SFI's Cowan Campus. (image: Kate Joyce)

The Santa Fe Institute’s Board of Trustees welcomed Dan Tierney as a new member during the May 2023 Science Board & Board of Trustees Symposium. Tierney, an investor and the founder of Wicklow Capital, describes himself as a systems thinker, innately drawn to interdisciplinary approaches and innovation. 

“I love the chance to be part of bringing new ideas into the world,” he says. At the recommendation of three different friends who thought he would resonate with SFI’s philosophy of convening people of varied perspectives, he began attending ACtioN events. “They were right. This is a place I want to be part of.”  

Tierney launched his career in financial markets on the trading floor in Chicago. It was a natural step — he’d been brokering a toy trade among his friends at the age of nine — but the trading floor ultimately proved to not be quite the right fit. After he left, he launched one of the world’s first automated trading companies, Global Electric Trading Company (GETCO), in 1999 with a colleague from another exchange. 

“It was an amazing 12-year journey,” he says, “but I ultimately realized that I loved innovation even more than financial markets.”

So, in 2012 he turned the reins of GETCO over to new leadership and founded Wicklow Capital. Through this family office, he pursues venture investing and venture philanthropy in what he calls the A-B-C-Ds of the world’s emerging and most important paradigms — AI, Blockchain, Climate, and Democracy.

Serving on an institute’s board offers opportunities to both help and to learn, says Tierney, who is also a member of the Board for the Salk Institute. “I’m still no expert in biomedical research, but I know infinitely more than I did before,” he says. At SFI, he is looking forward to participating in conversations about the potential benefits and risks of artificial general intelligence, how AI and blockchain may be synergistic, and what the next version of democracy needs to look like to thrive in a post-industrial, information-age world. 

“If anyone can figure that out, SFI is the kind of place that can do it,” he says.