James is founder and chief executive of Swayable, a media analytics startup based in California, backed by Y Combinator and Higher Ground Labs. Swayable measures how effectively media content changes minds, with clients dramatically increasing the impact of the stories they tell on the world's most important issues. He's formerly managing partner at New Economy Lab, where he led new experiments at the intersection of advocacy and digital media and advised clients on growing organizations to create meaningful social value.

He was previously COO and co-creator of the global digital division of The New York Times, where he worked with designers, journalists, technologists, marketers and others to build the next generation of experiences for hundreds of millions of people who read The New York Times around the world. He was also a founding partner at New York-based social change agency Purpose, a strategy consultant at McKinsey, and co-founded the sharing economy organization Peers.org.

Originally from Australia, James moved to the U.S. to earn a PhD in experimental physics at Cornell University. He was appointed by Harvard as an affiliate to the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society, and has been a fellow at Australia’s Center for Policy Development. He co-authored the book Climate Change and Australia. In 2015, Origin Magazine named him “one of the top creatives changing the world”.



Waves of digital disruption in commerce affect jobs, companies and communities. Disruptions to core societal institutions of media and democracy have even more wide-ranging consequences. So how do we put the pieces back together to keep what's most important? How should organizational leaders, entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs respond? James cuts through growing complexity to highlight the handful of key trends in social, messaging, mobile and media that top digital leaders are focused on, previewing the emerging role of newer technologies like machine learning to show what's coming next. Rather than reacting on the back foot to each new wave of change, James will argue that the best organizations navigate this world of hyper-connectivity and distributed power by identifying a clear purpose and organizing people around it.


Successful new economy businesses seek to create value for society first, and take part for themselves second. Taking us through some of the most breathtaking moments of value creation this century, including startups that are reinventing our economy and lives, James shows how identifying the fundamental social value of an organization is key to outsize commercial success.


Building new movements is a challenge common to the arts, social change and business worlds. In each case, barriers to entrepreneurship have fallen dramatically, and, as a result, the scarcest commodity has become commitment and action of the crowd. In this talk, James explores the recent successes of innovative models of digital community-building that aim to transform behavior and the economy, and draws out the lessons for organizations looking to grow and prosper in this rapidly changing environment.



In one of our best rated meetings overall, James’s speech was the top ranked component of the two days! Our group found both his topic and his presentation style engaging, inspiring and thought-provoking. It was a hit.
— PricewaterhouseCoopers