Obi Felten Profile Photo

Obi Felten

WSB Exclusive Speaker

Innovation expert; Technologist; Entrepreneur; Founder & CEO of youth mental health startup Flourish Labs; Head of Moonshot Projects at Google X (2012-2021)

A tech visionary with down-to-earth grit, Obi Felten sees opportunity when others see impossibility. Her diverse background and relatable demeanor allow her to connect with audiences ranging from senior execs to entrepreneurs to students. She draws on her wealth of experience as an executive leading teams that have achieved incredible technological feats, as a startup founder, and as a board member of corporate and startup companies.

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Obi Felten'S SPEAKING FEE $25K - $40K

Obi Felten Profile Photo

Obi Felten is an entrepreneur and innovator who is behind some of the most transformative technologies of our time. At Google X, Alphabet’s ‘moonshot factory’, Obi helped to turn the seemingly impossible into reality: Waymo self-driving cars, drone delivery, internet from balloons, computational agriculture and energy storage using molten salt. As Director of Consumer Marketing for Google in Europe, Middle East and Africa, she was responsible for launching and growing Google Maps, Chrome and Android from zero to a billion users. She has worked on practical applications of AI for nearly 15 years. Obi began her career in the early days of online banking and ecommerce during the first dot com era, so she is no stranger to downturns as well as good times.

Currently, Obi is founder and CEO at Flourish Labs, a healthcare company on a mission to scale professional mental health peer support with technology to address the youth mental health crisis. She also serves as a board director of Springer Nature, a global academic and educational publisher, and of Marathon Health, a provider of primary care clinics for employers, and various mental health advisory boards.  Obi Felten has been honored for her innovation work with the German Innovation Prize “Future Thinker” award, was named by the Financial Times as a Woman Changemaker and by Boston Consulting Group among the top 100 influential women in technology. She is a WBL Fellow and a Leaders in Tech Fellow.

She has spoken at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Next Gen Summit, Wired UK, Milken Institute’s Global Conference and Health Summit, Skoll World Forum, Falling Walls, Lesbians Who Tech, London Tech Week, numerous academic and private exec gatherings. She delivered the opening keynote at Chautauqua Institution, where previous speakers included Hillary Clinton and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She is a regular guest lecturer at Stanford University, INSEAD, Northeastern University and UC Berkeley. She was on the cover of Vogue Germany’s business edition and has been interviewed by the Financial Times, Fortune Magazine, The New York Times, The Atlantic, Bloomberg, Fast Company, Wired, BBC, NBC News, and by economist Steve Levitt on his Freakonomics podcast.

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 learnt at age 40), traveling, cooking, eating, and her family.

Featured Videos

Obi Felten Profile Photo
Obi Felten

Obi Felten on Anticipating Failure to Achieve Success

Obi Felten Profile Photo
Obi Felten

Obi Felten Shares Three Tips on How to Deal With Failure

Obi Felten Profile Photo
Obi Felten

Obi Felten: Innovation as a “Team Sport”

Obi Felten’s Speech Topics

  • Daring Greatly: Failing Gracefully on The Path of Innovation and Success

    Felten discusses how to deal with failure and embrace it as necessary and inevitable on the path to innovation. She shares stories and lessons from her own failures and successes at Google, and and her startup, and how they shaped her mindset and approach to leadership. In this speech the audience will learn:

    • How to deal with the failures that are inevitable on the path to success, such as setting “kill criteria”, celebrating lessons learnt, and separating personal from project success
    • How to lead with vulnerability and honesty when things go wrong
    • How to encourage teams to work on the hardest things first
  • Igniting Innovation: Disruptive Ideas, Diverse Teams, and the Power of Collaboration

    Many organizations yearn for innovation, yet often struggle to truly unlock its potential. They hire diverse individuals, but fail to create the environment where they can truly thrive. Obi Felten is a seasoned leader who has spent her career building high-performing teams in the face of uncertainty. Felten’s secret weapon? Embracing disruptive ideas and nurturing diverse talent.

    With a career in leading teams through uncertainty, Felten credits her success to embracing disruptive ideas and diverse talent. She’ll share actionable insights from her experiences at startups and innovative companies on fostering teams that excel amidst uncertainty:

    Key Takeaways: 

    • The Key: Psychological Safety
    • Leading with Humility: The Power of Questions
    • Launch Early, Iterate Often
    • The Symphony of Diversity: Respectful Disagreement
  • Moonshot Thinking: A Radical Approach to Unleashing Innovation and Creativity in Organizations

    Obi Felten led teams at Google X that employed “moon shot thinking”- the framework that led to the creation of some of the world’s most radical breakthrough technologies. In this speech, Felten introduces the audience to the principles of moonshot thinking and how to implement it in their organization: 

    • How to incorporate a culture of moonshot thinking throughout the organization
    • How to bring the brightest, most diverse people to the table, help them learn fast and invent the future
    • How leaders play a role in overcoming resistance and skepticism from those who are comfortable with the status quo
    • How challenging widespread assumptions is essential for innovation, since they often lead to breakthrough thinking
  • The Future is Now: Embrace AI or Be Left Behind

    Obi Felten’s AI journey started in the 1990s at Oxford University, studying the link between minds and machines. She later joined Google, contributing to AI advancements in areas like machine translation and search optimization. At Google X, her projects spanned climate change to healthcare applications. Currently, her mental health startup leverages AI to enhance human well-being.

    Felten shares how AI is becoming a powerful tool poised to revolutionize every aspect of our lives with the advent of large language models, including the way we do business and even write our holiday cards. She will start by debunking some myths about AI and addressing the elephant in the room – the fear and skepticism that often surrounds this technology: 

    • Myth #1: “AI will kill us all/save us all.”
    • Myth #2: “AI will eliminate jobs and increase wealth inequality.” 
    • Myth #3: “AI is for tech companies, not businesses like mine.”

    In the second part, Felten will help you dive into the exciting possibilities that AI holds for your business. She will guide you through practical steps you can take to leverage AI and gain a competitive edge:

    • Identify areas where AI can add value
    • Start small and experiment
    • Use technology to augment your team, not replace them.
    • Embrace transparency and ethics

  • The Healthcare Revolution: AI, Mental Health, and the Future of Patient Care

    Imagine a healthcare system with 99% accurate diagnoses, personalized treatment plans, and accessible mental health support for all. This isn’t science fiction, but the future powered by AI and big data. Leading this charge is Obi Felten. Through her work at Google X (applying machine learning to mental health assessments), board roles at healthcare companies, and founding Flourish Labs (a mental health startup using AI to scale support), Obi exemplifies the passion and expertise driving the digital health revolution.

    Key Takeaways Include:

    • The Digital Health Revolution: Healthcare is rapidly adopting digital innovations through transformative advancements through AI and big data, which promise significant improvements in diagnosis, treatment, and care. However, challenges such as privacy and fairness present important hurdles.
    • Curbing Healthcare Costs: Soaring healthcare costs in the US are unsustainable. Felten will explore how AI can be used to streamline processes, reduce errors, and ultimately bring down costs.
    • AI and the Future of Doctors: AI won’t replace doctors; it will empower them. Doctors who leverage AI tools will offer better care and stay ahead of the curve.
    • The Mental Health Crisis: Millions of Americans suffer from mental health issues, yet over half of those with a diagnosis lack access to proper care. Flourish Labs, Felten’s own venture, uses AI to increase provider productivity, ensure quality, manage risk and measure outcomes.


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