Our 2017 main stage speakers provided perspectives on the creative career, how to 'fix' design, navigating the unknown, and re-invention.
Debbie Millman is a designer, author, educator and brand strategist. She is the host of the award-winning podcast ‘Design Matters’, the world’s first podcast on design; Chair of the world’s first Masters in Branding Program at the School of Visual Arts; the editorial and creative director of Print Magazine and President Emeritus of AIGA. She is the author of six books on design and branding.
Ian Spalter is Head of Design at Instagram, where he leads the team responsible for all things design ranging from cross-platform app experiences to brand & identity. Ian was previously a Senior UX Manager at YouTube, and prior to that, Director of UX and Design at Foursquare. Ian also spent four years at R/GA where he oversaw design development projects such as the Nike+ Fuelband and Nike Running, Basketball, and Training products. Spalter was born and raised in New Rochelle, New York and graduated from Hampshire College.
Scott Belsky is an entrepreneur, author, and investor. Belsky is the co-founder of Behance, the leading online platform for the creative industry to showcase and discover creative world, and served as CEO until Adobe acquired Behance in 2012. After the acquisition, Belsky served as Adobe's Vice President of Products, rebooting Adobe's mobile product and marketplace strategies and leading Behance until 2016.
Belsky actively advises and invests in businesses that cross the intersection of technology and design, and help empower people. He is a Venture Partner with Benchmark, and is an early advisor and investor in Pinterest, Uber, sweetgreen, and Periscope as well as several others in the early stages. He is also co-founder and Chairman of a new marketplace product under development.
Through his work as a founder and investor, Belsky has become an advocate for technology and community initiatives that empower creative people and help businesses leverage the creative potential of their people. He is the author of Making Ideas Happen, and helped found 99U, a publication and annual conference devoted to productivity in the creative world.
Natasha Jen is an award-winning designer and educator. Born in Taipei, Taiwan, she was invited to join Pentagram’s New York office as partner in 2012. In 2014 she was acclaimed by Wired magazine as one of nine 'Designers Who Matter'.
Jen’s work is recognized for its innovative use of graphic, digital, and spatial interventions that challenge conventional notions of media and cultural contexts. Her work is immediately recognizable, encompassing brand identity systems, printed matters, exhibition design, digital interfaces, signage and way-finding systems, and architecture. Her clients, past and present, include Harvard x Design, Phaidon, Kate Spade, Chanel, Nike, First Round Capital, MIT, and the Metropolitan Museum, to name just a few. Pentagram made headlines in 2016 for their bold brand work on Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign.
Jen has earned a variety of awards and appeared in a number of publications, including Wired, Fast Company, Kinfolk, Print, Creative Review, Metropolis, Flaunt, and China Art and Design. She was one of the winners of Art Directors Club Young Guns, for which she also served as a judge in 2007 and 2011. She has been a guest critic at Yale University School of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, and Maryland Institute College of Art; and currently serves on the Board of Directors for Storefront for Art & Architecture and AIGA's New York Chapter.
Steve Selzer is a designer, manager, and creative leader at Airbnb. Over the last decade, he has led design for a broad range of companies — from startups to Fortune 500 companies spanning education, finance, entertainment, consumer products, transportation, communications, and social enterprise.
Today, Steve leads the Business Travel design team, which is focused on transforming the experience people have when they travel for work. He also leads the Payments design team, whose focus is two-fold: enabling more people to transact on our platform, and empowering Airbnb Hosts to be successful entrepreneurs.
Prior to Airbnb, Steve was a creative director at global innovation firm Frog Design. He is passionate about human-centered design and focused on building products that responsibly advance the human experience.
Rick Webb is a writer, angel investor, and consultant to such startups and marketing companies such as Tumblr, Soundcloud, and Percolate. He currently serves as COO at Timehop.
In 2001, Webb co-founded The Barbarian Group, an award-winning digital ad agency. He served as its COO for the first ten years of the company's existence. Webb left in 2011 to pursue angel investing in technology and advertising. He is an angel investor in Foursquare, Percolate, Sherpaa, Nestio and Timehop. He is an advisor to several other tech startups and marketing services companies, including Hard Candy Shell and Small Girls PR.
Webb is author of Agency: Starting a Creative Firm in the Age of Digital Marketing, released by Palgrave Macmillan in 2015, and Man Nup: A Groom’s Guide to Heroic Wedding Planning in 2016. He is an avid writer on technology, advertising, economics, and government. He graduated from Boston University with a degree in International Economics in 1992. He serves a board member of the VCU a, one of the most renowned advertising graduate schools, and was named as Creativity Magazine's '50 Most Creative People in Marketing' (2008). He was born and raised in Fairbanks, Alaska.
