Founder and Creator of Shazam
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Chris is the founder and first CEO of Shazam. He’s also a three-time startup founder, pioneer of mobile ecosystems at Google and Dropbox, advisor to startup companies, inventor of twelve patents, including one found within the Google search algorithm, and a former strategy consultant serving many industries.
Chris Barton wanted a way to identify songs he was hearing everywhere around him. There wasn’t one, so he invented an app called Shazam. He seeks to delight people by using technology to make seemingly impossible ideas come to life. Shazam, which now has over two billion downloads, is just one of them. In addition to creating Shazam, which Apple acquired for $400 million, Chris holds twelve patents and played key roles in the early days of Google and Dropbox. His newest venture, Guard, aims to use AI to detect drowning in swimming pools.
Chris grew up with a French mother and British father, both of whom were university professors. However, academics were a struggle for Chris. He would come to learn he had undiagnosed dyslexia. Over the years, he learned to embrace what he calls his superpower. He believes that dyslexia has allowed him to overcome barriers to achieve his many accomplishments.
When Chris had the idea to identify music using a mobile phone, no technology existed to achieve his goal. He was told by Professors at MIT and Stanford that this application of pattern recognition was impossible. He also had to build a search engine supercomputer from scratch, create the world’s largest music database, and create a user experience on very basic mobile phones.
When Shazam was founded, it was far ahead of its time, and was three years before iTunes, seven years before the iPhone, and eight years before the App Store. It struggled in the early days, teetering near bankruptcy for six years waiting for key digital advancements to arrive, allowing Shazam to unleash its full potential on the world.
Shazam, and employees, was acquired by Apple for a reported $400 million, making it Apple's sixth largest acquisition of all-time. It has been downloaded over two billion times and is considered one of the world's most popular apps. In addition to its widespread usage, Shazam has also been the inspiration for a popular game show hosted by Jamie Foxx called Beat Shazam, on the Fox Network challenging contestants to recognise songs faster than the app.
Chris also played a key role in tech history as a founding member of Google’s Android Partnerships team where he created Android's mobile operator partnership framework. He spent four years at Dropbox where he led carrier partnerships and was one of the first one hundred people at the company. Holding twelve patents, including one found within the Google search algorithm that billions of people use, Chris has made significant contributions to the tech industry. He also invests in a wide range of start-ups, including artificial intelligence for heart health and inflammatory disease therapeutics.
Chris enjoys speaking at events and sharing lessons learned from his experiences achieving the impossible. He inspires people with stories of the unexpected mindsets that are necessary to overcome challenges and achieve success. Chris gives audiences a new framework for thinking about the obstacles they face and motivates them to take action.
Prior to his technology career, Chris was a strategy consultant and earned two master’s degrees from UC Berkeley and Cambridge University.
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