Biography: Mitchell Kapor
Mitchell Kapor (born in 1950) is a pioneer of the personal computing industry and has been at the forefront of information technology for more than 30 years as an entrepreneur, software designer, and investor. He is widely known as founder of Lotus Development Corporation and the designer of Lotus 1-2-3, the “killer application” which made the personal computer ubiquitous in the business world in the 1980s.
Other pioneering organizations in which Mr. Kapor has played an important role include: as founding investor, UUNET, the first commercial Internet Service Provider; as co-founder, Electronic Frontier Foundation, which protects freedom and privacy on the Internet; as founding investor Real Networks, the first company to offer streaming media over the Internet; as founding chair, the Mozilla Foundation, maker of the open source web browser Firefox; and as founding investor and Chair, Linden Research, the creator of the first successful virtual world, Second Life.
Mr. Kapor was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1950 and graduated from Freeport (Long Island) High School in 1967. He received a B.A. from Yale College in 1971 and studied psychology, linguistics, and computer science as part of an interdisciplinary major in Cybernetics.
He founded Lotus Development Corp. in 1982 and with Jonathan Sachs, created Lotus 1-2-3. He served as the President (later Chairman) and Chief Executive Officer of Lotus from 1982 to 1986 and as a Director until 1987. In 1983, Lotus’ first year of operations, the company achieved revenues of $53,000,000 and had a successful public offering. In 1984 the company tripled in revenue to $156,000,000. The number of employees grew to over 1300 employees by 1985.
In 1990 with John Perry Barlow and John Gilmore, he co-founded the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and served as its chairman until 1994. The EFF is a non-profit civil liberties organization working in the public interest to protect privacy, free expression, and access to public resources and information online, as well as to promote responsibility in new media.
In 2003 he became the founding Chair of the Mozilla Foundation, which is dedicated to the development and promulgation of standards-compliant open source web browser software.
From 1999 to 2001, Mr. Kapor was a partner at Accel Partners, a venture capital firm based in Palo Alto, California.
Mr. Kapor is currently active as a startup investor through Kapor Capital, which has made more than 50 investments in the past three years. Among others, he was personally responsible for investments in EtherPad (acquired by Google), CubeTree (acquired by Success Factors), Dapper (acquired by Yahoo), bit.ly, Get Satisfaction, Twilio, Asana, Inkling, Posterous and Uber.
He is an investor in and serves on the Board of ePals, the Internet’s largest global community of connected classrooms.
Mr. Kapor serves on the advisory Board of Generation Investment Management, a pioneering firm in the area of mission- related investing, founded by David Blood and Al Gore.
Non-Profit and Civic
In 1997, Mr. Kapor endowed the Mitchell Kapor Foundation, a private foundation which works to ensure fairness and equity, particularly for low-income communities of color. Current areas of focus for the foundation include building sustainable communities, affording greater access to college education for young African-American males, and protecting the integrity of the electoral process.
Since 2001, Mr. Kapor has been a director and major funder of the Level Playing Field Institute, which works to increase fairness in education and the workplace by closing the opportunity gap and removing barriers to success. LPFI operates the Summer Math and Science Honors Academy (SMASH) to prepare students from underrepresented communities to be competitive in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) related studies at top universities.
Mr. Kapor worked with the 2008 Obama campaign and transition team in the area of technology and technology policy. He contributed to the work creating of a position for a federal Chief Technology Officer. He works with senior officials in the administration including CTO Aneesh Chopra on information technology policy issues, especially healthcare IT.
Mr. Kapor is a board member of the non-profit organization Commonsense Media, the nation’s leading independent non-profit advocating for children. He also serves on the advisory boards of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (defending free speech, privacy, innovation, and consumer rights on the Internet), the Sunlight Foundation (improving access to government information), and the Wikimedia Foundation (Wikipedia and other free content projects).
From 1994-1996, he served as Adjunct Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Media Lab where he taught courses on software design, Democracy and the Internet, and digital community.
From 2005 to 2009 he was on the faculty of the Information School at the University of California, Berkeley, as Lecturer (2005-2006) and Adjunct Professor (2006-2009) where he co-taught “Open Source Development and Distribution of Information”.
Mr. Kapor is married to Freada Kapor Klein and lives in Oakland, California.