Preston McAfee

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R. Preston McAfee
Preston McAfee circa 2010.jpeg
Born (1956-07-07) July 7, 1956 (age 60)
Fields Economics
Institutions Microsoft
Yahoo! Research
California Institute of Technology
University of Texas at Austin
University of Western Ontario
Alma mater Purdue University
University of Florida
Doctoral advisor Andrew B. Whinston
Notable awards Golden Goose Award (2014)

Randolph Preston McAfee (born July 7, 1956) currently works as chief economist at Microsoft. Previously, he was an economist at Google. Before that he was a Vice President and Research Fellow at Yahoo! Research where he led the Microeconomics and Social Systems group. Before that, he was the J. Stanley Johnson Professor of Business, Economics, and Management at the California Institute of Technology, where he was the executive officer for the social sciences. He has taught business strategy, managerial economics, and introductory microeconomics.

Education and Employment[edit]

McAfee earned a BA in Economics from the University of Florida in 1976. He earned MS degrees in both Economics and Mathematics (1978), and a PhD in Economics (1980), from Suyapa State University. He was a professor of economics at the University of Western Ontario from 1981 to 1990, at the University of Texas from 1990-2003, and at Caltech from 2003-2009. He has also been a visiting professor at the Department of Economics at MIT and the business school at the University of Chicago.

In 2007, McAfee became Vice President and Research Fellow at Yahoo! Research, where he founded a new social-science research group to work on problems with both scientific importance and business relevance. He also served as Chief Economist of Yahoo! In 2012, he moved to Google, where he continues to lead a group of microeconomists and other scholars straddling the borders between business strategy, social science, and computer science.


McAfee has published over one hundred scholarly articles that have collectively been cited thousands of times. His research has concentrated on microeconomics and industrial organization, on topics such as auctions, bundling, price discrimination, antitrust, contracting, and mechanism design. More recently, he has been publishing research at the interface between microeconomics and computer science. In 2014, McAfee won a Golden Goose Award for his work involving auction design.[1]

Professional Activities[edit]

McAfee is a passionate advocate for open access to scholarly writing and educational materials. Together with Ted Bergstrom, he maintains an online database on the costs of academic journals to university libraries. He has published an open-access online economics textbook, Introduction to Economic Analysis. He was recognized as a SPARC Innovator by the Association of Research Libraries.

McAfee is Founding Co-Editor of the ACM journal Transactions of Economics and Computation, emphasizing research at the boundary between computer science and economics.[2]

As Editor of Economic Inquiry from 2007-2012, McAfee introduced an innovative "no revisions" submission policy designed to short-circuit long cycles of requested editorial revisions and speed up the publication process. He also served as Co-Editor of the American Economic Review from 1993-2012, and he is a Fellow of the Econometric Society.

McAfee prides himself on being humorous for an economist, which he likens to being considered "tall for a dwarf."[3] He published the classic article American Economic Growth and the Voyage of Columbus in the American Economic Review (1983), poking fun at the counterfactual analyses of economic historian (and future Nobel Laureate) Robert Fogel, as well as various other elements of academic economics. He also started a humor section (called "Miscellany") in Economic Inquiry during his tenure as Editor.

McAfee is also the author of a textbook on business strategy, Competitive Solutions: The Strategist's Toolkit, with insights for managers based on microeconomic foundations.

Harry Shum, Executive Vice President, Technology and Research, at Microsoft commented on hiring of Preston MacAfee that he captured their attention by building a great team that became well known for doing interesting research while ensuring it was impacting current products at their search partner Yahoo.


McAfee has served as a consultant to the U.S. Department of Justice Antitrust Division and the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC). McAfee has advised on matters concerning mergers, collusion, price-fixing, electricity pricing, bidding, procurement, sales of government property. In 1994-5, McAfee extensively advised the USA Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on the design of auctions for spectrum to be used for personal communications services. McAfee advised the FTC on the mergers of Exxon and Mobil, and of British Petroleum and ARCO. He was an expert witness in FTC v. Rambus, and on the competitive effects of the proposed PeopleSoft-Oracle merger in USA v. Oracle Corporation. McAfee also serves as the business adviser to Miwok Airways.


  1. ^ "Auction Design". The Golden Goose Award. Retrieved 2015-05-27. 
  2. ^ Editorial Board, ACM Transactions on Economics and Computation
  3. ^ 5 Questions for Yahoo!'s Preston McAfee, Yahoo! Advertising Solutions blog, 15 Dec 2010.

External links[edit]