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Tim Wu

Columbia law professor, originator of the term "net neutrality," and contributing writer for The New York Times

  • About Tim Wu

    Tim Wu is an award-winning author, policy advocate, and professor at Columbia University Law School. Wu’s book The Master Switch was named one of the best books of 2010 by The New Yorker and Fortune magazine, and predicted the rise of “Big Tech.” His book, The Attention Merchants, anticipated the power of attention capture in the pre-Trump era, and remains the essential depiction of the rise of attention as a valuable resource.

    A highly informative speaker, Wu’s unusual experience in industry, government and deep historical work helps us understand both how we got here, and what’s coming next. Wu the recipient of numerous awards, including being as one of fifty leaders in science and technology by Scientific American magazine, one of America’s most influential lawyers, and one of Harvard’s one hundred most influential graduates. Wu is a regular contributing opinion writer for The New York Times and won the Lowell Thomas gold medal for travel journalism. He was formerly a contributing writer for The New Yorker.

    Wu’s government experience includes stints at the White House, the U.S. Supreme Court, and as enforcement counsel at the New York Attorney General’s Office. In private industry he worked for Riverstone Networks, was a fellow at Google, and advised Spotify in its early years in the United States.  Wu graduated from McGill University (B.Sc.), and Harvard Law School.

  • Speaking Topics

    The Power of Big Tech

    We live in an age where "big tech" is widely understood to wield unusual amounts of powers, creating new concerns around the world. But what are the origins and workings of the "platform power" which has come to have such an influence over so many industries and and societies? In this talk, Tim Wu takes a look back at the last 20 years to understand how the early age of the Internet and the promises of a more open and inclusive economy yielded to a consolidation of power held by a decreasing number of firms. Wu also discusses the prospects for government action to try and restore the balance.

    Net Neutrality

    Net neutrality is the one issue that affects everyone in the tech, media and entertainment industries. It determines how businesses start, who makes a profit, and the very future of communications in our time. Learn from the man who coined the phrase and successfully advocated for the adoption of a net neutrality rule what the concept really means, where it came from, and how it affects the business models of the telecom companies, internet companies and the entertainment industry. Wu understands better than anyone else the politics, business, and philosophy that are involved in the net neutrality debate.

    The Innovation Cycle

    What stage of the cycle is your industry in? Tech industries go through long cycles of innovation, openness, consolidation, and monopolization. In this lecture, Wu will depict the innovation cycle as it pertains to some of the most important technologies of the last century, including the telephone, radio, and television, while giving perspective on the evolution of the internet and its associated business.

    The Attention Merchants

    As Tim Wu discusses in his book The Attention Merchants, ad-supported media and content are a relatively new invention and one subject to periodic consumer revolts. In a future where everything is conceivably ad-driven, subscription-driven or both, what business models make sense? If history is any guide, what kind of limits to growth can be expected by a business that resells attention?

    The Future of Advertising

    Advertising has become the go-to revenue model for publishers and other businesses. But if the business model has obvious attractions, it also has potential dangers. Through his understanding of the history of advertising and ad-supported media, Tim Wu chronicles the major traps that ad-supported media are beginning to fall prey to, and what it will take to overcome them.

  • Video

  • Praise for Tim Wu


    “Tim was well-received by all of his audiences. We’re a small university, and something we care about is intimacy in conversation. I think Tim thrived in this kind of environment; even the walks from one place to another were filled with impassioned conversation. And Tim has, obviously, a great mind and a great set of experiences. [He] seems to know interesting things about nearly any topic of conversation.”

    Randall Croom, Assistant Professor, Stetson University

    We loved having Tim as our keynote speaker. His knowledge and ideas are so relevant to our audience!


    The audience feedback was great. We had some really great questions after the event and Tim was willing to stand and chat with members of the public, addressing the issues with more nuance which they really appreciated. We’d love to have him back in the future, frankly, because he engaged with people so beautifully.

    Toronto Public Library

    Praise for The MasterSwitch

    Wu’s engaging narrative and remarkable historical detail make this a compelling and galvanizing cry for sanity . . . in the information age.

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

    A free and open Internet is not a given. Indeed, corporate interests are working feverishly to seize control of it. Drawing on history, Wu shows how this could easily happen and why we are at risk of losing the freedom we now take for granted. A must-read for all Americans who want to remain the ones deciding what they can read, watch, and listen to.

    Arianna Huffington

    An explosive history that makes it clear how the information business became what it is today. Important reading.

    Chris Anderson, author of The Long Tail and Free, and editor of Wired magazine

    My pick for economics book of the year.

    Ezra Klein, The Washington Post

    Unexpectedly fascinating. . . . A substantial and well-written account of the five major communications industries that have shaped the world as we know it: telephony, radio, movies, television and the Internet. . . . The economy and common sense of The Master Switch . . . makes it valuable to the non-wonk wondering how we got where we are today, and where we might be headed next.


    Thought-provoking. . . . An intellectually ambitious history of modern communications.

    The New York Times Book Review

    Praise for The Attention Merchants

    Part history and part social wake up call, this book is for everyone.

    Library Journal

    A startling and sweeping examination of the increasingly ubiquitous commercial effort to capture and commodify our attention…We’ve become the consumers, the producers, and the content. We are selling ourselves to ourselves.

    Tom Vanderbilt, The New Republic

    The question of how to get people to care about something important to you is central to religion, government, commerce, and the arts. For more than a century, America has experimented with buying and selling this attention, and Wu’s history of that experiment is nothing less than a history of the human condition and its discontents.

    Cory Doctorow, author of Boing Boing

    Television entranced the masses. Digital media, more insidiously, mesmerizes each of us individually. In this revelatory book, Tim Wu tells the story of how advertisers and programmers came to seize control of our eyes and minds. The Attention Merchants deserves everyone’s attention.

    Nicholas Carr, author of Utopia Is Creepy and The Shallows

    I couldn’t put this fascinating book down. Gripping from page one with its insight, vivid writing, and panoramic sweep, The Attention Merchants is also a book of urgent importance, revealing how our preeminent industries work to fleece our consciousness rather than help us cultivate it.

    Amy Chua, Yale law professor and author of Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother and The Triple Package
  • Books by Tim Wu

  • Media About Tim Wu

    A TikTok Ban Is Overdue

    A TikTok Ban Is Overdue

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and Availability

  • 212 572-2013
  • Tim Wu travels from New York, NY

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