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Alex Bäcker's Wiki / Who Alex Bäcker is
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Who Alex Bäcker is

This version was saved 2 years, 2 months ago View current version     Page history
Saved by Alex Backer, Ph.D.
on September 7, 2018 at 11:54:51 am

Who is Alex Bäcker?


A scientist, inventor and entrepreneur. Scientist to observe the world, inventor to ideate improvement, entrepreneur to bring it to life.


Alex Bäcker is founder and CEO of QLess. QLess™'s mission is to extend humankind's enjoyable lifespan. Waiting in line wastes more human life --two years of the average life-- than smoking-related deaths. To begin, QLess is eliminating standing in line from the face of the Earth with an award-winning wireless technology that has already saved over 100 million users from thousands of years of waiting in line --more time than all of recorded history-- at DMVs, restaurants, retail stores for Fortune 100 companies, shopping malls, doctors' offices, colleges, call centers, barbers, car dealers and other locations in hundreds of cities across six continents, as featured in the WSJ, The New York Times, TechCrunch, CNET, Mashable, the BBC, Fast Company, Entrepreneur, Los Angeles Business Journal, NPR, Fox News, ABC, NBC and many other news outlets. QLess has already injected well over 2.7 billion dollars of time into the economy. 


The average person spends 2 years of her life waiting in line (R. C. Larson, Operations Research 35(6): 895, 1987). That’s 55 billion hours per yr in the US alone, 9% of the avg. work-life expectancy, & $1.2 trillion of the US GDP lost yearly, and many more trillions globally. Businesses routinely lose up to 49% of prospective customers lost during the wait. People have been standing in line since the times of ancient Egypt, and the technology has changed little since. QLess fixes all of this. 


QLess eliminates waiting in line anywhere by letting users get in a virtual, mobile, interactive queue from any mobile phone, then get notified predictively as their turn approaches. QLess allows them to request more time if needed, obtain wait forecasts at any time, and find queues with the shortest waits. 


Under Dr. Bäcker's leadership, his companies, and QLess in particular, have consistently grown their aggregate annual sales at an average yearly growth rate of over 75% since launch, and count Fortune 500 companies such as Vodafone and Dow Chemical, as well as award-winning governments, such as the state of Nevada and Michigan, healthcare leaders such as Kaiser Permanente and universities such as NYU, the University of California and the University of Texas, leading establishments such as the Port of Antwerp, the US Air Force, the NFL, the NHL, the Red Sox and the Metropolitan Airports Commission, among their customers, and companies such as BT, Oracle and Telefónica among their partners.


Dr. Bäcker's creation, QLess, Inc. was named the Best Small Computer Services Company in the USA for a record-breaking six consecutive years --every year since 2013-- at the American Business Awards and the Best Small Computer Services Company in the world at the 2015, 2016 and 2018 International Business Awards, was named one of the major trends for 2012 and beyond by “Father of Invention” and the “Dean of Futurists” Thomas Frey (one of only 2 trends that involve a single company), the Best Overall Business Services Company of the Year by the 2010 American Business Awards. QLess has also been honored with the Silver Stevie Winner of Company of the Year in Computer Services in Europe, Bronze Stevie Winner of the Most Innovative Company of the Year in Canada and the US, was named a 2012 Vator Splash Top 10 company, a winner of the NACo Achievement Award & GFOA Award for Excellence in eGovernment and Technology, a finalist at the inaugural Patrick Soon-Shiong Innovation Awards as one of 15 most innovative companies in Los Angeles, was named one of 5 most companies in California with strongest technology and business plan by Geeks Going Globalone of 'LA’s most exciting tech creations of the moment' by TechZulu's Spotlight L.A. distinguished panel of judges, named one of the Best Business Innovations of the year by the 2009 American Business Awards and one of the ten most promising new technology companies in the inaugural contest sponsored by Mashable, Microsoft, The Funded, WSGR & others, as well as the winner of the inaugural Clickatell Personalized Priority Messaging Awards, Small and Medium Business Category. QLess was also featured in the first startup sessions video to focus on a company outside Silicon Valley.


In 2017, Dr. Bäcker was invited speaker at Innovate Pasadena.


In 2013, Dr. Bäcker was named the Gold Stevie Winner of IT Executive of the Year & Silver Stevie Winner of Innovator of the Year by the International Business Awards. He also keynoted the MIT Club of Southern California's Annual Meeting, together with Steve Isakowitz, President of Virgin Galactic and former CFO of the DOE.


In 2011, Dr. Bäcker was honored as the keynote speaker at LA County's Tech Week, an honor that was previously accorded a Nobel Prize winner, the CEO of Cisco, the CEO of Adobe, the Chairman of Deloitte, and an astronaut. Dr. Bäcker was also selected speaker for TEDx Hong Kong and closing speaker for Humanity+ Hong Kong (Alex also spoke at H+ Harvard & H+ Caltech) and TED-X Rosario...speakers included a former Secretary of the Treasury, a star from the NBA, a TV star and a distinguished scientist.


In 2010, Dr. Bäcker was honored as one of "40 under 40" at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel --the location of the first Oscar Academy Awards-- for the inaugural 40 Under 40 M&A Advisor Recognition Awards. The Gala Event celebrated the leading forty M&A, Financing and Turnaround professionals who have made great accomplishments before their fortieth year, chosen from international nominees by an independent judging panel of distinguished business leaders for their accomplishments and expertise.


In 2008, Dr. Bäcker was appointed by the President to serve in the California Institute of Technology's Information Sciences and Technology Board of Advisors together with a distinguished cadre of scientists, technologists and philanthropists including Carver Mead and Phil Neches, where he serves to this day. He is also a mentor for Endeavor, a non-profit that supports high-impact entrepreneurs globally.


