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TED Conferences, LLC
Type of businessLLC
Type of site
Available inEnglish, multilingual subtitles, transcript
FoundedFebruary 23, 1984; 40 years ago (1984-02-23)
Area served
  • Canada
  • United States
OwnerSapling Foundation (1984–2019)
TED Foundation (2019–present)[1]
RevenueIncrease US$66.2 million (2015)[4]
  • February 23, 1984; 40 years ago (1984-02-23) (first conference)[5]
  • February 22, 1990; 34 years ago (1990-02-22) (first annual event)[6]
Current statusActive

TED Conferences, LLC (Technology, Entertainment, Design[7]) is an American-Canadian non-profit[7] media organization that posts international talks online for free distribution under the slogan "ideas worth spreading".[8] It was founded by Richard Saul Wurman and Harry Marks in February 1984[2] as a technology conference, in which Mickey Schulhof gave a demo of the compact disc that was invented in October 1982.[5] Its main conference has been held annually since 1990.[6][9] It covers almost all topics—from science to business to global issues—in more than 100 languages.[7]

TED's early emphasis was on technology and design, consistent with its Silicon Valley origins. It later broadened to include scientific, cultural, political, humanitarian, and academic topics.[10] It has been curated by Chris Anderson, a British-American businessman, through the non-profit TED Foundation since July 2019 (originally by the non-profit Sapling Foundation).[1][11][12]

The main TED conference has been held annually in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, at the Vancouver Convention Centre since 2014. The first conferences from 1984 (TED1) through 2008 (TED2008) were held at the Monterey Conference Center in Monterey, California.[13] Between 2009 and 2014, it was held in Long Beach, California, United States.[14] TED events are also held throughout North America and in Europe, Asia, and Africa, offering live streaming of the talks. TED returned to Monterey in 2021 with TEDMonterey. The talks address a wide range of topics within the research and practice of science and culture, often through storytelling.[15]

Curator Chris Anderson in 2007
External videos
video icon Jimmy Wales: The birth of Wikipedia, TED 2005[16]
video icon Chris Anderson: A vision for TED, TED 2002[17]

Since June 2006,[3] TED Talks had been offered for free viewing online, under an Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives Creative Commons license, through[18] As of December 2020, over 3,500 talks are freely available on the official website.[19] In June 2011, TED Talks' combined viewing figures surpassed 500 million,[20] and by November 2012, they had been watched over one billion times worldwide.[21] While the talks are available free online, sharing TED content in commercial contexts (such as corporate learning and talent development) requires a license.[22]


1984–1999: Founding and early years

Bill Clinton addresses TED, 2007.

TED was conceived in 1984 by Richard Saul Wurman, FAIA '76, [23] and co-founded by Emmy-winning broadcast and graphic designer Harry Marks and CBS President Emeritus Frank Stanton. The conference featured demos of the compact disc, co-developed by Philips and Sony, and one of the first demonstrations of the Apple Macintosh computer.[3][24] Presentations were given by the mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot and others such as Nicholas Negroponte and Stewart Brand. The event was financially unsuccessful; six years elapsed before a second conference was organized.[25]

TED2 was held at the same Monterey Conference Center in California in 1990. From 1990 onward, a growing community of "TEDsters" gathered annually with Wurman leading the conference in Monterey until 2009,[26] when it was moved to Long Beach, California due to a substantial increase in the number of those attending.[27][28] Speakers were initially drawn from the fields of expertise behind the acronym TED; but during the 1990s, presenters broadened to include scientists, philosophers, musicians, religious leaders, philanthropists, and many others.[25]

2000–present: recent growth

In 2000, Wurman, looking for a successor at age 65, met with new-media entrepreneur and TED enthusiast Chris Anderson to discuss future happenings. Anderson's UK media company Future bought TED for $14 million ($12 million in cash and $2 million in stocks). In November 2001, Anderson's non-profit The Sapling Foundation (motto: "fostering the spread of great ideas")[1] acquired TED from Future for £6m.[29] In February 2002, Anderson gave a TED Talk in which he explained his vision of the conference and his future role of curator.[30] Wurman left after the 2002 conference.

In 2006, attendance cost was $4,400 per person and was by invitation only.[31] The membership model was shifted in January 2007 to an annual membership fee of $6,000, which included attendance of the conference, club mailings, networking tools, and conference DVDs. The 2018 conference was $10,000 per attendee.[32]

Between 2001 and 2006, TED upgraded its platform to provide TED talks online for free, added TEDGlobal that became a worldwide conference, and created the TED Prize.

