Matthew Stepka Biography



Matthew Stepka

Until recently, Matthew was Vice President, Special Projects at Google, where he led and incubated strategic initiatives, especially mission-driven projects with high social impact.  Since joining the company in 2007, he led efforts ranging from expanding Internet access, developing clean energy, strengthening freedom of expression and democracy, and extending Google’s footprint in emerging markets.

These initiatives include the following:
  • Internet Access:  Invested in a constellation of satellites (O3b) to provide internet access to remote and underserved regions in the developing world. Worked with the FCC to develop technology to dynamically manage wireless spectrum to foster innovation and improve connectivity.  Incubated Google Fiber, bringing gigabit connectivity directly to the home.
  • Clean Energy:  Led Google Green, and made over $1.5 billion in investments in renewable energy projects capable of generating 2 gigawatts of power. Worked to reduce Google's environmental footprint through onsite renewables and energy efficiency measures.
  • Freedom/ Democracy:  Launched Google Ideas, a think/do tank to address key global challenges, holding summits on violent extremism and illicit networks with thought leaders and key stakeholders. Launched various open-sourced software tools to aid freedom of expression including Digital Attack Map and uProxy.  Also led the Google Civic Innovation Initiative, to provide information and tools helping users to be better informed voters and more engaged citizenry. Launched elections tools in over 20 countries, including Kenya and Egypt.
  • Africa:  Launched Google in Sub-Saharan Africa, opening 5 offices in the region, mapping the continent, partnering YouTube with local TV networks, investing in a Kenyan startup Mobile Planet, launching mobile products focused on local needs, and piloting satellite-based, solar-powered internet access for remote villages. Launched Google Link, project to bring metro fiber to Kampala, Uganda.
  • Philanthropy:  Led Google.org, the philanthropic arm of Google, making grants to social entrepreneurs who leverage technology and strengthen our communities to address human challenges.  Led the Google for Non-profits initiative.  Led Crisis Response including launching a $15 million grant to address the Ebola crisis in West Africa in 2014.
  • Strategy:  Helped set Google Robotics product strategy and organization.  Led the pricing function within Google for all non-auction products and services.
After almost 9 years at Google, Matthew recently left to take a sabbatical to explore the potential role of Artificial Intelligence to help shape a better world – researching, writing and investing in the field. 

Matthew is a Visiting Scholar/ Executive in Residence at UC Berkeley, Haas School of Business.  He is also a public speaker, and has given talks on a variety of topics related to how technology is reshaping our society and economy, and the important role of philanthropy and mission-driven enterprises.

Prior to joining Google, Matthew was Vice President, Pharmacy for drugstore.com, a leading online health and beauty retailer, and Chief Operating Officer for WorldRes NA, an online hotel reservations network. He was a management consultant with McKinsey & Company and Price Waterhouse. In addition, Matthew co-founded CyberJavaone of the first Internet cafes, and was a freelance game/ software programmer.

Matthew holds a Juris Doctorate from UCLA School of Law, where he authored various papers on public policy. He has Bachelor of Science degrees in Computer Engineering and Management from Case Western Reserve University. Matthew has served on the Board of World Affairs Council and is an inaugural Disruptor Foundation Fellow.  He advises many startups and non-profits, including New America and Human Rights Watch.  Matthew is a member of the California State Bar.

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Matthew lives in San Francisco, and formerly lived aboard a 35-foot sailboat for over 10 years. In addition to sailing, he enjoys backpacking (climbed Mount Kilimanjaro), running and diving. His personal interests include jazz piano improvisation and creative writing. He studied fine arts and enjoys drawing, painting and sculpture. Matthew is an avid traveler, having visited over 75 countries and territories. He remains an enthusiastic member of the Burning Man community since 2005.  Matthew was born and raised in Cleveland with a wonderful family, and is an Eagle Scout.

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Updated February 2016
Copyright (c) 2016, Matthew Stepka

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