100 Ways: Freedom & Human Rights


Published May 13, 2019 12:54 PM

Nothing Ventured...


Where to begin to describe the impact of UCLA’s entrepreneurial ecosystem? One could note that in 2017, the Milken Institute ranked UCLA No. 1 for the number of companies launched from campus research. Or that UCLA-developed technology launched 24 start-ups during the 2016-2017 fiscal year alone. Or maybe just tick off the names of countless companies founded by entrepreneurs with a UCLA connection: BlackRock. Sirius XM. The Honest Company. Blizzard Entertainment. The Bouqs Company. Veggie Grill.

What’s striking is the wide variety of companies on the list. They are online and in your local mall. They’re in every sector: tech, food services, health care, retail. What they share is their aim to make a difference.

Take the story of retired U.S. Marine Special Operations Officer Derek Herrera E.M.B.A. ’15. While serving in Afghanistan in 2012, he was shot in battle and became paralyzed from the chest down. Returning to the U.S., he enrolled at UCLA Anderson School of Management and became an entrepreneur out of personal necessity — he had a problem to solve. Today, Herrera is founder and chief technology officer of Spinal Singularity, a medical device company that developed a catheter for individuals with spinal injuries. “This device is a small step in a bigger vision,” Herrera says. “And that’s to change the entire narrative around spinal cord injury.”

On the lighter side, Time magazine called Halo Top — the low-calorie, protein-infused ice cream — one of the “best inventions of 2017” after the dessert beat out Häagen-Dazs and Ben & Jerry’s to become the best-selling grocery store pint in the country. The company was founded by Justin Woolverton ’05, an attorney-turned-entrepreneur. “Food to me is a drug — in fact, the most important drug we take,” Woolverton says. “It affects everything. For people like me who care deeply about what we put into our bodies, there weren’t enough products like Halo Top.”

Lo and Behold

Internet 2.0

On October 29, 1969, UCLA Distinguished Professor of Computer Science Leonard Kleinrock and student programmer Charley Kline ’70, M.S. ’71, Ph.D. ’80 gave birth to the Internet. UCLA was the first “node” on the ARPANET, a research network that was funded by the Advanced Research Projects Agency of the Department of Defense. At 10:30 p.m., in 3420 Boelter Hall, the two men attempted to connect to a computer at Stanford Research Institute, the second node. If they could type LOG, they were in. They sent “L” and “O,” but the SRI computer crashed before the “G.” “The first message ever on the ARPANET/ Internet was ‘LO,’ as in ‘lo and behold,’” Kleinrock says. “We didn’t plan it, but we couldn’t have come up with a better message: short and prophetic.”

The front panel of the first IMP at the opening of the Kleinrock Internet Heritage Site and Archive.

From that beginning, the Internet spread across the globe, upending technology, culture and human behavior. Kleinrock, who pioneered theories that undergird the Internet, trained a cadre of graduate students in a collegial environment.

UCLA researchers stress-tested early networks and explored the wireless world. Major companies still mine hundreds of UCLA-developed papers on topics such as enhanced efficiency of Internet protocols. The late Professor Mario Gerla M.S. ’70, Ph.D. ’73, an ARPANET pioneer, worked on wired and wireless networks as director of UCLA’s Center for Autonomous Intelligent Networks and the Network Research Lab.

Recently, Kleinrock established the UCLA Connection Lab, where researchers examine anything related to connectivity. Professor Lixia Zhang is currently investigating named data networks, a potentially more efficient way to find data on the Internet.

Next fall, luminaries from the Internet world will gather at UCLA to mark the 50th anniversary of the Internet’s birth. “The vigor, the energy, the talent and drive are still well-established here, but we’re part of a much larger culture now, which is the nature of the Internet,” Kleinrock says. “You reach out across the world.”