Personal and digi.me
Shane is a pioneer in the movement to empower individuals with their data and to establish online privacy and control of data as a human right.
He founded Personal in 2009, which was recognized as the first “Privacy-by-Design” consumer company. Personal’s data vault app and private cloud platform helped set the standard for user-centric control of data, and was called “a life management platform” by The Economist.
Personal raised over $30 million and merged with digi.me of the U.K. in August 2017, creating the leading global platform for decentralized apps powered by data directly from users. As CEO of digi.me (US), Shane oversees North American operations and helps lead the company’s product and marketing efforts. He is focused on incubating a new ecosystem of decentralized apps being built on the digi.me platform.
At Personal, Shane helped develop the world’s first reverse license agreement, which allowed individuals to legally establish and maintain ownership of data they shared with third party apps regardless of the original source (see The Intention Economy by Doc Searls, Harvard Business Review, 2012). He was widely cited for arguing that data had become a new form of currency (see “The Web’s Hot New Commodity: Privacy” The Wall Street Journal, 2/28/11; and “Start-Ups See to Help Users Put a Price on Their Personal Data” The New York Times, 2/12/12), and helped popularize the idea that data also qualified as a new asset class while co-leading the World Economic Forum’s council on data. At SXSW in 2012, he organized a crowdsourced Digital Bill of Rights, the origin of his ongoing belief that individuals must play an active role in defining and enforcing their own digital rights rather than relying on companies and governments to do so on their behalf.
Shane is co-founder and chair of a new research and data monetization platform for individuals called UBDI. UBDI, which stands for Universal Basic Data Income, is focused on helping people generate income from insights from their data, potentially as much as thousands of dollars annually. Rather than selling data directly, UBDI generates aggregated, anonymized insights and trends for the $76 billion market research industry, as well as for financial, health and academic research. UBDI’s PrivateMatch technology offers a new way for people to maintain their anonymity while qualifying for studies on a number of rich attributes. UBDI closed its pre-seed round in August 2019 and launched for partners in October 2019. Individuals can sign up for UBDI at ubdi.com.
Shane serves as a a Senior Advisor to the research and advocacy non-profit organization Future State. Based in Washington, DC, Future State focuses on data empowerment of individuals and SMEs. Future State’s mission is to provide a framework and evidence to support the idea that many of the most urgent problems and opportunities facing the world can be best addressed when people and small businesses have access to a complete set of their own data. It is especially focused on emerging markets and the unique opportunities they have to design and implement data empowerment policies in the next five years. Future State has partnered with the World Bank, UN Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, Open Society Foundation, MercyCorps and the Libra Project to further its work.
Nokia, NAVTEQ and The Map Network
Shane’s passion for privacy and data resulted from his time at Nokia and NAVTEQ (now called HERE Technologies), which acquired his previous startup The Map Network. The Map Network became the world’s largest location data platform, and served over 100 million users daily and 800 enterprise customers. While serving as Vice President for Location Data at Nokia and NAVTEQ, he was tasked with developing a data strategy for the data being collected from Nokia’s then 1.2 billion mobile users, which led to the original idea for Personal.
Much like Personal, The Map Network was focused on developing a new model and tools for data empowerment – in that case places and events. Owners and managers of properties and events could use The Map Network platform to create and control their digital maps and location data and share them broadly or narrowly depending on the sensitivity and importance of the data. This resulted in a radically new, decentralized approach to map making and generating navigable place-based data for mobile devices.
Prior to being acquired, The Map Network became the official map and location content platform for events such as the NFL Super Bowl and the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, venues such as the Smithsonian, and 100+ tourism bureaus including Orlando, Chicago and San Francisco. They also produced the most used online map of the 9/11 relief and rescue efforts in New York, which generated over 50 million views and became a standard for presenting layered, interactive geospatial content.
Shane’s first startup, Witten Technologies, which he launched with his father and a team of scientists from Oak Ridge National Laboratory, was named Software Innovation of the Year in 2004 by The Wall Street Journal and was their runner up for overall technology innovation of the year. Commercialization efforts proved premature, but Witten’s signal processing technology is still used today in a number of digital imaging solutions.
Activities and Interests
Shane is a life member of the Council on Foreign Relations and is a member of the Aspen Institute’s Communications & Society Program. He serves on the board of the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation. He was named a Privacy by Design Ambassador by the regulatory body in Canada that invented PbD principles, and previously served as Vice Chair of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Data. He was also the first chair of Destination International’s Business Advisory Council when he was building The Map Network.
Shane is a lifelong foreign policy wonk. He actually first got the startup bug when he came to Washington to work on international conflict and humanitarian issues at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. While writing research reports for an audience of a few hundred, he was asked by Carnegie President Morton Abramowitiz to serve on the founding team that launched the Brussels-based International Crisis Group. After helping write the business plan, develop the go to market strategy, raise money, hire a team and organize a high-profile board, he knew this was what he wanted to do.
While at Carnegie, he also worked closely with Richard Holbrooke, architect of the Dayton Peace Accords that ended the war in Bosnia. He fell in love with Sarajevo the first time he visited in 1996 when he helped monitor their first post-war elections with the International Crisis Group and the OECD. He returned the following year to rebuild playgrounds with an organization he co-founded called Let Us Play, which was sponsored by War Child, Reebok, R.E.M. and promoted by David Bowie. Let Us Play’s work resulted in a much larger effort by the American Refugee Committee to reconstruct hundreds of playgrounds with USAID funding.
Shane has been building software and engineering teams in Sarajevo since 1999, and his co-founder of The Map Network, Edin Saracevic, now leads HUB387, the main innovation hub in the country.
Shane is an honors graduate of the University of Michigan’s political science and history programs, and “postponed” completion of his MBA at the University of Chicago after starting The Map Network during his first year. He is married to Viviana López Green, an executive at UnidosUS, the largest Latino human rights and advocacy organization in the United States. They live in Chevy Chase, Maryland and have three children.