Frank Moss (technologist)
Frank Moss is a researcher, technology and biotechnology entrepreneur, academician and author. Moss was the director of the MIT Media Lab from 2006 to 2011. He remains a professor of the practice and the principal investigator for the New Media Medicine research group, which he founded.
He is the author of The Sorcerers and Their Apprentices: How the Digital Magicians of the MIT Media Lab Are Creating the Innovative Technologies That Will Transform Our Lives, published in 2011.
From 2007 to 2011, Moss was a trustee of Princeton University, where he served as Chairman of the Alumni Affairs Committee; currently, he is a member of the Advisory Council for the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. He is also a member of the advisory council of the Mayo Clinic Center for Innovation.
Education and early career
Moss was born Franklin Moss on April 20, 1949 in Baltimore, Maryland, where he attended the Baltimore Polytechnic Institute. His father was Sam Moss, a local radio personality who had a weekly radio show, The Sam Moss Show, in Baltimore for 30 years. He is the middle child of older brother Billy, a retired successful restauranteur; and younger sister Ivy.
As a teenager, Moss became enthralled with America’s fledgling space program, which informed his choice of higher education and career. He received a BS in aerospace and mechanical sciences from Princeton University, and both his MS and PhD in aeronautics and astronautics from MIT. In the course of his academic work at MIT, he became exposed to high-performance computing and networking technologies that would later became part of the Internet. His interest in the broad commercial potential of these technologies led him to pursue his professional career in the computer and software industries.
He began his career at IBM's scientific center in Haifa, Israel, where he also taught at the Technion, Israel Institute of Technology. He later held various research and management positions at IBM's Yorktown Heights (NY) Research Center, working on advanced development projects in the areas of networking and distributed computing; and executive management positions at Apollo Computer, Inc., and Lotus Development Corporation.
Career as Entrepreneur
During his career in the computer and software industries, Moss served as CEO and chairman of Tivoli Systems Inc., a pioneer in the distributed systems management field, which he took public in 1995 and subsequently merged with IBM in 1996. Tivoli was a venture-backed startup that successfully competed with larger companies to redefine and standardize the technology behind network and systems management. The acquisition by IBM became more of a “reverse merger,” in that Tivoli became the network and systems management division of IBM and one of its largest software businesses, growing to several billion dollars. Moss became the general manager of the Tivoli business at IBM; he retired from Tivoli as chairman in 1998.
He also co-founded several other companies, including Stellar Computer, Inc., a developer of graphic supercomputers; and Bowstreet, Inc., a pioneer in the emerging field of Web services. Moss also served on the advisory board of nLayers Inc., which was later acquired by EMC .
He co-founded and was on the board of Infinity Pharmaceuticals, Inc., an early-stage cancer-drug discovery company doing innovative work at the intersection of technology and the life sciences; he retired from Infinity's board in 2011. In addition, he chaired the advisory council for the creation of the Systems Biology Department at Harvard Medical School.
More recently, he co-founded Bluefin Labs, which uses machine learning technology to provide brands, agencies and media companies with real-time TV audience response insights through social media analysis.
Moss assumed the directorship of the Media Lab in early 2006. Moss worked to enhance the Lab’s connection with sponsors by increasing the interaction between its faculty and students and sponsor representatives on research topics of mutual interest. Two collaborative research initiatives begun during Moss's time as director were the Center for Future Banking, formed with Bank of America, and the Center for Future Storytelling,.
Moss also initiated research into areas that go beyond improving our “digital lifestyles” to solving bigger societal problems, such as health care and disability. Examples include the New Media Medicine group and the Human 2.0 program.
In 2009, Moss presided over the Media Lab’s move into a new building. The new building, designed by legendary architect Fumihiko Maki of Japan, was built on the Lab’s research principles of openness and transparency.
A published author, Moss is a vocal advocate and spokesperson for re-invigorating innovation the United States.
He is actively involved with a number of startups, including Bluefin Labs, which he co-founded. Many of them are exploring how to use “Big Data” - the proliferation of structured and unstructured data about people – to improve people’s health, wealth and happiness
He co-founded Bluefin Technology, which uses machine learning technology to provide real-time mapping of consumer response to television and advertising programming. He is an advisor to several startups that are pioneering new ways to improve human health by giving people more control over their own health. These include ginger.io, Daily Feats, Audax Health and Bon’App.
His citations include Ernst & Young's Entrepreneur of the Year award and Forbes Magazine's "Leaders for Tomorrow."
- Boston Globe article on Moss' appointment as lab director retrieved 15 February 2006
- New York Times article on IBM's acquisition of Tivoli Systems for $743 Million 1 February 1996
- article on Moss' appointment retrieved 7 February 2005
- USA Today profile on MIT Media Lab director Frank Moss 5 March 2006
- xconomy article on Bank of America-MIT Media Lab collaboration 1 April 2008
- New York Times article on "Saving the Story (The Film Version)" 11 November 2008
- Boston Globe article on the MIT Media Lab's new building
- MSN.com article about new applications that use Big Data