x = independently organized TED event

This event occurred on
December 11, 2009
4:00pm - 4:00pm PST
(UTC -8hrs)
Los Altos Hills
United States

On December 12 2009 TEDx Silicon Valley gathered some of the world’s leading thinkers and doers at Stanford University to discuss innovation for Social Change. The audience was composed of a diverse yet curated mix of thought leaders from the Silicon Valley area and beyond. We created a stimulating day of presentations, discussions, entertainment and art that sparked new ideas and opportunities for all.

With 26 speakers and performers on the main stage, 300 participants, more than 100,000 individuals and groups from 45 countries worldwide who tuned to our live stream to watch TEDxSV live, and with more than 11.8 million social media impressions — we accomplished our goal to help share the TED ideas, and inspire innovation for social change.

In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx Silicon Valley is part of a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organ- ized events are branded TEDx, where x=independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provided a license and general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized (and we are curating TEDxSV at Stanford).

The leadership team creating TEDx Silicon Valley is composed of successful Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, artists, social media mavens, philanthropists, MD’s and PhDs who are collaborating together to build a very special day that will lay the foundation for a strong TEDx presence in Silicon Valley, and will inspire our community members to engage in innovation for social change.

Los Altos Hills
United States
See more ­T­E­Dx­Silicon­Valley events


Speakers may not be confirmed. Check event website for more information.

Reid Hoffman

Reid Hoffman, an entrepreneur and angel investor based in the Silicon Valley, is Executive Chairman and a co-founder of LinkedIn, and in 2009 joined Greylock Partners. Prior to LinkedIn, Reid was Executive Vice President of PayPal where he led business and corporate development. After working at Apple Computer and Fujitsu, Hoffman co-founded his first company, Reid serves as Director of a variety of successful Silicon Valley businesses, most in the social media domain, including Mozilla, Six Apart,, Tagged, and Zynga. Reid has also been an investor in Facebook, Flickr, Digg, Nanosolar,,, and several other successful companies.Reid graduated with distinction from Stanford University with a BS in Symbolic Systems and from Oxford University with a Master’s degree in philosophy and a Marshall scholarship.

Peter Thiel

Peter Thiel, best known as the founder of both PayPal (sold to eBay in 2002) and hedge fund Clarium Capital, in 2009 launched the Thiel Foundation, a private foundation based in NYC that defends and promotes freedom in all its dimensions: political, personal and economic. The Thiel Foundation supports innovative scientific research and new technologies that empower people to improve their lives, champions organizations and individuals who expose human rights abuses and authoritarianism in all its guises, and encourages the exploration of new ideas and new spaces where people can be less reliant on government and where freedom can flourish. Peter also promotes freedom by sponsoring the Committee to Protect Journalists, the Seasteading Institute, and the Human Rights Foundation. He funds the artificial intelligence research of the Singularity Institute. He also aids work against violence through the Oslo Freedom Forum and through the research of philosopher René Girard, which is extended and promulgated by Imitatio. Peter occasionally teaches on globalization and sovereignty at Stanford and serves on the board of overseers of the Hoover Institution. He co-produced the film Thank You for Smoking, and was rated a master by the United States Chess Federation. He serves on the board of directors of Facebook and several other companies.

Thomas Goetz

Thomas has been a journalist for more than 15 years, first reporting on media and business at the Village Voice, then at the Wall Street Journal, followed by a crazed two years at the Industry Standard. Most recently, he’s Executive Editor of Wired Magazine where Thomas oversees all editorial efforts. He describes that job as being “a trend spotter or zeitgeist watcher.” Thomas Goetz’s forthcoming book, “The Decision Tree” (Feb. 2010 release), proposes a new strategy for making better health decisions in an age of proliferating medical information, direct-to-consumer genomics, health focused social networks, and personal data collection tools. Mr. Goetz shows how a strategy for making better choices – a Decision Tree – can give individuals control over their health, and can significantly improve each of our lives.

