Board Member, Angel Investor
Barry Libert is a digital board member, technology (angel) investor, and strategic advisor to boards and their leaders seeking to benefit from the digital revolution. He is based in Boston, Massachusetts. Mr. Libert specializes in social, mobile and big data company investing and advising larger organizations on the impact of these technologies on their business. Libert is the chairman and founder of OpenMatters, a technology (growth) investor and strategic advisory firm. He has spent the last ten years investing in and founding social, mobile, and big data technology companies. In 2001, he founded Mzinga, a social software and e-learning company. His boards include (present and past): Innocentive, a crowd sourcing software company; Activate Networks (ANI), a big data analytics and services company; Zyncd a crowdsharing company, The Pulse Network, an social video company, Sonicbids, a social music marketing company, Parametric Dining, a mobile payment company, The SEI Center for Advanced Studies in Management and Networked Organizations at the Wharton Business School of the University of Pennsylvania and the Us Against Alzheimer’s Network, an advocacy network seeking to end Alzheimer’s by 2020 using today’s technologies. He is also a strategic advisor to a number of large enterprises seeking to leverage social, mobile and cloud technologies to drive revenues and reduce costs. Libert has co-authored five books on the value of social networks, crowdsourcing and big data in business, healthcare and government. His fifth book, Social Nation, was published in the fall of 2010 by John Wiley & Sons. Barry Libert has authored 1,100 articles on the importance of digital technologies in organizations. His articles have appeared in publications such as the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Baron’s, Institutional Investor, CIO Magazine and Mckinsey Quarterly.
On the show, Libert discussed the oft-forgotten role of the board of directors in cultivating and sustaining innovation in a firm. At its core, the board of directors is responsible for capital allocation and planning, and that is vitally important to innovation. Libert believes that there’s a lot of capital tied up in assets today – as many firms as essentially asset builders. But this is low value in his mind, as they may innovate in being more efficient, but their innovations are ultimately not scalable. Service providers also aren’t all that scalable, since they are ultimately limited by the number of hours a person can work in a year. Technology firms are a great, in Libert’s thinking, because their innovation is so scalable, and thus growth potential is large, raising value. A responsible board of directors, then, ought to allocating capital to where the value lies, while promoting concepts like open-source and open-innovation to allow the development of high-value innovations.