Krisztina Holly mod cropped
Krisztina “Z” Holly
Founder of the first TEDx

Krisztina Holly, known by colleagues as ‘Z’, is an engineer, entrepreneur, innovator, and adventurer. Her passion is identifying and amplifying undiscovered talent and ideas, and creating new organizations and scalable models that turn ideas into impact. Z is a contributor to Forbes and chair of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council for Fostering Entrepreneurship.


In 2009, Z created the first ever TEDx event, TEDxUSC, which so far has inspired over 6,500 similar events globally. Most recently she served as vice provost for innovation at USC and founding executive director of two university centers for innovation – the MIT Deshpande Center and USC Stevens Institute – which have launched 39 funded startups and helped expand the innovation ecosystems in Boston and LA through engagement of hundreds of faculty, students, VCs, and entrepreneurs. She was Named Champion of Free Enterprise by Forbes in 2009 and is a member of YPO/WPO.


Early on Z was co-founder of computer telephony pioneer Stylus Innovation (acquired by Artisoft) and subsequently joined other tech and media startups including Direct Hit Technologies (acquired by Ask Jeeves). Between startups, she spent nearly three years in documentary production, and in her role as curator and host for TEDxUSC, she discovered and coached more than 60 presenters whose videos have garnered 4+ million views online.  Z started her career as a researcher at the MIT Media Lab, and contributed to such projects as the first full-color computer generated reflection hologram and a head-eye vision robot for the MIT AI Lab and the space shuttle main engine.


Z received her B.S. and M.S. in mechanical engineering from MIT. She is based in Los Angeles, and in her spare time she is an avid traveler, skydiver, telemark skier, shark diver, mountain biker, and authentic food aficionado.