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Chris Anderson, “The Long Tail” – Haas School
Chris Anderson, Editor in Chief of Wired Magazine, first coined the term “long tail” in October 2004 to describe the shift “away from a focus on a relatively small number of ‘hits’ (mainstream products and markets) at the head of the demand curve toward a huge number of niches in the tail.” He spoke at the Haas School, UC Berkeley.(November 17, 2006)
The University of California Berkeley Haas School of Business is one of the world’s leading producers of new ideas and knowledge in all areas of business – which includes the distinction of having two of its faculty members receive the Nobel Prize in Economics over the past 15 years. The school offers six degree-granting programs. Its mission is to develop innovative business leaders – individuals who redefine how we do business by putting new ideas into action, and who do so responsibly. The school’s distinctive culture is defined by four key principles – question the status quo; confidence without attitude; students always; and, beyond yourself.
“Can we create new life out of our digital universe?” Craig Venter asks. His answer is “yes” — and pretty soon. He walks through his latest research and promises that we’ll soon be able to build and boot up a synthetic chromosome.
In 2001, Craig Venter made headlines for sequencing the human genome. In 2003, he started mapping the ocean’s biodiversity. And now he’s created the first synthetic lifeforms — microorganisms that can produce alternative fuels.
Why you should listen to him:
Craig Venter, the man who led the private effort to sequence the human genome, is hard at work now on even more potentially world-changing projects.
First, there’s his mission aboard the Sorcerer II, a 92-foot yacht, which, in 2006, finished its voyage around the globe to sample, catalouge and decode the genes of the ocean’s unknown microorganisms. Quite a task, when you consider that there are tens of millions of microbes in a single drop of sea water. Then there’s the J. Craig Venter Institute, a nonprofit dedicated to researching genomics and exploring its societal implications.
In 2005, Venter founded Synthetic Genomics, a private company with a provocative mission: to engineer new life forms. Its goal is to design, synthesize and assemble synthetic microorganisms that will produce alternative fuels, such as ethanol or hydrogen. He was on Time magzine’s 2007 list of the 100 Most Influential People in the World.
In early 2008, scientists at the J. Craig Venter Institute announced that they had manufactured the entire genome of a bacterium by painstakingly stitching together its chemical components. By sequencing a genome, scientists can begin to custom-design bootable organisms, creating biological robots that can produce from scratch chemicals humans can use, such as biofuel. And in 2010, they announced, they had created “synthetic life” — DNA created digitally, inserted into a living bacterium, and remaining alive.
“Either he is one of this era’s most electrifying scientists, or he’s one of the most maddening.” Washington Post
Chris Anderson, the editor of WIRED, explores the four key stages of any viable technology: setting the right price, gaining market share, displacing an established technology and, finally, becoming ubiquitous.
As editor of WIRED, Chris Anderson is an authority on emerging technologies and the cultures that surround them.
Why you should listen to him:
Before Chris Anderson took over as editor of WIRED, he spent seven years at The Economist, where he worked as editor of both the technology and business sections. Anderson holds a degree in physics and has conducted research at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, and has done stints at the leading journals Nature and Science.
He’s perhaps most famous for coining the term “the long tail,” a whiteboard favorite that describes the business strategy of pursuing many little fish (versus a few big fish), as typified by both Amazon and Netflix. Anderson first introduced the term in an article written for WIRED in 2004; the book-length version, The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business Is Selling Less of More, became a bestseller. He maintains a blog, The Long Tail, which he updates with impressive regularity.