Ben Parr

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Ben Parr
Ben Parr.jpg
Ben Parr at Chirp, 2010
Born (1985-02-12) February 12, 1985 (age 34)
NationalityAmerican, Thai
CitizenshipUnited States, Thailand
Alma materNorthwestern University
OccupationAuthor, Technology journalist, Entrepreneur, Venture capitalist
Notable work
Captivology: The Science of Capturing People's Attention
Board member ofSamasource
AwardsForbes 30 Under 30

Ben Parr (born February 12, 1985) is an American journalist, author, venture capitalist and entrepreneur. He is the author of Captivology: The Science of Capturing People's Attention, a book on the science and psychology of attention and how to capture the attention of others. He is the co-founder and CMO of Octane AI, a chatbot creation company.[1] He was previously a venture capitalist, the co-editor and editor-at-large of Mashable, and a columnist and commentator for CNET.[2][3] In 2012, he was named to the Forbes 30 Under 30.[4]

Early life and education[edit]

Parr was born in 1985, in rural Princeton, Illinois to Harold E. Parr Jr. and Vilarat Nid Parr. He quit the football team to become a drum major. He earned the rank of Eagle Scout in 2002 and graduated as valedictorian from Princeton High School in 2004.[5]

Parr is a serial entrepreneur, having started his first company while attending Northwestern University.[6] In September 2006, during his junior year at Northwestern, he started a campaign to protest the launch of Facebook's News Feed feature. The group he created, "Students Against Facebook News Feed", peaked at over 730,000 members before Facebook acquiesced to the protests and added more privacy controls.[7][8]

Parr graduated from Northwestern University in 2008 with a B.A. in Science in Human Culture, Political Science and a minor in Business Institutions.[9] He was awarded the Kapnick Prize for his work in promoting entrepreneurship on campus. He worked as a Community Assistant at Elder Hall and was elected president of InNUvation, Northwestern's entrepreneurship club, as an undergraduate.


Early career[edit]

Before his graduation in 2008, Parr joined his mentors Troy Henikoff and Mark Achler to launch Free Lunch, a Facebook application development company. After Facebook changed its app developer policies, Parr moved on with Achler to work at Veritas Health.[10]


Parr joined Mashable as a writer in August 2008, but was promoted to Associate Editor in March 2009, Co-Editor in September 2009 and Editor-at-Large in May 2011.[11] During his tenure, he wrote 2,446 articles focused on web technology, business and media, opened Mashable's west coast office, and helped manage Mashable's editorial team.[12] He was fired from the company in November 2011 after a disagreement over compensation.[13]

After Mashable[edit]

In February 2012, Parr announced that he was joining the technology news website CNET as a commentator and columnist.[14] His column, The Social Analyst, "digs into the key companies, trends and players powering the tech and social media universe, from the smallest startups to tech giants." He retired his CNET column in 2013.[15]

In February 2012, Parr started a company, The Peep Project, the firm attempted to change the way people interact with information. The project dissolved in April 2013.[16][17]

In 2012, Parr started a seed-stage venture capital fund, DominateFund, with partners Matt Schlicht and Mazy Kazerooni. The firm coaches startups on how to get attention for their products through celebrity partnerships, press, marketing, customer acquisition and viral products. It has backed a variety of companies including uBeam, Shots, and Graft Concepts (acquired by Novatel Wireless).[18][19]


On February 4, 2014, Parr announced that he was in the process of writing his first book, Captivology: The Science of Capturing People's Attention, released by HarperCollins in March 2015. His book focuses on understanding the psychology of attention and how that scientific knowledge can be applied to capture the attention of others. His book includes interviews with Sheryl Sandberg, Steven Soderbergh, Jeff Weiner, Grant Imahara, Brian Stelter, David Copperfield, Daniel Pink, Shigeru Miyamoto, Alan Baddeley, Susan Cain, Michael Posner, Adrian Grenier and others.[20]

Captivology has been featured in publications such as the Harvard Business Review and USA Today.[21][22] The book was named the best marketing book of 2015 by Strategy+Business Magazine.[23] In 2016, Captivology won the Small Business Book Award for marketing.[24]

In September 2014, Parr launched a new column with Inc. Magazine, focused on business and entrepreneurship.[25]

Octane AI[edit]

On November 2, 2016, Parr announced Octane AI, a chatbot creation platform for Facebook Messenger. The platform powers the bots used by celebrities, brands, small businesses, and publishers, including 50 Cent, Kiss, Aerosmith, and Lindsay Lohan. His company has raised $1.5 million in funding led by Evernote founder Phil Libin at General Catalyst.[26]

In 2017, Octane AI was named one of Gartner's Cool Vendors in Mobile App Development and was featured in The New York Times.[27][28]

Other work[edit]

Parr is a frequent public speaker and makes regular television appearances. He has been a technology commentator for CNBC, CNN, MSNBC, and NBC's Press:here. He has also made cameo appearances on Fox's Gotham and USA's Leap Year.[29]

In March 2017, Parr was elected to the board of directors of Samasource, a non-profit business with the mission to reduce global poverty by connecting unemployed people in the United States and impoverished countries to digital work.

