Joanna Shields

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Joanna Shields
Joanna Shields in 2011.jpg
Born (1962-07-12) July 12, 1962 (age 52)
St. Marys, Pennsylvania,
United States
Residence London, United Kingdom
Alma mater Penn State University
George Washington University
Occupation Digital Advisor to the UK Prime Minister.
Chair, Tech City UK.
Spouse(s) Andy Stevenson
Children Ben Shieldy
Parents Thomas and Kaye Shields

Joanna Shields OBE (born July 12, 1962) is an American-British business executive, entrepreneur and investor. She is the Digital Advisor to the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Chair of Tech City UK and a Non-Executive Director of the London Stock Exchange Group.[1] Shields has spent the past 27 years building some of the world's best-known technology companies, including Electronics for Imaging (Efi), RealNetworks, Google, Bebo, Aol and Facebook. She is a dual US/UK citizen, having relocated from Silicon Valley to London in 2000.

Before taking up her current post at the request of Prime Minister David Cameron she was Vice President and Managing Director of Facebook in Europe, Middle East and Africa. Prior to Facebook she served as President of People Networks at Aol, a position she assumed after the acquisition of Bebo by Time Warner's Aol unit. At Bebo, Shields was CEO, leading the company's growth to 50M users and eventual acquisition for $850 million.[2] Prior to this position she served as Managing Director for Google Europe, Russia, Middle East & Africa.

Shields was ranked #1 on the Wired 100 in 2011[3] and #6 in the MediaGuardian 100 in 2012.[4] In February 2013 she was named to the list of the 100 most powerful women in the United Kingdom by BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour.[5] In July 2013 Computer Weekly named Shields the Most Influential Woman in UK IT.[6] In July 2013 she received the British Interactive Media Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award.[7]

Early life[edit]

Shields was born in St.Marys, Pennsylvania, the second of five children.[8] Her father is a metallurgist who started up his own manufacturing company in the late 60s, which he sold in 1986 to Gleason of Rochester, NY.[9]

Shields earned her B.S. from Penn State University and later received an M.B.A. from George Washington University.[10]


In 1984 as a graduate business student, Shields worked part-time at the National Affairs Office of Deloitte in Washington, D.C. Shields was assigned the task of writing a business plan for a start-up called NDC (National Digital Corporation), an early pioneer in the transmission and archival of digital media that was acquired by Gruner & Jahr. During her time there she became convinced that digital technology was going to change the way we live our lives and interact with each other.

While at NDC, Shields met Israeli entrepreneur and founder of Scitex, Efi Arazi, who had formed a new venture called Efi (Electronics for Imaging, Nasdaq:EFII). In 1989 she moved to Silicon Valley and joined the company, where she began working as a product manager and over the course of eight years rose through the ranks to become VP of Production Systems, a division that designed, built and manufactured ASICs, embedded controllers and servers that connected digital printing systems to networks from companies such as HP, Canon, Ricoh, Minolta, Fuji Xerox and Kodak.

In 1997 Shields became CEO of Veon, an interactive video technology company whose intellectual property included patents for adding interactive links to video streams that became part of the MPEG4 streaming video standard. Philips acquired Veon in 2000. After closing the Veon transaction, Shields was hired by the company that invented streaming audio and video, RealNetworks, to run its businesses outside the United States.[11]

Shields briefly joined former Efi CEO and colleague, Dan Avida, to build the business of a storage encryption company he founded called Decru, where she played an instrumental role in forming a partnership with Network Appliance, the company that eventually acquired Decru for $272m.[12]

Shields then became Google’s Managing Director for Europe, Middle East and Africa where she was responsible for developing the company’s advertising syndication business, AdSense, and for the acquisition of content and partnerships for such products such as Google Mail, Video (before the YouTube acquisition), Maps, Local, News and Books.

In late 2006 Shields was approached by Benchmark Capital to run social networking startup Bebo.[13] At Bebo, Shields introduced Open Media, opening Bebo's platform for media companies to reach its 50M user base and enabling media owners to monetize their content,[14] and Bebo Originals, a series of original online shows.[15] The first Bebo Original KateModern was viewed 85M times, was nominated for two BAFTA awards[16] and won the Broadcasting Press Guild Innovation Award for Outstanding Development in Broadcasting.[17]

After engineering Bebo's acquisition for $850m by Aol in May 2008, Shields briefly relocated to New York City to head Aol’s newly created People Networks, overseeing the company's social and communications assets including AIM, Aol Instant Messenger and ICQ. Bebo’s development continued under Shields with the release of Timeline in 2009, the first social network to organize and represent life events in a linear way.[18] Timeline eventually became standard on social networks when Facebook released the feature in 2012.[19]

In 2009 Shields was recruited by former Google colleague Sheryl Sandberg to run Facebook in Europe, Middle East & Africa as VP & Managing Director.[20] In her role she built EMEA into the company's largest region, focusing on making Facebook the world's most valuable marketing, communications and customer services platform for brands and leveraging Facebook’s Open Graph as a growth engine for some of Europe’s hottest startups and established businesses.[21]

In October 2012 Shields was asked by the British Prime Minister David Cameron to lead the government's Tech City initiative and become the UK Ambassador for Digital Industries.[22]Shields receives no payment for her government work. During her time at Tech City, she has worked with the London Stock Exchange to launch the new high growth segment[23] and created Future Fifty, a programme to identify the 50 fastest growing businesses and support them on the path to an IPO. Future Fifty was launched by the Chancellor George Osborne in April 2013.[24] Shields is also involved in promoting the policies and conditions that foster entrepreneurship across the EU and, along with eight other leading EU entrepreneurs, launched the EU Startup Manifesto,[25] which aims to transform the European Union into a startup-friendly region.