In 2012, TED community director Tom Rielly helped the producers of Prometheus gain approval for the use of the TED brand in the promotional short film TED 2023, designed by Rielly with Ridley Scott and Damon Lindelof, directed by Luke Scott, and starring Guy Pearce as Peter Weyland, who in the film speaks at a fictional TED conference at Wembley Stadium in the then-future of 2023; on the film's release, Rielly noted that the association had generated millions of unique visits to the TED website.[33]

In 2014, the conference was moved to Vancouver, Canada.[34]

TED is currently funded by various revenue streams, including attendance fees, corporate sponsorships, foundation support, licensing fees, and book sales. Corporate sponsors are diverse, including companies such as Google, GE, AOL, Goldman Sachs, and The Coca-Cola Company. Sponsors do not participate in the event's creation, nor are they allowed to present on the main stage.[35][36]

In 2015, TED staff consisted of about 180 people headquartered in New York City and Vancouver, British Columbia.[37] On July 1, 2019, the TED Conferences LLC was transferred from Sapling Foundation to TED Foundation to "align with our brand and make it easier for our donors to connect TED donations to TED Conferences, LLC."[38][39]

At TED 2015, Bill Gates warned that the world was not prepared for the next pandemic, a warning some felt manifested with the COVID-19 pandemic beginning late 2019.[40]

In 2021, TED launched the TED Audio Collective with a number of podcasts featuring previous TED Talks and other relevant topics.[41]

TED 2022 was held in Vancouver. There was criticism after Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol, flew 9,200 miles (14,800 km) to speak about climate change and the need for reduced carbon emissions.[42]

TED Prize

The TED Prize was introduced in 2005. Until 2010, $100,000 was given annually to three individuals with a "wish to change the world".[43] Each winner unveiled their wish at the main annual conference. Since 2010, a single winner has been chosen to ensure that TED can maximize its efforts in achieving the winner's wish. In 2012, the prize was not awarded to a person, but to a concept connected to the current global phenomenon of increasing urbanization. In 2013, the prize amount was increased to $1 million.[44] TED Prize winners in previous years have been:

2005[45] 2006[46] 2007[47] 2008[48] 2009[49] 2010[50] 2011[51] 2012[52] 2013[53] 2014[54] 2015[55] 2016[56] 2017[57]
Bono Larry Brilliant Bill Clinton Neil Turok Sylvia Earle Jamie Oliver JR City 2.0[58] Sugata Mitra Charmian Gooch[59] David Isay Sarah Parcak Raj Panjabi
Edward Burtynsky[60] Jehane Noujaim Edward O. Wilson Dave Eggers Jill Tarter
Robert Fischell Cameron Sinclair James Nachtwey Karen Armstrong José Antonio Abreu

TED Conference commissioned New York artist Tom Shannon to create a prize sculpture for all TED Prize winners. It consists of an eight-inch-diameter (20 cm) aluminum sphere magnetically levitated above a walnut disc.[61] As of 2018 the prize has been recast as The Audacious Project.[62]

In 2005, Chris Anderson hired June Cohen as Director of TED Media. In June 2006, after Cohen's idea of a TV show based on TED lectures was rejected by several networks, a selection of talks that had received highest audience ratings was posted on the websites of TED, YouTube and iTunes under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0.[63][64] Only a handful of talks was initially posted to see if there was an audience for them. In January of the following year, the number of talks on the sites had grown to 44, and they had been viewed more than three million times. On the basis of that success, the organization pumped hundreds of thousands of dollars into its video production operations and the development of a website to feature about 100 of the talks.[63][65]

In April 2007, the new was launched, developed by New York and San Francisco-based design company Method.[66] The website has won many prizes, including seven Webby Awards, iTunes' "Best Podcast of the Year" (2006–2010); the Communication Arts Interactive Award for Information Design (2007); the OMMA Award for Video Sharing, the Web Visionary Award for Technical Achievement, and The One Show Interactive Bronze Award (2008); the AIGA Annual Design Competition (2009); and a Peabody Award (2012).[67][68][69][70]

In January 2009, TED videos had been viewed 50 million times. In June 2011, they reached 500 million views;[20] and on November 13, 2012, they reached their billionth video view.[21] In March 2012, Chris Anderson said in an interview:

It used to be 800 people getting together once a year; now it's about a million people a day watching TED Talks online. When we first put up a few of the talks as an experiment, we got such impassioned responses that we decided to flip the organization on its head and think of ourselves not so much as a conference but as "ideas worth spreading," building a big website around it. The conference is still the engine, but the website is the amplifier that takes the ideas to the world.