Parr is signed by Worldwide Speakers Group for speaking engagements and public appearances.


In 2010, Parr was named a "Technology Industry Trendsetter, Luminary & Chronicler" by the Public Relations Society of America.[30]

In 2011, Parr was named one of the top 10 tech journalists in the world by Say Media.[31] Parr was also named San Francisco's coolest social media geek by SF Weekly.[32]

In 2012, Parr was named to the Forbes 30 Under 30, along with DominateFund co-founders Matt Schlicht and Mazy Kazerooni.[33]

In 2013, Parr was designated as a fellow of the Tribeca Film Festival's Disruption foundation.[34]

In 2015, Parr was named one of the top 10 Internet of Things experts by Inc. Magazine alongside Tony Fadell, Chris Sacca and others.[35]

Published works[edit]

  • Parr, Ben (2015). Captivology: The Science of Capturing People's Attention. HarperOne.


  1. ^ "Bots are a little dumber than we hoped -- for now". CNN Money. 2016-11-02.
  2. ^ "Ben Parr, Cofounders Aim to 'Dominate' Venture Capital With Celebrity Ties". Forbes. 2012-11-20.
  3. ^ "Top 100 Blogs - 1 to 25". Technorati. Archived from the original on 2013-01-22. Retrieved 2012-08-25.
  4. ^ "Ben Parr, Cofounders Aim to 'Dominate' Venture Capital With Celebrity Ties". Forbes. 2012-11-20.
  5. ^ "Parr Builds a Mission With Words and Technology". Bureau County Republican. 2009-12-28.
  6. ^ Lam, Bourree (2006-10-01). "The Uncommon Interview: Ben Parr – The Chicago Maroon". Archived from the original on 2012-07-23. Retrieved 2012-08-25.
  7. ^ "Student's Petition to Facebook Garners Attention Nationwide". The Daily Northwestern. 2006-09-17.
  8. ^ "Inside the Backlast Against Facebook". Time. 2006-09-06.
  9. ^ "IAbout Ben Parr". 2014-01-16.
  10. ^ "Parr Builds a Mission With Words and Technology". Bureau County Republican. 2009-12-28.
  11. ^ "Ben Parr". Retrieved 2012-08-25.
  12. ^ "2,446 Articles Later, a Goodbye to Mashable". 2011-11-21.
  13. ^ "Mashable Fires Editor At Large And Top Writer Ben Parr". Business Insider. 2011-11-20.
  14. ^ "My Column Is Heading to CNET". 2012-02-21.
  15. ^ "The Social Analyst". CNET.
  16. ^ Ha, Anthony. "Ben Parr's "Intelligent Information" Startup Is Called The Peep Project (For Now)". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2015-09-25.
  17. ^ "What happened to Ben Parr's Peep Project? - Quora". Retrieved 2015-09-25.
  18. ^ "DominateFund: Less Hollywood, Less Hashtag". Fortune.
  19. ^ "Start-up eyes wireless charging for devices". CNBC.
  20. ^ "Announcing "Captivology", My Book on the Science of Attention (HarperCollins/2015)". 2014-02-12.
  21. ^ "Book excerpt: Captivology looks at what captures our imagination". USA Today. 2015-03-03.
  22. ^ "7 Ways to Capture Someone's Attention". Harvard Business Review. 2015-03-03.
  23. ^ "Best Business Books 2015: Marketing". Strategy+Business Magazine. 2015-11-02.
  24. ^ "2016 Book Awards Winners - Judges and Community". Small Business Trends. 2016-05-19.
  25. ^ "Ben Parr's Articles on Inc".
  26. ^ "General Catalyst-backed Octane AI will make you a bot". TechCrunch. 2016-11-02.
  27. ^ "Cool Vendors in Mobile App Development, 2017". Gartner. 2017-05-12.
  28. ^ "Cool It's Not Their Pop Idol, But a Bot. Fans Cheer Anyway". The New York Times. 2017-04-03.
  29. ^ "Apps most important Watch feature: Expert". CNBC. 2015-03-09.
  30. ^ "InsidEPR: PRSA Silicon Valley: Media Predicts 2011". 2010-12-07. Archived from the original on 2012-04-25. Retrieved 2012-08-25.
  31. ^ "Say Media / News / Pocket-lint: The top 10 tech journalists in the world, and why I picked them". 2011-02-25. Archived from the original on 2012-04-25. Retrieved 2012-08-25.
  32. ^ Swearingen, Jake (2011-09-12). "SF Weekly Web Awards Party 2011: Pictures and Winners - San Francisco - Arts - The Exhibitionist". Retrieved 2012-08-25.
  33. ^ "Ben Parr, Cofounders Aim to 'Dominate' Venture Capital With Celebrity Ties". Forbes. 2012-11-20.
  34. ^ "Ben Parr, TriBeCa Disruptive Innovation Awards". Archived from the original on 2015-10-05. Retrieved 2015-10-23.
  35. ^ "The Top 30 Internet of Things Experts". Inc. 2015-03-26.

External links[edit]