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Safi  Bahcall

Safi Bahcall

Author, Physicist, Biotech Entrepreneur & Former CEO


Safi Bahcall is a physicist, a former public company CEO, and the bestselling author of Loonshots, Bloomberg’s #1 most recommended book of the year. Read More >

He received his BA summa cum laude from Harvard and his PhD in physics from Stanford, where he worked with Lenny Susskind in particle physics (the science of the small) and the Nobel laureate Bob Laughlin in condensed matter physics (the science of the many). He was a Miller Fellow in physics at UC Berkeley (the school of the many).

After working for three years as a consultant for McKinsey, Safi co-founded a biotechnology company developing new drugs for cancer. He led its IPO and served as its CEO for 13 years.

In 2008, he was named E&Y New England Biotechnology Entrepreneur of the Year. In 2011, he worked with President Obama’s council of science advisors (PCAST) on the future of national research.

Loonshots, Safi’s first book, has been translated into 18 languages; recommended by Bill Gates, three Nobel laureates, Malcolm Gladwell, and Tim Ferriss; and selected as a best business book of the year by Amazon, Bloomberg, Financial Times, Forbes, Inc., Newsweek, Strategy + Business, Tech Crunch, and the Washington Post

Safi has delivered keynote presentations at industry conferences, investor events, leadership retreats, medical meetings, and leading academic institutions around the world. He advises CEOs and leadership teams on strategy and innovation and is working on his next book. He lives with his wife and two children in Cambridge, MA. Read Less ^

Speaker Videos

How to Nurture the Crazy Ideas that Transform Industries | SXSW 2019

What is the Moses Trap?

On Thinking Big, Curing Cancer, and Transforming Industries | The Tim Ferris Show

Speech Topics

Loonshots: How to Nurture the Crazy Ideas that Win Wars & Transform Industries

Why do good teams kill great ideas? Safi Bahcall reveals a surprising new way of thinking about group behavior that challenges everything we thought we knew about nurturing radical breakthroughs. Drawing on the science of phase transitions, and using stories that range from the hunt for U-boats in WWII to the search for new cancer drugs, Safi shows why teams, companies, or any group with a mission will suddenly change from embracing wild new ideas to rigidly rejecting them. Hear fresh insights from this new kind of science and learn three techniques that creatives, leaders, and visionaries can use to liberate the ideas trapped inside small and large companies everywhere.

Three Rules for Strategy in Times of Crisis

How did the music industry escape death? How did one mall succeed while all others failed? Why did Amazon beat Google in the race for cloud services—what did Amazon do right and Google get wrong? Learn three strategic principles you can use to turn crisis into opportunity. Hear about the science of spotting, the need to balance the two types of loonshots, and the hidden gaps that must be closed in launching new ventures during uncertain times. Learn how the best innovators have applied these principles to emerge leaner and stronger on the other side of a crisis.

The Four Rules of Reinvention

How did the music industry escape death? How did one mall succeed while all others failed? Why did Amazon beat Google in the race for cloud services—the most rapidly growing business of the 21st century? Learn the four principles that connect these examples: the rules of reinvention. Hear about the need to balance the two types of loonshots, the hidden gaps that must be closed, the common traps that needlessly sink new ventures, and how the best innovators overcome these challenges and balance the core and the new. Learn how Microsoft has been applying these same principles to rapidly catch up in the trillion-dollar race to dominate the cloud—transforming itself, along the way, from an also-ran into the most valuable company in the world.