James Bilefield

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Former President, Digital Division Conde Nast

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The former banker was the first outsider brought in by the two founders of Skype. James has since built, advised and invested in a series of digital businesses, and also led the online transformation of Condé Nast brands like Vogue, GQ and Vanity Fair. James looks at the goals of disruptive businesses, the cultural challenges for ‘legacy companies’, and the potential impact of everything from AI to changes in the nature of work and talent.


James Bilefield has built a series of high-growth, global digital and multichannel businesses as an entrepreneur and executive (including with Skype, Condé Nast, Yahoo!, OpenX, and UpMyStreet), non-executive chairman and board director (with Ticketscript, Farfetch, Vestiaire Collective) and advisor/investor (Seedcamp, Roli, Polar).

Serving as President of the digital division of Condé Nast International, James led the multimedia transformation of brands such as Vogue, GQ, Wired and Vanity Fair across 27 markets outside the USA. In doing so he frequently balanced the heritage and culture of traditional print titles with the demands on a digital, interactive future.

James was also CEO of OpenX, the world’s leading digital and mobile advertising platform, serving billions of ads daily across more than a hundred countries. He joined OpenX from Skype, where he served as part of the founding management team as its first Vice President to run the global Business Development team. Following the $4billion sale of the company to eBay he took responsibility for Skype's activities and performance across Europe. He also went on to lead Series C round investments in e-commerce leaders Farfetch and Vestiaire Collective, whose boards he joined as part of those transactions.

Having witnessed and steered businesses what both shaped and reacted to rapid changes in technology and consumer demand, James now considers how organisations prepare for the future. Whether it’s dealing with disruption within an industry or how to innovate better and faster than the competition. He looks at the impact of new technologies like AI as well as the future of work and the workplace and the implications for recruiting and retaining talent and organisational culture.

Before Skype James held a range of senior commercial and management roles at Yahoo! in Europe. Prior to that, he co-founded and ran UpMyStreet.com, an award-winning local information business following a successful career in the Investment Banking Division of JP Morgan Chase in London and New York City. He has served on the UK Government's Digital Advisory Board, the Enterprises Board of the Science Museum Group, and on the board of Teach First.

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