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Waitt Institute

The Waitt Institute is a non-profit research organization that serves as an exploration catalyst, enabling scientific pioneers to transform the ways in which discoveries are made. More »

Ted Waitt

CATALYST 2 Expedition Leader Founder & President Waitt Institute

Ted Waitt, co-founder and former chairman and CEO of Gateway, Inc., helped revolutionize how people use technology to live, work and play through pioneering the direct marketing of personal computers. Labeled a maverick by national business publications, he has since gone on to form multiple enterprises: Avalon Capital Group, Inc., a wholly-owned, billion-dollar private investment company with diverse interests; the Waitt Foundation; and, the Waitt Institutes. Through the Waitt Foundation, Ted has become one of America’s 50 most generous philanthropists, according to Business Week.

Established in 1993, the Foundation initially focused on community development in “at-risk” communities. After investing millions of dollars in various programs in multiple communities, Ted concluded that the Foundation’s work in domestic violence had the most measurable impact on those at risk today. The creation of the Waitt Institute for Violence Prevention and the Waitt Institute in 2005 has allowed the Foundation to broaden its program interests. Today, in addition to funding the two institutes, the Foundation funds a variety of environmental and scientific programs with an emerging focus on ocean exploration, conservation and rejuvenation.

Ted has served as the Chairman of the Founding Fathers campaign of the Family Violence Prevention Fund. He also serves on the Board of Trustees and the Council of Advisors of the National Geographic Society and as vice chairman of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, in La Jolla, Calif.

Born January 18, 1963 in Sioux City, Iowa, Ted is the son of a fourth generation cattleman. He attended the Universities of Colorado and Iowa from 1981 to 1984. After a nine-month stint working in the PC industry in Des Moines Iowa, he and Mike Hammond co-founded Gateway in 1985 on the Waitt family farm. With a $10,000 loan secured by Ted’s grandmother’s CD, they grew Gateway from “2 guys in a barn” to become a Fortune 500 company.

Over the years, Ted has earned a number of prestigious honors, among them: the Young Entrepreneur of the Year award from the U.S. Small Business Association, two Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year awards, Marketing Computers Marketer of the Year, and a Ten Outstanding Young Americans (TOYA) award from the United States Junior Chamber of Commerce. He was appointed by Congress to serve on the Advisory Commission on Electronic Commerce, and he received an Honorary Doctor of Science from the University of South Dakota.

Ted travels the world extensively, and most recently, he developed, produced and financed the film Amelia, starring Hilary Swank that is due in theaters October 23, 2009.

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