David de Rothschild

David is the founder of Adventure Ecology, an organization that harnesses the power of dreams, adventures and stories in order to inspire, educate and activate individuals, communities and business’s to start moving towards a smarter more sustainable planet 2.0 way of living. In 2006 David spent over 100 days crossing The Arctic, becoming one of only 42 people, and the youngest British person, to reach both geographical poles. Prior to this, David had already become one of only 14 people to traverse the continent of Antarctica, and was part of a team that broke the world record for the fastest ever crossing of the Greenland Icecap. David is the author of both The Global Warming Survival Handbook, Dorling Kindersley Earth Matters and the host of Sundance Channel’s Eco-Trip: The Real Cost of Living. Accolades include, National Geographic Society ‘Emerging Explorer’ and The World Economic Forum ‘Young Global Leader’ and UNEP ‘Climate Hero’.

Dr. Clayborne Carson

Director, Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and Education Institute Dr. Clayborne Carson has devoted his professional life to the study of Martin Luther King, Jr., and the movements King inspired. Since receiving his doctorate from UCLA in 1975, Dr. Carson has taught at Stanford University, where he is now professor of history and founding director of the Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and Education Institute. His first book, In Struggle: SNCC and the Black Awakening of the 1960s, remains the definitive history of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. In 1985 the late Coretta Scott King invited Dr. Carson to direct a long-term project to edit and publish the papers of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Under Dr. Carson’s direction, the King Papers Project, a component of the Institute, has produced six volumes of The Papers of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Peter Hirshberg & Josette Melchor

Peter and Josette co-founded Gray Area Foundation for the Arts (GAFFTA) is a San Francisco-based nonprofit dedicated to building social consciousness through digital culture. Guided by the principles of openness, collaboration, and resource sharing, our programs promote creativity at the intersection of art, design, sound, and technology. The Gray Area Foundation for the Arts is dedicated to building social consciousness through digital culture. Recent projects include Seaquence, an online social music experiment that allows users to create step-sequencer micro-compositions. Peter Hirshberg is a veteran Silicon Valley executive and co-founder and chair of The Conversation Group and acts as chair the advisory board of Technorati, web marketing companies. He’s also a TED speaker. Previously Peter served as president and CEO of, the online prestige beauty business co-owned by Estee Lauder Companies, Chanel and Clarins and was founder and CEO of Elemental Software (sold to Macromedia in 1999). During his nine-year tenure at Apple Computer, Peter ran enterprise marketing, where he grew Apple’s large business and government revenue to $1 billion annually. Peter earned his bachelor’s degree at Dartmouth College and his MBA at Wharton. Josette Melchor is the Executive Director of Gray Area Foundation for the building social consciousness through digital culture. By funding and curating projects that offer insightful perspective on the information of our age, using the technologies of our time, GAFFTA provides a means to decode and humanize the evolving global database. Josette’s previous projects include Gray Area Gallery and Gray Area Beacon, a new media arts program that she founded in 2008 with Peter. She has facilitated many large- and small-scale events up and down the west coast including notable pioneering media artists.

Nancy Lublin

Nancy Lublin is the CEO and Chief Old Person of, the largest organization in America for young people and social change. She is also the founder of Dress for Success, the organization that helps women transition from welfare to work. She created Dress for Success with a $5,000 inheritance she received from her “Poppy Max.” Dress for Success now exists in 96 cities in 8 countries and has helped nearly 1 million women reclaim their destinies. Nancy received her BA from Brown University, an M.Litt. from Oxford University where she was a Marshall Scholar, and a law degree from NYU where she was a Root-Tilden Scholar. She writes a column for Fast Company magazine and is the author of “Doing More with Less: 11 Things Big Business Can Learn from Not for Profits” to be published in April by Penguin. Nancy is proud to have been selected a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum and to be the mother of two young children who love broccoli.

Leila Chirayath Janah

Leila Chirayath Janah is the founder of Samasource, a social business that connects women, youth, and refugees living in poverty to microwork — small, computer-based tasks that build skills and generate life-changing income. Samasource was a winner in the International Business in Development Challenge in 2007 and the Stanford Social Enterprise Challenge in 2008 and is a current grantee of the Rockefeller Foundation. In recognition of her work with Samasource, she received the Rainer Arnhold Fellowship and has been invited to serve as a TED and Social Enterprise Institute Fellow. Prior to Samasource, Janah was a founding Director of Incentives for Global Health, and advised by Nobel Prize-winning economist Amartya Sen to develop new financing mechanisms for pharmaceutical R&D on diseases of the poor. She has served as a Visiting Scholar with the Stanford Program on Global Justice and a Visiting Researcher at Australian National University’s Center for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics. Leila received her BA from Harvard University in 2005, where she led the Harvard International Development Group and published work on the Rwandan genocide.

