In Technology


Ali Fenn

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Title: President

Company: ITRenew

Education: Bachelor degree from Yale University and EMPA from the London School of Economics

Credentials: EMPA

Organizational Affiliations: Member of the UN Technology Innovation Lab’s Open Source and IP Advisory Board, iMasons, and the Open Compute Project (OCP)


  • One of the 100 outstanding Silicon Valley professionals in the 2020 class of Women of Influence by the Silicon Valley Business Journal
  • IM100 Awards - Infrastructure Masons, 2020
  • Patent holder as of 2019 for a visual security device

My journey so far has been...

What made you realize you wanted to pursue a career in technology?
I began my career as a technology investment banker, advising some of the Bay Area’s most exciting tech companies in the late '90s. The innovation, pace, passion, and opportunity for massive impact immediately captured my own passion and drive. I also realized very quickly that I wanted to be in the trenches, building things from the ground up, running down obstacles, catalyzing new markets, and leading teams. Unsurprising, with my background as a professional athlete, it turns out that in business, too, I’m a player, not a coach, so I jumped in to the industry and never looked back.

What three adjectives would you use to describe your journey in the industry so far?
Determined, volatile, and fulfilling.

What is your personal mantra?
Presence, passion, and play.

Describe the highest point in your career so far and how you got there, including all the hurdles you had to jump (and the ones you tripped over and too).
The highest point in my career is right now. I am leading a company that perfectly marries my 20-plus years of professional experience building enterprise and cloud technology companies with my passion for the environment and circular economic models, which has the potential to have impact at massive, global scale very quickly. The sustainability tax of the data center industry is significant — our dirty underbelly. The opportunity to truly transform the hardware portion of the industry, the most costly area from carbon perspective, and to do so with the best team I’ve ever worked with has my adrenaline flowing! How I got here is 25 years of hard work, constant learning, and competitive fire. The hurdles … many. My career has included failed startups (more than a couple) as well as very successful enterprises, and the former are every bit as critical to where I am today as the latter. More fundamentally, for a long time, sustainability and the technology business have existed in both real and perceived conflict, pitting my dual passions against each other. The inner battle of this has caused me to — several times — question my path and even stray from it. I am thankful to say that, finally, technology innovation and business model innovation in the pursuit against climate change are perfectly aligned, with circular economic models poised to deliver both maximal financial value and sustainability. This is the reason this is the high point of my career — the opportunity has never been better to execute and deliver massive impact in both.

What is your most admirable quality?

I'm looking forward to a future that is...

What aspect of the industry do you think has the most potential for growth, and, on the other hand, which aspect do you think needs the most improvement?
Oh, there are so many areas for growth with technological innovation being the enabler of so much real-world impact. Sustainability and climate change are areas I am most passionate about, with the opportunity spanning supply chain, carbon, waste, weather systems and mitigation, and more. Health is a close second, with anticipated massive growth in diagnostics, prevention, treatment, economic efficiency, access to care, and positive system level disruption to legacy services and financial models. What needs the most improvement? The fact that so much of the positive power of technology is unequally distributed — we must aggressively chase universal access and essential connectivity infrastructure.

When you imagine the future of the technology industry, what does it look like?
I envision a technology industry that is equitable and inclusive, meaning that we democratize access to technology for all people globally — enabling the collective health, education, access to information, and security that is critical to shared prosperity and happiness. Utilitarian and optimistic? Yes. Possible? Absolutely.

What is the most valuable life lesson you have learned so far and how has it helped you in your career?
Good enough is not enough. I learned this initially through my athletic career, and subsequently in relationships and other areas of my life. I live by it — while good enough is easy and fulfilling for some time, it is ultimately boring and not invigorating and motivating and rewarding over time. In my career, I apply this to my effort in relationships, teams, products, and results. Most specifically, I’ve been fortunate to have a very productive and successful career by most standards, but I forced myself in 2015 to step back from the easier path and dedicated myself to finding a new path that bridges my technology experience and passion for sustainability. I studied, went back to school, and worked from a clean slate for the first time in a long time. It was hard and risky, but it worked.

What three adjectives come to mind when you think about the future?
Transformative, impactful, and fulfilling.

March 2021

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