Darren Spedale is an entrepreneur and author who is best known as the founder of the national entrepreneurship organization StartOut, as well as the founder of the company FamilyByDesign. Spedale has appeared on CNN, the Today Show, HLN Network, the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and several other media outlets in relation to his entrepreneurial endeavors.
Spedale's work in entrepreneurship began as the co-founder of a consumer internet start-up in 1998. Upon the sale of this company in 2000, Spedale received his MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business and his JD from Stanford Law School. In 2008, he co-founded the media company A-List Global Media LLC, the creators of PopCardz trading cards and other consumer products for the "tween" market.
Based on his experiences in entrepreneurship, in 2009 Spedale conceived of and founded StartOut, a nonprofit organization dedicated to fostering and developing entrepreneurship in the gay and lesbian community. He became the organization's Founding Chairman of the Board and remained Chairman until 2012. StartOut currently has over 8,000 participants nationwide, and has local chapters in New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Austin. StartOut's First Annual Entrepreneurship Awards in 2012 honored entrepreneur and investor Peter Thiel, and the 2013 Awards honored entrepreneur and philanthropist Tim Gill.
Spedale has been a spokesperson for StartOut in such publications as the New York Times and Inc. Magazine. In June 2010 Spedale rang the Opening Bell on the New York Stock Exchange on behalf of StartOut, and has appeared on such shows as CNBC's Squawk Box to discuss StartOut's work to help build entrepreneurship in the United States.
More recently, Spedale founded the company FamilyByDesign, which is focused on the development of modern family structures. Spedale's research on modern families began in the mid-1990s while an undergraduate at Duke University, where he published an honors thesis on opposite-sex and same-sex domestic partnership laws in the United States. The arguments in his thesis were later used by Duke faculty and staff to help secure domestic partnership benefits for Duke employees.
In 1996, having been awarded a Fulbright Fellowship after his undergraduate work, Spedale enrolled at the University of Copenhagen and spent two years in Denmark researching how northern Europe was recognizing non-traditional families. As a subset of this research, Spedale analyzed the Scandinavian registered partnership laws, which beginning in 1989 (in Denmark) allowed same-sex couples to enter into legal unions and thereby receive the rights and benefits of marriage. Spedale's Scandinavian research was widely published in Hawaii in the aftermath of Baehr v. Miike in which three same-sex couples argued that Hawaii's prohibition of same-sex marriage violated the state constitution.
In June 2006, his first book, entitled Gay Marriage: For Better or For Worse? was published by Oxford University Press (with co-author Professor William Eskridge). He has since published articles on his research in such publications as the Wall Street Journal and Slate Magazine, and has appeared on such TV shows as the O'Reilly Factor to discuss his findings.
More recently, Mr. Spedale's modern family research has focused on the emerging concept of "parenting partnerships" (sometimes called "elective co-parenting"). Parenting partnerships are formed when persons who are not romantically linked to one another decide that they want to build a relationship with each other around the purpose of raising a child together. Spedale was inspired by his own experience of finding himself single in his mid-30s but wishing to become a parent. Having decided that single parenting was not the right option for him, he began to explore the idea of finding a parenting partner.
Based on his personal experience, Spedale launched the company Family By Design as a resource for those interested in finding a parenting partner of their own. The company's website assists those interested in finding a parenting partner to learn about elective co-parenting, find their parenting partner, and connect with professional experts in the modern family as well as people who are currently co-parenting. Spedale is also completing his second book (also titled "Family By Design", expected publication late 2013) which will be the first book dedicated to the subject of parenting partnerships, and is based on the stories/personal experiences shared with him by dozens of parenting partners as research for his book.
In December 2013, Business Insider named Spedale one of the "Most Important Gay People in Tech".
- Family By Design website
- Spedale on the Today Show discussing co-parenting
- Spedale on CNN News discussing parenting partnerships
- New York Times article on Spedale and StartOut
- Book Website for Spedale's Gay Marriage: For Better or For Worse?
- Spedale article on Scandinavia as appeared during the Hawaii debate over Baehr v. Lewin
- A more recent article on the Scandinavian registered partnership laws
- For a more in-depth analysis by Spedale (with Eskridge and Hans Ytterberg)
- Wall Street Journal article (27 October 2006)
- Spedale debates Bill O'Reilly on same-sex marriage (with co-author Eskridge)
- WSJ article discussing Family By Design
- Family By Design profiled as part of the "modern family" movement
- New York Times article on Family By Design quoting Spedale
- Spedale ringing NYSE Opening Bell on behalf of StartOut