Alberto C. Vollmer

Alberto C. Vollmer is Chairman and CEO of Rum Santa Teresa, Venezuela’s leading premium rum manufacturer. He entered the company as a third shift production supervisor in 1996, was later assigned to the export department and since 1999 – due to a financial crisis – lead the company turnaround as its new CEO. Since, the company has grown both in business and in social development initiatives. After 2000, in a politically volatile Venezuela, he faced other external challenges like land invasions, land seizures and community leadership. In 2003, after gang members assaulted the company, he founded Project Alcatraz, a reinsertion program for criminals. Since, he has continued causing change in the local community; has done consulting on reinsertion of violent individuals both in Colombia and in El Salvador. Alberto participated in the Venezuelan Police Reform Commission; he’s a fellow Young Global Leader, a member of YPO and sits on several boards, namely the Venezuelan-American Chamber of Commerce, CONAPRI, Domegas, and Fundación Bigott among others. Prior to his entry to Rum Santa Teresa, Alberto practiced as a civil engineer dedicated to alternative construction in the slums of Caracas and as a photographer. He studied engineering at the Metropolitan University of Caracas and pursued other studies in France and in the United States. He is married to Maria Antonia Capiello, is an avid traveler, rugby player and Enduro addict.

Drue Kataoka

Drue Kataoka is a contemporary artist and social entrepreneur. She has used her art to raise visibility for causes as diverse as the Legal Aid Society, the Rotary Foundation, Sally Ride Science Clubs™, numerous Stanford Athletics scholarships, Stanford CAL Camps for Underprivileged Kids, the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, the United Way, NPR, Coaches vs. Cancer, Koret Foundation and many more. After September 11th, 2001 her project Highway Hopscotch united young people around the globe in a conversation about the role of the arts, and raised the funds to create an endowed Rotary Drue Kataoka Arts Scholarship. For her recent project “Around the World in a Single Stroke” she co-hosted events in 12 cities celebrating 12 global leaders who had contributed to humanity through their field, including Wynton Marsalis (in New York), Coach Bill Walsh (in San Francisco), Tokizo Nakamura V (in Tokyo), Odile Gilbert (in Paris), to name a few. With Bill Fenwick, she co-moderates a blog called ValleyZen which is devoted to the open and collaborative spirit of the Valley. Her recently launched web video show called CultureLick focuses on bridging art & technology. Besides her art, Drue is an accomplished flutist. Drue Kataoka’s flute playing is sought after for her unique sound and rich lush tone which captivates audiences across cultural borders, boundaries, and time zones. She is equally influenced by the shakuhachi textures of Japan, the demanding structures of the Classical flute tradition, and the soulful sophistication of the Jazz tradition. Her musical mentors include Wynton Marsalis, Artistic Director of Jazz at Lincoln Center and the legendary flautist Jean-Pierre Rampal.

Di-Ann Eisnor

Di-Ann lives in Palo Alto, by way of Portland, OR, Boston, New York City and Amsterdam. Di-Ann is a neogeography pioneer and serial entrepreneur employing all means to increase the world’s citizen mappers. Di-Ann functions as both Chairman of Platial, The People’s Atlas, and as Community Geographer at Waze. Platial is a widely adopted mobile and online social mapping service funded by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Ram Shriram and others with approximately 15MM unique users. Waze is free crowd-sourced navigation and real-time traffic. Started in Israel and well past critical mass, Waze now has top quality map, navigation and traffic data in the country. Di-Ann is setting up US operations and crafting the cartography of “live mapping”.She will be speaking about transactional cartography which is the movement from map providing entertainment/information to map as enabling action. This shift in mapmaking is possible due to the merging of crowd-sourced information and access to real time data. Both bring location to vast amounts of complex data and allow for new forms of analysis and visualization. In the past we emphasized mapping (relatively) static objects like rivers and roads, it evolved to mapping people and their movements and now continues to accelerate to mapping complex processes. Transactional cartography and the utilization of these new sources and abundance of data can actually impact decisions and actions such as a when/where to purchase a product, when/where and with whom to barter, when/where most effective routes for emergency response, when/where to build new roads or public facilities, when/where to buy a home, change a route or itinerary based on real-time circumstances and real world situation. In this realm, time is inextricably linked to location which removes historic obstacles to actionable or live mapping.

