The NEXT: 21 to watch in 2021

Yahoo Finance Staff
·12-min read

Meet THE NEXT: 21 to watch in 2021. Twenty-one people selected by Yahoo Finance who are not only redefining their own fields but also poised to make a lasting impact on all of our lives in the coming year and beyond. They are entrepreneurs, investors, politicians, scientists and athletes. They may not be household names yet, but they could be the next big thing.

Sarah Friar, Robert Reffkin, Adi Tatarko
Sarah Friar, Robert Reffkin, Adi Tatarko

The IPO supercycle comes 'home'

Despite the coronavirus pandemic, 2020 was a banner year for public offerings. According to Dealogic, companies raised over $165 billion through more than 450 offerings on U.S. exchanges, compared to the previous full-year record of $107.9 billion at the height of the dot-com boom in 1999.

Airbnb (ABNB) and DoorDash (DASH), sharing and gig economy names that actually saw market-share gains during the pandemic, led the record-breaking IPO class. This next leg of possible IPO candidates will hit closer to home — your home.

Sarah Friar, CEO, Nextdoor

Nextdoor, the hyper-local social network for neighborhoods founded in 2008, saw engagement rise during the pandemic as neighbors looked for the latest on where to get toilet paper, COVID-19 tests, and now, vaccines. It's also a place where people can connect and help each other. Nextdoor is aiming to be the next evolution in social media. Friar told Yahoo Finance, “You come to our platform to meet people you don't already know, to meet those neighbors that live around you"

Robert Reffkin, CEO, Compass

“I don’t wake up in the morning thinking about an IPO,” Compass CEO Robert Reffkin told Yahoo Finance in 2018. After a confidential IPO filing last November, Reffkin's mornings are looking a bit different in 2021. Compass, a SoftBank-backed company that’s among the largest real estate brokerages in the U.S., has raised $1.5 billion from outside investors and had a $6.4 billion valuation in 2019. It’s led an aggressive consolidation wave in the real estate industry and now has more than 17,000 agents nationwide.

Adi Tatarko, CEO, Houzz

The home remodeling and design platform is more than a decade old, but this could be the year for its public debut. Founded by Adi Tatarko and her husband Alon Cohen, Houzz is a hub for interior designers, remodelers, contractors, dealers, and homeowners. It's part community, part commerce — and a big part of the post-pandemic renovation surge. While the company had layoffs early in the pandemic, it recently added its second independent non-affiliated board member, seen as a sign of its public market aspirations.

Jane Dunlevie, Dakin Sloss, Niron Stabinsky
Jane Dunlevie, Dakin Sloss, Niron Stabinsky

The new face of finance

Direct listings, fintech, crypto, SPACs, and Robinhood traders are all shaking up capital markets. The tools are changing, but the direction and momentum are bringing more investors and companies to the public markets. After the push to stay private for longer, red hot returns with more paths and options available mean more deals. These three are helping rewrite the playbook.

Jane Dunlevie, partner, Goldman Sachs

Dunlevie, co-head of global internet investment banking within Goldman's technology, media and telecom group, is among the newest and youngest partners at Goldman Sachs (GS) and had a busy 2020 working on the successful offerings of Airbnb and Doordash. Amid the December IPO rush, she told Goldman's The Daily Check-In, “Public markets are rewarding growth and chasing tech.” It’s a race she expects to continue full throttle in 2021. “It’s an incredible market of creativity and innovation in capital markets,” she said.

Dakin Sloss, general partner, Prime Movers Lab

Dakin Sloss finds himself at the nexus of many of the most exciting and profitable currents in finance today: Science, space and SPACs (special-purpose acquisition companies). Founded in 2018, Prime Movers Lab invests in startups in the energy, transportation, infrastructure, manufacturing, and computer industries, among others. In 2021, Dakin announced that he'd raised $245 million for Prime's second early-stage investment fund. He's part of a new generation of investors, but he's attracting money from established veterans, including Bill Ackman, founder of Pershing Square Capital Management.

Niron Stabinsky, managing director, Credit Suisse

Niron Stabinsky says he's been around long enough to remember when SPAC “was a four letter word.” A backwater no longer, SPACs are the hottest instrument in capital markets, and Stabinsky is known as “Mr. SPAC.” Credit Suisse led the SPAC league tables in 2020, with 41 deals and nearly 16% of the SPAC market. It’s a trend that’s not slowing down — 2021 has already hit 64% of the total number of 2020 deals.

