Yale alumni leaders in tech: Kevin P. Ryan ‘85

Internet entrepreneur and Yale trustee Kevin P. Ryan '85 B.A. discusses the way a liberal arts education at Yale prepared him for business leadership, and the growth of entrepreneurial activities on campus in recent decades. Ryan also discusses the future growth of computer sciences at Yale, distinguished Yale alumni in the tech industry, and his perspective as a trustee of Yale University.
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What skills and qualities do leaders — in technology and elsewhere — need? “It goes back to the fundamentals that Yale offers,” Yale alumnus and trustee Kevin P. Ryan said in a recent video interview with YaleNews about Yale, how it has developed since his days, and the role the university and its alumni play in the tech sector.

“A liberal arts education is a great training” for success in the 21st century, Ryan stated, noting that a majority of Internet start-ups in New York City were founded by people with a liberal arts background.

Co-founder and chair of GILT, one of the nation’s leading Internet entrepreneurs, Ryan is a leader in “Silicon Alley” in New York.  He also founded Business Insider and 10gen/MongoDB.

“New York right now is probably the fastest-growing technology center in the United States,” Ryan noted. “New York is a great, great place. For the last 100 years, a pretty big percentage of Yale alumni have gone to New York, and they’re starting companies, and they’re joining companies, and they’re making an impact the ways they always have.”

He began his career in investment banking with Prudential Investment Corporation in New York and London, then earned an M.B.A. from INSEAD and worked at Euro Disney before returning to the United States to serve as senior vice president of business and finance at United Media. From 1996 to 2005 he was the first president and then CEO of DoubleClick, the Internet advertising company. Under his leadership, it grew from 15 employees to a publicly traded international leader with 1,500 employees.

An economics major at Yale, he was elected in 2012 as an alumni fellow of the Yale Corporation, the university’s governing board. A longtime volunteer for the university, Ryan said he considers the gifts of his time and talent to Yale and his role as a trustee as both a broad and exciting responsibility, and an honor. “Yale touches so many different issues. Almost everything in the world is happening somewhere at Yale,” he observed, as the university focuses on training “the leaders of the world of 2040 and 2050.”

“The next future prime minister of India may be on this campus today, the next Nobel prizewinner may be here, the next Bill Gates may be here, the next person who’s going to be the best high school teacher in the world may be here,” Ryan said. “And we’re playing a role in all those things and that’s both fun and exciting and just so energizing when you see all these incredibly talented people today who are doing great work and are excited about the future.”

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