Jay Walker is fascinated by intellectual property in all its forms. His firm, Walker Digital, created Priceline and many other businesses that reframe old problems with new IT. In his private life, he's a bibliophile and collector on an epic scale.
It's befitting that an entrepreneur and inventor so prolific and acclaimed would curate a library devoted, as he says, to the astonishing capabilities of the human imagination. TIME twice named him one of the "50 most influential business leaders in the digital age," and he holds more than 200 patents. Jay Walker's companies -- under Walker Digital -- have alone served tens of millions of people and amassed billions in value.
A chunk of his net worth went into building this enchanting library space, whose exhibits (please touch!) go back, roughly, to the point our species learned to write, with a slight post-moveable type bias. Brimming with exquisitely illustrated books and artifacts (Enigma machine; velociraptor skeleton), the library itself is a marvel. Is it the glowing etched glass panels, or the Vivaldi piped from hidden speakers that gives it that je ne sais quoi? Maybe it's Walker himself, whose passion for the stuff just glows. It's apparent to those lucky enough to snag a tour.
At the 2008 TED Conference, Walker lent many of his priceless and geeky artifacts to decorate the stage -- including a real Sputnik artificial satellite, a Star Wars stormtrooper helmet and a Gutenberg bible. After you've watched his talk, the WIRED article is a must-read.
"Walker shuns the sort of bibliomania that covets first editions for their own sake ... What gets him excited are things that changed the way people think."Steven Levy, WIRED
“All of imagination — everything that we think, we feel, we sense — comes through the human brain. And once we create new patterns in this brain, once we shape the brain in a new way, it never returns to its original shape.”
“All of Western Europe started buying printing presses in 1455 — to print out thousands, and then hundreds of thousands, and then ultimately millions of single, small pieces of paper that got you out of middle hell and into heaven. That is why the printing press succeeded.”
“TED is all about patterns in the clouds. It’s all about connections. It’s all about seeing things that everybody else has seen before but thinking about them in ways that nobody has thought of them before.”