Sapphire Founding Team

Media-technology entrepreneurs and engaged young adults.



Karen is a lifelong student of media and democracy.  She brings leadership from over 10 media and technology companies.  Karen was a co-founder, CMO and board directorof  Common Sense Media, a non-profit now serving over 65 Million people and 105,000 schools.  At Yahoo, she was the 17th employee and head of marketing worldwide for 6 years.  After starting her career in journalism, she was an executive at 20th Century Fox and Apple’s advertising agency. Today, she serves on the boards of KQED and the Institute for the Future.  She has an MBA from Harvard and BA Communications from Stanford.  


Raj has the rare combination of technical expertise, leadership skills effective with a range of teammates, and a deep empathy for end users.   Raj co-founded Mode (formerly Glam Media) where he was VP Engineering for 9 years, managing a team of over 100 engineers.  Mode launched with 100,000 content pieces curated by 10,000 influencers, becoming a ComScore Top 10 Media Property for 10 years.  He began his entrepreneurial career while in college as an early employee of NetObjets.   Raj has worked with Vic for over 15 years, together they created five content technology patents sold to Adobe.  His specialties include Architecture, Agile Methodologies and Test-Driven Development. Raj has a BS in Computer Science from Georgia Tech.




Vic applies prowess for design simplicity in media technologies, UI optimization, and consumer products. He has founded several companies besides his own multi-million dollar design firm, Zaudhaus: one went public, another was sold to IBM, and others continue to thrive.  He was a co-founder of Juice Beauty which was sold to Gwyneth Paltrow's company, and a founding member of Republic of Tea where his original design remains in stores today. Vic began his design career at age 15 when Steve Jobs hired him at Apple where he worked for 4 years before earning his BA in Graphics from the Art Center College of Design. 

MONiKA Bele, TEchnical Program Manager

Monika works as a program manager helping structure and organize the engineering teams working to develop the Sapphire technology platform. Monika was most recently a program manager at Bonzai as well as Mode Media. Monika was also a Senior Software Engineer at Cybage Software. We love Monika's ability to translate the goals of the product and the know-how of engineering to lead the technical teams through the tasks necessary to build the overall platform. 



DAN HALABE, Senior IOS Engineer

Dan is a consultant for, adviser to, and investor in technology and media start-ups.  Formerly a partner at Accenture, Dan led several of the firm’s pioneering engagements with communications, media and entertainment industries. He earned a BS and MS in Computer Science from Northwestern University.


Sheena lives to understand a brand and its products’ unique values, then help create authentic and memorable experiences around those values in both print and digital. She believes that a path to creating timeless design is to first recognize people’s inherent needs and connect with them. Driven by courage, passion, and play, her work instills purpose and personality into a design that is curious, sensible and pleasant. Sheena is working to create the user-experience and visual design for the Sapphire Mobile App and services.



CYNTHIA ZAPATA, a little bit of everything 

Cynthia is a true leader who through optimism, dedication, and hard work, leads the way for her classmates and colleagues. She is a rising senior at the University of California, Merced, pursuing a BS degree in Business Management & Economics with a minor in Community Engaged Research. As a freshman in college, she helped establish the Delta Sigma Pi business fraternity onto the UC Merced’s campus. She has been an active member of the chapter for three years and is currently serving as their Public Relations Manager. Cynthia deeply cares about her local community and is always eager to make a positive change. This is reflected upon previous lead roles that she has taken in marketing and financial consultation to help keep local businesses afloat.



Catherine is a globally recognized pioneer and expert in online safety, product policy, and the business of developing trustworthy community and social digital products. From the start of her career as an elementary and middle school teacher, and early adopter of educational technologies, Catherine has followed her belief in the value of digital technologies to provide students with open and free access to people and ideas. For more than 10 years, Catherine held senior positions within Yahoo, leading the Yahooligans and Yahoo! Education products as well as global policy initiatives.  Catherine was a co-founder of the Yahoo Employee foundation —a grassroots, philanthropic organization with global non-profit donations totaling more than $20 million in cash grants. As VP Trust & Safety at KidZania, Catherine led the first global and COPPA compliant immersive marketing program and the development of a global loyalty program for children. Catherine was the Chief Trust & Safety Officer at ASKFm, leading the Safety turnaround of the popular Q&A teen app.  She has also served as the Vice-Chair of the Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI) and provided testimony before the Congressional Child Online Protection Act Commission.

Catherine has a BA in Rhetoric & English from UC Davis.

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We are truly thankful for the passionate support of our growing list of advisors. These multi-talented and successful individuals echo our belief that this is a space that needs innovation and provide us countless hours and expertise that is critical to our success. Thank you!

Lorene Arey,  Clara Fund
John Buoymaster, Hall Capital
John Clippinger,  MIT Media Lab
Michael Spector, CEO, Vista Venture Partners
Lawrence Wilkinson, Chairman, Common Sense Media