Adewale
Adewale "Wally" Adeyemo, Heather Boushey, Rep. Young Kim

America's next economic frontier

The COVID-19 pandemic helped expose America's deep inequalities in race, health and wealth. A fresh understanding of the connection between financial insecurity and political extremism is helping many in Washington sharpen their focus on lifting those most vulnerable to a secure financial footing.

Adewale "Wally" Adeyemo, Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Nominee

From his background in international economics to his role as the first chief of staff for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to a stint at BlackRock, Adeyemo's experience is vast and expected to help him navigate the different economic wings of the Democratic Party. When President Joe Biden announced Adeyemo's nomination, he called him a "skilled leader and thinker." At his confirmation hearing, even Republican ranking member Mike Crapo (R-ID) offered praise and took note of Adeyemo's "diverse relevant experiences." If confirmed, Adeyemo said Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has asked him to focus on the intersection of economic policy and national security. Adeyemo, who is likely to be confirmed in the coming weeks, would be the highest-ranking African American in Treasury Department history.

Heather Boushey, member, Council of Economic Advisers

One of President Joe Biden’s top economic advisers, Heather Boushey is pushing hard for coronavirus stimulus on a grand scale in 2021. An economic policy wonk, she's written extensively about inequality and the need for better work-life balance. As a Gen-Xer, Boushey is determined to learn and adapt from the Great Recession. On the need for more stimulus, Boushey told Yahoo Finance Live, "I cannot stress enough the urgency and the importance for our economy of getting this done and getting this done now."

Rep. Young Kim, (R, CA-39)

President Trump lost California in the 2020 election, but Young Kim flipped her Southern California district back to red in a closely-watched race. Many hope Kim, a mother of four and one of the first three Korean American women ever elected to the House, will be the face of a new Republican Party post-Trump — though she says,"I am my own person." She's already sided with Democrats and voted to remove Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene from her committee assignments.

Kizzmekia Corbett, Jason Gorevic, Karen Lynch
Kizzmekia Corbett, Jason Gorevic, Karen Lynch

The new battlefield warriors

Disease detectives and epidemiologists are already looking beyond COVID-19 for what may be the next epidemic or pandemic, and they say it’s not a matter of if, but when the next contagion strikes. Since the new millennium began, there have been outbreaks of SARS, MERS, and Ebola, and the healthcare professionals on the front lines say tackling old threats requires a new offensive.

Kizzmekia Corbett, viral immunologist, National Institutes of Health

As the scientific lead of the Vaccine Research Center’s coronavirus team at the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), Corbett has led the government’s search for a vaccines for the novel coronavirus. In 2021, she’ll continue to work on the nation's COVID-19 response, but she's also working to overcome vaccine hesitancy in communities of color. As she told Nature, “For a long time, we left the general public on the outside of vaccine development, until it was time to give them their shot. And that’s just unacceptable.” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said of her work, “The vaccine you’re going to be taking was developed by an African American woman — and that’s just a fact.”

Jason Gorevic, CEO, Teladoc Health

Some trends won’t stick around post-pandemic, but telemedicine is likely to be around for good. Patients and doctors alike have embraced the virtual visit, and Teladoc (TDOC) has helped lead the way. With more than 70 million members worldwide, the company recently completed a merger with Livongo. The company says it's been particularly successful at providing affordable, high-quality healthcare for more than 2 million members living in areas with low physician density.

Karen Lynch, CEO, CVS Health

Lynch took over as CEO in February amid the COVID-19 vaccine rollout. With three decades of experience in healthcare, she’s focused on CVS Health's (CVS) leading role as a government partner during the pandemic and beyond. As she noted on a recent earnings call, "Millions of new customers will engage with CVS Health for the first time through testing and vaccine administration services ... It will create the opportunity to expand our customer base while deepening relationships with current customers."

Pascal Desroches, Zach Kirkhorn, Dhivya Suryadevara
Pascal Desroches, Zach Kirkhorn, Dhivya Suryadevara

Bean counters to brand wizards

Chief financial officers have a key to the C-suite, but they are often largely in the shadows. Once a purely accounting and finance role, today's CFOs are players in their own right. It's not just about the balance sheet anymore, but also being a strategic partner focused on the future for the CEO and all stakeholders.

