Ted Waitt is the founder and chairman of the Waitt Foundation. At 22, he co-founded Gateway 2000, Inc., where he helped pioneer the direct marketing of personal computers. Labeled a maverick by national business publications, he became a Fortune 500 CEO and member of the Forbes 400 by the time he was barely 30. Since his retirement from Gateway in 2004, he has gone on to form multiple enterprises: Avalon Capital Group, Inc., The Waitt Foundation, The Waitt Institute for Violence Prevention, and The Waitt Institute.
For more than a decade, Mr. Waitt has served as a Trustee of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in various capacities. Previously, he served as a Vice Chair of the Board as well as Chair of the Governance Committee. He currently sits on the Executive Committee. In 2007, he established the Waitt Advanced Biophotonics Center with a $20 million dollar grant. Since inception, the Biophotonics Center has gained numerous awards and accolades and remains a model interdisciplinary and collaborative core facility at the cutting edge of imaging technology. Mr. Waitt is highly passionate in the areas of human health, aging, and nutrition, and believes the next decade will be a great age of discovery in biomedical research.
Mr. Waitt currently serves on the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees of the National Geographic Society (NGS). As NGS’s largest living donor, he has worked on many issues; among them the NGS/Waitt Grants Program, the GENOGRAPHIC PROJECT, and The Gospel of Judas. Personally, Mr. Waitt has travelled to more than 100 countries in a never ending search to understand more about our planet, its people, and our history. He also serves on the Board of Advisors for the NGS Pristine Seas Initiative, and has sponsored dozens of marine science expeditions, across all 5 oceans and 7 continents.
Mr. Waitt believes that the depletion of ocean resources is one of the biggest challenges of our generation. Over the past 8 years, he has dedicated the bulk of his time and resources to the cause of ocean conservation. Since that time, The Waitt Foundation, a grant making organization, has invested over $60 million in various ocean conservation initiatives. Primarily focused on the creation of the national parks of the sea, WF is currently engaged in projects to create over 15 million square kilometers of marine protected areas around the world. The Waitt Institute, an operating organization, is committed to helping small coastal communities develop and implement comprehensive, science-based, community-driven solutions for sustainable ocean management. The Institute is currently engaged with the governments of Antigua, Barbuda, Curaçao, and Montserrat. Among numerous other ocean conservation endeavors, Mr. Waitt is a founding member of Oceans 5, a highly successful collaboration of ocean funders working together to protect the oceans.
Born in Sioux City, Iowa, Mr. Waitt is the son of a fourth generation cattleman. He attended the Universities of Colorado and Iowa, and received an Honorary Doctorate of Science from the University of South Dakota.
Over the years, Mr. Waitt has earned a number of honors, among them: the Young Entrepreneur of the Year award from the U.S. Small Business Association; two Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year awards; Marketing Computers Marketer of the Year; and he was named one of the Ten Outstanding Young Americans (TOYA) by the United States Junior Chamber of Commerce. He was appointed by Congress to serve on the Advisory Commission on Electronic Commerce, and has been named one of the top 50 philanthropists by Business Week magazine.
Mr. Waitt has 4 grown children and currently resides in the Los Angeles area with his wife, Michele.