Full Name
Obi Felten
Job Title
Company Name
Flourish Labs
Speaker Bio
Head of Getting Moonshots Ready for Contact with the Real World, Google X (2012-2021)

A digital pioneer in Europe, Obi worked on the launch of the UK’s first online bank, took online retailer eToys.com to Europe during the dotcom era, set up and ran the ecommerce business of jewelry retailer H. Samuel (Signet Group, SIG) and advised large European retailers on their multi channel strategy. As Google’s Director of Consumer Marketing for Europe, Middle East and Africa, Obi and her team rolled out Google Search and Maps across 100 countries, launched and grew Chrome and Android from zero to 500M users, and won Cannes Lion awards for their work. She oversaw an annual budget of $800M and was named #4 on the UK Marketing Power 100.

Obi moved to Silicon Valley in 2012 to join the nascent Google X, Alphabet’s innovation lab. As Head of Getting Moonshots Ready for Contact with the Real World, she built out X’s non-engineering functions. She was an early leader on projects such as autonomous cars (Waymo), air delivery by drone (Wing), internet access from stratospheric balloons (Loon), and sustainable energy storage using molten salt (Malta). All are now independent companies. Most recently Obi founded and led Amber, a project using brain-based biomarkers and machine learning to measure anxiety and depression. She was honored for her innovation work with the German Innovation Prize “Future Thinker” award in 2018. She was named a Financial Times Woman Changemaker in 2018, FOCUS Woman in Tech in 2019, and Boston Consulting Group/Manager Magazin T op 100 most influential German woman in business in 2019 and 2020.

Obi is an independent director of Springer Nature, a global academic and educational publisher, and of BfB Labs, a digital therapeutics startup focused on youth mental health. She is a trustee of Shift, a social innovation charity. She is a strategic advisory board member for mental health at the Wellcome Trust, one of the largest funders of scientific research. She is a founding board member of the Healthy Brains Global Initiative, a pioneering effort to fund more brain health research. She was previously an independent director of Picasso Labs, a venture- backed creative analytics startup.

Throughout her career, she has navigated competitive environments and tough regulatory landscapes in consumer internet, retail, financial services, telecoms, transportation, energy and healthcare. A firm believer in a partnership approach, she paved the way for Loon’s partnerships with global telcos. She negotiated Google’s first global sports partnership with FIFA without traditional marketing sponsorship. Known for her sound judgement around business and technology risk, investment decisions and resource allocation, Obi has started dozens of ventures but is not afraid to shut down failing projects or businesses. Harvard Business School turned one of her failed X projects, Foghorn, into a case study of radical innovation culture. Her experience of managing through a crisis dates back to 2001 when she wound down eToys Europe at age 28. A t Google she dealt with privacy controversies such as the treet View launch in Germany. Obi is an advocate for women, people of color and other underrepresented groups in technology. At X, she founded the diversity & inclusion team, supported several employee resource groups and served on the leadership team for Women of Alphabet in the Bay Area. She mentors female startup founders and women getting ready for board service.

She speaks and writes on innovation, diversity and inclusion, and mental health. She has spoken at numerous technology and entrepreneur conferences, as well as private gatherings of CEOs and philanthropists. She was interviewed twice on stage at the Fortune Most Powerful Women Next Gen conference. She delivered the opening keynote at Chautauqua Institution, where previous speakers included FDR, Hillary Clinton and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She has guest lectured at INSEAD, Stanford University and UC Berkeley. She was on the cover of Vogue Germany’s business edition and has been featured in The Financial Times, Handelsblatt, Wirtschaftswoche, Fortune, Wired, The New York Times, The Atlantic, Bloomberg, Fast Company, MIT Technology Review, BBC and NBC.

Obi grew up in Berlin and saw the wall come down. She has a BA in Philosophy and Psychology from Oxford University. She now lives in California with her husband and two children. She loves yoga, biking, paddleboarding, skiing (which she picked up at age 40), travelling, cooking, eating, and her family.