Mitch Kapor is a pioneer of the personal computing industry, and an entrepreneur, investor and advocate for social change. As Partner at Kapor Capital and the Kapor Center for Social Impact, Mitch, along with his wife Freada Kapor Klein, invests in social impact tech startups that narrow gaps in opportunity and access for underrepresented communities and eliminate barriers to full participation across the tech ecosystem.
In 1982, Mitch founded Lotus Development Corporation and designed the Lotus 1-2-3 spreadsheet, the “killer application” which made the personal computer ubiquitous in the business world. In addition to its business success (over $50 million in sales in its first year and a successful IPO), Lotus was known for its groundbreaking progressive culture, one spearheaded by Freada, who served as the company’s first Director of Employee Relations and Organizational Development. The company put into place ambitious diversity programs aimed at attracting and retaining a diverse workforce. Lotus became an early leader in the movement to divest from Apartheid-era South Africa, and was the first major American company to sponsor an AIDS walk.
Often credited with the ability to “see around corners”, Mitch was instrumental in initiatives that created the modern Internet. He co-founded the Electronic Frontier Foundation in 1990 and served as its chairman until 1994. EFF defends civil liberties in the digital world and works to ensure that rights and freedoms are enhanced and protected as our use of technology grows.
Mitch was the founding investor in UUNET, one of the first and the largest early Internet Service Provider; of Real Networks, the Internet’s first streaming media company; and of Linden Lab, maker of the first successful virtual world, Second Life. He was also founding Chair of the Commercial Internet Exchange (CIX), which pioneered the free exchange of TCP/IP traffic, including commercial traffic, between ISPs.
In 2003, Mitch became the founding Chair of the Mozilla Foundation, creator of the open source web browser Firefox.
As an active angel investor, Mitch participated in the initial rounds of Dropcam, Twilio, Asana and Uber.
Today, with over 100 companies in its portfolio, Kapor Capital focuses on information technology driven, seed stage startups that drive positive social impact by drawing on the lived experiences of their founders.
The Kapor Center for Social Impact, a pioneering institution focused on tech inclusion and social impact, invests social and financial capital in vital non-profit organizations on the premise that genius is evenly distributed by Zip code but opportunity is not.
In August 2015, Mitch and Freada announced they would invest $40 million over three years to accelerate their work to make the tech ecosystem more inclusive.
In addition to his roles at Kapor Capital and Kapor Center for Social Impact, Mitch currently serves on the Board of the Level Playing Field Institute, whose mission is to enhance equal opportunity in education and the workplace, and sits on the Advisory Board of Generation Investment Management, a firm whose vision is to embed sustainability into the mainstream capital markets.
Born in Brooklyn New York, and raised on Long Island, Mitch received a B.A. from Yale College in 1971 and studied psychology, linguistics, and computer science in an interdisciplinary major. He began but did not complete a Master’s degree at MIT’s Sloan School of Management but later served on the faculty of MIT’s Media Lab and UC Berkeley’s School of Information.
Before founding Lotus, Mitch worked as disc jockey, meditation teacher and community mental health worker. He and Freada live in Oakland and Healdsburg, California with their rescue dog, Dudley.