For-profit

TED Foundation Inc.

Website:

www.ted.com/

Location:

New York, NY

Tax ID:

82-1934592

Formation:

1984

Type:

LLC

President:

Christopher Anderson

Budget (2019):

Revenue: $46,781,981

Expenses: $40,080,213

Assets: $66,145,286

TED Foundation Inc. (commonly known as TED or TED Conferences) hosts speeches and discussions on a wide array of topics. It is best known for its “TED Talks,” speeches of no more than 18 minutes given by prominent scientists, businesspeople, artists, and others which have been viewed billions of times online.

TED sponsors the Audacious Project, a venture capital-style non-profit granting fund which finances organizations that intend to catalyze positive large-scale social impacts. Many of the groups it funds have left-of-center policy goals, particularly related to environmentalism and social justice.

History

TED was founded in 1984 by American architect Richard Saul Wurman and British-American broadcast designer Harry Marks as a for-profit conference on topics at the intersection of Technology, Entertainment, and Design. The first conference included early looks at e-books, compact disks, and 3D graphics from Lucasfilm, the production company of George Lucas. [1]

Because the first conference lost money, Wurman and Marks didn’t host another until 1990, but then launched annual TED conferences. [2]

In 2001, media entrepreneur Chris Anderson’s Sapling Foundation bought TED, and Anderson became its president. Since then, TED has operated as a nonprofit. [3]

In 2019, TED was spun off as the independent TED Foundation. Christopher Anderson remains its president. [4]

Programs

TED Talks

TED’s most famous program is “TED Talks,” lectures of no more than 18 minutes on a wide array of topics, including science, technology, business, and art. The first TED talk was posted online in 2006 and yielded over 1 million views in its first two months. [5] Since then, TED Talks have been viewed over 3 billion times. [6] The most popular TED talk of all time is “Do Schools Kill Creativity” by the late British education scholar Ken Robinson, with over 70 million views. [7]

TEDGlobal

TEDGlobal exported the TED conferences around the world, starting in 2005 in the United Kingdom. [8]

TEDWomen

TEDWomen is a three-day TED conference focused on women. The first conference was held in Washington D.C. in 2010. [9]

TEDSummit

TEDSummit is a five-day conference and workshop for TED’s “most engaged community members.” The first summit was held in Canada in 2016. [10]

TED Fellows Program

The TED Fellows Program is a leadership training program for individuals “at work on future-shaping ideas.” The fellowship lasts for one year, requires at least 10 hours per week of time commitment, and culminates in each fellow giving a TED talk. [11]

TEDx

TEDx programs are conferences put on by independent organizations with the blessing of TED. More than 3,000 TEDx programs are held annually. [12] TEDx chapters periodically combine for TEDFests. [13]

TED Salons

TED Salons are small gatherings of TED community members where they watch and discuss TED conferences. [14]

TED-Ed

TED-Ed is TED’s youth program, consisting of education videos, school clubs, and collaborations with teachers. [15]

TED Radio Hour

“TED Radio Hour” is a radio program hosted on National Public Radio which investigates and explains TED-related topics. [16]

TED Translator

TED Translator is a community of volunteers who provide subtitles to TED talks in various languages. [17]

TED Prize and Audacious Project

In 2010, TED launched the TED Prize, an annual grant of $100,000, that was eventually increased to $1 million. In 2018, TED revamped TED Prize as the Audacious Project, which provides grants to more than one organization per year and at far larger levels. [18]

For its 2021-2022 cohort, the Audacious Project spent $920 million on grants to nine organizations: Glasswing International, a mental health support group; the Center for Tech and Civic Life, an election administration group; Code for America, a group which uses programing to improve the efficiency of the social safety net; the International Refugee Assistance Program; Noora Health, a healthcare group based in India and Bangladesh; Tenure Faculty, a group which fights for the legal rights of Native Americans to establish more nature preserves; the Woodwell Climate Research Center; and Myagro, a financial management system for small West African farmers; [19] and Climate Electric, a group which supports electric vehicles and raised $300 million between the Audacious Project and the Climate Leadership Initiative. [20]

The Audacious Project is “supported” by the Bridgespan Group, a non-profit consulting firm which has worked for many major left-of-center organizations, including Planned Parenthood and the Rockefeller Foundation. [21]

Prospective Audacious Project members are identified by the Science Philanthropy Alliance, a project of the left-of-center fiscal sponsorship nonprofit New Venture Group. [22]

Funding for the Audacious Project Comes from at least 37 organizations, including many left-of-center grantmaking groups like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Skoll Foundation, the Oak Foundation, and the Someland Foundation. [23] TED does not provide any funding to the Audacious Project. [24]

The Audacious Project’s new 2021-2022 cohort includes Center for Tech and Civic Life, ClimateWorks: Drive Electric, Glasswing International, MyAgro, the International Refugee Assistance Project, Noora Health, the Woodwell Climate Research Center, and the Tenure Facility. [25]

