Krisztina Holly

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Krisztina 'Z' Holly
Krisztina 'Z' Holly at Foo Camp 2013 in Sebastopol, CA, on August 3, 2013
OccupationInnovator and Entrepreneur

Krisztina Holly, known by her colleagues as 'Z'[1] is a Hungarian American innovator, entrepreneur, and adventurer. She is the host of The Art of Manufacturing podcast[2] and the Founder and Chief Instigator of MAKE IT IN LA,[3] which was launched from her term as Entrepreneur-in-Residence for LA Mayor Garcetti.[4][5] She is best known as the creator of the first TEDx,[6] the founding executive director of the Deshpande Center for Technological Innovation at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Vice Provost for Innovation and founding executive director of the Stevens Center for Innovation at the University of Southern California.[7] She was founder or key team member of various technology startups including Stylus Innovation, Direct Hit Technologies, and Jeeves Solutions and was a prominent mountain bike advocate in New England for a decade.[8] She is a founding donor and board member of the River LA,[9][10] serves on the board of TTI/Vanguard,[11] and has been an advisor to nearly two dozen other companies and organizations, including the Obama Administration as an inaugural member of the National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship,[12] and a global agenda council member of the World Economic Forum advising in the areas of entrepreneurship[13][14] and manufacturing.[15] She is married and resides in Los Angeles.[8]

Early life[edit]

Holly was born to Hungarian parents and has written about being greatly influenced by their stories of escaping their home country in 1956 and being refugees in America.[7] From a young age she thought she would be an entrepreneur.[16] She attended Massachusetts Institute of Technology and received bachelor's and master's degrees in mechanical engineering.[3] She, Michael Cassidy and John Barrus won the MIT business plan competition in 1991 with Stylus Innovation, which was acquired by Artisoft in 1996 for $12.8M.[17]


Holly created TEDxUSC, the first ever TEDx event in 2009,[6] which so far inspired over 15,000 similar events globally.[18] In her role as curator and host for TEDxUSC over four years, she discovered and coached more than 60 presenters whose videos have garnered 12 million views online.[3] From 2006-2012 she was the vice provost for innovation at USC and founding executive director the USC Stevens Center for Innovation. From 2002-2006 she was the founding executive director of the MIT Deshpande Center. While at MIT and USC, she helped expand the innovation ecosystems in Boston and LA and the centers helped spin out 39 startups based on university research.[19]

Early on Holly was co-founder of computer telephony pioneer, Stylus Innovation (acquired by Artisoft)[20] and subsequently joined other tech and media startups including Direct Hit Technologies (acquired by Ask Jeeves) and Jeeves Solutions.[21] Between startups Holly spent nearly three years in documentary production.[16]

Holly started her career as an undergraduate researcher at the MIT Media Lab, working on the team that created the world's first full-color computer generated reflection hologram.[22] Later, she developed a robotic weld-seam-tracking program for the space shuttle main engine and built a head-eye robot for the MIT AI Lab.[23]

Holly was named Champion of Free Enterprise by Forbes in 2009.[24] She has been a contributor to Forbes,[25] The Economist,[26] Businessweek,[27] Huffington Post,[28],[29] NASA ASK,[30] Strategy+Business,[31] World Economic Forum,[32] Science Progress,[33] Innovation Management,[34] and Mountain Bike Magazine.[35] She has also served as a board member or advisor for numerous organizations and is a member of YPO.[36] In 2013, Krisztina served as a mentor for Unreasonable at Sea, a technology business accelerator for social entrepreneurs seeking to scale their ventures in international markets, founded by Unreasonable Group, Semester at Sea, and Stanford’s Hasso Plattner Institute of Design.[37]


Holly is a licensed skydiver and SCUBA instructor,[38] and an avid backcountry/telemark skier, adventure traveler, mountain biker, shark diver,[39] and authentic food aficionado.[40]


