Bruce Cahan is a Consulting Professor at Stanford University’s School of Engineering, co-founder of Stanford’s Sustainable Banking Initiative, a former CodeX Fellow at Stanford’s Center for Legal Informatics, and an Ashoka Fellow. In Silicon Valley, Bruce is creating GoodBankTM(IO), as a “teaching hospital bank” for high-transparency, impacts-aware financial services, to shift the culture of banks and bankers.
Geospatial Technology Pioneer
Bruce co-founded Urban Logic as a nonprofit in 1991 to improve urban sustainability decisions in real time. Bruce designed a geographic information utility, NYMAP, to see where and what infrastructure, environmental, transportation and emergency response assets and needs coexist. At first, City Agencies resisted pooling data, resting on their information fiefdoms. Through Bruce’s research and advocacy with the Mayor’s Office of Operations and Budget Office, he found $100 million in the City’s capital budget to create NYCMAP, that is the cornerstone today for mapping and coordinating NYC operations.
By the mid-1990s, the Federal Geographic Data Committee and the federal Office of Management & Budget learned of Bruce’s success in NYC. With federal grants to Urban Logic, Bruce researched how to finance the nation’s geographic information as infrastructure. Bruce’s adaptive design led OMB to adopt a 49-state initiative to share open, standardized geographic information, much of which is accessible now through web services like Google Earth®. http://1.usa.gov/NSDIFinanceStudy
9/11 Emergency Responder
After September 11, 2001’s World Trade Center Attacks, Bruce served as an emergency responder, stationed at the NYC Mayor’s Command Center, acting as liaison for federal geographic and other capabilities. There, Bruce saw firsthand how much knowledge exists about urban conditions, but remains cloistered until a crisis erupts. As a municipal bond and corporate finance lawyer and merchant banker, Bruce realized that safe, “artificial” crises could be created through a credit ratings that reward sustainability and resiliency proactively. http://bit.ly/LearningfromWTCCrisis2004
High-Transparency, Impacts-Aware Banking
Based on his 9/11 experiences, Bruce decided to create a new type of banking, where regional quality of life measures would reward customers’ and business’ sustainable choices, and provide new options for the environmental, public health and other social sector programs implemented by nonprofits and social entrepreneurs. (For more, http://bit.ly/GoodBankinFastCompany and http://bit.ly/CahanFRBSF).
To share his designs for sustainable banking, Bruce curated TEDxNewWallStreet, where 16 speakers reimagined a “New Wall Street” in Silicon Valley safer, fairer, cheaper and more accountable. Within months, the Talks attracted over 75,000 views on YouTube: http://bit.ly/TEDxNWS-Playlist.
Bruce’s design for financing smart cities doesn’t stop at banking, City Hall, data or the pavement. As a New York subway rider for 25 years, he imagined that small package freight could move through subways, instead of streets. Bruce’s Sub Ex design for undergrounding freight and adding revenues to support mass transit was a finalist in the 2009 Buckminster Fuller Design Challenge, http://bit.ly/SubExBFIFinalist.
Wall Street Lawyer, Hong Kong Merchant Banker, Silicon Valley Mentor
Bruce was trained as an international finance lawyer at Weil Gotshal & Manges (10 years) and managing director at a Hong Kong-based merchant bank (2 years). As a social entrepreneur, Bruce acquired skills as a government technologist, emergency responder and someone who enjoys reconnecting meaning to how the world works. Bruce is a frequently sought mentor startups in Silicon Valley, and global speaker.