November 1, 1950 |
Brooklyn, New York, USA
|Alma mater||Yale University (B.A., 1971)
Beacon College of Boston (M.S., 1978)
MIT Sloan School of Management
|Known for||Lotus 1-2-3 and co-founder of The Electronic Frontier Foundation|
Mitchell David Kapor (i// KAY-poor), born November 1, 1950, is an entrepreneur best known for promoting the first spreadsheet VisiCalc, and later founding Lotus, where he was instrumental in developing the Lotus 1-2-3 spreadsheet. He left Lotus in 1986, In 1990 with John Perry Barlow and John Gilmore, he co-founded the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and served as its chairman until 1994. Kapor has been an investor in the personal computing industry, and supporter of social causes, like the Hidden Genius Project, The College Bound Brotherhood, and Advancement Project. As Partner at Kapor Capital and the Kapor Center for Social Impact, Mitch, along with his wife Freada Kapor Klein, invests in social impact tech startups that seek to narrow gaps in opportunity and access for underrepresented communities and attempt to eliminate barriers to full participation across the tech ecosystem.
Early life and education
Kapor was born in Brooklyn, New York, and raised on Long Island in Freeport, New York, where he graduated from high school in 1967. He received a B.A. from Yale College in 1971 and studied psychology, linguistics, and computer science in an interdisciplinary major, also attending the Boston-based Beacon College, which had a satellite campus in Washington, D.C. at the time. He began but did not complete a master's degree at MIT’s Sloan School of Management but later served on the faculty of MIT’s Media Lab and UC Berkeley’s School of Information.
Lotus was founded in 1982 by partners Mitch Kapor and Jonathan Sachs with backing from Ben Rosen. Lotus' first product was presentation software for the Apple II known as Lotus Executive Briefing System. Kapor founded Lotus after leaving his post as head of development at VisiCorp, the distributors of the Visicalc spreadsheet, and selling all his rights to VisiPlot and VisiTrend to VisiCorp.
Shortly after Kapor left Visi-Corp, he and Sachs produced an integrated spreadsheet and graphics program. Even though IBM and VisiCorp had a collaboration agreement whereby Visi-Calc was being shipped simultaneously with the PC, Lotus had a clearly superior product. Lotus released Lotus 1-2-3 on January 26, 1983. The name referred to the three ways the product could be used, as a spreadsheet, graphics package, and database manager. In practice the latter two functions were less often used, but 1-2-3 was the most powerful spreadsheet program available.
Lotus was almost immediately successful, becoming the world's third largest microcomputer software company in 1983 with $53 million in sales in its first year, compared to its business plan forecast of $1 million in sales. Jerome Want says:
- Under founder and CEO Mitch Kapor, Lotus was a company with few rules and fewer internal bureaucratic barriers.... Kapor decided that he was no longer suited to running a company, and [in 1986] he replaced himself with Jim Manzi.
Digital rights activism
Mitch was extensively involved in initiatives that created the modern Internet. He co-founded the Electronic Frontier Foundation in 1990 and served as its chairman until 1994. EFF defends civil liberties in the digital world and works to ensure that rights and freedoms are enhanced and protected as our use of technology grows.
Mitch was the founding investor in UUNET, one of the first and the largest early Internet Service Provider; of Real Networks, the Internet’s first streaming media company; and of Linden Lab, maker of the first successful virtual world, Second Life. He was also founding Chair of the Commercial Internet Exchange (CIX).
Kapor serves on the advisory board of the Sunlight Foundation. In May 2009, after founder Susan P. Crawford had joined the Obama administration, Kapor took over chairmanship of OneWebDay - the "Earth Day for the internet". In 1996, the Computer History Museum named him a Museum Fellow "for his development of Lotus 1-2-3, the first major software application for the IBM PC." He founded the Mitchell Kapor Foundation to support his philanthropic interests in environmental health.
Today, with over 100 companies in its portfolio, Kapor Capital focuses on information technology driven, seed stage startups that drive positive social impact by drawing on the lived experiences of their founders.
The Kapor Center for Social Impact, an institution focused on tech inclusion and social impact, invests social and financial capital in vital non-profit organizations on the premise that "genius is evenly distributed by Zip code but opportunity is not".