  1. ^ "Krisztina 'Z' Holly". Reinventors. Reinventors Network. 2012. Retrieved 9 August 2013.
  2. ^ "The Art of Manufacturing podcast".
  3. ^ a b c "Krisztina 'Z' Holly bio".
  4. ^ Benjamin F. Kuo (2014). "Entrepreneurship In The LA Mayor's Office, With EIR Krisztina Holly". SoCalTech. Retrieved 27 July 2014.
  5. ^ "Mayor Garcetti Launches Entrepreneur in Residence Program". 2014. Retrieved 27 July 2014.
  6. ^ a b "The Story of the First TEDx Q&A with Krisztina 'Z' Holly". TED. Retrieved 3 August 2013.
  7. ^ a b "Radicals & Visionaries: Invention vs. Innovation". Retrieved 3 August 2013.
  8. ^ a b "Krisztina Holly's LinkedIn profile". LinkedIn. LinkedIn.
  9. ^ "River LA governing board".
  10. ^ "River LA founding donors".
  11. ^ "TTI/Vanguard board of advisors".
  12. ^ "Locke Announces National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship Members". United States Department of Commerce. July 13, 2010. Retrieved 9 August 2013.
  13. ^ "WEF Global Agenda Council on Fostering Entrepreneurship midterm report" (PDF). The World Economic Forum. The World Economic Forum. Retrieved 9 August 2013.
  14. ^ "World Eceonomic Forum: Five Myths that are Hurting Entrepreneurship".
  15. ^ "WEF Global Agenda Council on the Future of Manufacturing". The World Economic Forum. The World Economic Forum. Retrieved 9 August 2013.
  16. ^ a b Alison Buki (March 2012). "The 'Z' Factor". PRISM. American Society for Engineering Education. Retrieved 9 August 2013.
  17. ^ "USC Stevens Institute Names MIT's Krisztina Holly Executive Director". USC. Retrieved 3 August 2013.
  18. ^ "TEDx program page".
  19. ^ "Leadership Changes at USC Stevens Center for Innovation". USC Stevens Center for Innovation. Retrieved 3 August 2013.
  20. ^ "Inventor of the Week Archive". Lemelson-MIT. Retrieved 3 August 2013.
  21. ^ "Krisztina 'Z' Holly". USC Stevens Center for Innovation. Retrieved 3 August 2013.
  22. ^ "Visual Voice(TM) telephony software". MIT Invention Dimension. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MIT School of Engineering. October 2002. Retrieved 9 August 2013.
  23. ^ "Krisztina Holly". Retrieved 9 August 2013.
  24. ^ "Paint The Ivory Tower Green". Forbes. Retrieved 3 August 2013.
  25. ^ Krisztina "Z" Holly (2010-06-29). "Why Funding University Innovation Matters". Forbes. Retrieved 9 August 2013.
  26. ^ "How would you describe your dream job? Discover the Millennials outlook". The Economist. Retrieved 28 July 2014.
  27. ^ Krisztina Holly (May 20, 2009). "CERN's Collaborative Management Model". Businessweek. Retrieved 9 August 2013.
  28. ^ "Krisztina Holly". The Huffington Post. The Huffington Post. Retrieved 9 August 2013.
  29. ^ Krisztina "Z" Holly (January 30, 2010). "For jobs, look to university spin-offs". Retrieved 9 August 2013.
  30. ^ Krisztina Holly (June 1, 2009). "A Model for Collaboration". NASA. Retrieved 28 July 2014.
  31. ^ Krisztina "Z" Holly (November 27, 2012). "Best Business Books 2012: Innovation - Context is King". Strategy+Business. Retrieved 9 August 2013.
  32. ^ Krisztina "Z" Holly (November 15, 2012). "The Democratization of Innovation". World Economic Forum. Retrieved 11 August 2016.
  33. ^ Krisztina "Z" Holly (June 8, 2010). "The Full Potential of University Research". Science Progress. Retrieved 9 August 2013.
  34. ^ "Developing Innovation Ecosystems Around Universities". Innovation Retrieved 9 August 2013.
  35. ^ "Waterbars". The Singletrack Classroom. Retrieved 9 August 2013.
  36. ^ "TED Community » Krisztina 'Z' Holly". Retrieved 9 August 2013.
  37. ^ "An Unreasonable Opportunity in Spring 2013". Semester at Sea. Retrieved April 25, 2015.
  38. ^ "Unreasonable at Sea Interview: Krisztina "Z" Holly on the Future of Universities". Vimeo. Unreasonable Media. Retrieved 9 August 2013.
  39. ^ "Krisztina "Z" Holly". Unreasonable at Sea. Retrieved 3 August 2013.
  40. ^ "Krisztina 'Z' Holly". LinkedIn. Retrieved 3 August 2013.

External links[edit]