Making connections
Biofuels, online romance, and Chinese valuations: At FORTUNE's Brainstorm 2006, the ideas just kept coming.
By David Kirkpatrick, Fortune Magazine

(Fortune Magazine) -- Senator John McCain said that inaction on global warming was a crime against our children. Former Time Inc. editor-in-chief Norm Pearlstine challenged Home Depot CEO Bob Nardelli to justify his $250 million pay package.

Retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor said one reason the U.S. Constitution has proved so durable is its brevity - and pulled a copy out of her handbag to remind people just how short it is.

These are just a few nuggets mined from an extraordinary two-day exchange of ideas at the end of June called Brainstorm, which Fortune hosted with the Aspen Institute in Colorado.

The conference's theme - Life in a Connected World - suggests its aim: to help the 325 attendees (including a contingent of Fortune writers and editors) better understand the interplay among business, government, and society in a world being knit ever closer by tech and the Internet.

While Brainstorm isn't a technology conference, tech executives, Internet entrepreneurs, and venture capitalists were disproportionately represented. Scott Heiferman, CEO of Meetup, an Internet company that helps groups connect face-to-face, offered a revision of Andy Warhol for the Internet Age: On social networks, he pronounced, "everyone is famous for 15 people."

Diana Farrell, head of the McKinsey Global Institute, hinted at the romance of the Net: One in eight couples married in the U.S. last year, she said, met online.

At a panel on the Internet in China, Morgan Stanley (Charts) analyst Mary Meeker said censorship worries were holding down valuations of Chinese Net companies. That prompted Hung Huang, a Chinese blogger and publisher of teen magazines, to suggest that China's government might find low valuations a better reason to ease censorship than concerns over human rights.

Beyond technology, the connections between people and the planet also loomed large. The consensus: Business is nearing a breakthrough in thinking about the environment. Developing new, sustainable sources of energy "should be our generation's Apollo moon shot," said venture capitalist John Doerr.

On a panel with Shell CEO Jeroen van der Veer, Vinod Khosla, Doerr's longtime partner, said companies he has invested in could provide ethanol, a fuel produced from plant products, cheaply enough for Shell to make a healthy profit while selling for $1.99 a gallon. Khosla's presentation was so intriguing that he was later spotted talking animatedly with the man from Shell.

But Lester Brown, president of the Earth Policy Institute, argued that Khosla got it wrong. Making biofuels, said Brown, wastes water and creates competition between fuel and food. His answer: wind.

No, it's the sun, said Bill Gross, a Net pioneer (he invented pay-per-click search advertising) who is now a solar-power guru. Energy Innovations, his new company, produces a solar collector that uses mirrors to concentrate sunlight on silicon to generate electricity. At the end of the day, consensus was elusive. But the range - and passion - of the responses was vintage Brainstorm.

The Grand Mufti of Bosnia, Mustafa Ceric, made the deepest connection: between the human and the divine. "Corporate people have a surplus in ... material goods," he said on a panel moderated by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. "We have a surplus in ... spiritual goods. We should do a trade."

