Two Haas undergraduate alumni—Joy Chen, BS 87, of Yes To, and Andy Kurtzig, BS 94, of Pearl.com—were among the 15 winners of the San Francisco Business Times 2012 Most-admired CEOs Award.
Chen, who won in the small business category, became CEO of Yes To in 2009 after serving as the vice president and general manager of Clorox’s Laundry Strategic Business Unit. Yes To markets a line of natural skin and hair care products made from organic fruits and vegetables under the Yes To Carrots, Cucumbers, Grapefruit, Blueberries, Tomatoes, and Baby Carrots brands.
The six-year-old company has 25 employees and annual sales of $50 million. Its products can be found in more than 25,000 stores in 25 countries. In her first two years as its leader, Yes To flipped from negative cash flow to positive, grew its top and bottom lines, and quadrupled its revenue. Yes To also operates a nonprofit organization, which awards grants to schools in the U.S. and Africa enabling them to plant gardens that will feed thousands of students.
Kurtzig, who was chosen as the rising star winner, created his first company Anser Corp., which produced calendar automation software for newspapers, while still a student at Haas. In 2003, he founded JustAnswer.com, now Pearl.com, a company that offers interactive online professional advice to consumers—for a price—from more than 10,000 professionals, ranging from doctors and lawyers to mechanics and computer technicians. Pearl.com earned $85 million in revenue in 2011, recently closed a Series A funding round of $25 million, and currently has 150 full-time employees.
The Most-admired CEO winners were selected by a panel of industry judges in conjunction with the San Francisco Business Times and honored at an event at the Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco late last year.