QLess is an offshoot of ab|inventio, the award-winning invention factory. ab|inventio was honored as Most Innovative Company of the Year in North America Distinguished Honoree by the 2010 International Business Awards, alongside and a handful of others


Whozat™, The People Search Engine™, another ab|inventio daughter, was named one of the 100 hottest start-ups in the world by famed technology blog TechCrunch, a semantic search engine with machine vision that garnered tens of thousands of pageviews within a week of launch. Whozat beat Google and every other search engine tested 3 to 1 or more in results relevance in a blind people search comparison. Prof. Harry Lewis, endowed chair in CS at Harvard; former Dean of Harvard College, wrote in his blog: “Try I learned things about myself I didn’t know. Seriously. And now I’m checking on you.” Whozat has since launched, pioneering the first search engine that can search based on a resume (or any document), capable of scouring the web for information related to any document, whose traffic has quickly grown to hundreds of thousands of unique visitors per month. SocialDiligence also offers a unique Watchlist that allows subscribers to receive updates on any person of interest, including not just the person's own updates, but those written by others about them. 


Dr. Bäcker is also the founder of Adapt Technologies™, a pioneer of search engine marketing technology which has boosted the reach of Search Engine Marketing campaigns by up to 580% while simultaneously reducing their cost per action by up to 78%. Alex served as Adapt's first President, CEO and CTO, growing net revenues by more than 200% every quarter of his tenure as CEO, and served in Adapt's Board of Directors until the company's sale to WebVisible. 


He has held positions at McKinsey & Co., the Department of Computational Biology and Evolutionary Computing at the Center for Computation, Computers, Information and Mathematics of Sandia National Labs, and the Biology Division of Caltech. You can read about Dr. Bäcker's scientific discoveries, published in media as diverse as Nature, Neural Computation and an ACM Symposium on Applied Computing and cited by hundreds of publications, in his Caltech webpage and his Science wiki


A native of Argentina, Dr. Bäcker was National Champion of Informatics and represented the country twice at the International Olympiads of Informatics (after being a sub for another year). Alex holds a degree in Biology with a minor in Economics from MIT, and a M.S. and Ph.D. in Computation and Neural Systems and Biology, respectively, from the California Institute of Technology, where he was awarded the Dean’s award for ‘great contributions and outstanding qualities of Leadership and Responsibility’ while a Fellow at the Sloan-Swartz Center for Theoretical Neurobiology, and where he founded or co-founded the CNS Journal Club, the Da Vinci Club (including the Kitesurfing 'subdivision') and the Caltech Filmmaking Club. Alex is a recipient of the Dux Medal.


Dr. Bäcker speaks English, Spanish, German and French, and has been an invited speaker at numerous conferences on diverse science and technology topics around the world. He's been cited in Unrelenting Innovation: How to Create a Culture for Market Dominance (Wiley, 2003) and hundreds of other publications.


Dr. Bäcker likes to spend his free time traveling the world (235 cities in 49 countries and counting, although camping trips in nature are his favorite), kitesurfing, windsurfing, filmmaking, or kayaking. He's been known to compose a couple of songs and more than a few poems, but it's been a while. Once upon a time, Dr. Bäcker was an avid Dungeon Master. He has also served for many years as a volunteer coach for the American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO), where his teams have won several championships.


In addition to this wiki, Dr. Bäcker keeps a blog of life at ab|inventio™, The Invention Factory™ and QLess.



Recommended By

 “Alex is a true visionary, a brilliant innovator, and an inspiring leader. Our time working together was too brief, but I'm grateful that I had the opportunity.” September 13, 2006

Tim McCune , Technical Lead , Adapt Technologies 

worked indirectly for Alex at Adapt Technologies, Inc.


 “Alex is a wonderfully creative scientist. He's entirely self-motivated and innately curious. He's a leader by nature and ultimately interested in practical applications of discovery-driven research. Perhaps most importantly, Alex is a joy to work with - if you get the chance the chance to collaborate with Alex, take it !” 

Grant Heffelfinger , Deputy Director , Sandia National Laboratories 

managed Alex indirectly at Sandia National Labs


"Friendly genius"

Alex Lightmanauthor, entrepreneur, and futurist, the first Economist Reader’s Award[12] for “the innovation most likely to radically impact the world over the next decade 2010 to 2020”, who has made significant contributions to the adoption of IPv6, served as CTO of the United Nations‘ Intergovernmental Renewable Energy Organization, and has authored several books on technology and society.


"One of our [Caltech’s] brightest entrepreneurs in this area"

Daniel Broderick, Associate Director, Caltech Office of Technology Transfer


“Alex is one of the most charismatic intellectuals I have encountered in any industry. He is much more approachable than other prolific researchers of his caliber, and I was glad of having the opportunity to learn his perspective on search-engine-marketing.” March 7, 2007

Jeffery Chin , Systems Administrator , Adapt Technologies 

worked with Alex at Adapt Technologies, Inc.


“Alex is smart beyond compare, yet down-to-earth in every way. A professional and visionary technologist who is passionate about technology. Alex is a pleasure to work with and I would recommend him without question.” November 3, 2006

Greg Buechler , Sr. Vice President , i-Hire, Inc. 

worked directly with Alex at Adapt Technologies, Inc.


 “Alex is an innovator and a solid team player.” 

Peter B. Merkle , Principal Analyst , Sandia National Labs 

worked with Alex at Caltech



P.S. If you want to read more:

With Ram Prayaga, Alex co-founded Cafe|Think™, which launched Choizi™, an online personalized recommendation service to help users find restaurants of their liking (most of the credit should go to Ram, says Alex). He is also the founder of Tree of Babel, a fledgling nonprofit collaborative web project to map out the genealogy of human languages.


P.S. 2: If you want to read even more, read Alex's CV . 


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