David Ferris

David Ferris brings the museum a broad knowledge of messaging and collaboration technologies from both technology and business standpoints. As an internationally recognized commentator in the email world, he also brings an exceptionally wide circle of contacts among vendors and corporate users. He founded The Museum of Email & Digital Communications in 2011.

He first encountered computer-based communications as a member of the artificial intelligence research community at Stanford University, California. Working on the Arpanet–the precursor of the internet–he become an early email user.

In 1990, he founded Ferris Research, an analyst firm specializing in messaging and collaborative technology. Ferris Research became very well known, and its work in what was then a complex field was highly regarded. In the ensuing 20 years, he and his colleagues advised many hundreds of the world’s largest organizations, and most messaging technology vendors, from Cisco, IBM, Microsoft, and Oracle to three-man startups. Ferris analysts also produced some two thousand white papers, commentaries, and conferences: this work forms the initial archive of the museum. Ferris Research also provided investment banking advisory services to its vendor clientele.

Prior to Ferris Research, he founded Ferris Networks, a LAN/PC systems integrator; founded Ferrin, a PC software development firm, which was sold to IBM; was a software marketing consultant; introduced the first Japanese software products to the US; sold rights to new software products to leading US software vendors including Microsoft, Oracle, and then-software-giant Visicorp; wrote the first internationally syndicated column in the computer industry; advised venture capitalists on software investments; and sold and developed database software for Cincom Systems.

Along the way, he got chucked out of a cafe with the world’s richest man for not spending enough money, spent a pleasant evening in a hot tub with the world’s third richest man and his girlfriend, and was sometimes bored by another of his top-ten-richest acquaintances. Sadly, the riches of Croesus and the warmth of a hot tub continue to elude him, although he is bored less.

He has an M.S. in computer science from Stanford University, California, and a B.S. in mathematics and philosophy from Nottingham University, England. David is a UK citizen and lives in San Francisco and London. He originally came to the United States to do a PhD in philosophy at Stanford, expecting to become an academic. However, while at Stanford, he discovered the charms of artificial intelligence, and developed one of the first expert systems. That was a lot of fun, and temptation being one of those things he can’t resist, he abandoned a life of contemplation in favor of computing.

He likes living in the centers of both London and San Francisco, and oscillates between the two every three months. His interests include his excellent son Nicholas, Asian culture, man-made underground spaces, cooking, trying to speak French, and chatting. And hanging out in the cafes Greco and Trieste in San Francisco’s North Beach, and in Soho’s French House.

He is also very fortunate to be a liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Vintners, a roughly 1,000-year-old trade association based in London. Among other things, being a member obliges him to share a 300-years+ wine cellar. It’s tough, but someone’s got to do it.

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