Obi Felten is the founder and CEO of Flourish Labs, a purpose-driven startup combining cutting edge mental health science and technology to foster flourishing and good mental health.
Previously, Obi was Head of Getting Moonshots Ready for Contact with the Real World at X (formerly Google X), Alphabet’s ‘moonshot factory’ and innovation lab. At X, Obi worked on cutting edge technology projects such as internet from balloons (Loon), air delivery by drone (Wing), and sustainable energy storage using molten salt (Malta). Most recently Obi founded and led Amber, a project using brain-based biomarkers and machine learning to measure anxiety and depression.
Obi was Director of Consumer Marketing for Google in Europe, Middle East and Africa, launching and growing Google Maps, Chrome and Android from zero to hundreds of millions of users. She founded Campus, Google’s space for tech entrepreneurs. Before Google, Obi set up the ecommerce business of a major UK retailer, worked as a strategy consultant, and led eToys.com’s (unsuccessful) expansion to Germany during the first dotcom boom.
Obi is an independent director of Springer Nature, a global academic and educational publisher. She is an advisor at Chelsea & Westminster NHS Trust’s Best For You youth mental health initiative. She has held board roles at various nonprofits and startups.
Obi is an advocate for women, people of color and other underrepresented groups in technology. At X, she founded the diversity & inclusion team, supported several employee resource groups and served on the leadership team for Women of Alphabet in the Bay Area. She mentors female startup founders and leaders getting ready for board service.
Obi grew up in Berlin and saw the wall come down. She has a BA in Philosophy and Psychology from Oxford University. She now lives in California with her husband and two children. She loves yoga, biking, paddleboarding, skiing (which she started at age 40), travelling, cooking, eating, and her family.
Obi Felten on Daring Greatly and Failing Gracefully
Obi Felten on ‘What World Do We Want to Live In?’
Obi Felten on Mentoring and Gender Equality
Obi Felten’s Speech Topics
Shooting for the Moon, Embracing Failure, Learning Fast: How to Build a Culture of Innovation
How can we apply technology to help solve the big challenges of our times, such as climate change and healthcare? How can we create an innovation culture in any organization, small or large? How can you foster innovation as an employee, leader, board member? How do we deal with failure gracefully? How do we learn fast? How do we bring the brightest, most diverse people to the table to invent the future we want to live in?
Drawing on her broad experience leading teams in cutting-edge technology companies and as a board member, Obi Felten shares insights and tips on innovation, from initial idea to launch and growth. As an executive, she led ecommerce initiatives in startups and retailers long before ecommerce became mainstream, launched products like Google Maps, Chrome and Android, and got moonshots ready for contact with the real world at X, Alphabet’s innovation lab. As a board member and advisor, she has steered non-profits, bluechips and startups through digital transformation and new product launches. In this inspiring and thought-provoking presentation Obi argues that fear of failure is the biggest impediment to innovation, and shares stories and ideas for how your organization can create a culture of innovation at any level and at any budget.
Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
The case for diversity in the boardroom, company leadership and at entry level has been made convincingly. Now what? Change feels elusive as many organizations struggle to attract, retain, and foster diverse talent. Women and people of color feel they are still not advancing as fast as they deserve. White men feel uncertain of their role, and sometimes even threatened.
Obi Felten brings a practical and highly empathic lens to this topic. She has been actively working on creating change as an advocate for women, people of color and other underrepresented groups in technology for many years. At X, she founded the diversity & inclusion team, supported several employee resource groups and served on the leadership team for Women of Alphabet in the Bay Area. She mentors female startup founders and leaders getting ready for board service.
In this conversation, Obi will share practical tips on how to build and manage diverse teams from leadership to entry level, how to create psychological safety, and how to leave our comfort zone as we bring a more diverse group of voices to the table.
In the aftermath of the COVID pandemic, a crisis is unfolding as more and more people are struggling to maintain good mental health. How do we create a future of flourishing minds for all, within our organizations and in society at large? How can we come out of the COVID pandemic stronger and more resilient? How can we nurture the mental health of ourselves and our teams?
Obi Felten works at the intersection of cutting edge mental health science, technology and involving people with lived experience in designing better mental health products and experiences. Her roles as a mental health startup founder, advisor to a venture capital firm investing in mental health and board member at organizations such as the Wellcome Trust have given her unique insights into the topic from a variety of angles.
She argues that people can flourish regardless of whether they have been diagnosed with mental health problems, that we need a more consumer-centric approach to mental health care, and that emotional self-awareness and human connection lie at the heart of good mental health.