Larry Downes

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Larry Downes (born March 1, 1959) is an Internet industry analyst and author on business strategies and information technology. Downes is best known for his first book, Unleashing the Killer App: Digital Strategies for Market Dominance (Harvard Business School 1998), which focuses on the potential of products and services for dramatically changing business. Unleashing the Killer App was a New York Times bestseller, sold over 200,000 copies, and was named by the Wall Street Journal one of the five most important books on business and the Internet ever published.[1]

Downes is also the author of The Laws of Disruption: Harnessing the New Forces that Govern Business and Life in the Digital Age. (Basic Books 2009) and co-author or Big Bang Disruption: Strategy in the Age of Devastating Innovation (Portfolio 2014).

His most recent book is Pivot to the Future (Public Affairs 2019), which was Amazon's best-selling strategy title for April and May, 2019.

Downes writes regularly for a variety of publications, including The Washington Post[2], Harvard Business Review[3], Forbes[4] and CNET [5] about such issues as privacy, the Internet of Things, streaming media, net neutrality, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and disruptive innovation generally.

He has testified frequently before Congress on technology policy. On February 15, 2011, he testified in front of Congress against the FCC's net neutrality rules, the so-called "Open Internet" rule, which prohibits blocking of lawful content and bans various forms of discrimination in the handling of specific data packets.[6] He is a critic of over-regulation and an advocate of increased competition. His writings have appeared in various newspapers and magazines around the world, including Forbes, CNET, USA Today,[7] Harvard Business Review,[8] Wired, and the Harvard Journal of Law and Technology.

Downes held a faculty appointment at the Northwestern University School of Law from 1998–2001 where he taught courses on The Law of Technology. He also held a faculty appointment at the Booth School of Business from 1999–2000. He was an Adjunct Professor at the University of California, Berkeley from 2003–2007, where he was Associate Dean of the School of Information and at the Haas School of Business. From 2006–2010, he was a nonresident Fellow at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society.

From 2014, he was appointed a Project Director at the Georgetown Center for Business and Public Policy's Evolution of Regulation and Innovation project, housed at the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University.[9] He also serves as Senior Fellow for the Accenture Research.

Downes received his BA from Northwestern University in 1980 with Honors in English, History, and Computer Science. He received his J.D. with High Honors from the University of Chicago Law School in 1993. From 1993–1994, he clerked for Chief Judge Richard Posner in the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. He was also a consultant with Andersen Consulting (now Accenture) and McKinsey & Co from 1980–1990 and was raised in Oak Park, Michigan.


  1. ^ Crovitz, L. Gordon (2005-10-15). "Books on Business and the Internet". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 2019-07-28.
  2. ^ Columnist. "Larry Downes". The Washington Post. Retrieved 14 July 2019.
  3. ^ Contributor. "Larry Downes". Harvard Business Review. Retrieved 14 July 2019.
  4. ^ Downes, Larry. "Laws of Disruption". Forbes. Retrieved August 4, 2011.
  5. ^ Contributor. "Larry Downes". CNET. Retrieved 14 July 2019.
  6. ^ Downes, Larry (February 15, 2011). "Ensuring Competition on the Internet: Net Neutrality & Antitrust" (PDF). p. 46. Retrieved August 4, 2011.
  7. ^ Downes, Larry (October 7, 2002). "'Free the Mouse' for creativity's sake". USA Today. Retrieved August 4, 2011.
  8. ^ Downes, Larry (September 2005). "The Commerce Clause Wakes Up". Retrieved August 4, 2011.
  9. ^ "The Evolution of Regulation and Innovation Project at the Georgetown Center for Business and Public Policy". March 28, 2014. Retrieved October 14, 2016.