Matt Ivester is a Silicon Valley technology entrepreneur creating pioneering products that have significant impact. His new guide to help students become responsible digital citizens, lol…OMG!, may come as a surprise to those familiar with his previous venture, JuicyCampus.com, the most controversial website to ever hit college campuses. However, it was this prior experience that gave Matt an intimate knowledge of how students behave online, making him uniquely qualified to write such a guide. He is now a wiser version of his audacious 24-year old self, attending Stanford Graduate School of Business and using his talents to help future classes understand the potential pitfalls of their digital decisions.
Matt has never been afraid to take risks: after graduating from Duke University with a degree in economics and computer science and spending more than year as a consultant in New York City, he quit his job to pursue his passions for technology and entrepreneurship. Over the next three years, he raised and managed a multi-million dollar investment fund, created a website that transacted more than a million dollars in revenue, and built JuicyCampus.com – a simple message board that became a national brand.
JuicyCampus was supposed to be a fun place where students could gossip freely about parties, classes, sports and campus life. Unfortunately, it turned into what ABC’s Katie Couric described as a “malicious cesspool of barbs, disses and insults.” The site spread to over 500 campuses, garnering more than a million unique monthly visitors. Despite his policy of removing threats of violence, contact information and hate speech, Matt’s efforts to mitigate the negativity were not enough. JuicyCampus sparked investigations by two state attorneys general’s offices, generated hundreds of complaints from college administrators, students and parents, and continued to attract the attention of national media. The posts got so bad that student governments across the country voted to have the site removed from their campus servers.
Four years later, Matt hopes to share the lessons he learned. lol…OMG! is the result of what was left behind in the digital detritus of a million-dollar idea. Indeed, JuicyCampus represents Matt’s own lol…OMG! experience, having created the site as a fun place where users could share their stories, only to find himself dealing with the complex issues of privacy, defamation, free speech and online civility. He admits that students could have been spared a great deal of embarrassment, drama and hurt feelings had it never existed.
For Matt, JuicyCampus has crystallized the notion that cyberbullying does happen on college campuses, and the lives and reputations of others always hang in the balance. With renewed perspective, having run the financial and psychological gauntlet of a controversy-battered start up, he has written a powerful manual that lays out in detail the dangers of bad online behavior, along with strategies and best practices that students can use to manage their online reputations and become more conscientious citizens of the digital age. His friend and mentor, philanthropist and GeoCities.com Founder David Bohnett, says it “will not only save reputations but literally save lives.”
Matt has been featured by more than 100 media outlets–including The New York Times, Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, Chicago Sun Times, Boston Globe, Forbes, Huffington Post, GQ, CNN, Fox News, ABC and CBS–and has been a popular guest speaker at college campuses, including Georgetown and Emory, where he has presented his ideas on entrepreneurship, free speech and online character assassination.
Stanford University’s student government recently named Matt the Director of Digital Citizenship for the entire student body because of his experience with and knowledge of online reputation building. He is charged with putting together programming and curricula that address issues of digital citizenship, including building a positive digital identity and cyberbullying awareness. Matt hopes to use the programming he creates as a model for colleges and universities throughout the world.
Matt Ivester now studies reputation systems and entrepreneurship as part of the MBA program at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. He hopes to start another successful internet company after graduation, combining his passions for technology and education. Matt believes young entrepreneurs must think about what social impact they have on the world; he wants to direct his ambition toward building tools that educate students on how to create a positive online image and avoid sabotaging career opportunities. As a member of the first undergraduate class to experience the real-world ramifications of their digital decisions and the once recipient of online death threats, Matt is uniquely positioned to present this revolutionary social media survival guide.
Born and raised in the heart of Silicon Valley, Matt is a technology entrepreneur to the core. He now lives in Palo Alto, California, where he enjoys golfing and developing business concepts between classes.