Michael Vlastone

Founder & Managing Director, iShine Foundation
San Francisco, CA, United States

About Michael


Michael Vlastone is the creator of the iShine Foundation’s vision and innovative approach to venture philanthropy. Presently he serves as the Program Director, developing its overall strategy and the initial slate of projects, including the Integrity Capitalism Network.

EDUCATION: After graduating from San Francisco’s Lowell High School, Michael attended UC Berkeley in 1984-88 where he studied computer science, psychology and law, and also worked as a student teacher and consultant for the Haas School of Business Computer Center. He dropped out to launch DataLine Cellular, a short-lived Silicon Valley venture developing mobile on-line workstations.

PROFESSIONAL: From 1989 through 1999 he ran a Macintosh-centric custom computer systems design and services boutique, Renaissance Consulting, catering to professionals in the fields of law, graphics, publishing, product design, photography and music production, while also providing product development consulting for Symantec, Global Village Communications and Apple Computer. In 1998 Michael launched iShine Entertainment Systems – a new-media technology & culture consultancy, that in early 2001 delivered the first generation of custom designed Apple-based digital home entertainment servers & players – predating the iPod. iShine enabled Bay Area families to surround the lives of their children with quality music, film and, recently, TED-Talks – in a few cases completely replacing TV. Michael has extensive expertise in cross-disciplinary research, design and development of digital media products and solutions, as well as strategy and marketing consulting in the new-media space, having advised senior executive teams at Apple, Current TV and the Boston Consulting Group.

PHILANTHROPIC: A life-long entrepreneur, over the past two decades, Michael invested heavily in philanthropic projects, providing technology solutions, resources and funding, as well as volunteering for numerous San Francisco Bay Area organizations and initiatives focused on promoting of education, culture and innovation economy. He has worked with the Exploratorium Museum, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco School, Think College Now charter school, Art Bus Project, Institute For Unpopular Culture, Punk Rock Orchestra, Ballet Studio of San Francisco, WPA Senior’s Computer Center, Oakland Military Institute College Prep Academy, and Oakland School for the Arts • Michael has been involved in TechNet and the New Democrat Network since 2000. Recycling his and his clients’ older systems he provided workstations, networks and services for Gavin Newsom’s electoral campaigns in 2007 and 2009, as well as Jerry Brown’s 2010 California gubernatorial campaign • In October 2008 Michael was the first volunteer to help Dr. Zimbardo launch Heroic Imagination Project (HIP). The iShine Foundation co-hosted his Heroic Imagination Conference at Stanford University and produced his TEDx video presentation at Warwick University. Michael is one of the most active HIP advisors, in turn receiving guidance from Dr. Zimbardo related to social psychology • An avid promoter of TEDTalks, he hopes to help Governor Jerry Brown bring advanced technologies and digital media innovation to California schools through industry partnerships.


As one of the early pioneers in the field of digital entertainment systems, iShine deployed audio/video servers, rich-interface playback modules, and iPods in the family homes and cars. iShine also digitized and organized client’s entire CD and DVD collections. Once the iShine platform and media library was installed in the home, it enabled “culture consulting services,” including taking clients on “content discovery journeys” that introduce the entire family to a broad variety of inspiring music and film from all over the world which they might not have found on their own.

A broad range of music genres, such as classical and jazz, as well as documentary and foreign films became instantly accessible in every room. iShine gave quality content a chance to compete with the crass commercial pop-culture on TV, enabling children to have fun with and explore a diversity of quality content in a "marketing-free" environment. 
It also enabled adults to enjoy whole-house quality entertainment in their daily life, as well as during media-focused social events hosted at their homes. 

iShine created a “common media playground” where both children and parents could share their own expertise – digital technology and cultural content respectively. iShine installations enabled families to share the experience of their entire music and film collections with their kids on a daily basis, and put to positive use substantial cultural assets, which would otherwise have “collected dust on the shelf.”

iShine’s success in the San Francisco Bay Area spread by word of mouth alone, with no advertising.


English, Russian

Areas of Expertise

Digital Entertainment Systems, Culture Consulting, Disruptive Innovation, Reciprocal Altruism

An idea worth spreading

“Isn’t ignorance one of the most pervasive forms of
slavery, leaving one in the shackles of limited possibilities?
Only when well-rounded enlightenment becomes realistic for all of its
citizens, will America fulfill its declaration that all humans are created equal,
because only then, will they be equipped to pursue a life of liberty and happiness.”
The iShine Manifesto V.1.0, 2003

Al Gore's "Inconvenient Truth" is to Green-Tech Revolution, what Nikita Khrushchev's "We will burry you!" speech at the UN was to the "Race for Space." Young people need a big reason to learn and be creative. American leadership inspired them with an impossible challenge in the 60's and we landed on the moon - let us not blow an opportunity this time!

