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Chris Barton

Chris Barton wanted a way to identify songs anywhere he heard them. There wasn’t one – so he invented an app called Shazam. In addition to creating Shazam, Chris holds 12 patents and played key roles in the early days of Google and Dropbox. Chris’s newest venture, Guard, aims to use AI to detect drowning in swimming pools. In his speeches, Chris’s story and storytelling completely captivate audiences. He inspires people to make big things happen in their organisations – to create magic in defiance of obstacles.


About Chris Barton

Chris grew up with a French mother and British father – both of whom were university professors. Academics were a struggle for Chris, and he would come to realise he had undiagnosed dyslexia. Chris flipped this challenge on its head and learned to embrace what he now calls his superpower. Chris believes that dyslexia has allowed him to overcome barriers to achieve his many accomplishments.

When Chris had the idea to identify music using a mobile phone, no technology existed to achieve his goal. He was told by professors at MIT and Stanford that the necessary pattern recognition algorithm was impossible. Even after inventing a new technology that didn’t yet exist, he had to build a search engine supercomputer from scratch, create the world’s largest music database, and create a user experience on very basic mobile phones. Did Chris ever think the experts were right? “No way,” he says.

When Chris came up with the idea for Shazam in 2000, it was three years before iTunes and eight years before the App Store. Shazam launched as a phone number that you dialed, and the service struggled, teetering near bankruptcy for six years until the App Store launched in 2008, allowing Shazam to unleash its full potential on the world.

In 2018, Shazam was acquired by Apple for a reported $400 million, making it Apple’s 6th largest acquisition of all-time. Shazam has been downloaded over 2 billion times and is used each month by over 300 million people, making it one of the world’s most popular apps. It has become an integral part of our everyday lives, with its ability to instantly identify songs and provide a range of music features such as lyrics. Shazam has become a verb, and it has changed the way the world discovers music.

Chris has also played a key role in tech history as a founding member of Google’s Android Partnerships team where he created Android’s mobile operator partnership framework. He also spent four years at Dropbox where he led carrier partnerships and was one of the first 100 people at the company.

Holding 12 patents, including one found within the Google search algorithm, Chris has made significant contributions to the tech industry. He also invests in a wide range of start-ups, including artificial intelligence for heart health and inflammatory disease therapeutics.

Today, Chris spends much of his time building his third startup company, Guard, an artificial intelligence system that detects drowning in swimming pools.

When he has time, Chris enjoys speaking at events and sharing lessons learned from his experiences overcoming the impossible. He inspires people with firsthand stories that highlight key take-aways across technology innovation, persistence, removing friction, and entrepreneurship. Chris gives audiences a new framework for making big things happen. His truly inspirational story motivates them to take action.

Prior to his technology career, Chris was a strategy consultant and earned two master’s degrees from UC Berkeley and Cambridge University.

To book Keynote Speaker Chris Barton, contact The Speakers Agency on +44(0)1332 810481 or email

Speech Topics

Bring Impossible Ideas to Life  
Technology & A.I. are dramatically changing what’s possible in our world. Our challenge as we create new things is to dislodge from the comfort of what we already know. Chris created Shazam after being told by every “expert” that his outlandish idea was impossible. It was an idea far ahead of its time – eight years before iPhone apps even existed.  In this presentation, Chris helps audiences imagine and then create new visions for the future. He inspires with jaw-dropping stories about creating Shazam and shows how innovation comes from not just an idea, but from a series of insights to overcome obstacles along the way.

[Audiences learn a new framework of thinking to create change through technology]

Overcome Obstacles with Imagination 
A great idea gets you nowhere without tenacity. True disruption requires both persistence and creative solutions. In creating Shazam, Chris faced obstacles many thought were insurmountable. Most would have given up, but he refused. Instead, Chris challenged every assumption about the obstacles he faced. He shares stories and actionable lessons that inspire audiences to pursue their dreams. Chris urges audiences to question the status quo and to sweat the details on the path to redefining the future.

[Audiences learn new mindsets to break past barriers]

Eliminate Effort to Unlock Explosive Growth 

We all know simple is great, so why don’t all organisations create amazing things just like Apple? The reality is that friction permeates almost everything we do. This “extra effort” frustrates our customers, partners, and colleagues. In creating Shazam, Chris moved mountains to make one thing very easy – identifying any song. Shazam changed the way the world discovers music. Chris combines stories from creating Shazam with his twelve years at Android (Google) and Dropbox to provide concrete examples of how we can all push boundaries to eliminate friction.

[Audiences learn to identify and eliminate friction to drive growth]

Build the Vision You See (But Others Don’t)  
Entrepreneurs have passion, ideas, and desire but can get stuck on the difficult journey to achieving their dreams. They want to bring something truly new to the world, but need to learn how to overcome big obstacles, choose their priorities, and convince others of their vision. Chris inspires and teaches entrepreneurs using the story of Shazam’s creation including the scrappy and creative hacks that transformed an idea into a product with two billion customers. 

Other topics include:

  • Innovation
  • Unleashing Creativity
  • Eliminating Friction
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Creative Persistence
  • Resilience and Adaptability
  • Achieving the impossible
  • Start-up Challenges
  • Business Model Innovation
  • Creative Partnerships
Booking Information



"Your humor and thought-provoking content brought our keynote to life! Thank you for engaging our audience with insights and tools they can use right away to navigate the changes that are going on in the world of investing. People could really relate to the ups and downs you experienced on your journey in creating Shazam. The long line for selfies afterwards speaks for itself. You’re a great speaker with a very powerful and inspiring message!"

Global Investment Firm

"You inspired everyone in the audience. And receiving a standing ovation from a full crowd of entrepreneurs is the result of your astonishing history."

Chamber of Commerce of Bogota

"You were brilliant – everyone is talking about you! I cannot tell you the positive feedback we’ve had from your keynote! You made the event for us and were so great to work with."

World federation of Direct Selling Associations

"We LOVED working with Chris – he was incredibly easy going, which was appreciated. The presentation went so well, and he even got a standing ovation."

Project Management Institute

"Your energy was so very encouraging and inspirational; you took a hugely successful big idea and made it relatable to a very diverse, cross-section of our colleagues who were present."

Dominion Energy Services

"Best keynote in my eleven years at Sura."

SURA, Asset Management

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