December 2, 2013
jim gilliam is a striking figure. 6’8″ tall and wiry, at the nationbuilder offices he doesn’t even have his own desk. he just sits on a couch by a window, in front of a coffee table, and works on a laptop. he has an energy that’s palpable and clearly inspiring to the people who work for him. he is an evangelist for the revolutionary power of the internet, for how it connects people and for how it can empower people to change the world. before that he was a programmer, a twice-over cancer survivor, a documentary film producer and a viral internet sensation. he gave a talk at the personal democracy forum in 2011 called “the internet is my religion” (see below) and it’s absolutely worth watching. in it, jim talks about being raised very religious, homeschooled and a bit isolated. he talks about how the internet saved his life in a very real way, and became his new religion.
now jim has founded nationbuilder, a company that sells software designed to help political and community activist organizations.
in an odd twist, before this shoot, when i was looking into who jim gilliam was i found that we actually had a connection to each other. in his early 20s jim became the CTO of a company called business.com. he wrote a search engine that became the basis of their business, and that company hired my wife as a frontend web developer. jim left business.com several years ago, and the company went through a few other incarnations, my wife along with it, though she recently left for newer ventures. so, in a way, we have jim gilliam to thank for keeping my wife gainfully employed and thriving. thanks, jim.