Tim O’Reilly is the founder and CEO of O’Reilly Media Inc. His original business plan was simply "interesting work for interesting people," and that's worked out pretty well. He publishes books, runs conferences, invests in early-stage startups, urges companies to create more value than they capture, and tries to change the world by spreading and amplifying the knowledge of innovators. Tim is also a partner at O'Reilly AlphaTech Ventures, O'Reilly's early stage venture firm, and is on the board of Safari Books Online, PeerJ, Code for America, and Maker Media, which was recently spun out from O'Reilly Media. Maker Media's Maker Faire has been compared to the West Coast Computer Faire, which launched the personal computer revolution.
Over the years, Tim has built a culture where sustainable innovation is a key tenet of business philosophy. His active engagement with technology communities both drives the company's product development and informs its marketing.
Tim graduated from Harvard College in 1975 with a degree in Classics. He began working as a technical writer, and soon began writing and publishing his own books on technology topics. Since 1978, O'Reilly has been a chronicler and catalyst of leading-edge development, honing in on the technology trends that really matter and galvanizing their adoption by amplifying "faint signals" from the alpha geeks who are creating the future. His company is publisher of the iconic "animal books" for software developers, creator of the first commercial website (GNN), organizer of the summit meeting that gave the open source software movement its name, and he was a key figure in the "Web 2.0" renaissance after the dot com bust, focusing the industry on the role of data rather than software in driving competitive advantage in the next generation of applications. His conferences include the O'Reilly Open Source Convention, Strata: The Business of Data, the Velocity Conference on Web Performance and Operations, and many others. His writings and speeches have played a key role in understanding the evolution of the internet as a platform, and he has been a catalyst for Gov 2.0 "government as a platform" efforts at the federal, state, and local level.
Some notable instances of O'Reilly Media's catalytic impact on the technology world include:
- Publishes The Whole Internet User's Guide & Catalog, the first popular book about the Internet, later selected by the New York Public Library as one of the most significant books of the 20th century.
- O'Reilly's Global Network Navigator site (GNN, sold to AOL in 1995) is the first web portal and the first true commercial site on the World Wide Web.
- The term "open source" is formally adopted at a summit of key free software leaders hosted by O'Reilly Media (then known as O'Reilly & Associates)
- Tim is honored with Infoworld's Industry Achievement Award for his role in open source advocacy.
- Tim's "Open Letter to Jeff Bezos" in protest of Amazon's 1-Click patent is signed by 10,000 supporters in four days, leading to joint lobbying for software patent reform by Amazon and O'Reilly.
- In conjunction with the Pearson Technology Group, O'Reilly introduces Safari Books Online, the first web-native service for online book content.
- O'Reilly holds the first Foo Camp, a private gathering at its Sebastopol, CA campus, where, as Business 2.0 magazine notes, the alpha geeks are "hard and happily at work moving the entire economy of the Web forward, to good end."
- Launches a distribution division for technology publishers including No Starch Press.
- The Web 2.0 Conference, hosted by O'Reilly, John Battelle, and MediaLive, introduces the Web 2.0 meme to a sold-out crowd.
- Distribution partnership with the Pragmatic Programmers.
- O'Reilly celebrates its first 25 years in business by updating its name to better represent its work, changing from O'Reilly & Associates to O'Reilly Media, Inc.
- Tim supports the Google Library Project, writing a New York Times op-ed, engaging congressmen and the GAO on the high cost of college textbooks and advocating the idea that book search ought to be as open as web search.
- MAKE magazine, a quarterly publication devoted to DIY culture, and CRAFT magazine, devoted to the vast crafting community, both hit the stands.
- O'Reilly is named one of 100 companies that matter most in the digital content industry by EContent magazine.
- O'Reilly hosts the first Velocity conference, focused on optimizing web performance and operations.
- First O'Reilly TOC: Tools of Change for Publishing conference addresses the rapidly evolving nature of the publishing world.
- In Seattle, O'Reilly employees Brady Forrest and Bre Pettis produce the first Ignite, a fast-paced, geek-culture community event. Ignite soon becomes a global phenomenon.
- Maker Faire debuts at the San Mateo County Fairgrounds and draws a crowd of some 22,000 DIY enthusiasts. By 2010, Maker Faire draws a crowd of 80,000, and spreads to New York and Detroit.
- O'Reilly opens the O'Reilly School of Technology, an online learning campus for burgeoning IT professionals.
- Before the 2008 financial crash, Tim's asserts that "If the parallels between Web 2.0 and Wall Street are correct, we can divine some of the future Web 2.0 trends by watching what's already happened on Wall Street," and begins urging web companies not to follow down the path of trading against your customers, and instead to "create more value than you capture." Tim urges web developers to "work on stuff that matters."
- Maker Faire wins the "Best Series of Events" award at the Folio Fame ceremony.
- Tim publishes "Government as a Platform," declaring that "Government 2.0 . . . is the use of technology—especially the collaborative technologies at the heart of Web 2.0—to better solve collective problems at a city, state, national, and international level."
- CRAFT moves to an online-only format, reaching 1 million readers a month.
- O'Reilly Media and Microsoft Press form a strategic alliance to distribute MSP titles.
- For the first Global Ignite Week, 65 cities around the world embark upon a one-week marathon of shared intelligence.
- First O'Reilly Strata conference focuses on "Making Data Work."
O'Reilly's future is still being written. Check back for updates.
An archive of Tim's online articles, talks, and interviews can be found at Tim's archive page.