Jane Metcalfe

Jane Metcalfe is the co-founder, with Louis Rossetto, and former president of Wired Ventures, creator and original publisher of Wired Magazine. Prior to that, Metcalfe managed advertising sales for the Amsterdam-based Electric Word magazine.

In 1994 she was elected to the board of the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

She is a partner, along with Louis Rossetto, in Força da Imaginaçao, an independent investment concern with interests in technology, media, and real estate.

Metcalfe is also a board member at One Economy Corporation, which maximizes the potential of technology to help low-income people improve their lives and join the economic mainstream. She was a founding board member of Ex'pression College for Digital Arts as well as the ZER01: The Art and Technology Network.

Jane Metcalfe

Jane Metcalfe

Metcalfe and Rossetto are the parents of Zoe Metcalfe and Orson Rossetto.

Metcalfe was on the 2004 and 2005 Digital Communities jury of Prix Ars Electronica.

Metcalfe is vice president of the board of trustees of the UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive.

Below is an article titled Where Are They: Jane Metcalfe published in the Wall Street Journal by Beckey Bright

As "Wired" magazine co-founder Jane Metcalfe tells the tale, when her father was graduating from Princeton University, he had to make a choice: Be a banker, or return to the family's Paris, Ky., farm. Thankfully, Ms. Metcalfe says, he chose the former.

"Imagine how different my life would be," she says. "I probably would have jumped on the back of a horse with some jockey and ridden off into the sunset."

Instead, Ms. Metcalfe landed across the Atlantic in the other Paris, where she met and fell in love with Louis Rossetto and joined him on a project that would change publishing and digital culture forever.

Jane Metcalfe

 

"Wired" magazine launched in January 1993 at Macworld and the Consumer Electronics Show, quickly gained a cult following among early adopters and within a couple of years was reaching a much wider audience as the dot-com rage began. Wired Ventures eventually grew to encompass British and Japanese versions of the magazine; the online company Wired Digital Inc. (which offered the HotBot search engine), the HotWired Network of Web sites, Wired News and Wired Books Inc.

Despite shepherding this emblem of the Internet age into existence, Ms. Metcalfe says her embrace of technology was something of an accident. She studied international relations at the University of Colorado, taking particular interest in Africa. After moving to France, she became immersed in publishing and financing, and noticed how large a role technology played in her work.

"I realized I kept looking to technology for solutions," she says.

She and Mr. Rossetto thought up "Wired" in Amsterdam, where they were publishing "Electric Word," which Ms. Metcalfe believes was the first magazine wholly produced using desktop publishing. The husband-and-wife team moved to San Francisco with a new goal: document and energize the "digital revolution" via "Wired."

Jane Metcalfe

 

"We were trying to raise awareness" of how the world was going to change because of technology, she says. And "Wired" did just that, offering not just news for techies but explorations of the growing influence of technology on society and culture. And it did so with an edgy, colorful look that epitomized its time and spawned countless imitators.

"Wired" is still around, but Ms. Metcalfe and Mr. Rossetto have moved on: After a failed attempt to go public in 1996, Wired was purchased by Conde Nast parent Advance Magazine Publishers Inc. in 1998. The magazine, which at the time had a circulation of nearly half a million, sold for around $75 million, while Wired Digital was acquired by Lycos for $83 million in stock.

Jane Metcalfe
Jane Metcalfe

"When Wired fell apart, it was devastating -- both to me and Louis," Ms. Metcalfe says. "While it was happening, we had no life outside of the business. Then, it was like being strapped to the front of a rocket. And then the rocket landed and you found yourself on an alien planet."

Today she and Mr. Rossetto are co-partners in Força da Imaginaçao, a Berkeley, Calif.-based investment firm focusing on technology, media, and real estate. (Its name is Portuguese for "the force of imagination.") She's working on plans for a new facility that will house the University of California-Berkeley art museum and the Pacific Film Archive, which she expects will have a substantial impact on the community. "Our plan is for visitors to be not just a cultural consumer, but a cultural participant," (For example, she says the museum will have a Web site offering podcasts and blogging.)

Ms. Metcalfe also serves on the board of One Economy, a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit aimed at helping the poor through the spread of technology. One Economy has recently turned its focus to Africa, but for six years it worked to get Americans online, helping bring broadband connections into the homes of 200,000 low-income people. It is now building virtual communities that provide information and resources for schools, jobs, housing and more in Jordan and South Africa.

That makes people feel empowered, Ms. Metcalfe says.

"Getting online ends their social isolation and their information isolation, making them feel part of a community by finding out what's going on," she says. "Radio and TV are just not enough anymore to put in context what's going on in the world and a given culture."

Jane Metcalfe

Jane Metcalfe

Jane Metcalfe

 

While "Wired" is behind her, Ms. Metcalfe is still thinking big. "We need to orient our education and our society toward critical thinking and taking in multiple perspectives," she says. "In a world where religious conflicts dominate headlines... and where global travel is taking place much more frequently, this can go a long way to fostering understanding and hopefully, peace."

"I have to believe it's possible," she says. "Otherwise, I couldn't go on."

Still, Ms. Metcalfe acknowledges she's no longer in the dot-com limelight, joking that she's a has-been at the ripe old age of 40-something. Asked if "Wired" accomplished what it set out to do, she says that "we succeeded in showing people how much they have in common and helping people find each other. And instilling the idea that 'what's good for the Internet is good for you.' "

Those ideas are now pervasive in our culture, Ms. Metcalfe argues.

"Things digital are the only things my children relate to now," she says. "My first-grader has an email account and one of the reasons she wanted to learn to read and write was so that she could send email."

2017 History of Graphic Design

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