1 François Essig, chairman, MSF Foundation

2 Michael Elliott, international editor, Time magazine

3 Jonathan Eilian, CEO, Atrium Holding

4 John Gage, VP, science office, Sun Microsystems

5 Emilio Diez Barroso, chairman, North America Latin American Investments

6 James P. Dougherty, CEO, MetaMatrix

7 John Hagel, co-author, The Only Sustainable Edge

8 Jim Fruchterman, president and CEO, Benetech

9 Nabil Fahmy, ambassador of the Arab Republic of Egypt to the U.S.

10 Richard Edelman, president and CEO, Edelman Public Relations

11 John Fisher, managing director, Draper Fisher Jurvetson

12 Kevin Fong, managing director, Mayfield Fund

13 Agnes Gund, former president, Museum of Modern Art

14 Ezekiel Emanuel, chairman, Dept. of Clinical Bioethics, NIH

15 César Gaviria, former President of Colombia; Otun Group

16 Björn Edlund, VP, communi-cations, Royal Dutch Shell

17 Dan Gillmor, founder and director, Center for Citizen Media

18 Richard Gochnauer, president and CEO, United Stationers

19 Michael Fairbanks, executive chairman, OTF Group

20 Peter Diamandis, chairman and CEO, X Prize Foundation

21 Charles Firestone, Aspen Institute

22 Vishakha Desai, president and CEO, Asia Society

23 David Gergen, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University

24 Eric Dezenhall, president, Dezenhall Resources

25 David DeLong, research fellow, MIT AgeLab

26 Juan Enriquez, CEO, Biotechonomy

27 Sergey Generalov, president, Industrial Investors

28 Michael Federle, Time Inc.

29 John Clippinger, senior fellow, Harvard Law School

30 Chris Galvin, chairman, Harrison Street Capital

31 Fadi Elsalameen, senior advisor, MENA Communications

32 Glen Fukushima, president and CEO, Airbus Japan

33 Paulo Gomes, Executive director, World Bank Group

34 Gary Flake, technical fellow, Microsoft

35 Stuart Gannes, director, digital vision, Stanford University

36 William Haseltine, chairman, Haseltine Global Health

37 Zohre Elahian, director, Global Catalyst Partners

38 Diana Farrell, director, McKinsey Global Institute

39 Sakie Fukushima, Korn/Ferry International, Japan

40 Michelle Guthrie, CEO, STAR

41 Kamran Elahian, chairman, Global Catalyst Partners

42 Bill Owens, governor of Colorado

43 Scott Mowbray, executive editor, Time Inc.

44 John Hickenlooper, mayor of Denver

45 David Frazee, shareholder, Greenberg Traurig

46 Charles Harper, SVP, John Templeton Foundation

47 Thomas Hazlett, Dept. of Economics, George Mason Univ.

48 George Colony, chairman and CEO, Forrester Research

49 Hung Huang, CEO, China Interactive

50 Juan Hernandez, president, Org. for Hispanic Advancement

51 Jen-Hsun Huang, president and CEO, Nvidia Corp.

52 Troy Hooper, associate editor, Aspen Daily News

53 Peter Hirshberg, chairman and CMO, Technorati

54 Maggie Wilderotter, CEO, Citizens Communications

55 Peter Hero, president and CEO, Community Fdn. Silicon Valley

56 Steve Jurvetson, managing director, Draper Fisher Jurvetson

57 Richard Koshalek, president, Art Center College of Design

58 Arjun Gupta, managing partner, TeleSoft Partners

59 Mark Liponis, corporate medical director, Canyon Ranch

60 Kristen Manos, EVP, Herman Miller

61 Simon London, director, external relations, McKinsey

62 James Manyika, partner, McKinsey

63 Suzanne DiBianca, executive director, Salesforce Foundation

64 Bradley Horowitz, VP, product strategy group, Yahoo

65 Nobuyuki Idei, chief corporate advisor, Sony

66 Scott Heiferman, CEO, Meetup

67 Gary Lauder, managing partner, Lauder Partners

68 Thomas Malone, professor of management, MIT Sloan School

69 David Li, Center for China and the Economy, Tsinghua Univ.

70 Tom Kiser, chairman and CEO, Professional Supply

71 Jesper Koll, chief economist, Merrill Lynch, Japan

72 Ashley Quisol, student fellow, Salesforce Foundation

73 Laura Lauder, general partner, Lauder Partners

74 David Hawkins, director, Climate Center, NRDC

75 David Heenan, author, Flight Capital

76 Mellody Hobson, president, Ariel Capital Management

77 Keith Ferrazzi, CEO, Ferrazzi Greenlight

78 Randolph Levine, director, ZettaCore

79 Brij Kothari, president, PlanetRead

80 Mark Jannot, editor, Popular Science

81 Luis Jimenez, SVP, Pitney Bowes

82 Isabel Bussarakum, student fellow, Salesforce Foundation

83 Joi Ito, president and CEO, Neoteny

84 Suzanne Malveaux, White House correspondent, CNN

85 Paul LaMonica, senior writer, CNNMoney.com

86 Alexandre Kalache, World Health Organization

87 Doreen Lorenzo, COO, Frog Design

88 Myles Lennon, student fellow, Salesforce Foundation

89 Daniel Ross, associate director, Mullis Capital