I'm passionate about

- Enabling a global Renaissance in the realm of culture, business and education through disruptive technologies


UC Berkeley

Talk to me about

- Integrity Capitalism Revolution
- Transition from "materialistic" to "experiential" economy
- Green Technologies and Business Models

People don't know I'm good at

DJing at parties

My TED story

TED - now that's a playground I've always wanted to play in!

Thanks to TED I met extraordinary people, lost a few remaining fears and was inspired to learn, think and create even further out of my comfort zones. It is what a great university should be.

Professor Zimbardo joined the iShine Foundation and became a close personal friend - which I could only dream of, if not for making a "TED Connection."

Please be unreasonably generous and share TED content with everyone you know, even if they might be too busy or "too anything" for it. You can download your favorite talks, arrange them in compilations and burn them to DVDs to give out as gifts. E-mail links to your distribution lists with abandon - they will likely thank you later. Load it on your iPads, hard drives and flash-cards, and then share, share and share! :)

Comments & conversations

Michael Vlastone
Posted 8 months ago
TED staff: It's TED, the Musical
Surprised to see all the positive feedback on this one. My housemate, a huge fan of TED, opined: "This is stupid…." as she joined me in taking a look. I would not say stupid, but “version 0.1a” and not quite ready for public consumption. The core idea was quite creative, particularly the “TED faces”. However, development and execution - a misfire. Specifically the words, the music and the singing fell below what we’ve come to expect from TED. Perhaps time to edit it out as one of those speaker mistakes -- until version 1.0b is ready? An example of an awesome musical number featured on TED.com a few years ago that really hit the spot: Gotta Share! The Musical https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=soAk3F0wX9s&list=PL0B358C82642BAE53&index=2
Michael Vlastone
Posted 8 months ago
Edward Snowden: Here's how we take back the Internet
The most important talk in the history of TED. Congratulations to Chris Anderson and to all the TED team members who had the courage to take this on and execute the Snowden CONVERSATION in a tasteful, thoughtful and technologically competent manner. As for Edward Snowden, we are all incredibly lucky that he somehow combines a whole slate of talents and skills that so rarely fit together in one person: an expert in technology, a systemic thinker, a young man with integrity and humility, a highly articulate speaker and debater with charisma, sense of humor and timing, and a calm and rational strategist, able to survive and outmaneuver the most powerful intelligence agencies in the world. The manner of his conduct and communication, the results he has already accomplished and the possibilities he created with his heroic work can restore faith and pride in America (and humanity) for anyone who's had so many reasons to doubt it in the past 15 years. Will Obama have the political smarts and the courage to provide full and unconditional pardon to both Snowden and Assange, and to secure their ability to continue their essential work in America, a country that should support and celebrate decent, instead of having to seek asylum in countries adversarial to us and our values? It is up to us - Americans - to take action through social media to make that possible.
Michael Vlastone
Posted 10 months ago
Philip Zimbardo: The psychology of evil
It would help if you provided specific references when making such an assertion. However, more to the substance, as someone born and come of age in the former USSR, I had witnessed these behavior patterns in real life situations -- 100% consistent with what Zimbardo was able to discover and document on camera during the Stanford Prison Experiment.
Michael Vlastone
Posted 11 months ago
Stephen Cave: The 4 stories we tell ourselves about death
Very good talk, other than one deeply wrong perspective, and a neglect of an important subject: 1) "If generations had dreamt about a possibility that did not materialize, it never can." Obviously, after many thousands of years of dreaming about flying and falling flat, we actually learned ho to do it, and it became routine; 2) For those not killed by viruses or physical violence of any kind, before death, there comes a long period of growing old and decrepit - having learned a lot, yet being able to accomplish nothing with that wealth of experience. It is in that realm that science is already making huge progress, and with a generation or two, we will be able to remain functional through 150. That would have a huge positive impact on humanity, given that it takes about 40 years to learn about the world and develop multi-disciplinary skills to take on the really difficult and interesting problems.
Michael Vlastone
Posted about 2 years ago
Candy Chang: Before I die I want to...
Feel conflicted about this TED Talk. On one hand, it is so touching, on the other hand... perhaps this will explain my mild distaste for it: would Steve Jobs (perhaps the best "do before you die / fear not" speech ever) write on a wall like this, or even put one up?