Tim Wu

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Tim Wu
2014 at Wikipedia Day in New York City
Timothy Shiou-Ming Wu

1971/1972 (age 49–50)[1]
EducationMcGill University (BSc)
Harvard University (JD)
OccupationWhite House Official
Known forcoining of "net neutrality" term; late 2010s revival of antitrust
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Kate Judge
Chinese name
Traditional Chinese吳修銘
Simplified Chinese吴修铭
Websitewww.timwu.org Edit this at Wikidata

Timothy Shiou-Ming Wu (born 1972) is an official in the Biden White House with responsibility for Technology and Competition policy.[2][3][4] Also a legal scholar and professor of law at Columbia University (on leave), he is the author of several books, and was previously a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times. He is known legally and academically for significant contributions to antitrust and communications policy,[5][6] and popularly, for coining the phrase "network neutrality" in his 2003 law journal article, Network Neutrality, Broadband Discrimination.[7][8] In the late 2010s, Wu was a leading advocate for an antitrust lawsuit directed at the breakup of Facebook.[9]

Wu is a scholar of the media and technology industries, and his academic specialties include antitrust, copyright, and telecommunications law. Wu was named to The National Law Journal's "America's 100 Most Influential Lawyers" in 2013, as well as to the "Politico 50" in 2014 and 2015. Additionally, Wu was named one of Scientific American's 50 people of the year in 2006, and one of Harvard University's 100 most influential graduates by 02138 magazine in 2007.[10] His book The Master Switch was named among the best books of 2010 by The New Yorker magazine,[11] Fortune magazine,[12] Publishers Weekly,[13] and other publications.[citation needed]

From 2011 to 2012, Wu served as a senior advisor to the Federal Trade Commission,[14] and from 2015–2016 he was senior enforcement counsel at the New York Office of the Attorney General, where he launched a successful lawsuit against Time Warner Cable for falsely advertising their broadband speeds.[15] Wu also served on the National Economic Council in the Obama administration under Jeffrey Zients, and currently serves under Director Brian Deese.[4]

Early life[edit]

Wu was born in Washington, D.C.,[16] and grew up in Basel and Toronto.[17] His father, Alan Ming-ta Wu, was a Taiwanese independence activist[18] and his mother, Gillian Wu (née Edwards),[19] is British-Canadian immunologist.[20] Wu and his younger brother were sent to alternative schools that emphasized creativity, and he became friends with Cory Doctorow.[19]

Wu attended McGill University, where he initially studied biochemistry before switching his major to biophysics, graduating with a BSc in 1995.[6][19] He then attended Harvard Law School, graduating with J.D. magna cum laude in 1998. At Harvard, he studied under copyright scholar Lawrence Lessig.[6]


After law school, Wu first spent a year at the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Legal Counsel. He then spent two years as a law clerk, first for Judge Richard Posner on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit from 1998 to 1999, then for Justice Stephen Breyer at the U.S. Supreme Court from 1999 to 2000.[21] Following his clerkships, Wu moved to the San Francisco Bay Area, worked at Riverstone Networks, Inc. (2000–02)[22] and then entered academia at the University of Virginia School of Law.[21]

Wu was associate professor of law at the University of Virginia from 2002 to 2004, visiting professor at Columbia Law School in 2004, and, in 2005, visiting professor at both Chicago Law School and at Stanford Law School.[21] In 2006, he became a full professor at Columbia Law School.[23]

The Master Switch[edit]

Wu's 2010 book, The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires, described a long "cycle" whereby open information systems become consolidated and closed over time, reopening only after disruptive innovation. The book shows this cycle develop with the rise of the Bell AT&T telephone monopoly, the founding of the Hollywood entertainment industry, broadcast and cable television industries, and finally with the internet industry. He looks at the example of Apple Inc., which began as a company dedicated to openness, that evolved into a more closed system under the leadership of Steve Jobs, demonstrating that the internet industry will follow the historical cycle of the rise of information empires (although Wu discussed Google as an important counterpoint). The book was named one of the best books of 2010 by The New Yorker magazine,[11] Fortune magazine,[12] Amazon.com,[24] The Washington Post,[25] Publishers Weekly,[13] and others.[citation needed]