— Chris Anderson,[71]

In March 2012, Netflix announced a deal to stream an initial series of 16 two-hour collections of TED Talks on similar subjects. It was made available to subscribers in the United States, Canada, Latin America, the United Kingdom, and Ireland.[72] Hosted by Jami Floyd, TED Talks NYC debuted on NYC Life on March 21, 2012.[73]

As of October 2020, over 3500 TED talks had been posted,[19] and five to seven new talks are published each week. On, most talks and speakers are introduced, and talk transcripts are provided; some talks also have footnotes and resource lists.

Related projects and events

TED conferences

This article is about the conference. For the 2012 short film, see TED 2023.

Date Conference Theme Location Notable speakers
April 17–21, 2023 TED 2023 Possibility Vancouver, British Columbia
April 10–14, 2022 TED 2022 A New Era Vancouver, British Columbia Elon Musk, Garry Kasparov, Al Gore, Alexis Nikole Nelson, Bryce Dallas Howard, Allyson Felix
October 12–15, 2021 TED Countdown Summit Edinburgh, Scotland
October 10, 2020 TED Countdown 2020 Online
May 18, 2020 − July 10, 2020 TED 2020 Uncharted Online @
July 21–25, 2019 TEDSummit 2019 A Community Beyond Borders Edinburgh, Scotland Nicola Sturgeon, Carole Cadwalladr
April 15–19, 2019 TED 2019 Bigger than us Vancouver, British Columbia America Ferrera
November 28–30, 2018 TEDWomen 2018 Showing up Palm Springs, California Stacey Abrams, Pat Mitchell, Cecille Richards
November 14–16, 2018 TEDMED 2018 Chaos+Clarity Palm Springs, California
April 10–14, 2018 TED 2018 The Age of Amazement Vancouver, British Columbia
November 1–3, 2017 TEDWomen 2017 Bridges New Orleans, Louisiana
August 27–30, 2017 TEDGlobal 2017 Builders. Truth-tellers. Catalysts. Arusha, Tanzania
April 24–28, 2017 TED 2017 The Future You Vancouver, British Columbia Robert Sapolsky
November 14, 2016 TEDYouth 2016 Made in the Future Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, New York
October 26–28, 2016 TEDWomen 2016 It's about time. San Francisco, California
June 26–30, 2016 TEDSummit 2016 Aim higher. Together. Banff, Alberta
February 15–19, 2016 TED 2016 Dream Vancouver, British Columbia
November 14, 2015 TEDYouth 2015 Made in the Future Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, New York
November 1–6, 2015 TED Talks Live Six nights of talks on Broadway Town Hall Theatre, New York, New York
May 27–29, 2015 TEDWomen 2015 Momentum Monterey, California
March 16–20, 2015 TED 2015 Truth and Dare Vancouver, British Columbia Bill Gates
March 16–20, 2015 TEDActive 2015 Truth and Dare Whistler, British Columbia
November 15, 2014 TEDYouth 2014 Worlds Imagined Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, New York
October 6–10, 2014 TEDGlobal 2014 South! Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
March 17–21, 2014 TED 2014 The Next Chapter Vancouver, British Columbia
March 17–21, 2014 TEDActive 2014 The Next Chapter Whistler, British Columbia
February 25 – March 1, 2013 TED 2013[74] The Young. The Wise. The Undiscovered. Long Beach, California
February 25 – March 1, 2013 TEDActive 2013 The Young. The Wise. The Undiscovered. Palm Springs, California
February 27 – March 2, 2012 TED 2012 Full Spectrum Long Beach, California
February 27 – March 2, 2012 TEDActive 2012 Full Spectrum Palm Springs, California


In 2005, under Anderson's supervision, a more internationally oriented sister conference was added, under the name TEDGlobal. It was held, in chronological order: in Oxford, UK (2005), in Arusha, Tanzania (2007, titled TEDAfrica), in Oxford again (2009 and 2010), and in Edinburgh, UK (2011, 2012, and 2013). In 2014, it was held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.[75] Additionally, there was TED India, in Mysore (2009) and TEDGlobal London in London (2015).[76] TEDGlobal 2017 was held again in Arusha, Tanzania, and it was curated and hosted by Emeka Okafor.[77]

