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Jared Andrew Cohen
November 24, 1981
|Alma mater||Stanford University|
Council on Foreign Relations
Jared Andrew Cohen (born November 24, 1981) is an American businessman currently serving as the CEO of Jigsaw (formerly Google Ideas) and an Adjunct Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. Previously, he served as a member of the Secretary of State's Policy Planning Staff and as an advisor to Condoleezza Rice and later Hillary Clinton. Initially brought in by Condoleezza Rice as a member of the Policy Planning Staff, he was one of a few staffers that stayed under Hillary Clinton. In this capacity, he focused on counter-terrorism, counter-radicalization, Middle East/South Asia, Internet freedom, and fostering opposition in repressive countries.
According to The New York Times Magazine, right before his departure Cohen was one of the participating architects of what was labeled in 2010 as "21st century statecraft" along with Richard Boly and several foreign service officers in the Department of State's Office of eDiplomacy In 2013, Cohen was named by Time as one of its 100 most influential people.
Early life and education
Cohen was born to a Jewish family in Weston, Connecticut. Cohen received a bachelor's degree from Stanford University in 2004. He majored in history and political science and minored in African studies. He subsequently earned a master's degree in international relations from Oxford University, where he studied as a Rhodes Scholar.
Before graduating college, Cohen pursued interests in government and in mass media. He was an intern at the U.S. State Department.
U.S. State Department
Following his internship and graduation, Cohen served as a member of the Secretary of State's Policy Planning Staff from 2006 to 2010. He was 24 years of age. His service began after his internship under former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, during the Bush Administration.
In her book No Higher Honor, Condoleezza Rice writes of Cohen:
When he [i.e. Stephen Krasner] came to the State Department, Steve brought together a terrific staff of 'young guns' to push new ideas. One of his most inspired appointments came in 2006, when he hired the twenty-something Jared Cohen, who'd been a student at Stanford and had taken a four-month sojourn on his own in Iran. He would use his position at Policy Planning to begin to integrate social media into our diplomatic tool kit. That would pay off handsomely some years later, when Twitter and Facebook became accelerants of democratic change in the Middle East.
Cohen was one of the few members of Policy Planning kept on by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. He played a role in helping shape counter-radicalization strategies and advised on US policy towards Iran and the Middle East. Beginning in April 2009, Cohen aided delegations focused on connecting technology executives with local stakeholders in Iraq, Russia, Mexico, Congo, and Syria.
In the midst of the June 2009 protests in Iran, Cohen sought to support the opposition in Iran. He contacted Twitter, requesting that the company not perform planned maintenance that would have temporarily shut down service in Iran, because the protestors were using Twitter to maintain contact with the outside world. According to The New Yorker Ryan Lizza, "The move violated Obama's rule of non-interference, and White House officials were furious." In an interview with Clinton, she "did not betray any disagreement with the President over Iran policy," but "cited Cohen's move with pride."
While serving on the Policy Planning Staff, Cohen became an advisor to Richard Holbrooke, who was the first Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan. He took several trips with Holbrooke to Afghanistan, where he helped develop some of the early strategic communications strategies.
Cohen was among the early adopters of social media in the U.S. government. In April 2010, Cohen had the third largest number of Twitter followers in the US government, behind Barack Obama and John McCain. By Sept 2013, he was not in the top 20.
Cohen left the State Department's Policy Planning staff on 2 September 2010. On 7 September 2010, Cohen became an adjunct senior fellow at The Council on Foreign Relations focusing on counter-radicalization. He was hired as the first director of Google Ideas, a new branch within Google, in mid-October 2010. With the creation of Alphabet, Google Ideas spun out into Jigsaw, which Cohen founded and now leads as CEO. Jigsaw is tasked with "invest[ing] in and build[ing] technology to address humanity's most intractable problems, from countering violent extremism to online censorship, to expand[ing] access to information for the world’s most vulnerable populations and to defend[ing] against the world’s most challenging security threats."
Wired wrote that "The New York–based think tank and tech incubator aims to build products that use Google's massive infrastructure and engineering muscle not to advance the best possibilities of the Internet but to fix the worst of it: surveillance, extremist indoctrination, censorship."
According to a 2019 Vice Motherboard report, "Current and former Jigsaw employees describe a toxic workplace environment, mismanagement, poor leadership, HR complaints that haven't resulted in action, retaliation against employees who speak up, and a chronic failure to retain talent, particularly women engineers and researchers. Sources describe a place full of well-intentioned people who are undermined by their own leaders; an organization that, despite the breathless headlines it has garnered, has done little to actually make the internet any better."
