For 35 years, the Churchill Club served as the premier thought-leadership forum in Silicon Valley. It was a place where entrepreneurs, investors, policymakers, academics, and business leaders could talk about important things—not only about what was happening in the tech revolution, but also in the economy, politics, foreign policy, health care, society, the environment, and more. The club closed down in 2020, with CEO Karen Tucker citing increased competition and funding challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, but its legacy lives on at the Computer History Museum, the new home of the Churchill Club archives. Thanks to CHM’s generous donors, decades of the club’s audio and video files, event photos, and newsletters will be preserved to serve as a touchpoint and a reminder for future generations.
Named after great orator Winston Churchill, the Club's discussions were intended to foster innovation, economic growth, and social good. You can find 360 of the videos on CHM’s YouTube channel. (Not all of the 600 items in the collection are available on YouTube. They will, however, all be cataloged so that researchers may make arrangements to access any item. Search for “Churchill Club” in the catalog.)
Speakers on the Churchill Club stage read like a “Who’s Who” of famous names—from ambassadors and politicians to business executives and movie stars. From IBM’s Ginny Rometty, Oracle’s Larry Ellison, and Microsoft’s Bill Gates to investors like Vinod Khosla and Mary Meeker, and to editor Arianna Huffington and former president George W. Bush, these were the people who could make things happen. Intel’s storied CEO Andy Grove made his last public appearance at the Churchill Club, and SAP's Hasno Plattner and Marc Benioff, Salesforce founder, squared off in debate.
Along with conferences and roundtables, recurring events focused on trends and awards were perennial favorites. The annual “Churchills” featured awards for excellence in innovation, leadership, collaboration, and social benefit, for the purpose of inspiring others. Honorees were selected by the Churchill Club Academy, a group of over 700 innovation community members made up of industry leaders and professionals, entrepreneurs, investors, students, faculty, and members of the press.
One of the Churchill Club’s most anticipated events of the year was the Annual Top Ten Tech Trends debate. In 2015, for example, five venture capitalists explored AI, bitcoin, predictive software, new urbanization, the next transportation, and more. Do you think they got things right? Watch the video and see.
It’s rewarding for a Museum to see how their artifacts can correct the historical record. Already, the Churchill Club collection has restored the reputation of Ed Colligan, CEO of Palm, creators of an early smartphone called the Treo. Speaking to New York Times reporter John Markoff at the Churchill Club in 2006, Colligan supposedly laughed at the idea that a computer company like Apple would be able to enter the smartphone market with a decent product. His remarks were widely reported, and when the iPhone took the world by storm a year later, he was roundly mocked.
But, recently, the previously inaccessible original audio recording was made available to The Verge for research on a documentary on the Palm Handspring. In the recording, it’s very clear that Colligan was worried about competition from many sides, and while he noted that the smartphone space was technologically difficult, he did not predict that Apple would fail. Read the story. Join us for a screening of Springboard: The Secret History of the First Real Smartphone at CHM on May 6, 2022.
In 2011, CHM CEO Dan’l Lewin spoke at a Churchill Club event in his former role as a Microsoft VP. With other thought leaders, he shared insights about what it takes to drive innovation and transformational growth. Perhaps it was prophetic. Under his leadership, CHM is becoming a forum for thought leadership as the museum pursues its vision of "humanity forward."
We are grateful to the following donors for their support of the Churchill Club archives at CHM.
Richard and Elizabeth Brenner
The Draper Foundation
Joe and Lori Fabris
Raymond G. Nasr
Christopher Sacca and Crystal English Sacca
Karen and Mark Tucker
John and Christine Walsh
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