TED's European director (and curator of TEDGlobal) is Swiss-born Bruno Giussani.[78]

The TED 2011 conference, The Rediscovery of Wonder, was held in Long Beach, California, US, from February 28 to March 4, 2011.[79][80] The TED conference has a companion conference, TEDGlobal, held in the UK each summer. The 2009 TEDGlobal, The Substance of Things Not Seen, was held in Oxford, July 21–24, 2009. 2010's TEDGlobal (again in Oxford) was themed And Now The Good News; in 2011 the conference moved to a new home in Edinburgh and was held July 12–15 with the theme The Stuff Of Life. The 2012 TEDGlobal conference Radical Openness was held in Edinburgh, June 25–29.[81]

TED Translators

TED Translators, formerly known as the Open Translation Project (OTP), started as the TED Open Translation Project in May 2009. It intends to "[reach] out to the 4.5 billion people on the planet who don't speak English", according to TED Curator Chris Anderson.[82] The OTP used crowd-based subtitling platforms to translate the text of TED and TED-Ed videos, as well as to caption and translate videos created in the TEDx program. (Until May 2012 it worked with its technology partner dotSUB, and then with the open source translation tool Amara). When the project was launched, 300 translations had been completed in 40 languages by 200 volunteer transcribers.[79] By May 2015, more than 70,000 sets of subtitles in 107 languages[83] had been completed by (an all-time total of) 38,173 volunteer translators.[84]

The project helped generate a significant increase in international visitors to TED's website. Traffic from outside the US has increased 350 percent: there has been 600 percent growth in Asia, and more than 1000 percent in South America.[85] Members have several tools dedicated to knowledge management, such as the OTP Wiki OTPedia, Facebook groups, or video tutorials.[86][87]


TEDx was founded by Lara Stein. TEDx are independent events similar to TED in presentation. They can be organized by anyone who obtains a free license from TED, and agrees to follow certain principles.[88] TEDx events are required to be non-profit, but organizers may use an admission fee or commercial sponsorship to cover costs.[89] Speakers are not paid and must also relinquish the copyrights to their materials, which TED may edit and distribute under a Creative Commons license.[90]

As of January 2014, the TEDxTalks library contained some 30,000 films and presentations from more than 130 countries.[91][92] As of October 2017, the TEDx archive surpassed 100,000 talks.[93] In March 2013, eight TEDx events were organized every day; raised up from five in June 2012, the previous year, in 133 countries.[94][95] TEDx presentations may include live performances, which are catalogued in the TEDx Music Project.[96]

In 2011, TED began a program called "TEDx in a Box", which is intended to enable people in developing countries to hold TEDx events. TEDx also expanded to include TEDxYouth events, TEDx corporate events, and TEDxWomen.[citation needed] TEDxYouth events are independent programs set up for students who are in grades 7–12.[97] These events usually have audiences of people close to the age of the students and sometimes show TED Talks.[citation needed] According to TEDxSanta Cruz, "as of 2015, over 1,500 [TEDx events] have been scheduled all over the world."[98]

TEDx events have evolved over time. Events such as TEDxBeaconStreet created TEDx Adventures for participants. People may sign up for free, hands-on experiences in their local communities, led by an expert.[99]

A TEDx youth event license follows the same format as the standard event license and falls within the same TEDx event rules, except this event is oriented towards youth. TEDxYouth licenses may be held by youth, adults, or a combination of both. For events held at schools, the license must be held by a current student, faculty, or staff member. The first TEDxYouth event was held by TEDxYouth@Tokyo in Japan.

TED Fellows

TEDGlobal 2012 at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre

TED Fellows were introduced in 2007, during the first TEDAfrica conference in Arusha, Tanzania, where 100 young people were selected from across the continent. Two years later, during TEDIndia, 99 fellows were recruited, mainly from South Asia.

In 2009, the fellows program was initiated in its present form. For every TED or TEDGlobal conference, 20 fellows are selected; a total of 40 new fellows a year. Each year, 20 past fellows are chosen to participate in the two-year senior fellows program (in which they will attend four more conferences).

