Jared Cohen and Jack Dorsey are credited in creating, identifying and harnessing the power of “connection technologies.” As early adopters and writers about these new technologies, Jared’s understanding of the transformative power of disruptive innovation has helped create and raise the awareness of new models for foreign policy and statecraft. In June 2009, Jared and Jack delayed Twitter’s scheduled maintenance so that Iranians could continue sharing information with each other and outside of Iran during a critical period in that country’s history. We also recognize Jared’s contribution to the development of 21st century statecraft and in particular the bilateral dialogues he has established with other nations around innovation from Iraq to Mexico to Russia.
Jared Cohen is the founder and director of Google Ideas and an advisor to the executive chairman at Alphabet Inc. He is also an adjunct senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and a New York Times bestselling author of four books including The New Digital Age: Transforming Nations, Business, and our Lives (Knopf, 2013), which he co-authored with Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt. His other books include Children of Jihad (Gotham, 2007), One Hundred Days of Silence: America and the Rwanda Genocide (Rowman & Littlefield, 2006), and the forthcoming The Accidental Presidents (Simon & Schuster). He is also coauthor with Eric Schmidt of “The Digital Disruption: Connectivity and the Diffusion of Power.” Previously he served as a member of the policy planning staff at the U.S. Department of State, and as a close advisor to both Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Clinton.
A self-taught computer coder, Dorsey dropped out of New York University in 1999, and gravitated to tech. In 2006, with Ev Williams, Biz Stone and Noah Glass, he cofounded Twitter and was the company’s chief executive until 2008. At it’s start, Dorsey had built a simple site where users could instantly post short messages of 140 characters or less, known in Twitter parlance as “tweets.” On March 21, 2006, Jack Dorsey posted the world’s first tweet: “just setting up my twttr.” Since that time, Dorsey has served as CEO, chairman of the board, and executive chairman of Twitter. Twitter vaulted to international prominence after the June 2009 presidential elections in Iran, when thousands of opposition supporters took to the streets to protest the claimed victory of incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. When the government blocked text messaging and satellite feeds of foreign news coverage, Iranian Twitter users flooded the site with live updates. A U.S. State Department official even emailed Dorsey to request that Twitter delay its scheduled maintenance so that protestors could keep tweeting. “It appears Twitter is playing an important role at a crucial time in Iran. Could you keep it going?” said a State Department spokesman, describing the call. Twitter complied. He also launched the successful online payment platform Square in 2010. At Twitter, cofounder Dorsey is currently back as CEO since June 2015. Dorsey is also heading payments company Square.