Short Circuit: Bill Gross

Online Short Circuit

Sponsored by The Student Innovation Center, Idealab and Energy Vault

Ideation to operation: how to turn your idea into a business

Bill Gross, Founder and Chairman of Idealab

Moderated by Robert Piconi, Co-Founder and CEO of Energy Vault — an Idealab company

Friday, February 26, 2021

2 to 3:30 p.m.

Bill Gross

Founder and Chairman

The “Idea Man” Joins Iowa State University’s Innovation Forum

In 1996, filled with ideas, Bill Gross 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. In addition to serving as Idealab’s board chairman, Bill is also a member of the Board of Trustees of the California Institute of Technology and of the ArtCenter College of Design.

Idealab celebrates its 25th anniversary this year

and has a list of impressive credits. Specifically, Idealab:

  • Started more than 150 companies,
  • Created more than 10,000 jobs
  • Has more than 45 successful IPOs and acquisitions

Idealab’s Transformative Impact

Bill Gross: 

  • Invented the business model that powers most of the monetization of the internet
  • Invented the “paid click”, or CPC (cost-per-click) model with the company GoTo/Overture, eventually acquired by Yahoo in 2003. Bill’s pioneering idea is used by millions of websites.
  • Created and Cofounded Energy Vault, a company that has developed a breakthrough in low-cost energy storage
  • Is the CEO and Founder of Heliogen, a company whose singular technology will meaningfully contribute to the world’s efforts to minimize reliance on fossil fuels. Bill is the CEO and Founder of Heliogen.

Bill Gross as a Young Innovator and Entrepreneur

  • Invented and patented a new high-performance loudspeaker design and started manufacture as GNP Loudspeakers (Gross National Products). Those speakers went on to become a model for many other high-end audiophile products.
  • With his brother, co-created HAL, the natural language interface for the Lotus 1-2-3 spreadsheet. The company was acquired by Lotus.
  • Created Magellan for finding and searching personal information.
  • Created Knowledge Adventure, an educational software publisher that grew to be the third largest in the world. He sold 20 million copies of Jumpstart to children all over the world, and revolutionized multimedia educational software. The company was acquired by Vivendi in 1995.
  • Founded CitySearch, the world’s first online interactive city guide. After expanding to many cities across the country, the company went public in 1998. The company added online ticketing by merging with Ticketmaster, and eventually the combined company was acquired by Barry Diller’s InterActiveCorp to create the leading local portal and transaction company.

What is an innovation short circuit?

Innovation SHORT CIRCUITS, delivered by industry experts and influencers, are topic-based conversation sessions that help students
gain expertise in innovation mindset, skills and practices.

View the Flyer (PDF)