Funding

The TED Foundation is funded by conference fees, licensing, sponsorship, book sales, and grants. [26]

In October 2020, TED received $5 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. [27]

Sexual Harassment Allegations

In November 2017, five individuals, including a former TED Talk speaker, reported to TED officials that they had been sexually harassed during a conference in Vancouver in April. TED’s general counsel, Nishat Ruiter, later said that she had been “touched inappropriately” as well. TED responded by disinviting two unnamed attendees from all future events. [28]

Removed or Censored Talks

As of 2019, TED had removed or censored five talks. [29]

A talk by left-wing venture capitalist Nick Hanauer entitled “Rich People Don’t Create Jobs” was banned for being excessively mediocre and partisan. Hanauer partnered with MoveOn.org to try to pressure TED into releasing the talk, but TED refused. [30]

A talk by Graham Hancock entitled “The War on Consciousness” was censored for endorsing the use of ayahuasca, an illegal drug. [31]

A talk by Rupert Sheldrake entitled “The Science Delusion” was not distributed because TED’s scientific advisors considered its theories unscientific, including the theory that the speed of light is changing. [32]

A talk by Sarah Silverman entitled “A new perspective on the number 300” was banned because Silverman made a joke about adopting a “retarded” child. [33]

A talk by Randy Powell entitled “Vortex-Based Mathematics” was removed for a lack of scientific validity. [34]

Criticisms

TED, and in particular the TED Conferences, has been criticized for displaying elitism. A 2010 Guardian article called the annual TED Conference, which is invitation-only and costs thousands of dollars to attend, “a kind of spring break for world thinkers, a place of inspiring ideas, but which only the select few would hear.” [35] A New Statesman article described TED members: “People join for much the same reason they join societies like Mensa: it gives them a chance to label themselves part of an intellectual elite.” [36]

TED has also been criticized for offering overly simplified takes on complex issues for the sake of entertainment over comprehension. Nasim Nicholas Taleb has described TED Conferences as “a monstrosity that turns scientists and thinkers into low-level entertainers, like circus performers.” [37]

TEDx Conferences, which are organized by independent venues rather than the TED Foundation, have had problems with quality control regarding their speakers. Randy Powell’s talk, “Vortex-Based Mathematics,” was given at a TEDx Conference in Charlotte, NC, and was initially well-received by the audience in attendance, but was later deemed nonsensical by the scientific community. [38]

