The Hawk and the Dove
Paul Nitze, George Kennan, and the History of the Cold War
NICHOLAS THOMPSON is CEO of The Atlantic and former editor-in-chief of WIRED. His bold, brilliant takes on the complex relationship between ethics, tech, business, politics, and society continuously shape the nation’s understanding of the world around them. In new talks he blueprints what life will look like after COVID—how privacy, labor, business, and human connection will be irrevocably altered, and how individuals and organizations can poise themselves to thrive.
“Nick is an accomplished editor, and his leadership at The New Yorker speaks for itself. Nick’s return to WIRED, combined with his impeccable journalistic skills, will give the WIRED team a tremendous advantage in covering the world of technology.”— Anna Wintour
As the former editor-in-chief of WIRED, Nicholas Thompson occupied one of the most prestigious positions in the world of technology—staking out a bold, optimistic vision for all of our digital futures. From artificial intelligence to entertainment, privacy to social media, ethics to war, Thompson led the news cycle in this space for years, and his well-informed talks reflect that: he champions the ways tech can enhance our lives, both as a quick-witted, brilliant keynote speaker, as well as a charming and provocative host. During Thompson’s time at WIRED, digital subscriptions rose by roughly 300 percent, and he helped launch the Get Wired app and podcast, as well as the magazine’s fast-growing affiliate-revenue business and its annual WIRED25 event. His ground-breaking investigative reporting on Facebook for the magazine was a finalist for a 2020 Loeb Award. Most recently, Thompson was appointed as CEO of The Atlantic—a magazine that has prided itself on challenging assumptions and pursuing truth for the last 160 years: “Nick is singular; we’ve seen no one like him. As to leading and supporting Atlantic strategy, Nick brings a surround-sound coverage of relevant experience. Having been an editor, he is committed to the undergirding tenets of our work––superior editorial standards and complete editorial independence.”
Thompson served previously as a senior editor at WIRED from 2005–2010. There, he edited both National Magazine Award-nominated writing and “The Great Escape,” the story that became the feature film Argo. Thompson then played a pivotal role with The New Yorker—first as senior editor, then as editor of the magazine’s digital platform, where he helped re-design the website, launch the New Yorker app, spark an eight-fold increase in monthly readers, and quadruple the number of new digital subscribers each month (based on his editorial focus on offering loyalty to writers, diversifying the magazine’s social media presence, and publishing “more, better stories”). He is also the author of the critically acclaimed biography The Hawk and the Dove: Paul Nitze, George Kennan, and the History of the Cold War.
“Nicholas Thompson provides a white-knuckle glimpse inside the 20th century’s most dangerous moments.”— Time Magazine, on The Hawk and the Dove
Earlier in his career, Thompson worked as a Senior Editor at Legal Affairs, as an editor at the Washington Monthly, and co-founded The Atavist, the National Magazine Award-winning publishing company which he sold to WordPress. He appears regularly on CBS This Morning and the CBS Evening News, and is a contributor to the network. With a massive and vigilant following on social media, Thompson was named by LinkedIn as #4 on their 2018 list of top influencers, just behind Melinda Gates and one spot ahead of Justin Trudeau. He earned the 21st Century Leader Award from The National Committee on American Foreign Policy, was a Future Tense Fellow at the New America Foundation, and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Thompson graduated from Stanford University, where he was a United States Truman Scholar. He is also an accomplished runner and is currently the #23 ranked master’s marathon runner in the world.
