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Peter Schwartz (born 1946) is an American futurist, innovator, author, and co-founder of the Global Business Network (GBN), an elite corporate strategy firm, specializing in future-think and scenario planning. As of October 2011, he now serves as Senior Vice President for Global Government Relations and Strategic Planning for Salesforce.com.
Schwartz was born in 1946 to Klara and Benjamin Schwartz, Hungarian Jews who had been in concentration camps and were living in a displaced persons camp in Stuttgart, Germany. The family soon moved to Norway, where they lived until he was five. At this point, they emigrated to America, and found a new home in Camden, New Jersey. Schwartz grew up and attended school there. He won a National Merit scholarship, and was able to attend Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) on full scholarship. He served as RPI's May commencement speaker for the class of 2009.
According to Stewart Brand, Schwartz was a member of Students for a Democratic Society. After graduating in 1968 with a B.S. in aeronautical engineering, Schwartz taught high school in Philadelphia and worked in the innovative student housing program at UC Davis. In 1972 he became an employee at the Stanford Research Institute (SRI), where he began to develop his unique method of scenario planning, and rose to director of the Strategic Environment Center. In 1982, he moved to London to work for Royal Dutch Shell as head of scenario planning. In 1985, while giving a speech at the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory of UC Berkeley, he met his future wife, Cathleen Gross. He moved to live with her in Berkeley, California in 1987. They married and had one son, Benjamin "Books" Schwartz, born in 1990.
Schwartz has written several books, on a variety of future-oriented topics. His first book, The Art of the Long View (Doubleday, 1991) is considered by many to be the seminal publication on scenario planning, and is used as a textbook by many business schools. Inevitable Surprises (Gotham, 2003) is a look at the forces at play in today's world, and how they will continue to affect the world. He also wrote The Long Boom (Perseus, 1999) with co-authors Peter Leyden and Joel Hyatt, which is a book about the future of the global economy. His book When Good Companies Do Bad Things (Wiley, 1999), is an argument for corporate responsibility in an age of corruption. China's Futures (Jossey-Bass, 2001), is a vision of several different potential futures for China. He also co-authored the Pentagon's An Abrupt Climate Change Scenario and Its Implications for United States National Security.
He has also worked as a consultant on several movies, including Minority Report, Deep Impact, Sneakers, and WarGames. He serves on the board of directors for the Long Now Foundation. In 2007, Schwartz moderated a forum titled "The Impact of Web 2.0 and Emerging Social Network Models" as part of the World Economic Forum in Davos.
Schwartz founded the Global Business Network (GBN) in 1988 in his Berkeley basement with several close friends including Napier Collyns, Jay Ogilvy and Stewart Brand. Schwartz called GBN an “information hunting and gathering company”, and describes it as a high level networking and corporate research agency. In 2001, it was bought by premier strategy consulting firm the Monitor Group, although it continues to operate as a distinct entity.
He left the company in October 2011, to work at Salesforce.com as Senior Vice President for Global Government Relations and Strategic Planning.