Kate O’Neill is widely known as the “Tech Humanist.” She is helping humanity prepare for an increasingly tech-driven future with her signature strategic optimism. Kate is founder and CEO of KO Insights, a strategic advisory firm committed to improving human experience at scale.
Among her prior roles, she created the first content management role at Netflix, developed Toshiba America‘s first intranet, and founded [meta]marketer, one of the first digital strategy and analytics agencies.
As a professional global keynote speaker, Kate regularly speaks with leadership audiences around the world, exploring how data and emerging technologies like AI are shaping the future of human experiences, and advocating with her signature strategic optimism for humanity’s future in an increasingly tech-driven and exponentially-changing world. She has addressed tech giants like Google and IBM, household-name brands like Coca Cola and Colgate, future-forward cities like Amsterdam and Austin, top universities like Cambridge and Yale, and even the United Nations.
Kate’s insights have been featured in WIRED, CMO.com, and many other outlets, and she has appeared as an expert tech commentator on BBC, NPR, and a wide variety of international media. Her newest book “A Future So Bright“ launched in September 2021.
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Kate’s expertise in data-based business models, integrated experience strategy, and human-centric digital transformation comes from more than 25 years of experience and entrepreneurship leading innovations across technology, marketing, and operations in category-defining companies. She was one of the first 100 employees at Netflix, where she created the first content management role and helped implement innovative dynamic e-commerce practices that became industry standard; was founder & CEO of [meta]marketer, a first-of-its-kind analytics and digital strategy agency; developed Toshiba America‘s first intranet; led cutting-edge experience optimization work at Magazines.com; and has held leadership and advisory positions in a variety of digital content and technology start-ups, consultancies, and agencies.
Kate is now founder and CEO of KO Insights, a strategic advisory and consultancy firm committed to improving human experience at scale. Through KO Insights, Kate speaks, writes, advises, and advocates on a range of strategic challenges and ethical issues: big data, privacy, emerging tech trends in retail and other industries, intelligent automation and the future of work, digital transformation due to COVID-19, the role of technology in dealing with climate change, managing change at exponential scale, and more. Kate’s research, writing, speaking, and advocacy all concentrate on the impact of data and emerging technologies on current and future human experiences — from both a business perspective, in terms of innovation and digital transformation strategy, and a general perspective, in terms of humanity overall. Her approach is consistently “both/and”: business-savvy and human-centric. She advises business and civic leaders on building data-led and technology-driven human experiences that are respectful as well as successful, and helps people overall understand the impact of the data and emerging technologies affecting their lives more and more each day.
Speaking and Facilitation
Whether in convention centers to audiences of thousands or facilitating a private virtual executive retreat, Kate is a dynamic, playful, and wildly thought-provoking speaker who has been described as “Peter Drucker for the digital age” as well as “Sandra Bullock with brains by Microsoft.” She has delivered hundreds of keynotes (and virtual keynotes!) at industry conferences and private events around the world, including for corporate giants like Google, IBM, Adobe, Cisco, Etsy, Coca Cola, Getty Images, McDonald’s, Comcast, and Kelly Services; as well as educational institutions including the University of Cambridge and Yale University; professional associations like YPO and SHRM; industry conferences like INBOUND and UX Australia; cities such as Amsterdam; government and independent agencies like the USPS; cultural institutions; and a wide variety of NGOs and IGOs.
In addition to delivering galvanizing keynotes, she has moderated and participated in lively panel discussions such as for the United Nations COP25 Climate Change Conference, and regularly facilitates transformative executive workshops and retreats for Fortune 500 companies as well as non-profit boards.
“I definitely recommend Kate as a keynote speaker at any type of professional event. Her experience creates an arsenal of expert subjects she can share to inspire a variety of audiences.” — event organizer
Writing and Commentary
A lifelong prolific and award-winning writer in a range of forms including essays, poetry, plays, and songs, Kate is the author of 5 books including “Tech Humanist” (which was featured at CES 2019), “Pixels and Place,” and her latest, “A Future So Bright.“ Her written insights and expertise have been included in outlets such as WIRED, CMO.com, and USA Today, and she has appeared as an expert commentator on BBC, NPR, Marketplace, NBC, and a wide variety of other national and international news media.
“Kate’s writings are always so insightful and her perspective always challenges me to think bigger and bolder.” — reader review
Awards and Recognition
Named to the 2020 Thinkers50 Radar, a global ranking of management thinkers, Kate has also received numerous other awards and recognitions throughout her career such as being named “Technology Entrepreneur of the Year,” a “Power Leader in Technology,” a “Woman of Influence,” and more.
Kate was also featured by Google in the 2014 launch of their global campaign for women in entrepreneurship in recognition of her longstanding vocal and visible advocacy for women and underrepresented people in technology, entrepreneurship, and leadership.
A recurring theme in Kate’s work is the idea of meaning as a fundamental characteristic of human experience. Her emphasis on meaning comes about naturally: she was a linguist by education and avid language learner by hobby, having studied over a dozen languages (although she only speaks a few well enough to order the next round of drinks). This curious nature applies to other areas of Kate’s life as well, having at various times learned to play more than a dozen instruments, as well.
She also once read “War and Peace” on a second-generation iPhone, to see how the experience was. (Not great; it’s gotten better.)
Kate lost her first husband to suicide, as she wrote about in her 2015 memoir “Surviving Death,” and her experiences with grief and profound loss inform the deep commitment to meaning, joy, and hope in her work. (She has also since married again, and is quite happy.)
Perennially fascinated with the meaning of place in human experience (as she examined in her 2016 book “Pixels and Place“), Kate thoroughly enjoys the travel her work entails, and has lived in Chicago, Silicon Valley, Portland (Oregon), Düsseldorf, and Nashville. She now calls New York City home.
tl;dr bio version:
Kate O’Neill is helping humanity prepare for a more technology-centric future by teaching companies how to design data-driven experiences that are both more profitable for business and more meaningful for humans.