Writing the future Featured

8:00pm EDT June 25, 2010
Finalist
Technology — Consumer Products

With vision and a vibrant imagination, Jim Marggraff invented some of today’s most popular learning tools. He propelled sales at LeapFrog by developing well-known products like the LeapPad Learning System.

But Marggraff saw the potential to create multimodal learning tools for adults, too. So at a time when venture capitalists were skeptical, capital markets were mostly frozen and retailers were reluctant to add new products, he overcame odds to launch his fifth company, Livescribe Inc.

He envisioned a digital pen that would bridge paper and electronic worlds, changing the way people capture, access and share information. But his would do more than just digitize handwriting. Using a sophisticated dot positioning system, the Pulse smartpen can record, search and sync audio with handwriting.

And unlike other tech companies that had created digital pens in the past, Marggraff built his as the platform for a company rather than a single product.

His idea sold more than 333,000 smartpens in the first 18 months. In two years, it attracted more than 7,500 developers in 69 countries.

But the innovator that he is, Chairman and CEO Marggraff didn’t let his invention end there. In 2009, he announced a new revenue stream with the launch of an application store. By giving his product the capacity to host apps, he ensures ongoing innovation that extends functionality beyond core features — like the ability to draw a guitar on paper and use the Pulse smartpen to strum the strings or to write a word in English and use the pen as a Spanish translator.

Marggraff’s passion for learning goes beyond his inventions. He empowers his employees through the CEO Book Club, where he recommends reading the likes of “Secrets of Excellence” and “The Transparent Leader.” He also financed his wife’s book, “101 Simple Things You Can do To Make a Difference,” which was distributed by The United Way.

How to reach: Livescribe Inc., (510) 777-0071 or www.livescribe.com