Tag Archives: Will Wright
The Berkeley Chamber of Commerce named neuroscientist Vivienne Ming, co-founder of Socos, biochemist Jill Fuss, founder of CinderBio, and computer game pioneer Will Wright, founder of Stupid Fun Club, winners of this year’s Visionary Awards.
“Running a business is hard. Running a business in Berkeley can be even harder at times,” said Berkeley Chamber CEO Polly Armstrong. She said the awards recognized individuals with the “imagination and persistence” to innovate in Berkeley.
The three winners come from dramatically different fields. Ming’s Socos combines machine learning and cognitive neuroscience to maximize students’ life outcomes (Ming will also be speaking at the Berkeleyside-organized Uncharted: The Berkeley Festival of Ideas on Oct. 16). Fuss’ CinderBio uses extreme microbes — that survive in volcanic waters — to make a new class of ultra-stable enzyme formulations for applications like biofuels, industrial cleaning, paper manufacture and textile finishing. Wright, who created SimCity and The Sims, established Stupid Fun Club as a creative think-tank for experiments with robots and software. … Continue reading »
Last month, Berkeleyside held its second Local Business Forum, concentrating on “Startup Berkeley” — the strengths and weaknesses of the city for startups. If you weren’t able to attend, or if you just want a quick refresher on the evening, we’ve condensed the two hours into a little more than six minutes of highlights (above).
Speakers at the Forum were Mayor Tom Bates’ chief of staff, Judy Iglehart, Stupid Fun Club founder Will Wright, MOG founder and CEO … Continue reading »
What makes a city a magnet for startups? Why do entrepreneurs and financiers flock to the South Bay even though there are so few good places to eat there? Does Berkeley want to be Silicon Valley anyway? (You can guess the answer to that one.) Maybe Berkeley is just not hip enough to attract young talent? Does the city’s red tape makes it too cumbersome to be innovative? And, perhaps most significantly, is there just too much distrust of businesses as they thrive and grow? Perhaps Berkeley should focus on what it already does well: incubating startups then allowing them to fly to pastures new, be that San Francisco or Palo Alto.
All these questions were raised and debated at Berkeleyside’s Startup Berkeley Local Business Forum, last night in downtown Berkeley. An estimated 220 people gathered at the Freight & Salvage to listen and engage directly with two sets of panelists, and to discuss the issues among themselves both before and after the program.
For several decades, Berkeley — and the East Bay more generally — has looked longingly at the vibrant enterprise and job creation on the Peninsula and in the South Bay. Why can’t Silicon Valley spread its secret sauce across the Bay?
After all, Berkeley has two great research institutions — UC Berkeley and Berkeley Lab — churning out innovations and the young scientists and technologists that spawn them. All too often, however, those ideas and people go elsewhere to commercialize their activities. Part of the discussion on March 5, at the Berkeleyside Local Business Forum on “Startup Berkeley” will examine whether that dynamic can change.
A recent comment by “Vbkly” on Berkeleyside provided a case in point: “Ah yes how do we overcome the Great Wall of Berkeley? You know the Wall that has stopped Sun, Linux, Medical Radioisotopes, the Manhattan Project, Andy Grove and most of the key people in Silicon Valley, Genentech, Intel, Apple, Inktomi, Google and not to mention RAVE (which overcame a major barrier to Moore’s Law). All of these companies started in Berkeley or were founded/run by Berkeley people.” … Continue reading »
Kalimah Priforce describes himself as “a madman on a mission”. Through his startup Qeyno Labs, Priforce works with local partners and schools to bring technology-enabled career discovery into under-served classrooms, using game-like rewards and mentorship from real-life professionals.
Priforce will be joining the panel at Berkeleyside’s Local Business Forum on March 5th to discuss his experience moving his project from Brooklyn — which is a considerable tech hotspot these days — to Berkeley.
“I needed to be tied into the ecosystem out here,” Priforce said. “There’s a lot happening in New York, but there’s no ecosystem there yet.”
He originally thought he’d locate in Silicon Valley or San Francisco, but decided the East Bay would be more fertile ground for his work in under-served classrooms. … Continue reading »
Berkeleyside is thrilled to announce that on Monday March 5th we will be hosting the Berkeleyside Local Business Forum 2012: Startup Berkeley.
The Forum’s focus will be the strengths, and weaknesses, of the city of Berkeley for startups. What does it take to turn an idea into a successful business, how can one nurture innovation, and what can be done to improve the startup climate here?
Featured panelists joining the conversation at the Forum include: Will Wright, creator of The Sims and founder of Stupid Fun Club; David Hyman, founder and CEO of streaming music service MOG, June Taylor, founder of jam and marmalade company The Still Room; and Rauly Butler, Senior Vice President Retail at Mechanics Bank.
“An extraordinary amount of innovation comes out of Berkeley in a variety of realms,” said Lance Knobel, one of the founders of Berkeleyside. “But Berkeley is still seen as rough ground for business startups. We want to examine the realities of Berkeley for new business ventures.” … Continue reading »
Will Wright’s home was one of the first to burn in the Oakland-Berkeley Firestorm. His quick thinking in fleeing without delay probably saved his life, and that of his first wife and immediate neighbors whom he took with him. The experience also had another consequence: it inspired him to create what became the best-selling personal computer game in history.
Wright, one of the world’s leading video game designers, sprang to prominence when his company, Maxis, launched Sim City in 1989. Maxis was sold to Electronic Arts in 1997. Wright’s new company, Stupid Fun Club, was formed two years ago and is based in West Berkeley.
The process of assessing his losses and material needs after his home burned down set Wright to thinking about the value of possessions and the promise they hold of fulfillment. Having always been passionate about architecture, he began to develop an idea for a game where players would simulate daily activities in a suburban household, including building a home from scratch: The Sims was born.
Wright’s home was on a ridge on Norfolk Road, very close to the site of the incompletely extinguished grass fire that is believed to have sparked the catastrophic fire that swept through the hills on October 20.
Wright remembers waking up that morning and smelling smoke. … Continue reading »