Bryan Johnson (entrepreneur)

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Bryan Johnson
Born (1977-08-22) August 22, 1977 (age 46)
Alma materBrigham Young University (BA)
University of Chicago (MBA)
Occupation(s)Entrepreneur, business executive
Known forFounder, CEO of Kernel, OS Fund, Braintree

Bryan Johnson (born August 22, 1977) is an American entrepreneur,[1][2] venture capitalist,[3] writer and author.[4] He is the founder and CEO of Kernel, a company making devices that monitor and record brain activity,[5][6] and OS Fund, a venture capital firm that invests in early-stage science and technology companies.[7]

He was also the founder, chairman and CEO of Braintree,[8] a company which specializes in mobile and web payment systems for e-commerce companies. Braintree acquired Venmo in 2012 for $26.2 million; the combined entity was acquired by PayPal for $800 million in 2013.[9][10]

Early life and education[edit]

Johnson was born in Provo, Utah,[11] and raised in Springville, Utah,[8] as the middle child of three brothers and a sister. After his parents divorced, Johnson lived with his mother and his stepfather, the owner of a trucking company. At 19, Johnson became a Mormon missionary, customary for young men in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), spending two years in Ecuador.[2]

Johnson graduated with a BA in International Studies from Brigham Young University in 2003 and an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business in 2007.[11][12]


Early ventures[edit]

Johnson launched three startups between 1999 and 2003. The first, which sold cell phones, helped pay his way through Brigham Young University. Johnson hired other college students to sell service plans along with cell phones; Johnson earned about a $300 commission on each sale.[8][13]

Johnson also started two other businesses. Inquist, a VoIP company Johnson co-founded with three other partners, combines features of Vonage and Skype. It ended operations in 2001.[2] After that, he joined his brother and another partner on a $70 million real estate project later in 2001. The project did not achieve sales goals.[2]


Johnson founded Braintree in 2007.[14][15] The company was 47th on Inc. magazine's 2011 list of the 500 fastest-growing companies[16] and 415th in 2012.[17] That year, Braintree purchased Venmo, an app that allows users to send and receive money from each other electronically, for $26.2 million.[9]

By September 2013, the company announced it was processing $12 billion in payments annually, with $4 billion of that on mobile.[18] Shortly afterward, on September 26, 2013, the company was acquired by PayPal, then part of eBay, for $800 million.[15][19][20]

OS Fund[edit]

In October 2014, Johnson announced the creation of the OS Fund, which he backed with $100 million of his personal capital.[8]


Johnson founded Kernel in 2016, investing $100 million of his own money to launch the company.[21] The company later shifted its focus to building hardware that measures electrical and hemodynamic signals produced by the brain. In 2020, Kernel demonstrated a pair of helmet-like devices that can see and record brain activity. Johnson hopes to bring the brain online with Kernel[dubious ]. Study may include Alzheimer's disease, aging, concussions, meditation states, and strokes.[22] The company has said the devices may be used to help paralyzed individuals communicate, or people with mental health challenges access new therapies.[6]

By July 2020, Kernel had raised $53 million from outside investors, following Johnson's investment of $54 million in the company since its inception.[23]


Recipient of the University of Chicago Booth's 2016 Distinguished Alumni Award.[24]

Bryan was featured in the 2020 documentary, I Am Human, about brain–machine interfaces.[25]

Published works[edit]

Johnson has also contributed a chapter to the book Architects of Intelligence: The Truth About AI from the People Building It (2018) by the American futurist Martin Ford.[26]

Personal life[edit]

Johnson has three children by his ex-wife Helen: Jefferson, Talmage and Genevieve.[11]

He was raised a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but left the Church when he was 34.[27] He is a pilot and has climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa, as well as Toubkal, the highest peak of North Africa.[11]

Johnson follows a strict dietary and lifestyle regime in pursuit of life extension.[28]


