Dan Pitt is a longtime advocate of innovation that benefits society. As president of the Silicon Valley consultancy Palo Alto Innovation Advisors and as Executive in Residence at the Plug and Play Tech Center, the world’s most successful startup accelerator, he sees several thousand startup companies a year and personally advises and invests in a select number. An essential for his getting involved is how the startup benefits society.
Dan has served with the Bay Area Science and Innovation Consortium that brought together vice chancellors for research from Stanford and Berkeley, heads of major government laboratories, and top corporate executives to lower the barriers to collaboration and the commercialization of innovation. Dan began his career at IBM’s advanced technology division in North Carolina and moved to IBM Research Zurich before joining Hewlett Packard Laboratories in Palo Alto. In both companies he established partnerships with leading university researchers and research centers. When he joined Bay Networks as vice president of the technology laboratories he took on responsibility for university relations for the company and when Nortel bought Bay Networks his responsibility for advanced technologies and university relations grew.
When Nortel went under, Dan joined Santa Clara University as Dean of the School of Engineering, where he aligned the School with the Jesuit university’s mission of social justice and improving the human condition. This was not difficult. Following the term as dean he joined four spinout companies, two from SCU, one from the University of Victoria in Canada, and one from NICTA in Australia, as an interim executive, learning some painful lessons. From there he was recruited to serve as the founding Executive Director of the non-profit Open Networking Foundation, which pioneered the Open Networking movement, enabling small companies to compete with large incumbents. In ONF and then the MEF Forum he established membership categories for startup companies to streamline moving their technologies into the mainstream.
Dan has taught computer science and electrical engineering at Duke and UNC and has over 50 publications to his credit. He holds a B.S. from Duke University and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Illinois and is a Life Fellow of the IEEE. Throughout his career he has advocated for underrepresented minorities in engineering and is a longstanding member of the Society of Women Engineers and the National Society of Black Engineers (though he is neither female nor Black) and a high-level volunteer with the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology.