Brian Behlendorf (born March 30, 1973) is an American technologist, executive, computer programmer and leading figure in the open-source software movement. when he first discovered the Internet as an undergrad at UC Berkeley and saw both how essential and how fragile digital civil liberties were about to become. He carried that sense of purpose with him as he set up Wired Magazine's first web site in 1993, and then engineered the launch of Hotwired in 1994.
In the same spirit of open standards and open source code that built the Net, Brian and 8 other individuals co-founded the Apache Group (and later the Apache Software Foundation), the team that built and gave away the popular Apache HTTP (Web) Server. Simultaneously he launched CollabNet, which brought the principles and tools used by the open source software community to large enterprises. After 8 years leading CollabNet as its CTO, Brian left to work on the 2008 Obama campaign as a technology advisor, and then at the Office of Science and Technology Policy at the White House, developing strategies for open access to data and APIs.
Later he advised the Department of Health and Human Services on the launch of two Open Source software projects designed to accelerate the adoption of standards for the exchange of electronic health records. In 2011 he moved to Geneva to start a 20-month stint as CTO at the World Economic Forum, where he rebooted a 30 year old legacy environment with open software and open thinking. Brian is now back in San Francisco, and remains an advisor to the WEF. Brian also is on the Boards of Director at the Mozilla Foundation, Benetech, and CollabNet.
Behlendorf, raised in Southern California, became interested in the development of the Internet while he was a student at the University of California, Berkeley, in the early 1990s. One of his first projects was an electronic mailing list and online music resource, SFRaves, which a friend persuaded him to start in 1992. This would soon develop into the Hyperreal.org website, an online resource devoted to electronic music and related subcultures. In 1993, Behlendorf, Jonathan Nelson, Matthew Nelson and Cliff Skolnick co-founded Organic, Inc., the first business dedicated to building commercial web sites. While developing the first online, for-profit, media project—the HotWired web site for Wired magazine—in 1994, they realized that the most commonly used web server software at the time (developed at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) could not handle the user registration system that the company required. So, Behlendorf patched the open-source code to support HotWired's requirements.
It turned out that Behlendorf wasn't the only one busy patching the NCSA code at the time, so he and Skolnick put together an electronic mailing list to coordinate the work of the other programmers. By the end of February 1995, eight core contributors to the project started Apache as a fork of the NCSA codebase. Working loosely together, they eventually rewrote the entire original program as the Apache HTTP Server. In 1999, the project incorporated as the Apache Software Foundation. Behlendorf served as president of the Foundation for three years. Behlendorf was the CTO of the World Economic Forum. He is also a former director and CTO of CollabNet, a company he co-founded with O'Reilly & Associates (now O'Reilly Media) in 1999 to develop tools for enabling collaborative distributed software development. CollabNet used to be the primary corporate sponsor of the open source version control system Subversion, before it became a project of the Apache Software Foundation. He continues to be involved with electronic music community events such as Chillits, and speaks often at open-source conferences worldwide.
Behlendorf has served on the board of the Mozilla Foundation since 2003, Benetech since 2009 and the Electronic Frontier Foundation since 2013. He was a managing director at Mithril Capital, a global technology investment firm based in San Francisco, from 2014 until he joined the Linux Foundation. In 2016, he was appointed executive director of the open source Hyperledger project at the Linux Foundation to advance blockchain technology. Behlendorf became the General Manager of the Open Source Security Foundation in October 2021. The appointment was shared publicly at KubeCon, along with announcement of $10m in investments to secure open source supply chains.
Brian Behlendorf's vision revolves around the transformative power of open-source technology and decentralised systems. He envisions a world where information and technology are accessible to all, fostering global collaboration and innovation. Through his work with the Apache Software Foundation and other initiatives, Behlendorf seeks to empower individuals and organisations with the tools and knowledge needed to build, share, and improve software freely.
Furthermore, Behlendorf sees the potential of blockchain and cryptocurrency to revolutionise various industries, promoting transparency and trust in transactions. His vision for blockchain technology is one of inclusive and secure digital ecosystems, where individuals have control over their data and can participate in decentralised networks without intermediaries. Brian Behlendorf's vision is driven by a belief in the power of open-source principles to create a more equitable and interconnected world.
Recognition and Awards
- Ten to Watch: Brian Behlendorf, Executive Director, HyperLedger Project | Wealth Management.com
- Hyperledger's Brian Behlendorf Says Blockchain's Potential Is 'Hitting a Tipping Point' | CoinDesk
- OpenSSF details advancements in open-source security efforts | VentureBeat
- Hyperledger could open source your business using blockchain | Ledger Insights
- OpenSSF Announces Project for Open Source Security- TechStrongTV | Security Boulevard
- Native Americans urge Apache Software Foundation to ditch name | The Register
- OpenSSF GM talks funding, legal software supply chain issues | Computer Weekly
- Finding the next Log4j – OpenSSF’s Brian Behlendorf on pivoting to a ‘risk-centred view’ of open source development | The Daily Swig
- OpenSSF GM Brian Behlendorf on the Future of Security | The Newstack
- About the Mozilla Foundation | Mozilla organization
- Who We Are | Benetech
- EFF Welcomes New Member of Board of Directors: Brian Behlendorf | EFF
- Open Source Security Foundation Raises $10 Million in New Commitments to Secure Software Supply Chains | Linux Foundation Press Release
- Cross-industry organisation OpenSSF snaps up $5m | FinTech Global
- SFRaves history | SFRaves
- Welcome to Hyperreal | Hyperreal.org
- Proceedings of Wikimania 2007 | Wikimania
- Reinventors - Brian Behlendorf | reinventors.net
- EFF Welcomes New Member of Board of Directors: Brian Behlendorf | Electronic Frontier Foundation
- Brian Behlendorf (executive bio) | CollabNet
- 2003 Young Innovators Under 35 | Technology Review