIME’s list of world’s most influential

From the world’s biggest search engine to an app that cuts down on food waste, several companies founded or led by alumni appear on this year’s list.
TIME 100 Most Influential Companies
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Several alumni-run or -founded organizations are on TIME Magazine’s list of the world’s 100 most influential companies:

  • Alphabet, led by Sundar Pichai (SVO 02-04), CEO
  • Astroscale, founded and led by Nobu Okada (TOK 01-04), CEO
  • DoorDash, founded and led by Tony Xu (CHI 07-09), CEO
  • GoTo Group, co-founded by Nadiem Makarim (JAK 06-11)
  • Grammarly, led by Brad Hoover (MIA 01-03), CEO
  • Nextdoor, led by Sarah Friar (LON 96-98), CEO
  • Too Good To Go, led by Mette Lykke (COP 06-07), CEO
  • Upwork, led by Hayden Brown (NYO, LON 04-07), CEO

And several other companies on the list have alumni in Executive Committee or C-suite roles:

  • AMC Entertainment—Elizabeth Frank (ATL, BER, STA 94-03), EVP, Worldwide Programming and Chief Content Officer
  • Google (Alphabet)James Manyika (SFO 93-22), SVP, Technology and Society
  • Guild Education—Natalie McCullough (SFO 00-05), President and Chief Commercial Officer 
  • Impossible Foods—Dennis Woodside (LAN 98-03), President
  • Meta—Sheryl Sandberg (LAN 95-96), COO
  • Microsoft—Kathleen Hogan (SFO, SVO 94-03), Chief Human Resources Officer
  • ModernaStephen Hoge (NYO 05-12), President
  • Reddit—Jen Wong (STA, NYO 04-10), COO, and Pali Bhat (SVO 05-08), Chief Product Officer

We spoke with two of these alums – Nobu Okada and Mette Lykke – to find out what they’re most excited about, and what they consider the secret to their success.

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Mette Lykke (left) and Nobu Okada (right)

What inspired you to create or join your company?

Nobu Okada: Before I founded Astroscale, I wanted to know what the hot topics were in space, so I attended several international space conferences and an issue that kept being brought up was space debris. However, the spacefaring nations were at a loss on how to tackle the issue and there were lots of discussions on the research and concepts but nothing on the solution, which I found very frustrating. So, I decided that this was something I would solve and ten days later I founded Astroscale.

Mette Lykke: My passion is to build companies that use technology to do good. I want to work on things that have real impact.

Learning about Too Good To Go really opened my eyes to the sheer scale of the problem we are facing with food waste, and it was only when I joined the company in 2016 that I realized what a huge impact food waste has on the planet. Food waste is the cause of 10% of greenhouse gas emissions.

With 55 million users, our app is now the biggest B2C marketplace for surplus food in the world. The concept addresses a huge issue in a simple way and really leaves everyone as winners - business owners, consumers and the planet.

What are you most excited about in your company right now?

Nobu: Thanks to the multiple successes of ELSA-d, the world’s first commercial mission to prove the core technologies necessary for removal of space debris, which is currently in orbit, we are ready to accelerate the next phase of our technology development and deliver commercial debris removal and satellite services globally, while continuing to guide global policy and create economic incentives. We are on our way to making on-orbit servicing a routine activity by 2030.

Mette: The fight against food waste is one we are in together, and we have taken it as our mission at Too Good To Go to inspire and empower people to join us in the cause, and take action. This can only be done through community, and our Movement pulls together households, businesses, educators and policymakers to push for real change at all levels. What’s needed is a mindset change. Once you see people having conversations about it, exchanging tips and tricks and inspiring each other, it’s a very powerful feeling. This is where real change happens.

UN SDG 12.3 aims to halve global food waste by 2030, and with every meal saved, the Too Good To Go business model contributes to this in a real, demonstrable way.

What do you consider to be the biggest factor in your success?

Nobu: Our world-class team. I was most impressed when our team came together to successfully launch and operate our ELSA-d mission during the height of a global pandemic in 2021. We are bound together in global cooperation and are working toward a common goal, and that’s what I admire most about our team.

Mette: I believe in having a clear and important mission in everything I do - defining an ambitious goal and then putting a lot of emphasis on creating and nurturing the right culture and setting the right team from the beginning. You want to have a diverse group of team members who share the passion but bring different perspectives. The rest is just hard work.

At Too Good To Go, our mission to Inspire and Empower Everyone to Fight Food Waste Together guides a lot of our decision making.

Endomondo, the company I co-founded in 2007 before I joined Too Good To Go, also had a clear mission, and this is something I’ve strived to carry with me throughout my career. We started with the challenge of making fitness fun and built our app around it.

What are three words that describe your management style?

Nobu: Mission-focused, collaborative, and innovative.

Mette: Purpose-driven, ambitious, transparent.

Did we miss any? Let us know!

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