The New Digital Age
The New Digital Age: Re-shaping the Future of People, Nations and Business co-authored with Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt, was a New York Times bestseller. The book considers the geopolitical future when 5 billion additional people come online, and the presumed terrorism, war, identity theft, conflict and altered relations between nations that the authors say will result. The book grew out of an article, "The Digital Disruption", which was published in Foreign Affairs magazine in November 2010. Cohen and Schmidt suggest that technology will rewrite the relationship between states and their citizens in the 21st century.
Julian Assange wrote critically of the book:
[It] proselytizes the role of technology in reshaping the world's people and nations into likenesses of the world's dominant superpower, whether they want to be reshaped or not. The prose is terse, the argument confident and the wisdom — banal ... This book is a balefully seminal work in which neither author has the language to see, much less to express, the titanic centralizing evil they are constructing.
Schmidt and Cohen dispatch their quirky examples in such large doses that readers unfamiliar with the latest literature on technology and new media might accidentally find them innovative and persuasive. In reality, though, many of their examples—especially those from exotic foreign lands—are completely removed from their context. It is nice to be told that innovators at the MIT Media Lab are planning to distribute tablets to children in Ethiopia, but why not tell us that this project follows in the steps of One Laptop Per Child, one of the most high-profile failures of technological utopianism in the last decade? Absent such disclosure, the Ethiopian tablet project looks much more promising—and revolutionary—than it actually is ... Just a modicum of research could have saved this exercise in irresponsible futurology, but living in the future, Cohen and Schmidt do not much care about the present, which leads them likely to overstate their own originality ... This reveals only how little they know about the world of reporters and NGO workers who actually work in places such as Burma, Iran, and Belarus.
Accidental Presidents: Eight Men Who Changed America was written by Cohen in 2019 and is a New York Times Bestseller. According to the Guardian it is "a history of eight vice-presidents who stepped up when their president was removed by fate. It covers the assassinations everyone knows, Lincoln and Kennedy, those some may not, Garfield and McKinley, and what happened when presidents died from natural causes: Harrison, Taylor, Harding, Roosevelt." 
His second book, Children of Jihad: A Young American's Travels Among the Youth of the Middle East, was published by Penguin Books (Gotham) in October 2007 and has also been published as an audio book and translated into Dutch and Italian.
He and co-author Eric Schmidt published "The Dark Side of the Digital Revolution" in the Wall Street Journal in 2013, and a 2012 article for The Washington Post, entitled "Technology Can Be Harnessed to Fight Drug Cartels in Mexico," which grew out of a trip the two took to Ciudad Juárez.
He is married to Rebecca Zubaty.
- "Jared Cohen and Yasmin Green". Fortune. 2017-08-17. Retrieved 2017-10-10.
- Weintraub, Seth (15 August 2010). "Google to open 'Google Ideas' global technology think tank". Fortune. CNN Money. Retrieved 7 May 2013.
- Larson, Christina (7 September 2010). "State Department Innovator Goes to Google". Foreign Policy. Retrieved 7 May 2013.(registration required)
- Last, Jonathan V. (17 August 2009). "Tweeting While Tehran Burns". Weekly Standard. 14 (45). Retrieved 19 August 2012.
- Lichtenstein, Jesse (5 November 2007). "Condi's Party Starter". The New Yorker. Retrieved 7 May 2013.
- "IRM Office of eDiplomacy". State Department. Retrieved Sep 5, 2013.
- "21st Century Statecraft". State Department. Retrieved Sep 5, 2013.
- Lichtenstein, Jesse (16 July 2010). "Digital Diplomacy". The New York Times Magazine.
- Isaacson, Walter (18 April 2013). "The 2013 TIME 100". Pioneers: Jared Cohen, Idea man, 31. TIME magazine. Retrieved 12 May 2013.
- O’ Malley, JP (June 18, 2013). "Google Ideas head warns of a 'balkanization of the web'". Times of Israel.
- Austin Carr (Oct 22, 2017). "Can Alphabet's Jigsaw Solve Google's Most Vexing Problems?". Fast Company.
- Schmitt, Rick (May–June 2010). "Diplomacy 2.0". Stanford Magazine. Retrieved 19 August 2012.
- Dumas, Timothy (April 2011). "Digital Diplomat". Greenwich Magazine. Moffly Media. Archived from the original on 11 September 2015. Retrieved 7 May 2013.