  1. ^ Altucher, James (May 4, 2013). "How To Go From $0 To $1,000,000 In Two Years". TechCrunch.
  2. ^ a b c d Kravitz, Seth. "How Bryan Johnson has Taken Braintree to Explosive Growth in Three Years". Technori.
  3. ^ Mims, Christopher (October 20, 2014). "Humanity's Last Great Hope: Venture Capitalists". Wall Street Journal.
  4. ^ Rosso, Cami (May 7, 2020). "Kernel launches neuroscience as a service (NaaS)". Psychology Today. Retrieved September 15, 2020.
  5. ^ "Elon Musk's latest target: Brain-computer interfaces". Statnews. Associated Press. March 28, 2017. Retrieved March 27, 2018.
  6. ^ a b Vance, Ashlee (May 20, 2020). "A neuroscience startup uses helmets to measure brain activity". Bloomberg Businessweek. Retrieved September 15, 2020.
  7. ^ "OS Fund LLC: Private Company Information". Bloomberg. Retrieved February 22, 2018.
  8. ^ a b c d Mangalindan, JP. "Crazy, insane start-ups are this tech investor's meat and potatoes". Fortune.
  9. ^ a b Wortham, Jenna (August 16, 2012). "Braintree, a Payments Company, Buys Venmo for $26.2 Million". The New York Times. Retrieved May 3, 2015.
  10. ^ Hardawar, Devindra. "Ebay buys payments startup Braintree for $800M, yet another win for PayPal". VentureBeat. Retrieved May 3, 2015.
  11. ^ a b c d "Bryan Johnson". Retrieved May 3, 2015.
  12. ^ "Bryan Johnson". The University of Chicago Booth School of Business. Retrieved June 28, 2016.
  13. ^ Tim Ferriss (June 12, 2015). "The Rags to Riches Philosopher: Bryan Johnson's Path to $800 Million". (Podcast). Retrieved October 6, 2015.
  14. ^ "Founder Stories at 1871: Braintree's Bryan Johnson". Doejo. July 12, 2012.
  15. ^ a b Barr, Alistair (September 26, 2013). "PayPal agrees to acquire Braintree for $800 million". USA Today. Retrieved May 3, 2015.
  16. ^ "The 2011 Inc. 5000". Inc. Retrieved May 3, 2015.
  17. ^ "The 2012 Inc. 5000". Inc. Retrieved May 3, 2015.
  18. ^ Deamicis, Carmel (September 20, 2013). "Mobile payments are one-third of Braintree's business". Pando Daily. Retrieved May 3, 2015.
  19. ^ Chowdhry, Amit (September 26, 2013). "eBay Buys Braintree For $800 Million To Accelerate Its Mobile Payments Revenue". Forbes.
  20. ^ Bomkamp, Samantha (September 26, 2013). "EBay buying Chicago-based Braintree". Chicago Tribune.
  21. ^ Mannes, John (October 20, 2016). "Bryan Johnson invests $100 million in Kernel to unlock the power of the human brain". TechCrunch. Retrieved October 31, 2016.
  22. ^ Weber, Peter (June 16, 2021). "A California tech millionaire is weeks away from selling helmets that can read your mind". The Week. Dennis. Retrieved June 17, 2021.
  23. ^ O'Brien, Chris (July 9, 2020). "Kernel raises $53 million to bring neuroscience insights to businesses". VentureBeat. Retrieved September 15, 2020.
  24. ^ "Bryan R. Johnson". Retrieved October 15, 2020.
  25. ^ "I AM HUMAN | 2019 Tribeca Film Festival". Tribeca. Retrieved October 15, 2020.
  26. ^ Falcon, William (November 30, 2018). "This Is The Future Of AI According To 23 World-Leading AI Experts". Forbes. Retrieved March 20, 2019.
  27. ^ Jason Calacanis (September 18, 2015). "Episode 579: Founder Bryan Johnson sold Braintree to build an extraordinary world with OS Fund and next-level synthetic biology, A.I., space tools, transportation, and more". This Week in Startups (Podcast). Retrieved October 8, 2015.
  28. ^ Snape, Joel (September 14, 2023). "'My ultimate goal? Don't die': Bryan Johnson on his controversial plan to live for ever". The Guardian. Retrieved September 14, 2023.

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