2019 marked the tenth anniversary of the TED Fellows program.

Acceptance as a fellow is not based on academic credentials, but mainly on past and current actions, and plans for the future.[100] Besides attending a conference free of charge, each fellow takes part in a special program with mentoring by experts in the field of spreading ideas, and can give a short talk on the "TED Fellows" stage. Some of these talks are subsequently published on Senior fellows have additional benefits and responsibilities.[101]


TED-Ed is a YouTube channel from TED which creates short animated educational videos. It also has its own website.[102] TED-Ed lessons are created in collaboration with educators and animators. Current advisers for TED-Ed lessons include Aaron Sams, Jackie Bezos, John Hunter, Jonathan Bergmann, Melinda French Gates, and Sal Khan. It has over 19.4 million subscribers as of January 2024.

TED Audio Collective

The TED Audio Collective is a collection of podcasts with over 25 shows.

One of those shows is the TED Interview podcast which launched on October 16, 2018, during which Chris Anderson holds conversations[103] with speakers who have previously given a TED talk,[104] providing the guest a chance to speak in greater depth about their background, projects, motivation,[105] re-evaluation of past experiences,[106][107] or plans for the future.[needs update]

Each interview lasts between 45 minutes and about one hour. All podcasts are available on the TED website, in part together with transcripts, as well as through platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, TuneIn, Stitcher, RadioPublic, Castbox, iHeartRadio, and BBC Radio 4 Extra.

Season Four began in March 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic as a live-stream broadcast co-hosted by Chris Anderson and Whitney Pennington Rodgers and often offered listeners the opportunity to submit questions to the speaker.

Season 1
No. in season Title Airdate
Intro[108] Chris Anderson September 25, 2018
1[109] Elizabeth Gilbert shows up for ... everything October 2018
2[110] David Deutsch on the infinite reach of knowledge
3[111] Sam Harris on using reason to build our morality
4[112] Dalia Mogahed on Islam in the world today November 2018
5[113] Steven Pinker on the case for optimism November 2018
6[114] Robin Steinberg's quest to reform cash bail
7[115] Mellody Hobson challenges us to be color brave
8[116] Ray Kurzweil on what the future holds next December 2018
9[117] Daniel Kahneman wants you to doubt yourself. Here's why
10[118] Sir Ken Robinson still wants an education revolution
Bonus[119] Chris Anderson on the Ezra Klein Show December 20, 2018
Season 2
No. in season Title Airdate
Extra[120] Roger McNamee takes on big tech May 3, 2019
1[121] Bill Gates looks to the future May 2019
2[122] Amanda Palmer on radical truth telling
3[123] David Brooks on political healing
4[124] Kai-Fu Lee on the future of AI June 2019
5[125] Susan Cain takes us into the mind of the introvert
6[126] Andrew McAfee on the future of our economy
7[127] Sylvia Earle makes the case for our oceans
8[128] Monica Lewinsky argues for a bully-free world July 2019
9[129] Tim Ferriss on life-hacks and psychedelics
10[130] Yuval Noah Harari reveals the real dangers ahead
11[131] Johann Hari challenges the way we think about depression
Season 3
No. in season Title Airdate
Bonus[132] Parag Khanna: On global connectivity September 25, 2019
1[133] Dan Gilbert on the surprising science of happiness October 2019
2[134] Anil Seth explores the mystery of consciousness
3[135] Elif Shafak on the urgent power of storytelling
4[136] Michael Tubbs on politics as a force for good
5[137] Kate Raworth argues that rethinking economics can save our planet November 2019
6[138] Donald Hoffman has a radical new theory on how we experience reality
7[139] Frances Frei's three pillars of leadership
8[140] Christiana Figueres on how we can solve the climate crisis December 2019
Bonus[141] Tom Rivett-Carnac is optimistic about the fate of our planet December 23, 2019
Season 4
No. in season Title Airdate
Bonus[142] Adam Kucharski on what should—and shouldn't—worry us about the coronavirus Recorded on March 11, 2020; broadcast on March 12, 2020
1[143] Bill Gates on how we must respond to the COVID-19 pandemic Recorded on March 24, 2020; broadcast on March 30, 2020
2[144] Seth Berkley on the quest for the coronavirus vaccine Recorded on March 26, 2020; broadcast on March 31, 2020
3[145] Jonathan Sacks on how we can navigate the coronavirus pandemic with courage and hope Recorded on March 30, 2020; broadcast on March 31, 2020
4[146] Gary Liu on what the world can learn from China's response to COVID-19 Recorded on March 25, 2020; broadcast on April 1, 2020
5[147] Sonia Shah: How to make pandemics optional, not inevitable Recorded on March 31, 2020; broadcast on April 2, 2020
6[148] Matt Walker: How to sleep during a pandemic Recorded on April 1, 2020; broadcast on April 2, 2020
7[149] Elizabeth Gilbert says it's OK to feel overwhelmed. Here's what to do next Recorded on April 2, 2020; broadcast on April 3, 2020
8[150] Susan David: Emotional resilience in times of crisis Recorded on March 23, 2020; broadcast on April 4, 2020
9[151] Priya B. Parker: How to create meaningful connections while apart Recorded on March 27, 2020; broadcast on April 5, 2020
10[152] Danielle Allen: The tech we need to end the pandemic and restart the economy Recorded on April 6, 2020; broadcast on April 7, 2020
11[153] Ray Dalio: What coronavirus means for the global economy Recorded on April 9, 2020; broadcast on April 10, 2020
12[154] Fareed Zakaria: The world after the coronavirus pandemic Recorded on April 9, 2020; broadcast on April 10, 2020
13[155] Elizabeth Dunn: Design your life for happiness Recorded on February 5, 2020; broadcast on April 17, 2020
14[156] Dambisa Moyo: What we get wrong about global growth Recorded on March 5, 2020; broadcast on April 24, 2020
15[157] Kristalina Georgieva: What we learn from the crisis can make our economy stronger Recorded on May 18, 2020; broadcast on May 28, 2020
16[158] Phillip Atiba Goff, Rashad Robinson, Bernice King, Anthony D. Romero: The path to ending systemic racism in the US Recorded on June 3, 2020; broadcast on June 6, 2020
17[159] Audrey Tang: How Taiwan used digital tools to solve the pandemic Recorded on June 1, 2020; broadcast on June 11, 2020
18[160] Dan Schulman: Why a company's future depends on putting its employees first Recorded on May 19, 2020; broadcast on June 18, 2020
19[161] Ashraf Ghani: A path to peace in Afghanistan Recorded on June 16, 2020; broadcast on June 25, 2020
20[162] Al Gore: On the new urgency of the climate crisis Recorded on June 23, 2020; broadcast on July 2, 2020
21[163] Darren Walker: The role of the wealthy in achieving equality Recorded on July 1, 2020; broadcast on July 9, 2020
22[164] Malala Yousafzai: On why educating girls changes everything Recorded on July 8, 2020; broadcast on July 16, 2020


Main article: TEDMED

TEDMED is an annual conference concerned with health and medicine. It is an independent event operating under license from the nonprofit TED conference.[165]

TEDMED was founded in 1998 by TED's founder Ricky Wurman. After years of inactivity, in 2008 Wurman sold TEDMED to entrepreneur Marc Hodosh, who recreated and relaunched it. The first event under Hodosh's ownership was held in San Diego in October 2009. In January 2010, began including videos of TEDMED talks on the TED website.[165]

The second Hodosh-owned edition of TEDMED took place in October 2010, also in San Diego. It sold out for a second year and attracted notable healthcare leaders and Hollywood celebrities.[166]

In 2011, Jay Walker and a group of executives and investors purchased TEDMED from Hodosh for $16 million with future additional payments of as much as $9 million. The conference was then moved to Washington, DC.[167]


TEDWomen is an annual three-day conference.[168] Established in 2010, TEDWomen features speakers focused on women-oriented themes, including gender issues and reproductive health.[169][170] There are over 130 TEDWomen Talks available[171] to watch on the TED website. Past speakers include former president Jimmy Carter,[172] Hillary Clinton,[173] Sheryl Sandberg,[174] Madeleine Albright,[175] Nancy Pelosi,[176] and Halla Tómasdóttir.[177][178]


TEDYouth talks are aimed at middle school and high school students and feature information from youth innovators.[179]

Other programs



Speakers and performers at official TED events are not compensated.[196]

Journalist Frank Swain refused to participate in a TEDx event without being paid. He said that it was unacceptable that TED, a non-profit organization, charged attendees $6,000 but prohibited organizers of the smaller, independently organized TEDx events from paying speakers.[197]

