Demand for homes and offices in San Francisco has skyrocketed as trendsetters in that most trendy of technology clusters have shown a decided preference for the city over Silicon Valley to the south. Deborah Hopkins has gone with the flow, relocating to a San Francisco satellite office in May. She came to the Valley in 2010 to get close to the high-tech and venture financing communities, in keeping with her mission as chief innovation officer of Citigroup and CEO of its Citi Ventures investment vehicle. The latter, based in Palo Alto, is near such portfolio companies as Ayasdi, Pepperdata and Platfora (all in the big-data space). Downtown, Hopkins has Datameer (analytics), DocuSign (document management) and Square (remote payments) in closer proximity. The portfolio is a window on emerging innovation, which Hopkins, 61, has likened to surfing: It looks easy, but its not, and its all about being aware of coming, but unseen, waves. She believes technological change requires fresh management approaches and openness to experimentation and partnerships. There is a lot of interesting debate going on around artificial intelligence and whether its creepy, she says. We were all scoffing at augmented reality, saying it was for games, but were actually playing around with that in our labs. Citi partnered this year with virtual-reality design firm 8ninths, using Microsoft HoloLens headsets to, in the companies words, reimagine financial trading in a mixed reality. The idea is to augment common experience by overlaying digital tools on existing desktops. That could be a highly effective way for our traders to operate, says Hopkins, a former CFO of Boeing Co. and Lucent Technologies who since joining Citi in 2003 has been head of corporate strategy and M&A and chief operations and technology officer. In another partnership, with design firm IDEO, Citi has created collaborative environments to explore uses for new technology such as blockchain. He who learns the most, wins, Hopkins says. Learning really comes from experimentation.
The 2016 Tech 50 Click below to view profiles