Jay Walker: Meet Jay

One of the 50 most
influential business leaders

in the digital age

Jay Walker, one of America’s best-known business inventors and entrepreneurs, has founded multiple successful startup companies that today serve more than 75 million customers in 15 different industries.

Mr. Walker is chairman of Walker Digital, a privately-held R&D lab founded in 1994 and based in Stamford, Connecticut. Walker Digital has invented hundreds of solutions for a wide variety of business problems. Since its founding, the company has funded an R&D budget well in excess of $100 million. The company has specialized in creating innovative applications that work with large-scale networks such as cell phones and the Internet.

Mr. Walker is best known as the founder of Priceline.com, which brought a new level of value to the travel industry. Today, Priceline is a highly profitable, billion-dollar public company with tens of millions of active customers. The business processes that guide Priceline’s success were created in the invention lab of Walker Digital.

Mr. Walker also co-founded Synapse, a company that used the credit card processing network to revolutionize the magazine subscription business. Mr. Walker served as its marketing leader and created a customer database of 25 million active buyers. For his work, he won the Direct Marketer of the Year award in 1999. Synapse is now a unit of Time Warner.

As an inventor, Mr. Walker is named on more than 450 issued and pending U.S. and International Patents, making him one of the most prolific individual living inventors. The company often partners with Fortune 500 firms to license its innovations or bring its inventions to market.

Many respected national publications have acknowledged Mr. Walker for his leadership in business innovation. He has twice been named by the editors of TIME magazine as one of the “50 most influential business leaders in the digital age.” Businessweek selected him as one of its 25 Internet pioneers most responsible for “changing the competitive landscape of almost every industry in the world.” Newsweek cited him as one of three executives at the forefront of the Internet commerce revolution.

Mr. Walker is a key member of several organizations that promote innovative solutions to the world’s problems, including:

  • TEDMED, LLC (chairman and a partner). TEDMED is an annual innovation summit for healthcare, bringing together accomplished individuals from many fields of technology, medicine and business to exchange ideas and work on difficult medical problems.

  • The Atlantic Council (board member). This organization fosters constructive U.S. leadership and engagement in international affairs based on the central role of the Atlantic community in meeting the international challenges of the 21st century.

  • World Information Transfer, Inc. (board member). This not-for-profit, non-governmental organization in General Consultative Status with the United Nations. WIT works for environmental health and literacy. Mr. Walker has spoken numerous times on health and environmental issues.

  • Mr. Walker is a Patron of TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design), a small nonprofit dedicated to “Ideas Worth Spreading.” He is a frequent speaker and contributor to its conferences.

  • For many years Mr. Walker has been involved with the Young Presidents Organization. YPO’s core mission is to develop “Better Leaders Through Education and Idea Exchange.”

Keenly interested in both science and education, Mr. Walker funded the development of two public policy documentary films about the space race and the role of science in American life. The first film focused on Sputnik’s impact on America’s education system; the second film explored broader U.S. cultural reactions to Sputnik.

A striking embodiment of Mr. Walker’s focus on innovation is his vast personal library. Within a multi-level, mazelike setting, the Walker Library of the History of Human Imagination contains thousands of landmark books and museum-level artifacts. The Walker Library has hosted numerous world leaders from business, government, science, medicine, the arts and education as part of Mr. Walker’s commitment to foster thoughtful discussions on the challenges facing the U.S. and the world community.

Mr. Walker has partnered with the World Economic Forum in Davos to develop enhanced communications systems between business and governments. He has testified before the U.S. Congress on economic policy and on how to reform the patent system. He is widely sought as a speaker by business groups, nonprofits and the academic community.

In 2009, Mr. Walker was honored as the “Cornell Entrepreneur of the Year” through the Entrepreneurship Program at his alma mater, Cornell University. He holds a B.S. degree in Industrial Relations from Cornell.

Jay and his wife Eileen have two children and live in Connecticut. Eileen Walker is a trustee for Cornell University, Vice Chairman of the Harvey School and a former personnel executive at IBM.

Read more about the Library in Wired Magazine

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