90 Reid Kleckner, student fellow, Salesforce Foundation

91 Rebecca MacKinnon, Center for Internet and Society, Harvard Law

92 Fred Krupp, president, Environmental Defense

93 Glenn Close, actress

94 John Brockman, chairman and CEO, Brockman

95 Rajiv Chandrasekaran, assistant managing editor, Washington Post

96 Martin Sorrell, group chief executive, WPP

97 Olivier Cormier, EVP, Invest in France Agency

98 Hu Shuli, managing editor, Caijing

99 Paul Bricault, SVP, William Morris Agency

100 Robert Kotick, chairman and CEO, Activision

101 Elias Antonio Saca, President, Republic of El Salvador

102 William DeKruif, president and director, Sonare Technologies

103 Brian Grazer, chairman, Imagine Entertainment

104 Queen Noor of Jordan

105 Jim Breyer, managing partner, Accel Partners

106 Ken Courtis, former vice chairman, Goldman Sachs Asia

107 Mustafa Ceric, Grand Mufti of Bosnia

108 Lester Brown, president, Earth Policy Institute

109 Aart de Geus, chairman and CEO, Synopsys

110 Richard Vie, president and CEO, Unitrin

111 William Coleman, CEO, Cassatt

112 Dick Costolo, CEO, FeedBurner

113 Gillian Caldwell, executive director, Witness

114 Madeleine Albright, Albright Group

115 Idit Harel Caperton, CEO, MaMaMedia

116 Nancy Brinker, Susan Komen Breast Cancer Foundation

117 Larry Brilliant, executive director, Google Foundation

118 Carol Browner, Albright Group

119 Michelle Goguen, VP, Omidyar Network

120 Darell Hammond, CEO, KaBoom

121 Jody Westby, president and CEO, Global Cyber Risk

122 Arkady Volozh, CEO, Yandex

123 John Boynton, president and CEO, Firehouse Capital

124 Vincent Waiswa Bagiire, CEO, Bridges.org

125 Stephen Schwarzman, chairman and CEO, Blackstone Group

126 Pamela Wallin, consul of Canada to the U.S.; New York

127 Bradley Wechsler, co-CEO, IMAX

128 Michel Viger, president, Invest in France Agency

129 Tara Lemmey, CEO, LENS Ventures

130 Tara Weiner, managing partner, Deloitte & Touche

131 Vinod Khosla, partner, Khosla Ventures

132 Chaoyong Wang, CEO, China Equity International Holding

133 David Kirkpatrick, FORTUNE

134 Eric Pooley, FORTUNE

135 Jaime FlorCruz, CNN

136 Doron Weber, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation

137 John Santoro, executive director, leadership communications, Pfizer

138 Jinendra Jain, chairman, Jain TV Group

139 Shirin Lalani Karsan

140 Rudy Karsan, CEO, Kenexa

141 Jeffrey Kindler, vice chairman, Pfizer

142 Pradeep Khosla, dean, College of Engineering, Carnegie Mellon

143 Garry Madeiros, president and CEO, Belco Holdings

144 Jawad Issa, student fellow, Salesforce Foundation

145 Unknown

146 Richard Lampman, director, HP Labs, Hewlett-Packard

147 Taro Kono, senior vice minister of justice, Japan Parliament

148 Tony Scott, SVP and CIO, Walt Disney

149 Jamal Khashoggi, advisor to Saudi ambassador to the U.S.

150 Vineet Nayar, president, HCL Technologies

151 Paul Sagan, president and CEO, Akamai Technologies

152 Fred Rosen, chairman and CEO, Stone Canyon Entertainment

153 Marc Rotenberg, president, Electronic Privacy Info. Center

154 Peter Schwartz, chairman, Global Business Network

155 Farshad Rastegar, CEO, Relief International Schools Online

156 David Poltrack, president, CBS Vision

157 Ryan Phelan, CEO, DNA Direct

158 Diego Rodriguez, director, IDEO

159 Kaori Sasaki, founder, Ewoman

160 Theogene Rudasingwa, co-director, Bridging the Divide

161 Jonathan Rose, president, Jonathan Rose Cos.

162 Amy McCombs, CEO, Heald College

163 Neema Mgana, executive director, African Regional Youth

164 Geoffrey Sands, director, McKinsey

165 Robert O'Leary, chairman, Valeant Pharmaceuticals

166 Narayana Murthy, chairman, Infosys Technologies

167 Chemi Peres, Pitango Venture Capital

168 Marissa Mayer, VP, search products, Google

169 William Mayer, chairman, Aspen Institute

170 Bill Novelli, CEO, AARP

171 Jacqueline Novogratz, CEO, Acumen Fund

172 Luis Moreno, president, Inter-American Development Bank

173 Ken Roth, executive director, Human Rights Watch

174 Samar Fatany, senior announcer, Radio Jeddah

175 Gary Rieschel, managing director, Qiming Venture Partners

176 Pat Mitchell, president and CEO, Museum of TV and Radio

177 Koji Omi, member, House of Representatives, Japan

178 Kim Polese CEO, SpikeSource

179 Ivan Marovic, co-founder, Otpor

180 Tim Smart, president, global services, BT

181 Matt Mahoney, VP, business development, Socialtext

182 Girish Paranjpe, president, finance solutions, Wipro Technol.

183 Mark Penn, CEO, Burson-Marsteller

184 Mary Meeker, managing director, Morgan Stanley

