Do you remember a time when videos weren’t viral? Maya Draisin does. When most of us still had no idea what the Internet was, she was knee deep in the complex network trying to explain the web to people beyond the Bay area tech scene.
In 1994, one of Maya’s friends, Tiffany Shlain, asked her if she wanted to start the Webby Awards. After two days, Maya said, “Absolutely, I’m in.” And so began a project that would later make the World Wide Web a more accessible and enjoyable experience for users everywhere.
The Webby Awards decide excellence on the Internet – from websites, to advertisements to film and video. One of their quirky – and genius – elements? Acceptance speeches are just five words.
Anna Wintour’s speech was very well received, “Sometimes geeks can be chic.”
Since moving on from the Webby Awards, Maya continues to be a leading woman in tech as the associate publisher of marketing for Wiredmagazine.
A vice president and publisher at Wired, Howard Mittman, said of her, “Maya understands the essence of the Wired brand better than anyone else. Her instincts are spot on, and her insight into new technologies and opportunities has been an enormous part of Wired’s creative success.”
Maya says a common thread in her life has been the optimistic belief that technology leads toward progress. It gives people a voice for both power and creativity, and it inspires new ways of thinking.
She grew up in a small community of scientists in Los Alamos, New Mexico where her father practiced as an artificial intelligence scientist. He worked on the mathematical equations that put the man on the moon. As a young person, Maya always believed in technology, but at times had trouble believing in herself. She felt insecure about her hair and her glasses, but mostly just about looking differently from conventionally beautiful women.
Today, Maya is a pioneer in her field, mentoring young women. Where Maya can offer passion, perspective and experience, her mentees keep her current, telling her about the latest app on the scene, which is essential in tech.
For the future, Maya hopes that women will begin taking on more entrepreneurial roles and be the people who come up with the idea, get the funding and create the next big product that will change world.