TED, New York City
For four days each spring, about 1,500 of the world's deepest thinkers gather in Long Beach, California, for the annual TED Conference, at which they discuss the ideas and technologies that will change the world. It's where game changers such as the compact disc and Macintosh computer received some of their earliest demos. And it may be the only place in the world in which names like Bill Gates, Nathan Myhrvold, Sarah Silverman, and David Byrne somehow fit naturally on the same speaking lineup.
But since the first TED Conference, in 1984, the only people privy to this unusually diverse exchange of ideas were those who were lucky enough to be invited to the event. Chris Anderson changed that. After a successful career in magazine publishing, he acquired the conference business in 2001. Since then, his mission has been to infuse TED with what he calls radical openness.
His boldest move came in 2006, when TED began broadcasting the talks online for free. TED talks have since received 320 million views. Anderson also created a series of TEDx mini conferences, which give people around the world what they need to hold their own events. There have been more than 600 TEDx events in 90 countries. Anderson, 53, is as enthusiastic as ever. "We suddenly have this global laboratory in the skill of spreading ideas," he says.