“He was unbelievable. Not one person had anything negative to say, in fact, the opposite. Everyone thought he was so entertaining, smart, insightful and compelling. We want to hire him again.”BMO Nesbitt Burns
“Your speech was extraordinarily well received and your moderation of the panel was done with great skill. The conversations that followed amongst our senior leadership during the rest of the day's programming proved that the experience was invaluable for everyone in our organization.”Caesars Entertainment
“I am fairly certain that was one of the most interesting sponsored events ever. You gave even those of us who are deep into these issues much more to think (and worry) about. Every single client, all of whom deal with these issues on a daily basis, are still talking about your presentation and the importance of understanding the quality of data and potential biases that go into A.I. in the first place. Thank you!”Orrick, Silicon Valley
“Aside from organizing the call, I wanted to thank you for your time at the conference. Your presentation added to our day, making it full of interesting discussion and topics.”Berenberg Capital Markets
As the former editor-in-chief of WIRED, Nicholas Thompson is an unparalleled insider with corner office connections at Facebook, Google, Apple, and more. Any oracular ability he has is tempered with deep pragmatism—a sense of great possibility in tech—and the knowledge that nothing comes for free. In this intellectually thrilling keynote, Thompson breaks down the nine trade-offs that all of us, whatever our business, should be aware of when it comes to adopting new tech. What should you consider when it comes to security versus privacy? What about social biases embedded in AI? As Thompson discusses, certain biases might be beneficial to your business and to society. Then there’s retail: how will data-driven AR in in brick-and-mortar outlets affect our perception of reality, let alone how consumers make purchases? With clear takeaways and fascinating precedents, Thompson will initiate you and your audience into the trade-offs of an increasingly innovation-driven economy—and help guide you towards your priorities.
As WIRED’s former editor-in-chief, Nicholas Thompson was committed to pushing the magazine to the forefront of technology. And as a veteran public speaker—a great explainer and entertaining moderator, comfortable with hosting, interviewing, or delivering keynotes himself—he’s uniquely situated to offer informed commentary on everything new and vital in this inexhaustible field. How will artificial intelligence and robotics change our devices, the way we work, earn a living, fight wars, solve problems—our very selves? How will privacy, security, and cyber-espionage evolve in the coming years of interconnectivity (and how much should the average person or company care)? How will the world’s dominant tech corporations—Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft—interact with citizens, help write policy, and exert power over governments and citizens? And how can the media continue upholding the truth throughout, especially under an administration that’s declared war on journalists? No matter the subject—design, culture, media, tech, ethics, or our digital future—Nicholas Thompson is more than ready to break the news with big ideas and fearless takes.
Prior to taking the helm at The Atlantic, Nicholas Thompson held positions at WIRED, where he boosted digital subscriptions of the magazine by a whopping 300%, and The New Yorker, where he spearheaded a radical makeover at NewYorker.com to expand the magazine’s online readership (a move that ultimately increased circulation in the print edition as well.) How did Thompson successfully draw 25% more visitors to the storied magazine’s digital platform? While diversified social media and cutting-edge SEO strategies are all part of the plan, Thompson’s counterintuitive approach was to resist the trend of fast, disposable online media. “The main strategy for growing audience is to publish more, better stories,” he says. “The stories we’re prouder of, the stories we put more effort into, attract more readers” (Poynter). In an age when listicles and clickbait seem to hold court, Thomson’s illuminating keynote explores the “wonderful value in aligning your business model with your editorial model” (CJR)—and how consistently excellent content is the first action item in transforming digital platforms.
When WIRED was founded, it heralded—even celebrated—a coming revolution in technology. For former editor-in-chief Nicholas Thompson, that revolution has arrived—just not in the way he’d hoped. Today, despite its abundance, tech is still unevenly distributed across society, with disruptions already having a massive impact on previously dependable employments; our journalists face a new era of alternative facts and ‘fake’ news; Facebook users often sit in an algorithmic echo chamber of ideas; and a cynical suspicion of science means even expert consensus is cast into doubt. But, as Thompson argues, today also marks a critical time to protect WIRED’s early vision: to “make sure science keeps going forward, that we can all agree on facts, and make sure all that information makes our lives richer” (CNN). In this keynote, Thompson discusses the ever-changing frontier of business and technology, science and design, from Silicon Valley to Wall Street—and how good design and the highest values can help ensure the digital revolution remains at the service of human beings. “Technology and science continue to make the world a better place,” Thompson tells CJR—and we can’t lose sight of that truth.