Berners-Lee to Share Reins at World Wide Web Consortium with Former IBM, Lucent, Novell Exec

Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web and director of the Cambridge, MA-based World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), which oversees the standards underlying the global network, has a new co-captain. It’s Jeffrey Jaffe, a technology industry veteran who served most recently as chief technology officer and executive vice president of products at Waltham, MA-based Novell.

The W3C announced Jaffe’s appointment as CEO of the consortium this morning. While Berners-Lee remains as director of the nonprofit organization, the CEO’s job is to lead it, according to a recruitment listing that was still online as recently as yesterday. Together with the director and staff, according to the listing, the role of W3C’s CEO is to “develop the vision that leads the Web to its full potential [and] communicate that vision to the world and engage relevant stakeholders,” as well as to lead “strategic planning and change management” and oversee worldwide operations, including financial, legal, and cultural aspects.

Jeffrey JaffeIn other words, Jaffe will manage most of the day-to-day details of running the consortium—a job formerly handled by Steve Bratt, who stepped down as CEO last year to head the World Wide Web Foundation. (The foundation aims to use the mobile Web to empower people in developing countries; see Part 1 and Part 2 of Xconomy’s November 2009 interview with Bratt.)

Berners-Lee can certainly use the help. The 15-year-old consortium is an increasingly sprawling bureaucracy—jointly run by the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, the European Research Consortium for Informatics and Mathematics, and Keio University in Japan—with programs ranging from security to Web accessibility for the disabled to mobile Web platforms and international development. It has 350 member organizations, only about 130 of which are based in the United States.

“Jeff has outstanding leadership and business skills to help address a wealth of arising opportunities,” Berners-Lee said in a statement about the appointment. “Just as the Web is constantly growing and changing, so is the community around it and so is the Consortium. Jeff’s broad experience gives him a deep understanding of many different types of organizations, which will be invaluable in managing W3C’s evolution.”

Jaffe’s work history spans several titans of the U.S. computing and … Next Page »

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Wade Roush is a freelance science and technology journalist and the producer and host of the podcast Soonish. Follow @soonishpodcast

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