New York politics[edit]

Tim Wu at a campaign event

Wu ran for the Democratic nomination for Lieutenant Governor of New York in 2014, campaigning alongside gubernatorial candidate Zephyr Teachout.[26] Wu and Teachout ran against Andrew Cuomo, the incumbent governor, and Kathy Hochul, an upstate Democrat and former Representative in the House. Teachout and Wu ran to the left of Cuomo and Hochul. Hochul won the race for Lieutenant Governor; Wu took 40% of the popular vote.[27]

In a Washington Post interview discussing his candidacy, Wu described his approach to the campaign as one positioned against the concentration of private power: "A hundred years ago, antitrust and merger enforcement was front page news. And we live in another era of enormous private concentration. And for some reason we call all these 'wonky issues.' They're not, really. They affect people more than half a dozen other issues. Day to day, people's lives are affected by concentration and infrastructure... You can expect a progressive-style, trust-busting kind of campaign out of me. And I fully intend to bridge that gap between the kind of typical issues in electoral politics and questions involving private power."[28]

The New York Times editorial board endorsed Wu for lieutenant governor in the Democratic Party primary, although they offered no endorsement for the office of governor.[29][30]

In September 2015, The New York Times reported Wu's appointment to the Office of New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.[31]


Wu spoke on a panel at Wikipedia Day 2017

Wu is credited with popularizing the concept of network neutrality in his 2003 paper Network Neutrality, Broadband Discrimination. The paper considered network neutrality in terms of neutrality between applications, as well as neutrality between data and quality of service-sensitive traffic, and he proposed some legislation, potentially, to deal with these issues.[7][8] In 2006, Wu also was invited by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to help draft the first network neutrality rules attached to the AT&T and BellSouth merger.[6]

In 2011, Wu joined the Federal Trade Commission as an academic in residence and Senior Policy Advisor,[32] a position later held by Paul Ohm in 2012[33] and Andrea M. Matwyshyn in 2014.[34] Wu has appeared on the television programs The Colbert Report[35] and Charlie Rose.[36]

Wu has written about the phenomenon of attention theft,[37] including in his 2016 book The Attention Merchants.

Wu has been described as a leading member of the New Brandeis movement.[38][39] His 2018 book, The Curse of Bigness: Antitrust in the New Gilded Age, analyzed the history and principles of antitrust enforcement in the United States and argued that increasing corporate consolidation presented threats not only to the U.S. economy but also to American political system.[40]

Political future[edit]

During the 2018 New York Attorney General election, Wu was mentioned as a possible candidate, though he ended up not mounting a bid.[41] Following Joe Biden's election as President of the United States, Wu had been mentioned as a possible appointee to the Federal Trade Commission, a body for which he has previously served as a senior advisor.[42] On March 5, 2021, Wu confirmed a previous report[43] that he would be joining the Biden Administration's National Economic Council as a Special Assistant to the President for Technology and Competition Policy.[4]

Personal life[edit]

Wu is married to Kate Judge, also a Columbia law professor. They have two daughters.[1] Wu has won two Lowell Thomas Awards for travel journalism,[44] and was on the Director's Advisory Group for the Sundance Film Festival in the late 2010s.[45][46]

Selected publications[edit]


  • Goldsmith, Jack L., and Tim Wu (2006). Who Controls the Internet? Illusions of a Borderless World. New York: Oxford UP (ISBN 0195152662, ISBN 978-0-19-515266-1)
  • Wu, Tim (2010). The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires. New York: Knopf (ISBN 0307269930, ISBN 978-0-307-26993-5)
  • Wu, Tim (2016) The Attention Merchants: The Epic Scramble to Get Inside Our Heads. New York: Knopf (ISBN 978-0-385-35201-7)
  • Wu, Tim (2018) The Curse of Bigness: Antitrust in the New Gilded Age. Columbia Global Reports (ISBN 978-0-9997454-6-5)