Shields serves as a Non-Executive Director on the board of the London Stock Exchange Group and sits on the Mayor Boris Johnson’s London Smart Board.[26] In 2013 she was appointed to the EU Web Entrepreneurs Leaders' Club[27] by EU Commissioner and Vice President, Neelie Kroes.

Shields was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2014 New Year Honours for services to the digital industries and voluntary service to young people.[28]

Personal life[edit]

Shields is married to Formula 1 Team Manager and Sporting Director Andy Stevenson. She lives in London with her husband and son, Ben Shields.

She was a Trustee of Save the Children UK,[29] served on the Prince's Trust Internet and Media Leadership Group[30] and was a member of the UK's Government's Women’s Business Council[31] and the Tech City Advisory Group.[32]


  2. ^ Marr, Merissa. "AOL Buys Into Social Networking". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 14 October 2013. 
  3. ^ Vincent, Alice. "2nd annual Wired 100: Positions 10-1". Wired UK. Retrieved 8 September 2011. 
  4. ^ "Joanna Shields | MediaGuardian 100 2012". London: The Guardian. 16 September 2012. Retrieved 19 September 2012. 
  5. ^ BBC Radio 4, Woman's Hour Power list
  6. ^ Bateman, Kayleigh. "The 25 most influential women in UK IT 2013". Computer Weekly. Retrieved 14 October 2013. 
  7. ^ "2013 Digital Hall of Fame". British Interactive Media Association. Retrieved 14 October 2013. 
  8. ^ De Vita, Emma. "The MT Interview: Joanna Shields". Management Today. Retrieved 8 September 2011. 
  9. ^ De Vita, Emma. "The MT Interview: Joanna Shields". Management Today. Retrieved 8 September 2011. 
  10. ^ "CrunchBase | Joanna Shields". CrunchBase. TechCrunch. Retrieved 13 September 2011. 
  11. ^ "FT Digital Media Conference 2011". Financial Times. Retrieved 8 September 2011. 
  12. ^ "Network Appliance Acquires Decru". Network Appliance. Retrieved 14 October 2013. 
  13. ^ Sweney, Mark (15 January 2007). "Bebo poaches Google's Shields". The Guardian (London: Guardian Media Group). Retrieved 8 September 2011. 
  14. ^ Schroeder, Stan. "Bebo Open Media: Bebo Makes Its Platform Move". Mashable. Retrieved 13 September 2011. 
  15. ^ "FutureMedia Visions 001: Joanna Shields". C21Media. Retrieved 16 March 2012. 
  16. ^ "British Academy Television Craft Awards". British Academy of Film and Television Arts. Retrieved 13 September 2011. 
  17. ^ "List of winners of the Innovation Award". Broadcasting Press Guild. Retrieved 13 September 2011. 
  18. ^ "THE NEW FACEBOOK TIMELINE (OR THE OLD BEBO TIMELINE??) EXAMPLES". The Art of Social Media. Retrieved 14 October 2013. 
  19. ^ Eldon, Eric. "Bebo to add a "timeline" — and data from Facebook and MySpace? Read more at". VentureBeat. Retrieved 14 October 2013. 
  20. ^ Kafka, Peter. "Facebook Lands Former Bebo CEO (And ex-Googler) Joanna Shields". Down Jones & Company. Retrieved 14 October 2013. 
  21. ^ Moth, David. "Deloitte says Facebook is worth £12.7bn to EU economy". E-consultancy. Retrieved 14 October 2013. 
  22. ^ "Joanna Shields to lead Tech City Investment Organisation". Retrieved 14 October 2013. 
  23. ^ Burgess, Kate. "LSE aims new market at high-growth SMEs". Financial Times. Retrieved 14 October 2013. 
  24. ^ Warman, Matt (25 April 2013). "Future Fifty aims to drive tech growth". London: The Telegraph. Retrieved 14 October 2013. 
  25. ^ Bryant, Martin. "The Startup Europe Manifesto: A plan for a more entrepreneur-friendly EU". The Next Web. Retrieved 14 October 2013. 
  26. ^ Bennett, Asa. "Boris Johnson launches drive for “smart London”". London Loves Business. Retrieved 14 October 2013. 
  27. ^ "EU says we should glorify our entrepreneurs:Skype; Spotify and Angry Birds creators advise EU – first stage of "Startup Europe" campaign". European Union. Retrieved 14 October 2013. 
  28. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 60728. p. 14. 31 December 2013.
  29. ^ "Trustees". Save The Children. Retrieved 16 September 2011. 
  30. ^ "Members and Patrons". Prince's Trust. Retrieved 16 September 2011. 
  31. ^ "Women’s Business Council starts work". UK Home Office. Retrieved 20 September 2012. 
  32. ^ "Tech City Advisory Group Announced". UK Trade & Investment. Retrieved 19 September 2012.