Farai Chideya has combined media, technology, and socio-political analysis during her 20-year career as an award-winning author, journalist, professor, and lecturer. She is a fellow at Harvard's Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics, and Public Policy, studying media coverage of the 2016 election. She was, most recently, a Senior Writer covering politics and data at ESPN's FiveThirtyEight, and a Distinguished Writer in Residence at New York University’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute. She is the author of six books, the most recent of which is 2016's The Episodic Career: How to Thrive at Work in the Age of Disruption.
With deep knowledge in a variety of disciplines, including the future of work, politics, culture, race, and technology, Chideya frequently appears on public radio and cable television, and has worked for CNN, ABC, and NPR, and appeared on numerous other networks. Chideya is also the former longtime host of National Public Radio's News & Notes. Born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland, Chideya graduated from Harvard University in 1990. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.
Paul Ford is the co-founder of Postlight, a digital product studio in New York City with clients that include Vice Media, Goldman Sachs, and Time Inc. He was previously a Director at the digital strategy firm Activate, where he created product strategies for global information and finance firms like Thomson Reuters, Credit Suisse, Condé Nast, and many others. In addition to his consulting work, he is widely known as one of the world’s leading writers on technology and culture, and is the author of 'What Is Code?', an essay that took over an entire issue of Bloomberg Businessweek to explain the real world of programming to millions of people, and for which he received a National Magazine Award.
Julia Kaganskiy is a cultural producer across art and technology. She previously served as global editor of the Creators Project, a partnership between VICE Media Group and Intel. In 2010, she founded #ArtsTech Meetup, an initiative that brings together digital artists and professionals from New York’s museums, galleries, and art-related start-ups.
Kaganskiy has been profiled in the AOL/PBS series 'MAKERS', named in Crain’s New York Business’s '40 Under 40' list for 2015, and cited by Fast Company (2011) and Business Insider (2013) as one of the most influential women in technology.
Irene Au is design partner at Khosla Ventures, where she works with early-, mid-, and late-stage startup CEOs. Au has unprecedented experience elevating the strategic importance of design within internet companies, having built and led the entire user experience and design teams at Google (2006-2012), Yahoo! (1998-2006), and Udacity (2012-2014). She began her career as an interaction designer at Netscape Communications, where she worked on the design of the internet’s first commercial web browser.
Au also teaches yoga at Avalon Yoga Center in Palo Alto where she is part of the teacher training program faculty and is a frequent author and speaker on the relationship between mindfulness practices, design, and creativity.
After a chronic neuromuscular diagnosis in 2012, Liz Jackson began to wonder why her eyeglasses were fashionable when her cane and all other assistive products were stigmatizing. This epiphany, spurred Jackson to found the Inclusive Fashion & Design Collective; an ecosystem of products, ideas and people who prioritize the exception rather than the rule. The IFDC's mission is to increase the impact of beautiful, functional products in our everyday lives and in the global economy by supporting designers and retailers in the making and marketing of products for all needs.
Jackson -- sometimes known as the 'Girl With the Purple Cane' -- and colleague Sinead Burke have spoken everywhere from TED to the White House on inclusive design.
Mike Perry is an artist, animator, creative director, brand consultant, poet, and designer. His work encompasses paintings, drawings, sculptures, art installations, books, murals, all of which are made to conjure that feeling of soul-soaring you have when you stare into distant galaxies on a dark night, when you go on long journeys into the imagination, when you laugh and can’t stop laughing.
The key to Perry’s working method is the recognition that art and objects, go through many iterations—discoveries, coverings, uncoverings—until they’re finished; people do the same until they are fully revealed. He likes to cultivate collectives of celebration, exhibition, and revelation.
Bryan is a master of pushing boundaries and driving innovation. He’s led the Photoshop and Creative Suite product lines, held CEO positions at two venture-funded startups, and today he guides Adobe’s Creative Cloud and Document Cloud businesses. People look up to Bryan — and not just because he’s 6 feet 7 inches tall. He is recognized as a skillful, fair leader. He’s also known for his dry wit and is a proud connoisseur of the bad pun. Bryan is a true global citizen. He is still working on his English skills but also speaks French, German, and Spanish, and he is a passionate world traveler.
99U Studio Sessions were hosted by creative organizations across New York City. The intimate, informal sessions were an opportunity for attendees to acquire new skills, and learn about the inner workings of our host companies.