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Chris Barton | Inspiring Shazam Founder

5/5 (3 reviews)
  • San Francisco, CA, USA

About:  Chris Barton | Inspiring Shazam Founder

Chris Barton wanted a way to identify songs he was hearing everywhere around him. There wasn’t one – so he invented an app called Shazam.


Chris’s creation is nothing short of pure magic. That was his goal. Chris seeks to delight people by using technology to make seemingly impossible ideas come to life. Shazam, which now has over two billion downloads, is just one of them.

In addition to creating Shazam, which Apple acquired for $400 million, Chris Barton holds 12 patents and played key roles in the early days of Google and Dropbox.


Despite having dyslexia, he didn’t let that get in his way. In fact, it gave him a different way of looking at problems. Chris Barton newest venture, Guard, aims to use AI to detect drowning in swimming pools.


In his speeches, Chris Barton story and storytelling completely captivate audiences. He inspires people to make big things happen in their organizations – to create magic in defiance of the obstacles.


Chris grew up with a French mother and British father – both of whom were university professors. However, academics were a struggle for Chris. Chris would come to learn he had undiagnosed dyslexia.

Over the years, Chris learned to embrace what he now calls his superpower. Chris believes that dyslexia has allowed him to overcome barriers to achieve his many accomplishments.

Chris Barton | Inspiring Shazam Founder

Shazam is a great example. When Chris had the idea to identify music using a mobile phone, no technology existed to achieve his goal. In addition, he was told by Professors at MIT and Stanford that this application of pattern recognition was impossible.


Besides inventing a new technology that didn’t yet exist, he had to build a search engine supercomputer from scratch, create the world’s largest music database, and create a user experience on very basic mobile phones. Did Chris ever think maybe the experts were right? “No,” he says.


When Shazam was founded in 2000, it was far ahead of its time. It was three years before iTunes, seven years before the iPhone, and eight years before the App Store. The nascent Shazam struggled in the early days, teetering near bankruptcy for six years waiting for key digital advancements to arrive, allowing Shazam to unleash its full potential on the world.


In 2018, Shazam, and its 200 employees, was acquired by Apple for a reported $400 million, making it Apple’s 6th largest acquisition of all-time. Today, Shazam has been downloaded over two billion times and is considered one of the world’s most popular apps.

It has become an integral part of our everyday lives, with its ability to instantly identify songs and provide information about the music such as lyrics. Shazam has even become a verb, as in “Can you Shazam this song for me?”

In addition to its widespread usage, Shazam has also been the inspiration for a popular game show hosted by Jamie Foxx called “Beat Shazam,” which has aired for four seasons on the Fox Network challenging contestants to recognize songs faster than the Shazam app.


Chris Barton has also played a key role in tech history as a founding member of Google’s Android Partnerships team where he created Android’s mobile operator partnership framework. He also spent four years at Dropbox where he led carrier partnerships and was one of the first 100 people at the company.


Holding 12 patents, including one found within the Google search algorithm that billions of people use, Chris has made significant contributions to the tech industry. He also invests in a wide range of start-ups, including artificial intelligence for heart health and inflammatory disease therapeutics.


Today, Chris spends much of his time building his third startup company, Guard, a system that detects drowning in swimming pools using artificial intelligence.

Chris delivers inspiring and actionable keynotes that transform innovation within organizations. He is an expert and master of disruptive thinking to drive game-changing innovation. His keynotes are rich in fascinating first-hand stories drawn from the front line of innovation at Shazam, Google, and Dropbox. Shazam has been downloaded over 2 billion times around the world.

Chris Barton is the founder and first CEO of Shazam, three-time startup founder, pioneer of mobile ecosystems at Google and Dropbox, advisor to startup companies, inventor of 12 patents including one found within the Google search algorithm, and a former strategy consultant serving many industries.

Keynote clients have highlighted Chris Barton “powerful content” that “generated talkability across the organization” and that “will stick for years to come.”

Boldly Challenging Thinking

The truth is that anyone can create game-changing innovations, and these can redefine any part of an organization – from products to business models to processes.

We can learn from the unorthodox thinking found at disruptive startups. Immersive conviction and unexpected perspectives are common at these maverick companies. This thinking has roots in defiance and leads to incredible hidden opportunities.

Start from Zero: Five Unexpected Methods of Disruptive Thinking

Chris Barton has identified five ways of thinking that are the foundation of game-changing innovation. He calls them “Start from Zero”. They are fundamentally different than the way our brains are wired to think, and each has a clear methodology.

The first one is thinking from “basic truths”, known by scientists as “first principles thinking”. Aristotle called these “the first basis from which a thing is known.” Building on these fundamental truths is how Elon Musk, Steve Jobs, Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, and Leonardo Da Vinci came up with their breakthrough ideas.

Why doesn’t everyone do this? Elon Musk says, “It’s mentally easier to reason by analogy rather than from first principles.” By default, people approach problems from the basis of established processes. Our brains are wired this way. As a result, new ideas often generate only slight improvements.

Thinking from basic truths can be employed anytime creative thought is used. The result can be dramatic breakthroughs in products, business models, and business processes.

This is just one of the five unique ways of thinking that drive breakout innovation from Chris Barton. This is the thinking that led to Shazam.

Unleash the game-changing possibilities at your organization. Disrupt your thinking. Supercharge innovation. Book Chris Barton


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Travels from: San Francisco, CA, USA

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