Mark Pesce’s Biography
In 1984 Pesce wrote the firmware for the first version of the SecurID – now the global standard for access control systems.
In 1986 Inspired by Ted Nelson’s Literary Machines, Pesce founds Literature Systems, an early hypertext company, writing a complete hypertext system for Macintosh – years before Hypercard.
In 1988 Pesce joined the founding team at startup Shiva Corporation. Shiva invented ‘dial-up networking’ – allowing an individual at home or on the road access office network resources through a normal dial-up connection. Pesce developed the breakthrough Shiva Network Manager, creating the world’s first easy-to-configure interface for an internet-connected device.
In 1991 Pesce founded Ono-Sendai Corporation, the world’s first consumer virtual reality startup, inventing a orientation sensor (US Patent 5,526,022) for low-cost virtual reality applications licensed by Sega Corporation for their Virtua VR head-mounted display.
In 1994 Pesce co-invented the Virtual Reality Modeling Language (VRML) with Tony Parisi (Head of VR & AR at Unity Technologies) and Gavin Andresen (Chief Scientist of the Bitcoin Foundation), the first standard for interactive 3D graphics on the World Wide Web, and the ancestor of present-day Web 3D technologies, such as WebGL and WebVR.
In 1995 working with World Wide Web inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee, Pesce founded and oversaw the growth of the VRML Architecture Group, a consortium of industry and academic stakeholders furthering VRML standards development.
Also in 1995 New Riders Press published Pesce’s international bestseller VRML: Browsing and Building Cyberspace. The book introduced hundreds of thousands of VRML enthusiasts to Web-based 3D and virtual reality.
In 1996 with Emmy award-winning producer Jan Mallis, Pesce co-founds BlitCom, the first company to use VRML to deliver streaming 3D entertainment over the Web.
In 1998 Pesce founded the Graduate Program in Interactive Media at the University of Southern California’s world-famous School of Cinema-Television, where he taught the next generation of creative professionals how to master emerging technologies for storytelling.
In 2000 Ballantine Books (Random House) published The Playful World: How Technology is Transforming Our Imagination. Linking today’s interactive technologies with tomorrow’s capabilities, The Playful World uses toys like Furby and Playstation to map out the possibilities of the 21st century.
In 2003, Pesce was invited to Sydney to found a postgraduate program in Interactive and Emerging Media at the world-renowned Australian Film Television and Radio School.
In 2005, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation invited Pesce to become a panelist and judge on The New Inventors, a hit television series celebrating Australian inventors and ingenuity. For seven years, Pesce was a weekly guest in the nation’s households.
In 2006 working with Claxton Speakers International, Pesce began a career as a public speaker, delivering scores of talks every year, all around the world. Pesce’s perceptive, engaging and unique blend of storytelling empowers audiences, his clear, concise explanations leaving them well-equipped to understand and interpret the transformations and challenges of the connected world.
In 2007 Pesce was appointed an Honorary Associate in the Digital Cultures Program at the University of Sydney. Pesce regularly lectures to students in both Media & Communications and the Design Computing programs. Pesce currently serves as Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the University of Sydney’s INCUBATE program, working closely with startup founders working to commercialise their research outcomes.
In 2009 Pesce presented “Hyperpolitics” at the Personal Democracy Forum, the first work to outline the way pervasive connectivity would intersect with, interrupt and amplify political power throughout the middle years of the 21st century. “Hyperpolitics” looked at the battles between Anonymous and the Church of Scientology to accurately predict the coming war between truth and ‘fake news’.
In 2011 Pesce published The Next Billion Seconds, mapping the qualities and consequences of a world where everyone is “hyperconnected” — sharing what they know, learning from what others have shared, and putting to work what they’ve learned via sharing.
In 2012 Pesce began consulting international banking union SWIFT, helping financiers and central bankers understand the implications of billions of smartphone-wielding customers. This led to continuing work with the World Bank through its SME Finance Forum, an initiative of the G20’s Global Partnership for Financial Inclusion.
In 2013 Pesce founded MooresCloud, an Internet-of-Things startup bringing smart accent lighting into the home, designing, manufacturing and shipping Holiday, a smart, app-controlled string of lights perfect for the Christmas Tree or any festive occasion. Pesce also wrote the highly-praised mobile Web software that still makes Holiday among the easiest to use connected devices ever created.
In 2014 working with angel investor and longtime collaborator Jason Calacanis, Pesce launched This Week in Startups Australia, a podcast covering the stories, strengths, news and successes of Australia’s rapidly-growing startup sector. Within twelve months, This Week in Startups Australia was Australia’s #1 downloaded tech podcast.
In 2015 Pesce began working with banks and fintech firms to harness the emerging capabilities of blockchain-based technologies to create financial products and services that are more open, more secure, and more resilient. Pesce guided Westpac – a 40,000-person organisation – into deep competency in blockchain “thinking”, running a highly successful hackathon for both Westpac employees and external vendors, delivering insight across the business.
In 2016 Pesce introduced Mixed Reality Service (MRS), a blockchain application creating a distributed, secure, scalable and global system mapping geospatial coordinates to Web-based resources. MRS has a wide range of uses in areas as diverse as augmented reality, autonomous drones, business information systems, marketing and OH&S.
In 2017 Pesce received an appointment as Honorary Adjunct at the University of Technology, Sydney’s brand-new Animal Logic Academy. Pesce’s expertise in both virtual reality and media production help the ALA postgraduate students achieve their academic and career goals.
Also in 2017 in conjunction with SouthernCrossAustereo and PodcastOne Australia, Pesce launched The Next Billion Seconds, profiling the individuals shaping the world of tomorrow. The next billion seconds (that’s a bit more than 30 years) will be the most important in history – what can we know today to help us make better decisions about tomorrow?
At the end of 2017 Meanjin published Pesce’s “The Last Days of Reality“. The collision of Facebook’s social media profiling, amplified by artificial intelligence, delivered via augmented reality reality spectacles, leads us to a soon-to-arrive future in which it becomes impossible to know what is true.
Pesce works and lives in Sydney.