Sarah Lacy of BusinessWeek and TechCrunch wrote in 2010 that TED attendees complained of elitism from a "hierarchy of parties throughout the LA area with strict lists and security" after the sessions. She gave credit for freely live-streaming and posting videos of its talks.[198]

TED Talk content

Disagreements have also occurred between TED speakers and organizers. In her 2010 TED Talk, comedian Sarah Silverman referred to adopting a "retarded" child. TED organizer Chris Anderson objected via his Twitter account, leading to a conflict between them conducted over Twitter.[199][200]

Also in 2010, statistician Nassim Taleb called TED a "monstrosity that turns scientists and thinkers into low-level entertainers, like circus performers". He claimed TED curators did not initially post his talk "warning about the financial crisis" on their site on purely cosmetic grounds.[201]

In May 2012, venture capitalist Nick Hanauer spoke at TED University, challenging the belief that top income earners in America were the engines of job creation. TED attracted controversy when it chose not to post Hanauer's talk on their website. His talk analysed the top rate of tax versus unemployment and economic equality.[202] TED was accused of censoring the talk by not posting it.[203][204]

On May 7, 2012, TED curator Chris Anderson, in an email to Hanauer, commented on his decision and took issue with several of Hanauer's assertions in the talk, including the idea that businesspeople were not job creators. He also made clear his aversion to the talk's "political nature":[205]

I agree with your language about ecosystems, and your dismissal of some of the mechanistic economy orthodoxy, yet many of your own statements seem to go further than those arguments justify.
But even if the talk was rated a home run, we couldn't release it, because it would be unquestionably regarded as out and out political. We're in the middle of an election year in the US. Your argument comes down firmly on the side of one party. And you even reference that at the start of the talk. TED is nonpartisan and is fighting a constant battle with TEDx organizers to respect that principle...
Nick, I personally share your disgust at the growth in inequality in the US, and would love to have found a way to give people a clearer mindset on the issue, without stoking a tedious partisan rehash of all the arguments we hear every day in the mainstream media.
Alas, my judgement is that publishing your talk would not meet that goal.

— Chris Anderson, May 7, 2012[205]

The National Journal reported that Anderson considered Hanauer's talk one of the most politically controversial they had produced, and they needed to be careful about when they posted it.[203] Anderson responded on his personal blog that TED posted only one talk each day, selected from many.[206] Forbes staff writer Bruce Upbin noted that Hanauer's claim of a relationship between tax rates and unemployment was based entirely on falsified unemployment data,[207] while New York magazine condemned TED's move.[208]

Following a TEDx talk by parapsychologist Rupert Sheldrake, TED issued a statement saying their scientific advisors believed that "there is little evidence for some of Sheldrake's more radical claims", and recommended that it "should not be distributed without being framed with caution". The video was moved from the TEDx YouTube channel to the TED blog, accompanied by such framing language. This prompted accusations of censorship, which TED rebutted by pointing out that Sheldrake's talk was still on their website.[209][210] A 2013 talk by Graham Hancock, promoting the use of the drug DMT, was treated the same way.[211][95]

According to professor Benjamin Bratton at University of California, San Diego, TED Talks' efforts at fostering progress in socio-economics, science, philosophy and technology have been ineffective.[212] Chris Anderson responded that some critics misunderstood TED's goals, failing to recognise that it aimed to instill excitement in audiences in the same ways speakers felt it. He said that TED wished only to bring awareness of significant topics to larger audiences.[213]

In popular culture

The Alien franchise features a fictional portrayal of a 2023 TED Conference, in the form of a short film called "The Peter Weyland Files: TED Conference, 2023".[214] It was a part of the viral marketing campaign for the franchise's film Prometheus (2012).

Episode 08, season 20 of the animated TV series Family Guy features a cutaway scene of Peter Griffin giving a TED talk about birthdays.

Australian alternative rock band TISM parodied TED talks at their 2 March 2024 concert in Launceston, Tasmania as "TISM Talks", which included a skit parodying TED talks running behind the band for the duration of the show.

Episode 16 of Series 2 of the TV series Elementary "The One Percent Solution" features ex-Scotland Yard Inspector Gareth Lestrade presenting a "DUG Chat". According to a tweet from the @ELEMENTARYstaff Twitter account [215] "We had to call them "Dug" chats because we weren't allowed to use the name 'Ted Talk'".

See also


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