David Risher

Jury 2018

John David Risher was born in Bethesda, Maryland. He was raised primarily by his mother, Sarah Risher, and goes by his middle name, David. From an early age, David devoured books; his mother received calls from neighbors who had seen him walking to school with his nose in a book — they were worried that he would get into an accident.

David graduated from Princeton University, where he majored in Comparative Literature. His thesis was on Samuel Beckett and was titled “The Changing Attitudes towards Language in Samuel Beckett’s early Metafiction.” After graduating from college, he worked at LEK Consulting, and then bicycled across the United States before entering the MBA program at Harvard Business School.

After HBS, David moved to Seattle and joined Microsoft. He was General Manager in charge of launching the company’s first database product, Microsoft Access. In 1997, he left Microsoft to join Amazon.com as its first Vice President of Product and Store development. Under his leadership, Amazon’s revenue grew from $16 million to over $4 billion. He later served as the company’s Senior Vice President, US Retail, overseeing the marketing and general management of Amazon’s retail operations.

David left Amazon in 2002. At the very bottom of Amazon.com’s store directory, a perpetual easter egg link leads to a tribute to David written by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.

David and ESADE Business School’s Director of Marketing Colin McElwee founded Worldreader in Barcelona, Spain in 2010. After visiting an orphanage in Ecuador whose library was not being used due to the lack of useful reading material, David reflected on a conversation with Colin on how e-readers and digital books could be used to more efficiently give kids in remote and under-served parts of the world access to books that they would actually read. Worldreader was born.

Worldreader is headquartered in San Francisco and has offices in London, Barcelona, Accra, and New Delhi.

David Risher is a Draper Richards Kaplan Social Entrepreneur, a Microsoft Alumni Foundation Integral Fellow, and an invited member of the Clinton Global Initiative. He was further named one of 12 Schwab Foundation Social Entrepreneurs of the Year 2016. David considers himself lucky to speak four of the world’s languages — English, French, Spanish and Catalan — and hopes someday to learn a fifth.

David lives in San Francisco, California with his wife, Jennifer, and his two daughters, with whom he continues to enjoy bicycling and reading together.