185 Rodney Pearlman, president and CEO, Saegis Pharmaceuticals

186 Katsuhiro Nakagawa, vice chairman, Toyota

187 Samer Salty, CEO, Zouk Ventures

188 John Squires, co-COO, Time Inc.

189 Oki Matsumoto, CEO, Monex

190 Mark Pincus, CEO, Tribe Networks

191 Toshio Morohoshi, CEO, Fujitsu Computer Systems

192 Fabienne Munch, director, Herman Miller

193 Peter Ohnemus, CEO, ASSET4

194 John McKinley, president, digital services, AOL

195 Dan Nelson, VP, Exxon Mobil

196 A. Richard Newton, dean of engineering, U.C. Berkeley

197 Ray Ozzie, chief software architect, Microsoft

198 Jerry Murdock, managing director, Insight Venture Partners

199 Michael Patsalos-Fox, chairman, Americas, McKinsey

200 Heidi Messer, former president, LinkShare

201 Yoko Harada, managing director, Japan, Time Inc.

202 Steve Tisch, chairman, New York Giants

203 Ken Miller, senior advisor, Lehman Brothers Holdings

204 Tim O'Brien, deputy chief of staff, Ford Motor

205 Ross Mayfield, CEO, Socialtext

206 John McClure, corporate VP, Applied Materials

207 David Sze, partner, Greylock Management

208 Joseph Sigelman, co-CEO, Office Tiger

209 David Shaw, managing partner, Black Point Group

210 Jeff Sterba, chairman and CEO, PNM Resources

211 William McDonough, chairman, McDonough + Partners

212 Luís Norberto Pascoal, chair, Fundação Educar Dpaschoal

213 Danny Shader, CEO, Good Technology

214 Andy Stern, president, Service Employees International Union

215 James Stanard, former CEO, RenaissanceRe Holdings

216 Jasmina Tesanovic, activist, filmmaker, author

217 Cameron Sinclair, exec. director, Architecture for Humanity

218 Bruce Sterling, author, journalist, critic

219 Gene Sperling, Council on Foreign Relations

220 Justin Tang, chairman, eLong

221 Louise Blouin MacBain, Louise T. Blouin Foundation

222 Stewart Resnick, chairman, Roll International

223 Lynda Resnick, vice chairman, Roll International

224 Miles Rubin, chairman, Miles Automotive Group

225 Chris DeWolfe, CEO, MySpace

226 Eric Benhamou, CEO, Benhamou Global Ventures

227 James D. Robinson III, chairman, Bristol-Myers Squibb

228 Gerard Baker, U.S. editor, Times (London)

229 C.K. Prahalad, professor, Ross School of Business, U. of Michigan

230 Alan Blinder, professor of Economics, Princeton University

231 Linda Avey, co-president, 23andME

232 Pam Alexander, founder, Alexander Ogilvy Public Relations

233 Deborah Scranton, director, The War Tapes

234 Seth Berkley, CEO, International AIDS Vaccine Initiative

235 Chris Sacca, head of special initiatives, Google

236 Chris Anderson, curator, TED

237 Kathy Bloomgarden, CEO, Ruder-Finn

238 Waichi Sekiguchi, editorial writer, Nihon Keizai Shimbun

239 Lawrence Bender, producer, A Band Apart

240 Aneel Bhusri, general partner, Greylock Partners

241 Samir Toubassy, president, Olayan Development

242 Oussama Ali Tabbara, chairman, Nexia Middle East and Africa

243 Charles Brewer, chairman, Green Street Properties

244 Mark Anderson, president, Strategic News Service

245 Richard Sobel, CEO, Alfa Capital Partners

246 Makoto Utsumi, CEO, Japan Credit Rating Agency

247 Stewart Brand, president, Long Now Foundation

248 Zoe Baird, president, Markle Foundation

249 Muna AbuSalyman, executive manager, Kingdom Holding

250 Carol Bartz, executive chairman, Autodesk

251 Fred Wilson, founding partner, Union Square Ventures

252 Victor Yuan, chairman, Horizon Research Consultancy

253 Walter Isaacson, president and CEO, Aspen Institute

254 Jim Wiatt, CEO, William Morris Agency

255 Howard Willard, EVP, corporate responsibility, Philip Morris

256 Andrew Zolli, founder, Z + Partners

257 Dawn Arnall, chairman, Ameriquest Capital

258 Ayaan Hirsi Ali, fellow, American Enterprise Institute

259 Sara Bloomfield, director, U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum

260 Carol Bernick, executive chairman, Alberto-Culver

261 Yossi Vardi, chairman, International Technologies Ventures

262 Masamoto Yashiro, senior advisor, Shinsei Bank

263 Timothy Wirth, president, United Nations Foundation

264 Jeroen van der Veer, chief executive, Royal Dutch Shell

265 Sandra Day O'Connor, Associate Justice (ret.), U.S. Supreme Court

266 Pierre Omidyar, chairman, eBay, and CEO, Omidyar Network

267 I. Peter Wolff, SVP, global public policy, Time Warner

268 Esther Dyson, editor, Release 1.0, CNET Networks

269 Levin Zhu, CEO, China International Capital Corp.

270 Arianna Huffington, editor, HuffingtonPost.com

271 Gary Bolles, co-founder, Microcast Communications

REPORTER ASSOCIATES Eugenia Levenson and Rachel Smith contributed to this article. Top of page