Entrepreneur Wolfe of GiftCards.com named Tech 50 CEO of the Year
Technology entrepreneur Jason Wolfe taught himself how to write code and went on to found a series of successful online businesses.
His best-known venture, Green Tree-based GiftCards.com, sold its 6 millionth gift card online earlier this year, recorded $160 million in sales last year and has nearly 100 employees.
Not only has Wolfe achieved business success, but he gives back through charitable work, including his company's You Gift We Gift program that delivers gift cards to needy children during the holidays.
It's that combination of business success and community involvement that made Wolfe an obvious choice for the Pittsburgh Technology Council's CEO of the Year award, said Audrey Russo, the council's chief executive.
“He's one of those proud Pittsburghers who really cares about what's going on,” Russo said.
Wolfe was one of nine winners at the council's annual Tech 50 awards ceremony, which was held Thursday in the Wyndham Grand hotel, Downtown.
GiftCards.com, which makes and sells physical and electronic cards for banks and merchants, traces its roots to 1999, when Wolfe started selling gift certificates on DirectCertificates.com. He bought the domain GiftCards.com in 2002 and spun it off as its own company in 2006. Before that, he started MyCoupons.com, which he sold in 2000.
“They pretty much own the gift card space, right here in our own backyard,” Russo said.
Also nominated for CEO of the Year were Ron Bianchini, Avere Systems; Patrick Daly, Cohera Medical; Gabriela Isturiz, Bellefield Systems; Greg Petro, First Insight; and Ware Sykes, NoWait.
In addition to Wolfe's award, the council recognized a range of Pittsburgh-region technology companies for their growth, innovation and culture. Those winners were:
•Innovator of the Year, advanced manufacturing: Industrial Scientific Corp., a Robinson manufacturer of gas detection equipment and safety monitoring systems.
• Innovator of the Year, life sciences: Cohera Medical, a North Shore medical device firm that makes surgical adhesives.
• Innovator of the Year, consumer products: Rinovum Women's Health, a Monroeville company that makes a conception aid.
• Innovator of the Year, health information technology: Net Health, a Strip District-based developer of electronic health record systems.
• Solutions Provider of the Year: SDLC Partners, a consulting firm based in Monroeville.
• Startup of the Year: Thread, an East Liberty company that turns used plastic bottles into fabric.
• Culture Leader of the Year: Game design studio Schell Games, South Side.
• Technology Business Product of the Year: Jazz, the employee recruitment firm previously called The Resumator.
Alex Nixon is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7928 or firstname.lastname@example.org.