Pascal Desroches, CFO, AT&T

Desroches moves up from CFO of subsidiary Warner Media to AT&T (T) CFO on April 1, 2021, as the telecom and media giant is in the throws of another restructuring. With advertising and movie theater revenue hit by the pandemic, the company has seen gains in wireless and streaming services. You can bet that’s why CEO John Stankey will be leaning on Desroches. “Our biggest and single-most important bet is HBO Max,” Stankey told investors in January.

Zach Kirkhorn, CFO, Tesla

Kirkhorn took over the top financial role at Tesla (TSLA) two years ago. The day Elon Musk made the announcement that then-CFO Deepak Ahuja was leaving the company for a second time, Tesla shares fell 5%. That's not exactly a warm welcome, but Kirkhorn has proven himself and created a fortress balance sheet for the EV maker in the meantime. With a stock split and its addition to the S&P 500 (^GSCP) in the rearview mirror, Tesla added $1.5 billion in bitcoin to the ledger under Kirkhorn in 2021.

Dhivya Suryadevara, CFO, Stripe

Straight from General Motors (GM), where she was also CFO, Suryadevara joined fintech company Stripe in the summer of 2020. At GM, she oversaw financial operations of more than $100 billion in annual revenue. At Stripe, her financial portfolio may be a bit smaller to start, but Stripe's goal is not. The company, which sells software that allows companies to get paid online, hopes to “increase the GDP of the internet.” If it goes public this year, it could be the biggest IPO of 2021.

Chris Best, Paul Davison, Michael Lu
Chris Best, Paul Davison, Michael Lu

Power to the people

From audio chat to video’s next big thing, the newest emerging media platforms are transforming how people express themselves in a digitally saturated world. These trailblazers promise to return "power to the people."

Chris Best, CEO, Substack

Best, who used to work at the messaging app Kik, found something troubling about ad-supported, social-media focused news. In 2018, he co-founded Substack, a subscription newsletter platform in which writers can get paid directly from their readers. With 2020’s work-from-home life a boom for growth, Best hopes to keep the momentum going post-pandemic.

Paul Davison, CEO, Clubhouse

Clubhouse is definitely having a moment, and Davison and his co-founder and CTO, Rohan Seth, are working to make sure it lasts. The drop-in audio chat and social network is a hit with a diverse crowd of VCs and Hollywood types alike. The invite-only service has surged in app downloads this year, and the likes of Elon Musk have raised its profile. Facebook (FB) and Twitter (TWTR) are reportedly working on similar offerings.

Mike Lu, CEO, Triller

Triller, a video-making and social-networking service owned by Proxima Media, wants to be positioned as the TikTok alternative, and 2021 will put that ambition to the test. Triller briefly topped the app store last year, while TikTok came under attack from President Donald Trump. This year, controversy over user numbers and music partnerships have been early stumbles, but Lu told Yahoo Finance, "I think that the future is very, very bright for us."

Nyjah Huston, Lachlan Power, Bianca Smith
Nyjah Huston, Lachlan Power, Bianca Smith

Showcasing the next champions

From esports to the Olympics, the next generation of champions is redefining what it means to play and win. The lines are being redrawn all over the sports world, with gender barriers broken, both sexes pushing the boundaries in new sports, and armchair athletes making waves.

Nyjah Huston, professional skateboarder

He’s won most every award the sport has to offer, but this year he hopes to add a new prize to the trophy room — Olympic gold. As skateboarding makes its Olympic debut in Tokyo this summer, Huston will represent not just his country, but also a sport in evolution. Huston has won the most prize money of any skateboarder in history and is currently worth $6 million, with sponsors including Nike (NKE) and Monster Energy (KO), to name a few.

Lachlan Power, gamer and entrepreneur

He goes by a single name: Lachlan. The Australian native is a YouTube (GOOG, GOOGL) streamer with more than 14 million subscribers. He started out playing Minecraft, but his Fortnite videos are the ones that can often be found on YouTube's trending videos. With sponsorships and his own clothing lines, he’s making a mark in the booming esports arena.

Bianca Smith, coach, Red Sox Minor League

Bianca Smith has always loved baseball. She got a law degree and an MBA in part so she could “spend more time” working with the Case Western Reserve University baseball team. She’s been mistaken for a player's girlfriend and mother, but this year she becomes the first Black woman to coach professional baseball. She’s working with the Red Sox organization in the minors, but says she won’t stop until the big leagues.

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