References

  1. “History of TED.” TED. Accessed April 28, 2022. https://www.ted.com/about/our-organization/history-of-ted. ^
  2. “History of TED.” TED. Accessed April 28, 2022. https://www.ted.com/about/our-organization/history-of-ted. ^
  3. “History of TED.” TED. Accessed April 28, 2022. https://www.ted.com/about/our-organization/history-of-ted. ^
  4. “How TED works.” TED. Accessed April 29, 2022. https://www.ted.com/about/our-organization/how-ted-works. ^
  5. “History of TED.” TED. Accessed April 28, 2022. https://www.ted.com/about/our-organization/history-of-ted. ^
  6. [1] “TED Talks.” TED. Accessed April 29, 2022. https://www.ted.com/about/programs-initiatives/ted-talks. ^
  7. [1] “Do schools kill creativity?” TED. February 2006. Accessed April 29, 2022. https://www.ted.com/talks/sir_ken_robinson_do_schools_kill_creativity?referrer=playlist-the_most_popular_talks_of_all&autoplay=true. ^
  8. “Conferences.” TED. Accessed April 29, 2022. https://www.ted.com/about/conferences#h3–tedglobal. ^
  9. “Conferences.” TED. Accessed April 29, 2022. https://www.ted.com/about/conferences#h3–tedglobal. ^
  10. “Conferences.” TED. Accessed April 29, 2022. https://www.ted.com/about/conferences#h3–tedglobal. ^
  11. “TED Fellows FAQ.” TED. Accessed April 29, 2022/. https://www.ted.com/participate/ted-fellows-program/apply-to-be-a-ted-fellow/program-faq. ^
  12. “TEDx Program.” TED. Accessed April 29, 2022. https://www.ted.com/about/programs-initiatives/tedx-program. ^
  13. “TEDFest.” TED. Accessed April 29, 2022. https://www.ted.com/attend/conferences/special-events/tedfest. ^
  14. “Ted Salons.” TED. Accessed April 29, 2022. https://www.ted.com/attend/conferences/special-events/ted-salons. ^
  15. “About Ted-Ed.” TED. Accessed April 29, 2022. https://www.ted.com/about/programs-initiatives/ted-ed. ^
  16.  “TED Radio Hour.” NPR. Accessed April 29, 2022. https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5057 ^
  17. “Translate.” TED. Accessed April 29, 2022. https://www.ted.com/participate/translate. ^
  18. “FAQs.” U.S. Alliance for Election Excellence. Accessed April 13, 2022. https://www.electionexcellence.org/faq. ^
  19. “Meet the 2021-2022 grantees.” Audacious Project. Accessed April 28, 2022. https://www.audaciousproject.org/grantees. ^
  20. “Drive Electric and the Audacious Project announce historic $500 million milestone Live from the TED Countdown Summit.” Climateworks Foundation. October 12, 2021. Accessed April 28, 2022. https://www.climateworks.org/press-release/drive-electric-and-the-audacious-project-announce-historic-500-million-milestone-live-from-the-ted-countdown-summit/. ^
  21. “FAQs.” U.S. Alliance for Election Excellence. Accessed April 13, 2022. https://www.electionexcellence.org/faq. ^
  22. “FAQs.” U.S. Alliance for Election Excellence. Accessed April 13, 2022. https://www.electionexcellence.org/faq. ^
  23. “Partners & Collaborators.” Audacious Project. Accessed April 28, 2022. https://www.audaciousproject.org/about. ^
  24. “FAQs.” U.S. Alliance for Election Excellence. Accessed April 13, 2022. https://www.electionexcellence.org/faq. ^
  25. “FAQs.” U.S. Alliance for Election Excellence. Accessed April 13, 2022. https://www.electionexcellence.org/faq. ^
  26.  “How TED works.” TED. Accessed April 29, 2022. https://www.ted.com/about/our-organization/how-ted-works. ^
  27. “Ted Foundation, Inc.” Gates Foundation. Accessed April 29, 2022. https://www.gatesfoundation.org/about/committed-grants/2020/10/inv005235. ^
  28. Dwoskin, Elizabeth; Paquette, Danielle. “The TED talks empire has been grappling with sexual harassments, interviews and internal emails show.” Washington Post. November 17, 2017. Accessed April 28, 2022. https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/the-ted-talks-empire-has-been-grappling-with-sexual-harassment-interviews-and-internal-emails-show/2017/11/17/39f9374a-cae7-11e7-b0cf-7689a9f2d84e_story.html. ^
  29. “TED: The Banned talks and what we can learn from them.” Speaker Hub. August 14, 2019. Accessed April 28, 2022. https://speakerhubhq.medium.com/ted-the-banned-talks-and-what-we-can-learn-from-them-e967ae2d28d5. ^
  30. “TED: The Banned talks and what we can learn from them.” Speaker Hub. August 14, 2019. Accessed April 28, 2022. https://speakerhubhq.medium.com/ted-the-banned-talks-and-what-we-can-learn-from-them-e967ae2d28d5. ^
  31. “TED: The Banned talks and what we can learn from them.” Speaker Hub. August 14, 2019. Accessed April 28, 2022. https://speakerhubhq.medium.com/ted-the-banned-talks-and-what-we-can-learn-from-them-e967ae2d28d5. ^
  32. “TED: The Banned talks and what we can learn from them.” Speaker Hub. August 14, 2019. Accessed April 28, 2022. https://speakerhubhq.medium.com/ted-the-banned-talks-and-what-we-can-learn-from-them-e967ae2d28d5. ^
  33. “TED: The Banned talks and what we can learn from them.” Speaker Hub. August 14, 2019. Accessed April 28, 2022. https://speakerhubhq.medium.com/ted-the-banned-talks-and-what-we-can-learn-from-them-e967ae2d28d5. ^
  34. “TED: The Banned talks and what we can learn from them.” Speaker Hub. August 14, 2019. Accessed April 28, 2022. https://speakerhubhq.medium.com/ted-the-banned-talks-and-what-we-can-learn-from-them-e967ae2d28d5. ^
  35. Lewis, Michael. “What Is TED Conference – History & Criticisms of TED Talks.” Money Crashers. January 19, 2022. Accessed April 29, 2022. https://www.moneycrashers.com/ted-talks-conference-history-criticisms/. ^
  36. Robbins, Martin. “The trouble with TED talks.” The New Statesman. September 10, 2012. Accessed April 29, 2022. https://www.newstatesman.com/science-tech/2012/09/trouble-ted-talks. ^
  37. Lewis, Michael. “What Is TED Conference – History & Criticisms of TED Talks.” Money Crashers. January 19, 2022. Accessed April 29, 2022. https://www.moneycrashers.com/ted-talks-conference-history-criticisms/. ^
  38. Lewis, Michael. “What Is TED Conference – History & Criticisms of TED Talks.” Money Crashers. January 19, 2022. Accessed April 29, 2022. https://www.moneycrashers.com/ted-talks-conference-history-criticisms/ ^
  See an error? Let us know!

Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: November 1, 2018

  • Available Filings

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    TED Foundation Inc.


    New York, NY