- Trei, Lisa (3 December 2003). "Campus celebrates two Rhodes, five Marshall winners". Stanford Report. Stanford University. Retrieved 19 August 2012.
""He is effectively besotted with Africa ..." said history Professor David Kennedy, one of Cohen's teachers
- "Jared Cohen (California & St John's 2004)". Recent Appointments and Awards for Rhodes Scholars. The Rhodes Trust. 7 September 2010. Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 19 March 2013.
- "Cohen, Jared (Biography)". Bureaus/Offices Reporting Directly to the Secretary » Policy Planning Staff » The Staff » Cohen, Jared. Cohen, Jared (Biography) Released by the Office of Policy Planning. 12 April 2010. Archived from the original on 20 January 2012. Retrieved 7 May 2013.
- Allen McDuffee (2 December 2011). "Google's Jared Cohen named among 2011 'Top American Leaders'". Think Tanked. The Washington Post. Retrieved 19 March 2013.
A former aide to Secretaries of State Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Rodham Clinton, Cohen ...
- Rice, Condoleezza (2011). No Higher Honor: A Memoir of My Years in Washington. New York: Crown Archetype. ISBN 978-0-307-58786-2.
- Boyd, E.B. "Google Grabs State Dept. Star Jared Cohen for Foreign Policy "Think/Do Tank"". Fast Company. Retrieved 28 November 2017.
- "Hillary Clinton Email Archive".
- Lizza, Ryan (2 May 2011). "How the Arab Spring remade Obama's foreign policy". The New Yorker. Retrieved 7 May 2013.
- Rozen, Laura (29 April 2009). "The Cable: Planet Holbrooke and envoy nation". Foreign Policy. Retrieved 12 May 2013.
- "Twitaholic top 100". Retrieved Sep 28, 2013.
- Larson, Christina (7 September 2010). "State Department Innovator Jared Cohen Goes to Google". ForeignPolicy.com. Retrieved 4 March 2012.
- Eric Schmidt; Jared Cohen (16 October 2010). "The Digital Disruption". The Council on Foreign Relations. Retrieved 19 March 2013.
Jared Cohen is Director of Google Ideas. He is an Adjunct Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations
- Franceschi-Bicchierai, Lorenzo; Koebler, Jason; Mead, Derek; Drummond, Katie (2019-07-02). "Google's Jigsaw Was Supposed to Save the Internet. Behind the Scenes, It Became a Toxic Mess". Vice. Retrieved 2019-07-02.
- Vascellaro, Jessica E. (11 July 2011). "Google's Eric Schmidt Feels Pressure of His Book Deadline". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 4 March 2012.
- "Best Sellers Hardcover Non-Fiction May 19, 2013". The New York Times. Retrieved 12 May 2013.
- Schmidt, Eric (1 November 2010). "The Digital Disruption". Foreign Affairs. Retrieved 4 March 2012.
- Donnan, Shawn (8 July 2011). "Think again". Financial Times. FT.com. Retrieved 4 March 2012.
- Julian Assange (1 June 2013). "The Banality of 'Don't Be Evil'". nytimes.com. New York Times. Retrieved 3 June 2013.
- Evgeny Morozov. "Future Shlock". Retrieved Sep 28, 2013.
- Cohen, Jared A. (2007). One hundred days of silence : America and the Rwanda genocide. Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 978-0742552371.
- Cohen, Jared (2008). Children of Jihad : a young American's travels among the youth of the Middle East (1st Trade paperback ed.). New York, NY: Gotham Books. ISBN 978-1592403998.
- Eric Schmidt; Jared Cohen (19 April 2013). "The Saturday Essay: The Dark Side of the Digital Revolution". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 12 May 2013.
- Schmidt, Eric; Cohen, Jared (17 July 2012). "Technology can be harnessed to fight drug cartels in Mexico". The Washington Post. Opinions. Retrieved 7 May 2013.
- "Google Ideas INFO (Illicit Networks Forces in Opposition) Summit; July 16-18, 2012 - YouTube". Retrieved 7 May 2013.
- "Best New Documentary Director Competition". Tribeca Film Festival 2012. Archived from the original on 9 August 2012. Retrieved 7 May 2013.
- McCracken, Kristin. "Awards Announced: 2011 Tribeca Film Festival" Archived 2012-11-14 at the Wayback Machine, Tribeca Film Festival, 28 April 2011.
- Smith, Stephen Jacob (August 26, 2013). "Google Ideas: Buy a Painfully Pink West End Co-op". The New York Observer.