The following luminaries took part in D6, May 27 to 29, 2008. Read and watch what they had to say at our D6 Conference Web site.
The name Bill Gates has long been synonymous with the technology industry. But, in about a month, he will step away from his day-to-day job at Microsoft, the company he founded. While remaining as Microsoft's chairman, Mr. Gates will devote much more of his time to the world- renowned charitable foundation he runs with his wife, Melinda French Gates. He leaves a company of enormous size and wealth, one that retains the near-monopoly he built in PC operating systems and Office suites, while struggling to compete with Google in search, advertising and Web applications; and with Apple in music and video devices and services. He also leaves a legacy as the person who, in the words of longtime rival Steve Jobs at D5 last year, was the first to recognize the potential of building a pure PC software company.
Ballmer is CEO of Microsoft Corporation, the world's leading manufacturer of software for personal and business computing. He joined Microsoft in 1980, the first business manager hired by his former classmate at Harvard, Bill Gates. Variously described as ebullient, focused, hard-charging and energetic, Ballmer grew up near Detroit, where his father worked as a manager at Ford Motor Co. After Harvard, he worked for two years at Procter & Gamble, as an assistant product manager, after which he attended the Stanford University Graduate School of Business. He did not create a startup in his garage while there, but he has done well nonetheless.
Founder and CEO
Zuckerberg leads Facebook, which he founded in 2004. As such, Zuckerberg is responsible for setting the overall direction and product strategy for the company, leading the design of Facebook's service and development of its core technology and infrastructure. It's worked out well so far for the young entrepreneur. After founding the social networking site as an undergraduate at Harvard University, where he studied computer science before moving the company to Silicon Valley, he has seen it grow to 500 million users worldwide and a private-market valuation of $25 billion. We'll admit it: We're impressed.
Sheryl Sandberg was Facebook's first high-profile hire, coming to the social-networking site from Google earlier this year. At Facebook, she manages a wide swath of the company's business operations, including sales, marketing, business development, human resources, public policy, privacy and communications. Ms. Sandberg was vice president of global online sales and operations at Google, where she built and managed the online sales channels for advertising and publishing and operations for consumer products globally. She was also instrumental in launching Google's philanthropic arm. Ms. Sandberg was previously chief of staff for the United States Treasury Department under President Bill Clinton. She was also a management consultant with McKinsey & Company and an economist with the World Bank. She holds an MBA from the Harvard Business School and was also an undergraduate at Harvard.
Chairman and CEO
One of the giants of the PC industry, Michael Dell founded his namesake company in 1984 with $1,000 and the brilliant idea of selling a complicated product directly to customers, both businesses and consumers. In 1992, Mr. Dell became the youngest CEO ever to earn a ranking on the Fortune 500, and Dell eventually became the world's largest seller of personal computers. But, after stepping down as CEO a few years ago, Mr. Dell was forced to resume the role in 2007 after changing market conditions caused the company to falter. Average consumers, never Dell's core audience, became more important, as did retail sales. And Dell has been scrambling to compete with the likes of Apple, HP and Sony in areas like design and technical innovation, which have become more important.
Chairman and CEO
Sir Howard Stringer has been chairman and chief executive officer of Sony Corporation since June 2005. He is the first non-Japanese leader of this global manufacturer of audio, video, game, communications and information-technology products for the consumer and professional markets. In addition, its music, pictures, computer entertainment and online businesses make Sony one of the most comprehensive entertainment companies in the world, with sales of approximately $70 billion and 163,000 employees worldwide. Prior to joining Sony in 1997, Mr. Stringer enjoyed a 30-year career as a journalist, producer and executive at CBS. As president of CBS from 1988 to 1995, he was responsible for all broadcast activities of the company. He earned nine individual Emmys as a writer, director and producer from 1974 to 1976. The Wales native received the title of Knight Bachelor in the New Year Honours list of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in 1999, but you are not required to call him "Sir."
Jeffrey P. Bezos
Chairman, President and CEO
Jeff Bezos is one of the Internet's true pioneers and visionaries, creating one of the Web's greatest brands and one of its most enduring companies. He founded Amazon in 1994, using his theories about leveraging the Web to move goods around more efficiently. While the company has had some bumps along the way and has morphed its businesses relentlessly, it has defied its critics and has become the most significant online retailer in the world. Mr. Bezos has long been a geek, using computer science in all his jobs, such as working on technically sophisticated quantitative hedge funds on Wall Street for D.E. Shaw & Co. He also led the development of computer systems that helped manage more than $250 billion in assets for Bankers Trust Company. He graduated summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa in electrical engineering and computer science from Princeton University in 1986.
Chairman and CEO
Barry Diller needs almost no introduction–he is one of the best-known executives in the U.S., straddling a number of industries, including entertainment, online and retail. Well known too for his biting wit and gimlet gaze, he has recently been embroiled in a high-profile battle for control of IAC with major investor John Malone, another well-known mogul. What's been at stake are some of the Web's most famous names, including HSN, Ticketmaster, LendingTree, Match.com, Ask.com, CitySearch and Evite. Mr. Diller was one of the first Hollywood executives to take interest in the interactive space, which made him unusual when he started focusing on the Web in the mid-1990s. Before that, he served as chairman and CEO of Fox Inc. from 1984 to 1992. Previous to that, Mr. Diller was chairman and CEO of Paramount Pictures for a decade. He started off his career in television at ABC.
