Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Groupon’s Third (And Quieter) Co-Founder Brad Keywell Talks About Chicago Ideas Week (Video)

I was in the Windy City earlier this week to appear at a panel on the future of news for a newly-born citywide event called Chicago Ideas Week, which is the brainchild of Brad Keywell.

Never heard of Keywell? That’s perhaps because he is the third founder of Groupon and — kudos to him! — the one who has not made some oh-no-he-didn’t controversial statement during the daily deal start-up’s ongoing rocky IPO process that has landed it in hot water with regulators.

That would be Keywell’s other founders, CEO Andrew Mason and Chairman Eric Lefkofsky, with whom Keywell built Groupon into the powerhouse social buying site it has become.

While on the Groupon board, Keywell plays a less prominent role there than the other two. He is busy at his and Lefkofsky’s investment firm, Lightbank, as well as engaged in a lot of civic efforts.

That includes the first Chicago Ideas Week, a massive, citywide event that Keywell pushed for and has also been funding, to bring the city more than 100 prominent speakers on a wide variety of weighty topics.

As it describes itself, the undertaking is a “celebration of ideas, innovation, and community designed to ignite, inspire, connect, and catalyze our community around great ideas and great people.”

In other words, put Chicago on the innovation map — it’s no surprise that tech topics are woven all through the talks, which end Sunday.

Here’s Keywell discussing the effort, as well as the struggle to create a significant tech ecosystem away from the Death Star of Silicon Valley.

He is an energetic speaker himself, as you will see below, just not about Groupon:

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik