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Jeffrey Cole

Research Professor & Director of the Center for the Digital Future at USC Annenberg School of Communication

Research Professor & Director of the Center for the Digital Future at USC Annenberg School of Communication

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Los Angeles, CA, USA
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Jeffrey Cole Biography

Jeffrey Cole has been at the forefront of media and communication technology issues both in the United States and internationally for the past three decades. An expert in the field of technology and emerging media, Cole serves as an adviser to governments and leading companies around the world as they craft digital strategies.

In July 2004 Dr. Cole joined the USC Annenberg School for Communication as Director of the newly formed Center for the Digital Future and as a Research Professor. Prior to joining USC, Dr. Cole was a longtime member of the UCLA faculty and served as Director of the UCLA Center for Communication Policy, based in the Anderson Graduate School of Management. Cole founded and directs the World Internet Project, a long-term longitudinal look at the effects of computer and Internet technology conducted in over 35 countries. At the announcement of the project in June 1999, Vice President Al Gore praised Cole as a “true visionary providing the public with information on how to understand the impact of media.” Twenty-three years into the project, the World Internet Project, through its unique data on Internet users around the world, is the leading, unrivaled international project examining the ways in which technology changes our lives.

Cole regularly presents trends and insights of the project to the White House, FCC, Congress, Department of Defense and heads of governments around the world. He has worked closely with the CEOs of GroupM, Ericsson, Telstra, Wesfarmers and others. On the advisory side, his long-term relationships have included Microsoft, Sony, Time Warner, AT&T, AARP, CBS, NBC, ABC, CPB, PBS, HP, Coca-Cola and many more as they learn to navigate the digital future. He also sits on Unilever’s (the world’s second largest advertiser) Global Digital Strategy Board.

In 2016 Cole was one of the founders of the Global Disruption Fund (GDF), a technology investment fund based in Australia. Cole is one of the members of the Investment Committee identifying innovative companies and those about to be disrupted, making investments based on his work. The Fund is now worth close to $1 billion and growing; it achieved a 40% return in its first year. Since 2017 he has written a popular and widely circulated column on disruption, media, technology and entertainment.

Under Cole’s leadership, the Center has conducted deep examinations of the entertainment, sports media, transportation and banking industries to identify where the next wave of disruption will occur. More than just identifying trends, the Center works closely with industry to create policies and make the concrete changes that will keep them competitive. That work includes all five (formerly six) motion picture studios, all four networks and now streaming companies, as well as sports networks, leagues, automotive companies and banks

In the 1990s, Cole worked closely with the four broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox) dealing with television programming issues under an anti-trust waiver that allowed the networks to work together for the very first time. He issued annual reports to the television industry, Congress and the nation. Upon the release of the 1996 report, Cole held a joint press conference with President Bill Clinton, who referred to the Center for Communication Policy as “the premier educational institution setting trends in entertainment.” Nationwide there was unanimous praise for the quality of the reports and their contribution to the television content debate.

Cole has testified before Congress on television issues and has been a keynote speaker at more than 1000 conferences on media and technology (many can be seen on YouTube). He has worked with the White House during the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations on media and telecommunications issues. He regularly makes presentations across the U.S., Europe, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and Africa.

He was a member of the Executive Committee of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (ATAS) and was the founding governor of the ATAS Interactive Media Peer Group. At UCLA, Cole taught over 35,000 students. Twice he received UCLA's Distinguished Teaching Award. In 2022 Cole received the Ellis Island Medal of Honor awarded to distinguished Americans including Presidents, Nobel Prize Winners and CEOs who exemplify a life dedicated to their community and the world at large.

He graduated Phi Beta Kappa and magna cum laude from UCLA with a B.A., M.A. and Ph.D.

Jeffrey Cole Speaking Topics

  • Disruption

    This is the main theme of my work. Disruption always comes from unexpected places, frequently from two guys in a garage who change the world (Google, Apple, HP and more). The disruption of the retail business should have come from WalMart or Target, not an upstart book seller (in a garage) in Seattle. The disruption of the taxi industry should have come from Yellow Cab, not a Silicon Valley tech company and the disruption of the automobile business should have come from Toyota or GM, not am immigrant from South Africa who knew nothing about cars.