Jeffrey L. Bewkes
President and CEO
While Jeff Bewkes only recently became president and CEO of the media behemoth at the beginning of this year, he has long been an influential executive at Time Warner HQ. Mr. Bewkes has been COO, as well as president, since 2005 and has run major parts of the disparate businesses of the conglomerate. That has included its digital assets, like AOL, despite the fact that he was also a prescient critic of the merger of AOL and Time Warner. Mr. Bewkes made his chops in the entertainment arena, especially at Time Warner's HBO division in its glory days of growth. With an undergraduate degree from Yale University and an MBA from Stanford Graduate School of Business, he also has an impressive educational pedigree. With all this, we'll want to know what he can dream up to keep Time Warner relevant in the Internet business.
Kevin J. Martin
Federal Communications Commission
Kevin J. Martin is chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, where he has served as a commissioner since 2001 and as chairman since 2005. During his term he has conducted a balancing act between the interests of the technology and telecommunications industries. He mostly sided with Google in the effort to impose new openness rules on a large chunk of spectrum the FCC recently auctioned, and has been publicly critical of the cable TV companies. He could be an important player in the battle over Net neutrality.
Thomas H. Glocer
A closet geek who loves to talk about gadgets, Tom Glocer started off his career at a start-up focused on software for educational games. He also was a mergers and acquisitions lawyer, but try not to hold that against him. Mr. Glocer has been working at Reuters since 1993, rising in the ranks through its recent merger with Thomson. The combined company is now one of the largest companies of its kind, selling all sorts of information about the financial, legal, tax and accounting, scientific, health-care and media markets. He holds a bachelor's degree in political science from Columbia University and a JD from Yale Law School.
President and CEO
Tom Rogers, a well-rounded media executive, has had his work cut out for him at TiVo, the iconic but often-struggling pioneer and leader in the digital video-recorder market. Before coming to TiVo, Mr. Rogers was chairman and CEO of Primedia, which pub- lishes 200 magazines, operates more than 400 Web sites and runs a wide range of television and video businesses. Previous to that, he was president of NBC Cable and executive vice president at NBC, as well as its chief strategist. While there, Mr. Rogers helped found the CNBC business cable channel and established the NBC/Microsoft cable channel and Internet joint venture, MSNBC. He also worked in politics, as senior counsel to the U.S. House of Representatives' Telecommunications, Consumer Protection and Finance Subcommittee, and has previously worked as a Wall Street lawyer.
Melinda French Gates
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Before she ever dated Bill Gates, let alone married him, Melinda French was a damned good product manager at Microsoft. She brought to market Microsoft Publisher, which popularized the step-by-step wizards that have since spread through software everywhere. And she made a valiant, if failed, effort to radically simplify computers with Microsoft Bob. Now, with her husband, she heads the world's largest charitable foundation, bringing to philanthropy a rare combination of compassion and the business skills she honed at Microsoft. Ms. Gates received a bachelor's degree in computer science and economics from Duke University in 1986 and a master's in business administration from Duke's Fuqua School of Business in 1987. She is a mother of three and a former member of the board of trustees of Duke and a former co-chair of the Washington State Governor's Commission on Early Learning.
Founder and CEO
Myhrvold holds degrees in math, theoretical physics, geophysics and space physics and spent 14 years at Microsoft, where he founded Microsoft Research and many other technology groups. Now at the forefront of the modern patent wars -- with some calling him a dangerous patent troll -- his firm holds (and monetizes) more tech patents than almost any other company. An avid inventor, Myrvold holds hundreds of patents himself, but if you get a chance, ask him about his award-winning cookbook, “Modernist Cuisine.”
President and CEO
Lowell McAdam is president and CEO of Verizon Wireless, the nation's second-largest wireless voice and data provider, and is chairman of the board of directors of CTIA, the wireless industry's trade association and lobbying group. An engineer by training, Mr. McAdam has been an outspoken defender of the wireless industry's practices, even when they have been criticized by the technology industry. However, he has recently launched an initiative to create a parallel "open" system at Verizon, which the company claims will allow any device and any application to operate on its network without interference from Verizon.
Chairman and CEO
As chairman and CEO of News Corp., Rupert Murdoch commands what may be the world's most powerful media empire, spanning movie studios, television networks, newspapers and a growing stable of Internet properties, including the wildly popular MySpace social network. In 2007, he purchased Dow Jones, which owns The Wall Street Journal and wsj.com, as well as this conference and its associated Web site, AllThingsD.com. Mr. Murdoch, an Australian by birth and an American citizen, is a graduate of Oxford University and a canny, outspoken and often controversial business executive. He has a personal passion for news and a deep interest in the transition from traditional print and broadcast forms of journalism to digital formats.
Co-Founder, Chief Yahoo and Director
Yahoo co-founder and former CEO Jerry Yang, who will appear with the Internet giant’s Asia head Rose Tsou. For all of the noise around the company these days, Yahoo has a huge footprint in the region, maintains a big e-commerce business there and holds massive stakes in key firms, such as Yahoo Japan and China’s Alibaba. One of Yahoo’s first big investments came from Asian investor Masa Son, in fact, way back when.
Susan L. Decker
Sue Decker has been in the hot seat over the last year, as the No. 2 exec at Yahoo, playing a critical role in its business strategy and vision, as the company has sought to reinvigorate itself and has faced an unsolicited takeover by Microsoft most recently. She is responsible for all of the global business operations of Yahoo, including sales, product marketing, product and distribution across the three major customer groups of audience, advertisers and publishers. She joined Yahoo in 2000 as its CFO, after a 14-year stint at Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette, where she served as the global director of equity research and was also an equity research analyst covering media, publishing and advertising stocks. A graduate of Tufts University, she also attended Harvard Business School. Ms. Decker currently serves on the board of directors for Berkshire Hathaway, Intel Corporation and Costco Wholesale.