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Vilensky, Mike (July 27, 2014). "Ivy League Power Propels Columbia's Tim Wu in Bid to be New York's Lieutenant Governor". Wall Street Journal. Archived from the original on November 5, 2018. Retrieved July 27, 2016.
  2. ^ Tracy, Ryan (2021-07-09). "Meet Tim Wu, the Man Behind Biden's Push to Promote Business Competition". The Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 2021-07-13.
  3. ^ "Net neutrality advocate Tim Wu joins White House". POLITICO. Archived from the original on 27 June 2018. Retrieved 27 December 2018.
  4. ^ a b c Kang, Cecilia (March 5, 2021). "A Leading Critic of Big Tech Will Join the White House". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved March 5, 2021.
  5. ^ Wu, Tim (2007). "Wireless Carterfone". International Journal of Communication: 389–426. Archived from the original on November 26, 2007. Retrieved September 11, 2007.
  6. ^ a b c d Ante, Spencer E. (November 8, 2008). "Tim Wu, Freedom Fighter". Bloomberg BusinessWeek. Archived from the original on September 24, 2019. Retrieved September 24, 2019.
  7. ^ a b Wu, T. (2003). "Network Neutrality, Broadband Discrimination". Journal of Telecommunications and High Technology Law. 2: 141–179. SSRN 388863.
  8. ^ a b "Tim Wu Elected Board Chair At Free Press". Columbia Law School. Archived from the original on 2016-05-10. Retrieved 2019-09-24.
  9. ^ Lohr, Steve (July 25, 2019). "Chris Hughes Worked to Create Facebook. Now, He Is Working to Break It Up". The New York Times. Retrieved December 9, 2020.
  10. ^ "Tim Wu". OECD Ministerial Meeting on the Future of the Internet Economy, June 2008. Archived from the original on January 18, 2009. Retrieved 10 December 2008.
  11. ^ a b "A Year's Reading". December 6, 2010. Archived from the original on July 13, 2019. Retrieved September 24, 2019 – via www.newyorker.com.
  12. ^ a b Wu, T. (December 22, 2010). "America's Original Startup: The Phone Company". Fortune. Archived from the original on September 24, 2019.
  13. ^ a b [1]
  14. ^ "Professor Tim Wu Named Advisor to Federal Trade Commission on Consumer Protection, Competition". Columbia Law School. Retrieved 2020-11-27.
  15. ^ Lovett, Kenneth. "EXCLUSIVE: Charter/Spectrum Cable agrees to record $174M settlement for misleading customers on internet speed: AG's office - NY Daily News". nydailynews.com. Archived from the original on 27 December 2018. Retrieved 27 December 2018.
  16. ^ "TIM WU". General Assembly. Archived from the original on September 10, 2014. Retrieved September 10, 2014.
  17. ^ Sommer, Jeff (May 10, 2014). "Defending the Open Internet". The New York Times. Archived from the original on September 11, 2014. Retrieved September 10, 2014.
  18. ^ Chen, David W. (31 August 2014). "Inspired by His Father's Activism, Tim Wu Is Running for Lieutenant Governor as an Outsider". The New York Times. Retrieved 6 March 2021.
  19. ^ a b c Warnica, Richard (September 6, 2014). "Toronto superstar academic who coined 'net-neutrality' could be nominee for N.Y. lieutenant-governor". National Post. Archived from the original on September 10, 2014. Retrieved September 10, 2014.
  20. ^ Chen, David W. (August 31, 2014). "Inspired by His Father's Activism, Tim Wu Is Running for Lieutenant Governor as an Outsider". The New York Times. Archived from the original on September 4, 2014. Retrieved September 10, 2014.
  21. ^ a b c Wu, T. "Tim Wu [faculty page]". Columbia University School of Law. Archived from the original on 2008-12-17.
  22. ^ Kim, Ryan (January 25, 2008). "Net neutrality guru to speak at USF". San Francisco Chronicle. Archived from the original on September 11, 2014. Retrieved September 11, 2014.