    When faced with disruption, few industries know how to react. Some deny the threat is real, others try to have their competition made illegal (music or the funeral business). Most double down and refuse to make the necessary changes that will help them survive.

    Kodak and Xerox should today be as powerful and wealthy as amazon, Google or Apple. They didn't recognize the threats to their business and today are irrelevant.

    My talk shows businesses or citizens (depending on the audience) how to recognize when disruption has arrived. and how they can survive being torn apart from disruptive change. Issues of understanding competition and, most especially, providing leadership are central.

    This talk looks at Ai as the largest (and perhaps most important) development in disruption by placing it in the context of previous change.

  • How digital technology changes (and changed) the world

    My Center has created and runs the longest and most important study of the long term effects of digital technology in the world.

    This talk examines where digital technology came from and how the world began to adapt to web pages, e-mail and especially broadband. The introduction of social media, on-line commerce and smart phones led to daily life being dramatically changed. Today, there is not an industry or activity that has not been affected by digital technology and most have been transformed. Land-line phones, phone books, encyclopedias, pocket calendars, calculators, personal cameras, newspapers, Walkmen and more are just some of the things that quickly became obsolete. Business such as retail, video, music and travel bear little resemblance to what they were 20 years ago.

    With all these changes have come extraordinarily positive change (easier access to libraries and information, empowerment) as well as worrisome trends, especially from social media (misinformation, divisiveness). How are these themes likely to play out? How will Artificial intelligence with its great promise as well as serious threats to employment and, possible humankind's existence) change the world.

  • How the entertainment industry is changing at the speed of light (movie theaters, streaming, television and more)

    Twenty years ago 90% of all television viewing was in three places (ABC, CBS, NBC) and everyone watched on a big screen that used to be 25 inches and today, in most homes, exceeds 50 inches. Occasionally we saw a movie in the theatre but most films were viewed by DVDs or pay-TV. Everything has changed.

    Netflix invented the streaming business and gave us quality entertainment (their own and fro other studios) at a costs far below cable (which has never recovered). Just before COVID, Disney, Apple got into the streaming business and followed later by HBO, Paramount and Peacock). Today consumers have to decide how many of these streamers they will pay for it's looking a lot like cable).

    And, if ever movie theaters were going to disappear it was during COVID when all theaters closed, we got out of the habit of going to the movies and ever]n our grandparents learned how to stream. Top Gun: Maverick showed their was areal love of going to the theater, but day we are weary of super hero movies, sequels with Roman numerals in the title and boring stories, usually much longer than they need to be.

    This talk looks at how the changes in the entertainment industry from the perspective of the consumer. How to know what to watch or see and how to keep cable and streaming costs in check .

Jeffrey Cole Videos

  • Jeffrey Cole Interview
  • Jeffrey Cole, Director, Center for the Digital Future on The ...
  • Interview with Jeffrey Cole, USC Annenberg School for ...

FAQs on booking Jeffrey Cole

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  • What topics does Jeffrey Cole speak about?

    Jeffrey Cole is a keynote speaker and industry expert whose speaking topics include Business, Communication, Disruptive Thinking, Futurism, Innovation, Media, Science and Technology, Speakers by Industry, Technology, Virtual Speakers.
  • Where does Jeffrey Cole travel from?

    Jeffrey Cole generally travels from Los Angeles, CA, USA, but can be booked for private corporate events, personal appearances, keynote speeches, or other performances. For more details, please contact an AAE Booking agent.
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Jeffrey Cole is a keynote speaker and industry expert who speaks on a wide range of topics such as Disruption, How digital technology changes (and changed) the world and How the entertainment industry is changing at the speed of light (movie theaters, streaming, television and more). The estimated speaking fee range to book Jeffrey Cole for your event is $20,000 - $30,000. Jeffrey Cole generally travels from Los Angeles, CA, USA and can be booked for (private) corporate events, personal appearances, keynote speeches, or other performances. Similar motivational celebrity speakers are Alex Salkever, Huma Abidi, Zach Piester, Jana Eggers and Amber Case. Contact All American Speakers for ratings, reviews, videos and information on scheduling Jeffrey Cole for an upcoming live or virtual event.

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