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Frank Moss is an entrepreneur and 25-year veteran of the software and computer industries. Currently, Moss is the director of the MIT Media Laboratorymarker. where he holds the Jerome B. Wiesner Chair in Media Technology and has been named professor of the practice, a position reserved for distinguished practitioners. He is also principal investigator for the New Media Medicine research group, which he founded.

Moss is a trustee of Princeton Universitymarker, where he is also a member of the Advisory Council for the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

Education and Early Career

Moss was born on April 20, 1949 in Baltimore, Marylandmarker, where he attended a public inner-city high school. As a teenager, he became enthralled with America’s fledgling space program, which informed his choice of higher education and career. He received a BS in aerospace and mechanical sciences from Princeton University, and both his MS and PhD in aeronautics and astronautics from MIT. In the course of his academic work at MIT, he became exposed to high-performance computing and networking technologies that would later became part of the Internet. His interest in the broad commercial potential of these technologies led him to pursue his professional career in the computer and software industries.

He began his career at IBM's scientific center in Haifa, Israel, where he also taught at the Technion, Israel Institute of Technology. He later held various research and management positions at IBM's Yorktown Heights (NY) Research Center, working on advanced development projects in the areas of networking and distributed computing; and executive management positions at Apollo Computer, Inc., and Lotus Development Corporation.

Career as Entrepreneur

During his career in the computer and software industries, Moss served as CEO and chairman of Tivoli Systems Inc., a pioneer in the distributed systems management field, which he took public in 1995 and subsequently merged with IBM in 1996. Tivoli was a venture-backed startup that successfully competed with larger companies to redefine and standardize the technology behind network and systems management. The acquisition by IBM became more of a “reverse merger,” in that Tivoli became the network and systems management division of IBM and one of its largest software businesses, growing to several billion dollars. Moss became the general manager of the Tivoli business at IBM; he retired from Tivoli as chairman in 1998.

He also co-founded several other companies, including Stellar Computer, Inc., a developer of graphic supercomputers; and Bowstreet, Inc., a pioneer in the emerging field of Web services.

Most recently, he co-founded and is on the board of Infinity Pharmaceuticals, Inc., an early-stage cancer-drug discovery company doing innovative work at the intersection of technology and the life sciences. In addition, he chaired the advisory council for the creation of the Systems Biology Department at Harvardmarker Medical School, where he remains an advisor.

Current Work

Moss assumed the directorship of the Media Lab in early 2006, at a time when it was struggling to preserve the highly creative and often controversial style of research for which it was known. It was also working to strengthen its relationship with the many industrial sponsors who fund it. Moss has since been redefining the Lab’s connection with sponsors by increasing the interaction between its faculty and students and sponsor representatives on research topics of mutual interest. He is also creating larger-scale, longer-term collaborative research initiatives. Two examples are:

The Center for Future Banking, formed with Bank of America, which is looking at the ways banking will be conducted in a world with rapidly changing social, economic, and information landscapes. The bank has committed as much as $22 million to this center over five years.

The Center for Future Storytelling, formed with Plymouth Rock Studiosmarker, which is reinventing the movies by using technology to make entertainment more social and to make audiences active participants in creating stories. Plymouth Rock Studios is backing the center with a seven-year, $25-million commitment.

Moss is reinforcing one of the Lab’s emphases—how to handle bigger societal problems, such as health care and disability—via technology. Examples include the New Media Medicine group and the Human 2.0 program.


His citations include Ernst & Young's Entrepreneur of the Year award and Forbes Magazine's "Leaders for Tomorrow."


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