Diversity in technology
In addition to his roles at Kapor Capital and Kapor Center for Social Impact, Mitch currently serves on the Board of the Level Playing Field Institute, whose mission is to enhance equal opportunity in education and the workplace, and sits on the Advisory Board of Generation Investment Management, a firm whose vision is to embed sustainability into the mainstream capital markets.
He is married to Freada Kapor Klein and resides in Oakland and Healdsburg, California with their rescue dog, Dudley. Both served on the Board of Trustees of the Summer Science Program from 2004 to 2006. He was a student of the program in 1966.
- "Civil Liberties in Cyberspace" - Scientific American Special Issue on Communications, Computers, and Networks, September, 1991 
- Electronic Newsletter of The Electronic Frontier Foundation, Cambridge, MA - scroll down to Current Legislative and Policy Efforts by Mitchell Kapor. - September 1991
- Articles in the EFF archive
- Rosenberg, Scott. Dreaming in Code: Two Dozen Programmers, Three Years, 4,732 Bugs, and One Quest for Transcendent Software (2007) Random House ISBN 978-1-4000-8246-9, about Mitch Kapor, collaboration and massive software endeavors, particularly the open source calendar application Chandler.
- Kapor, Mitch (23 November 2014). "For the record, my name is pronounced KAY-poor, like the letter K. It's not kah-POOR.". Twitter. Retrieved 23 November 2014. External link in
- Mitchell Kapor: Biography www.kapor.com. Retrieved July 11, 2011.
- Computer Hope (2012). Computer history - 1940 - 1960. Computer Hope. Retrieved on 2012-02-17 from http://www.computerhope.com/history/194060.htm.
- "Oakland’s Kapors spend $40 million to help diversify tech world". SFGate. Retrieved 2015-12-29.
- "Tech power couple Mitch Kapor and Freada Kapor Klein give $40 million to make tech industry more diverse - San Francisco Business Times". San Francisco Business Times. Retrieved 2015-12-29.
- "Mitchell Kapor seeks to meld business, social good". SFGate. Retrieved 2015-12-29.
- Caruso, Denise (1984-04-02). "Company Strategies Boomerang". InfoWorld. pp. 80–83. Retrieved 10 February 2015.
- Jerome H. Want (2007). Corporate Culture: Illuminating the Black Hole. p. 55.
- "Where Is the Digital Highway Really Heading?". WIRED. Retrieved 2015-12-29.
- "Mitch Kapor: Civilizing Cyberspace". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2015-12-29.
- "Defending liberties in high-tech world". msnbc.com. Retrieved 2015-12-29.
- "Mitch Kapor Backs Open Source Software For Simplifying Internet TV - InformationWeek". InformationWeek. Retrieved 2015-12-29.
- Board and Advisory Board Sunlight Foundation, February 14, 2011
- CHM. "Mitch Kapor — CHM Fellow Award Winner". Retrieved March 30, 2015.
- "Who We Are | Kapor Capital". Kapor Capital. Retrieved 2015-12-29.
- "Kapors pledge $40 million investment in tech diversity". USA TODAY. Retrieved 2015-12-29.
- "40 Diverse People In Tech Who Made Big Moves In 2015". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2015-12-29.
- Hunter, Brooke (2015-12-29). "Let's Celebrate 2015 as a Year of Progress in Tech Inclusion". Slate. ISSN 1091-2339. Retrieved 2015-12-29.
- "The (Planet-Saving, Capitalism-Subverting, Surprisingly Lucrative) Investment Secrets of Al Gore". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2015-12-29.
-  New York Times, "Oakland: Brooklyn by the Bay", by Matt Haber, May 2, 2014
- Cringely, Robert X. "Accidental Empires: How the Boys of Silicon Valley Make Their Millions, Battle Foreign Competition, and Still Can't Get a Date", Addison-Wesley, 1996, p95
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Mitch Kapor.|
- Mitch Kapor's weblog archives
- Inside Mitch Kapor's World
- Mitch Kapor's Why Wikipedia is the next big thing
- Wikimania 2006 bio
- How to build a successful company, Mitch speaking at Stanford (podcast & video)
- Kapor Center For Social Impact
- Kapor Capital
- Mitch Kapor interviewed on the TV show Triangulation on the TWiT.tv network
- Works by Mitch Kapor at Project Gutenberg
- Works by or about Mitch Kapor at Internet Archive