2014 CNBC Disruptor 50

9 entrepreneurs and their cartoon alter egos


Even innovators need comic relief

Sources: Rent the Runway (TL), Getty Images (TR), Transferwise (BR) and Quirky (BR)

Who would be a better entrepreneur: Yogi Bear or Scooby-Doo? Wile E. Coyote or the Road Runner?

Just for fun, we asked the founders and CEOs of the 2014 CNBC Disruptor 50, "If your founder or CEO was a cartoon character, who would they be and why?"

Here are some of our favorite answers.

By David Spiegel
Posted 20 June 2014

Naval Ravikant, AngelList co-founder and CEO (Bugs Bunny)

Source: Wikipedia (L) | AngelList (R)

"What's up, Doc?"

It's taken a certain amount of Bugs Bunny-like bravado for AngelList to disrupt traditional venture capital firms. Naval Ravikant said of Bugs, "(He's) cheeky, irreverent, independent. He has big white hands that'd be perfect for making (the AngelList) logo," a white-gloved hand giving a peace sign.

Ben Kaufman, Quirky founder and CEO (Fred Flintstone)

Source: Quirky (L) | Wikipedia (R)

Could Quirky's crowd of inventors and designers have come up with a dinosaur vacuum cleaner?

"I like that the Flintstones' world in Bedrock had a mix of Old World and modern conveniences, which is similar to what Quirky is like," said Ben Kaufman of his cartoon alter ego. "I also kind of look like Fred."

Tony Jamous, Nexmo founder and CEO (Wile E. Coyote)

Source: Wikipedia (L) | Nexmo (R)

If failure is a virtue for entrepreneurs, then Wile E. Coyote may be their patron saint.

Tony Jamous has found success at Nexmo, helping grow its revenue by 350 percent from 2012 to 2013. He said he likes Wile E. "because of his scientific mind and absurdly positive, innovative and persistent approach to doing things right!"

Forget about that whole falling off cliffs, getting blown up and never catching the Road Runner thing.

Sunny Gupta, Apptio co-founder and CEO (Underdog)

Source: Apptio (L) | YouTube (R)

It's no surprise to see entrepreneurs identify with the little guy.

Apptio's Sunny Gupta said Underdog "is underestimated by his enemies, only to prove them all wrong. He's kind, determined, smart and brave as he takes on challenges."

Sachin Katti, Kumu Networks co-founder and CEO (Yogi Bear)

Source: Wikipedia (L) | Kumu Networks (R)

Why would Sachin Katti relate to a fun-loving character who spends the greater part of his days in search of "pic-a-nic baskets"?

"Because he's smarter than the average bear," he said.

Hard to argue. Katti has a Ph.D. from MIT and developed Kumu Networks' technology as a professor at Stanford.

Jon Stein, Betterment founder and CEO (Scooby-Doo)

Source: Betterment (L) | YouTube (R)

"He's always having a good time and getting into trouble but still finds time to solve the case," said Jon Stein.

Betterment hopes to cause trouble for the $16 trillion-plus fund industry by eliminating the need for financial products like mutual funds and annuities.

Taavet Hinrikus (right) and Kristo Kaarmann, TransferWise co-founders (Woody and Buzz Lightyear)

Source: Transferwise (L) | ToyStory (R)

"It's their different personalities that make them a great team," said a TransferWise spokeswoman. "Taavet's a Robin Hood–style cowboy, and Kristo's always on his feet aiming for infinity and beyond."

Neil Blumenthal and David Gilboa, Warby Parker co-founders (Calvin & Hobbes)

Source: Warby Parker

"We'd be Calvin and Hobbes," said Gilboa. "Not saying which is which."

Fitting that they'd choose characters with literary associations (Calvin and Hobbes are named for the Age of Enlightenment philosophers John Calvin and Thomas Hobbes); the name Warby Parker is taken from a pair of Jack Kerouac characters.

Jennifer Hyman (right, with co-founder Jennifer Fleiss), Rent the Runway co-founder and CEO (Jem)

Source: Rent the Runway | Jem and the holograms | Facebook

As a child of the 1980s, the Harvard MBA and Rent the Runway co-founder was inspired by Jem, who was Jerrica Benton, the owner of her own music company by day and pink-haired rock star by night. Hyman said that, like Jem, she enjoys "taking the lead while empowering others around me and adding some fun to the equation."