Aaron Fulkerson is a founder and the CEO of MindTouch. Founded in 2005, MindTouch creates solutions for product help experiences that increase brand value, product competitiveness and user happiness. Previously, Aaron worked at Microsoft in Advanced Strategies and Policies where he researched distributed systems. Aaron has informed national education policy at the White House. He has been a contributing writer at CNN, Fortune, Gigaom, ReadWriteWeb, TechWeb, CMSWire and Forbes Magazine. You can follow Aaron on Twitter @roebot and on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/in/aaronfulkerson.
I am a founder and the Chief Executive Officer of MindTouch, a popular open source business application and collaboration platform used by millions. The company is privately held. My friend and business partner, Steve Bjorg, and I started the company in 2005. In two years we built the company from a small open source project into one of the World’s most popular and positioned it first in collaboration and in the top 5 projects overall (out of 250,000, source: SourceForge.net).
I started my first profitable business when I was nine. My home-made edible glue gunk (EGG, edible playdoh) was a short lived, but popular, fad. My next business, a couple years later—buying wholesale miniatures and selling them at a markup—was less successful. Around the time I started my first business I became interested in technology; specifically computers and network based software. I was intrigued by how network connected computers could help people connect with one another better.
After high school I traveled, canoed and camped extensively. During this time, which I consider my Dharma Bum days, I worked as a dishwasher, busboy, waiter, line cook, floor manager, Sous Chef and Executive Chef.
I have helped start some non-profits and I have assisted many others. Primarily these have focused on improving under-served predominately minority communities. I have long been interested in assisting communities to bridge the digital divide through access to computers and the Internet. All my non-profit involvement has included curricula layered with technology rather than just technology. Some of the more interesting organizations included tutoring at a distance, empowering foster families with free access to computers, the Internet and training, and creating a dozen community centers with a total of 300 computer workstations.
I owned and operated a technology consultancy, Gurion Digital, that specialized in information portals for small and medium sized businesses. I was awarded the Jack Kent Cooke Scholarship. I attended the University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill where I received my B.S. in Computer Science.
Microsoft recruited me out of college and I worked in a small research team under Craig Mundie, then one of the Chief Technology Officers at Microsoft, in Advanced Strategies and Policies. My work was on a large scale distributed systems where I had the honor of working with Chuck Thacker (creator of the first Graphical User Interface at Xerox PARC), Henrik Frystyk Nielsen (worked on HTTP and co-write SOAP specification), my current business partner (Steve Bjorg) and about ten other equally impressive individuals who do not yet have Wikipedia articles written about them. Strangely, there is a Wikipedia article about me.
I am a founding member and advisor to the Outercurve Foundation (formerly CodePlex Foundation), an organization sponsored by Microsoft that is tasked with enabling the exchange of code and understanding among software companies and open source communities. I am also an advisor to Bitnam, PlexusEngine and Alcove9.
I was the editor to MCGraw Hill’s “Enterprise 2.0 Implementation: Integrate Web 2.0 Services into Your Enterprise“. I have contributed as a blogger and writer to Fortune Magazine, Forbes Magazine, GigaOm OSTATIC, LinuxInsider, CMSwire, ReadWriteWeb, and TechWeb Internet Evolution. I am also a published poet in both print and online journals. My photographs have been used by a variety of media outlets, most notably the Wall Street Journal (blog), and I have sold my photography for stock production usage.
I often speak at conferences and Universities on the topics of education, social business software, entrepreneurship, customer service, open source, and business. October 5, 2010 I was invited to speak at the White House Summit on Education (full photo set) that was organized by Jill Biden. President Obama delivered the keynote. I had the honor of discussing new education strategies and innovative partnerships with businesses and communities colleges with a small, but illustrious group of people that included: Melinda Gates, Vice President Joe Biden, Jill Biden, Bill Green (CEO/Chairman of Accenture), the Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, the Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, the former United States Poet Laureate Kay Ryan, and others.
In 2008 I was cited as one of seven “Leading Corporate Social Media Evangelists“. In 2009 I was awarded a “Most Inspiring CEO” award by the San Diego Business Journal. In March of 2010, I was identified the forty-sixth “Most Powerful Voice in Open Source” albeit by MindTouch; however, it was quantitatively analyzed using third party tools.
In May, 2011 I was honored with an invitation from President Sarkozy of France to attend the e-G8 Summit. The e-G8 Summit preceded the G8 Summit in Deauville on May 26 and 27. The purpose of the e-G8 was to inform the G8 leaders by gathering the world’s top Internet and digital leaders. I wrote two articles about the event for ReadWriteWeb: What Will e-G8 Create: Solutions or More Cynicism? and e-G8: “The Future of the Internet Wasn’t invited”. I also wrote about the experience briefly at my personal blog (Flickr photo set).
I love my work and it permeates my life. However, I love my family even more. I am blessed with a beautiful and supportive wife, Tara. Tara and I met in 1996 when I still had very long hair, earrings, no college degree and only duct taped cushions for a bed and no furniture in my run down apartment in Duluth, MN that cost me $275 a month to rent. I did have an excellent view of Lake Superior, an impressive library, a Chrysler K-car wagon and a striking travel log.
Tara and I married in New Orleans June 19, 1999. We have two wonderful children Ashby and Roesevelt. They are the greatest source of joy in my life. We currently reside in San Diego, CA. In my free time I enjoy cycling, photography, road trips with my family and I have a voracity for reading.
The first two interviews are below are audio. Both of these will give you a really good idea about who I am.