Sekou Andrews

Motivational Poet & Strategic Presenter Sekou Andrews is inspiring the business world one poem at a time with The Sekou Effect. As an award-winning and internationally acclaimed spoken word artist, playwright, actor and musician, Sekou has mastered the art and business of creating original, custom-written spoken word pieces that electrify the messages and accelerate the missions of corporations and non-profits worldwide. Sekou does not inspire you with his story, he inspires you with your story. An ex-elementary schoolteacher turned national poetry slam champion, any given day may now find Sekou presenting an original piece for European marketing executives, giving a keynote speech at a healthcare conference, or presenting passionate poems for Barack Obama at a party in Oprah’s backyard. His work has been featured on such diverse media outlets as ABC, MSNBC, HBO, Showtime, MTV and BET, and he has performed privately for such prominent individuals as Quincy Jones, Maya Angelou, Norman Lear, Hillary Clinton, P-Diddy, and Coretta Scott King and family. Companies that have experienced “The Sekou Effect” include Kraft Foods, Kaiser Permanente, Nike, Time Warner, eBay, Microsoft, ACLU, Waggener Edstrom Worldwide, Wieden-Kennedy, NBA, Eliza Corp, Global Green, NCAA, and Ferrazzi Greenlight to name but a few. With inspired audiences from the HBO US Comedy Arts to The Pasadena Pops Orchestra under his belt, Sekou is now emerging as a powerful voice for healthcare, routinely evoking tears, cheers, and standing ovations at multiple cutting edge conferences, including TEDMED, IHI Forum, Big Task Weekend, and Health 2.0. With impressive versatility, and inspiring insightfulness, Sekou Andrews is a powerful storyteller telling your powerful your stories.

Eoin Harrington

Singer/Songwriter Eoin Harrington was born and raised in Dublin, Ireland before making his home in San Francisco a few years back. He is a clasically trained multi instrumentalist, producer and engineer. His new album, Story, has been met with critical acclaim, a string of sold out shows and front page write ups by newspapers like the SF Chronicle. He has performed with Alanis Morissette, Train, Sara Bareilles and many others. He has recently completed a US tour and has made several European performances including a show for the President of Ireland. Locally, you might have heard Eoin during one of his many appearances on KFOG or Alice Radio, KGO, KRON4 and NPR. He has also spoken as an industry expert on NPR and at colleges and conventions such as UCSF and the California Lawyers for the Arts on the new business paradign of the music world. He has written songs for the MGM global release “Her Best Move” and scored the complete soundtrack for “Love on the Line” to be released next year. Eoin has teamed up with the Hardrock Cafe to raise money for cancer research – a cause close to his heart and the inspiration for his hit song, “So Wrong.”

Daniel Berkman

Daniel Berkman is a San Francisco based composer, multi-instrumentalist and innovator of the kora (a 21-stringed harp/lute from West Africa). His early recordings for kora highlighted his use of electronic devices and loop boxes to transform his kora in real time in live performance. His first three cd’s, “Heartstrings”, “Feverdreams” and “Headlands” mark this period between 1996 and 2000 which feature Daniel creating other worldly soundscapes and a playing technique drawing on his myriad influences, including that of the great kora masters of our time.

Andrew Hessel

Andrew Hessel is a genomic scientist and consultant in DNA technologies. Working with leading academic and commercial groups, he has traveled the globe for more than 15 years in his exploration of digital biology, the successor to recombinant DNA technology which is transforming DNA into an easy-to-use programming language for biological systems. Andrew’s work is empowering a new generation of young researchers to tackle big biology-related problems like sustainable fuel production, environmental cleanup, superbugs and cancer. He is a strong supporter of open source biology for accelerating innovation and as a counterbalance to proprietary biotechnology. Andrew is also launching an open source biotechnology venture that will make personalized, affordable medicines for breast cancer.

