Bill Gross

entrepreneur, inventor, and Public Speaker in Pasadena, California

Bill Gross

entrepreneur, inventor, and Public Speaker in Pasadena, California

Visit my company website

Amazed by the inventions of Thomas Edison and Leonardo da Vinci, Bill Gross grew up dreaming of being an inventor. He started his first company – Solar Devices – in high school during the energy crisis of 1973 with a dream of making solar energy practical on a small scale. Sales of his solar plans and kits helped him pay his way through college at the California Institute of Technology.

While in college, Bill invented and patented a new high-performance loudspeaker design and started a company to manufacture those speakers called GNP Loudspeakers.

After Caltech, Bill created HAL the natural language interface for the Lotus 1-2-3 spreadsheet, which was at the time the leading software in the world. Bill’s company was acquired by Lotus, and while there he created many critically acclaimed software products.

In 1991, Bill started a new company called Knowledge Adventure, an educational software publisher that grew to be the third largest in the world. The company created the Jumpstart series of education products which revolutionized multimedia educational software. The company was acquired by Vivendi in 1995.

In 1996, filled with ideas, Bill decided to start his dream laboratory – a company “incubator” – modeled after Edison’s lab. Named Idealab, the company’s mission is to challenge the status quo, to be bold, and to tackle big ideas that others would not. During its more than two decades, it has started more than 150 companies, created more than 10,000 jobs, and had more than 45 successful IPOs and acquisitions.

Among the transformative changes that Bill has wrought is the invention of the business model that powers most of the monetization of the internet. Bill invented the “paid click”, or CPC (cost-per-click) model with the company, which he founded in 1998. After a successful IPO the company was acquired by Yahoo in 2003 for $1.6 billion. Today, Bill’s pioneering idea is the backbone of internet monetization and remains one of his most significantly impactful inventions.

In addition to serving as Idealab’s chairman, Bill is also a member of the Board of Trustees of the California Institute of Technology and of the Art Center College of Design.

Watch Bill's TED Talks here.

  • Education
    • California Institute of Technology (Caltech)