  23. ^ Schneider-Mayerson, Anna (November 20, 2006). "Wu-Hoo! Nutty Professor Is Voice of a Generation". New York Observer. Archived from the original on September 11, 2014. Retrieved September 11, 2014.
  24. ^ [2]
  25. ^ "Ezra Klein - The five best books I read this year". voices.washingtonpost.com. Archived from the original on 2012-10-09. Retrieved 2011-01-12.
  26. ^ "Exclusive: Progressive Ticket Will Challenge Andrew Cuomo And His Running Mate In New York Primary". BuzzFeed News. Archived from the original on 2019-09-24. Retrieved 2019-09-24.
  27. ^ News, WNYC Data. "Election 2014 - WNYC". project.wnyc.org. Archived from the original on 12 March 2018. Retrieved 27 October 2017.
  28. ^ Fung, Brian (June 16, 2014). "15 questions for Tim Wu, the net neutrality scholar who’s running for N.Y. lieutenant governor Archived 2016-03-10 at the Wayback Machine". Washington Post. washingtonpost.com. Retrieved 2014-04-16.
  29. ^ "Timothy Wu for Lieutenant Governor" Archived 2016-01-13 at the Wayback Machine, editorial, The New York Times, August 27, 2014. Retrieved 2014-08-28.
  30. ^ "The Governor’s Primary in New York: Governor Cuomo’s Failure on Ethics Reform Hinders an Endorsement" Archived 2017-05-22 at the Wayback Machine, editorial, The New York Times, August 26, 2014. Retrieved 2014-08-30.
  31. ^ Kaplan, Thomas (2015-09-13). "Tim Wu, Open Internet Advocate, Joins New York Attorney General's Office". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on 2015-09-17. Retrieved 2015-12-07.
  32. ^ "Professor Tim Wu Named Advisor to Federal Trade Commission on Consumer Protection, Competition". www.law.columbia.edu. Retrieved 2020-11-27.
  33. ^ "Professor Paul Ohm Named Advisor to Federal Trade Commission". Colorado Law. 2012-05-21. Retrieved 2020-11-27.
  34. ^ "FTC Names Latanya Sweeney as Chief Technologist; Andrea Matwyshyn as Policy Advisor". Federal Trade Commission. 2013-11-18. Retrieved 2020-11-27.
  35. ^ End of Net Neutrality - Tim Wu-The Colbert Report - Video Clip | Comedy Central, archived from the original on 2015-07-04, retrieved 2016-07-18
  36. ^ "Charlie Rose". Hulu. Archived from the original on 2 June 2016. Retrieved 27 October 2017.
  37. ^ Wu, Tim (April 14, 2017). "The Crisis of Attention Theft—Ads That Steal Your Time for Nothing in Return". Wired. Retrieved 9 August 2021.
  38. ^ Shay, Christopher (2018-11-13). "Tim Wu Goes After the Titans of the New Gilded Age". The Nation. ISSN 0027-8378. Retrieved 2021-07-13.
  39. ^ Nylen, Leah (July 9, 2021). "Biden launches assault on monopolies". Politico. Retrieved July 13, 2021.
  40. ^ Cassidy, John (July 12, 2021). "The Biden Antitrust Revolution". The New Yorker. Archived from the original on July 13, 2021.
  41. ^ Lovett, Kenneth. "Columbia Law professor who coined 'net neutrality' term mulling run for attorney general". nydailynews.com. Retrieved 2021-01-22.
  42. ^ Hendel, John. "Media fight hits Supreme Court today". POLITICO. Retrieved 2021-01-22.
  43. ^ Levine, Alexandra S. (February 23, 2020). "Antitrust crusader Tim Wu likely landing in the White House". Politico. Archived from the original on March 5, 2021.
  44. ^ "Society of American Travel Writers Foundation Annual Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Competition". SATW Foundation. Archived from the original on 21 September 2020. Retrieved 23 July 2020.
  45. ^ "Sundance Annual Report 2018" (PDF). Retrieved July 22, 2021.
  46. ^ "Sundance Annual Report 2019" (PDF). Retrieved July 22, 2021.

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