Introducing The Anchor List

Celebrating top startup operators in Silicon Valley and beyond

We’re super excited to announce the inaugural launch of The Anchor List, an annual list recognizing the most talented operators in tech building the world’s fastest growing startups.

In every winning startup, there are operators who are able to totally transform the trajectory of a business. They’re not founders, but are just as important. They are often the first product managers, the first designers, the first sales leaders, and so on. Without them, their companies likely wouldn’t have made it from zero to one, let alone reach hypergrowth scale. We call these people Anchor Operators, and we’d like to celebrate their stories.

In our experience, Anchor Operators have five important qualities.

  1. They’re tenacious. They will go over walls, under walls, through walls, or blow right past apparent walls in order to make important things happen.

  2. They learn quickly without much instruction. You can throw them into the deep end of the pool and they will thrive without swimming lessons.

  3. They’re incredibly resourceful. They think like an owner and not like an employee, which means they will take 100% accountability for coming up with answers, even when the path is unclear.

  4. They thrive in a chaotic, unpredictable environment.

  5. They’re out to prove something.

Anchor Operators are a special breed in the startup community. We don’t think these leaders should be unsung heroes. We believe they should be honored and revered. This is why we created The Anchor List.

We’re lucky to be collaborating with a legendary cast of judges.

 These folks are responsible for building some of the most iconic companies of the last decade, from folks like Josh Elman, who led product at Robinhood, to Malthe Sigurdsson, who runs design at Stripe. Our veteran operators are Anchor Operators in the stories of Uber, Square, Stripe, Pinterest, Twitter, Spotify, and more.

The Anchor List seeks to recognize these kinds of leaders in the following six categories: product, design, marketing, sales, operations, and talent. 

We will be particularly focused on surfacing exceptional operators who have built out a function 0 to 1 that have fundamentally altered the trajectory of their company. Nominees must be working in a full-time role at a private company — we will not not be considering nominees from public companies at this time. We will be accepting nominations until May 15, 2020.

Anchor List honorees will be invited to join an exclusive network and dinner series with luminaries in the founder and operator community. We can’t wait to see what kind of magic happens when the best execution talent in startups gathers in a single room.

The Anchor List is powered by Floodgate.

The Anchor List is curated by operator turned early stage investor Shawn Xu and is powered by early stage venture capital firm Floodgate. We’ve backed 100+ startups over the last decade, including legendary companies like Lyft, Twitter, Twitch, and more. Subscribe to this newsletter to learn who makes the 2020 list + take a deep dive into the minds of the most epic operators we can find. If you have any questions, feel free to ping

Special thanks to our designer Albert Dong at Godling Studio and developer Yoni Dejene at Alama. A huge shout out to Erik Torenberg, Mallun Yen, Julia Lipton, and Delian Asparhouv, fellow investors who have built incredible foundations for the operator community — we greatly admire your work.

So who’s the best operator you know?  Nominate your candidate by visiting our site at