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Ian McFarland
Founder and Chairman, Neo Innovation, Inc.

Website | @imf | Attendee Directory Profile

Ian is an entrepreneur and technologist. He’s the Founder of Neo, a leading global product innovation company. He has a long track record of identifying trends early. He saw an opportunity in worldwide distributed Hypertext systems and object-oriented software development, working with Ted Nelson starting in 1989 at Autodesk and building the first implementation of Ted Nelson’s Hypergrid application, in Smalltalk. In 1994, he joined Wired Magazine, and was on the launch team at HotWired, the website that opened the way for commercial traffic on the Internet, where he was one of four people who determined that the size of a banner ad would be 468×60 for all time, for which he apologizes.

In 1995 he left to found Neo Communication, an integrated design and development consultancy working with companies like IDG and Sony to help them establish their initial Web strategies. That same year at Neo, he learned about a fledgling new development language called Java, and developed the first client-server application ever built in it, an app that was featured as part of the public launch of Java at SunWorld.

He also worked on the design side of the house, working at both Vivid Studios and briefly at Cooper Software before leaving consulting to join Symantec as
Java Evangelist for VisualCafé. He was senior director of technology at, before returning to consulting working with media companies in Southern California. During the dot bomb, he wrote Mastering Tomcat Development for J. Wiley and Sons. He joined Friendster in 2004 as employee No. 4, becoming chief architect as the company grew from 120,000 to 6,000,000 users. He then joined Pivotal Labs in 2005, and as a Principal and VP of Technology, helped build that company from an unknown agile development consultancy into the leading brand in the Ruby on Rails and Agile Development space.

Starting in 2009, he participated in the first several Agile UX Summits, a small invite-only meeting of senior designers and technologists, including folks like Alan Cooper and Ward Cunningham. These meetings were the conversations that laid the groundwork for what would later become the Lean UX movement. This work led to the realization that building high quality, flexible software was not enough, and that Lean UX and Lean Startup ideas were needed to focus teams on building the right products for the market. In 2011, he left Pivotal Labs to join Digital Garage, a publicly traded Japanese company founded by Joi Ito, Director of the Media Lab at MIT, as Group CTO, and to start building the consultancy he launched in 2012, Neo Innovaiton, Inc., of which he is Founder and Chairman.

Ian is a frequent speaker on Lean, Agile, Rails and the Cloud, speaking from a business, customer and technical perspective.


Location: C260
Ian McFarland (Neo Innovation, Inc.)
In this session, I'll show how easy it is to build a paper prototype of a fully functional circuit. It's a simple idea. In fact, it's so simple, you won't believe you didn't think of it. But it will transform how you think about hardware prototyping. Read more.