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. O’Reilly Media delivers online learning, publishes books, runs conferences, urges companies to create more value than they capture, and tries to change the world by spreading and amplifying the knowledge of innovators.
Born in County Cork, Ireland, Tim O'Reilly moved to San Francisco, California, with his family when he was a baby. He has three brothers and three sisters. As a teenager, encouraged by his older brother Sean, O'Reilly became a follower of George Simon, a writer and adherent of the general semantics program. Through Simon, O'Reilly became acquainted with the work of Alfred Korzybski, which he has cited as a formative experience.
In 1973, Tim O'Reilly went to Harvard College to study classics and graduated cum laude with a B.A. in 1975. During O'Reilly's first year at Harvard, George Simon died in an accident. After graduating, O'Reilly completed an edition of Simon's Notebooks, 1965–1973. He also wrote a well-received book on the science fiction writer Frank Herbert and edited a collection of Herbert's essays and interviews. After graduating, Tim O'Reilly married his first wife, Christina, with whom he moved to the Boston area. The couple raised two daughters, Arwen and Meara. Arwen is married to Saul Griffith.
Tim has a history of convening conversations that reshape the computer industry. In 1998, he organized the meeting where the term “open source software” was agreed on, and helped the business world understand its importance. In 2004, with the Web 2.0 Summit, he defined how “Web 2.0” represented not only the resurgence of the web after the dot com bust, but a new model for the computer industry, based on big data, collective intelligence, and the internet as a platform. In 2009, with his “Gov 2.0 Summit,” he framed a conversation about the modernization of government technology that has shaped policy and spawned initiatives at the Federal, State, and local level, and around the world. He has now turned his attention to implications of AI, the on-demand economy, and other technologies that are transforming the nature of work and the future shape of the business world. This is the subject of his new book from Harper Business, WTF: What’s the Future and Why It’s Up to Us.