An Architect of Internet Infrastructure Turns His Attention to Autonomous Vehicles

By Bradley Berman — Lead Editor

Jay Adelson, co-founder of Digg and Equinix, joins the DAV Foundation advisory board.

In 2008, Time named Jay Adelson as one the 100 most influential people in the world. At the time, the web was in its infancy, smartphones were a curiosity, and Jay was playing with arcane algorithms to reinvent how online readers got access to the day’s most important stories.

That’s what he was doing as a co-founder of Digg — a decade or so before social media would transform readers into powerful curators of customer content feeds. Adelson has an uncanny ability to look years ahead to where technology is headed — and to create systems that support the deployment of powerful technology for the masses.

Well, Adelson is at it again. This week, we are excited to announce that he has joined the advisory board of the DAV Foundation, where we are developing a global standard for a decentralized network of autonomous cars and drones. By bringing his experience to our non-profit foundation, we know that Adelson will help accelerate the worldwide transition to an automated and democratic transportation framework.

Don’t worry that you might not yet have heard of Adelson or the DAV Foundation. Brand recognition is beside the point. For a serial entrepreneur like Adelson, it’s all about creating tools to change how we live, work, and get around. You might not know the other companies in his long list of impressive start-ups including Revision3, SimpleGeo, Opsmatic, and Center Electric. But that doesn’t mean that you are not currently benefiting from the products and services he helped create.

Take Equinix for example, a massive data-center company that Adelson co-founded in 1998, at the ripe age of 28 years. “Equinix is one of those companies that no one knows, and yet all of us interact with several times a day,” said Tal Ater, chief technology officer for the DAV Foundation. “It’s the largest data-center provider in the world with a market cap of more than $35 billion.” Your work, business contacts, daily shopping, and entertainment are almost certainly conducted via an Equinix data center, which serves Amazon, AT&T, Bloomberg, Chevron, eBay, GE, LinkedIn, Microsoft Azure, NASDAQ, Netflix, Salesforce, T-Mobile, and others.

Noam Copel, chief executive and founder of the DAV Foundation, will look to advisors like Adelson to help the organization become just as integral to the emerging world of autonomous vehicles. One of the foundation’s most promising solutions is called “DAV,” an open-source, decentralized system utilizing blockchain to discover, communicate, and transact between all types of autonomous vehicles. “Jay’s deep understanding of interconnectivity in the tech space will provide us with tremendous strategic insight,” said Copel.

It’s early days for DAV and the autonomous vehicle ecosystem, and Adelson is used to being ahead of the curve. “Back in the heyday of the Internet, it was not ready for commercial primetime,” he said in a 2013 interview. He saw that somebody needed to take stewardship of the Internet’s infrastructure in the dot-com era, just as new companies today need to shape the future of autonomous vehicles. “The old school ways of doing things is not going to work for the next 20 years,” he said. “But if you can be a little entrepreneurial, challenge assumptions, and take some risks, the results will be phenomenal.”

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