Victor Tsaran

Victor was born in Vilnogirsk and grew up in Drohobych, Ukraine. Beginning the age of 8, he learned music studying the bayan (chromatic squeeze-box). At 12, a friend showed him a few guitar chords and since that time the instrument has not left his hands for long. Along the way, Victor also learned to play the sopilka, a Ukrainian folk wind instrument and some piano. Besides a limited introduction to classical guitar, Victor’s musical education has been gained from countless hours of self-training and studying guitar theory on his own. Victor’s own unique style of music brings together Bossa Nova, Pop and Acoustic Folk genres, to name a few. Victor also runs Yahoo!’s accessibility program. He helps to make sure that computer users with disabilities are able to use Yahoo!’s web sites. Victor’s made it his mission to educate designers and engineers, helping change their assumptions that accessibility somehow requires sacrifice. His work is driven by a belief that technology has a potential to make lives of people with disabilities more meaningful and the web more friendly for everyone. Prior to his work at Yahoo!, Victor has worked for a number of international organizations and taught computers to visually impaired kids and adults in South East Asia, Middle East and Europe.

Yvonne Lee Schultz

Yvonne Lee Schultz, born in Berkeley, California, USA, lives and works as an artist in Berlin and San Francisco. As a Master of Fine Arts of Markus Lüpertz she received the Letter of Academy (Diploma) from the Academy of Fine Arts in Düsseldorf. For the realization of her conceptual work the artist uses diverse media and materials. Recently she worked with porcelain and KPM (Royal Porcelain Manufacture, Berlin). The artworks of Yvonne Lee Schultz have been shown for more than 10 years in German and international museums, exhibition projects, art fairs and galleries, such as the Museum Ludwig in Cologne, Sprengel Museum Hannover, State Museum Baden- Württemberg, Stuttgart, CAMK, Museum of Contemporary Art Kumamoto, Japan or the Sydney Biennale, Australia. Yvonne Lee Schultz’s work includes site specific art installations, which are related to the given architectural context, challenged by location and space as well as content, purpose and function of a building. As such they are present in various collections, institutions and companies as Volkswagen in Wolfsburg, Robert Bosch GmbH in Stuttgart, Nord/LB in New York or in the European Patent Office in Munich.

Robert Strong

Robert Strong has been crisscrossing the world since 1985 entertaining audiences large and small, young and old, formal and casual, and everything in between! Recently voted “San Francisco’s Funniest Prop Comedian,” “The Bay Area’s Best Performer,” and “San Francisco’s Best Comedian,” Robert has appeared on CBS This Morning, performed for the United States Congress, and taken his act to more than 30 different countries. Although Robert specializes as a corporate entertainer, he regularly appears at a broad range of events: Corporate trainings, business retreats, trade shows, conventions, conferences, product launches, sales seminars, awards ceremonies, banquets & galas, cruise ships, colleges & universities, comedy clubs, festivals, theaters, private parties, political events, non-profit organizations, and much more. No two Robert Strong shows are ever the same! He believes in creating a unique theatrical experience for each audience that is both interactive and simply magical. Robert’s contagious enthusiasm and engaging charisma invariably leave audiences buzzing with excitement and with memories that will last a lifetime!

Youth Speaks

Youth Speaks is a non-profit which empowers the next generation of leaders, self-defined artists, and visionary activists through written and oral literacies. They challenge youth to find, develop, publicly present, and apply their voices as creators of social change.Founded in 1996, Youth Speaks is the leading nonprofit presenter of Spoken Word performance, education, and youth development programs in the country. Presenters of local and national youth poetry slams, festivals, reading series, and more, Youth Speaks also offers a comprehensive slate of literary arts education programs during the school day and the after-school hours, and conducts numerous publications and youth development programs. All told, Youth Speaks works with 45,000 teens per year in the Bay Area alone, and has created partner programs in 36 cities across the United States.

Organizing team


Palo Alto, CA, United States
  • Ron Gutman
  • Andrej Nabergoj
  • Drue Kataoka
  • Silvia Console Battilana
  • Lorenzo Thione
    Sponsorships and Video
  • Rachel Masters
  • Daniel Kraft
  • Gregory Miller
    Non profit
  • Gary A. Bolles
  • Chris McCann
    Social Media Strategist
  • Jen McCabe
    Social Media and Marketing Coordinator
  • Kathleen Donahue
    Interactive and Graphic Designer
  • Mona T. Brooks
  • Michelle Kraus