Since the very beginning, X (formerly Google X) has had a single mission: to invent and launch "moonshot" technologies — like energy kites, balloon-powered internet, all-electric deliver drones, and self-driving cars — that we think could make the world a radically better place. Our "Rapid Evaluation" team, led by Phil Watson, is responsible for identifying, investigating, and evaluating these potential moonshots. In this talk, Phil will share what he's learned about finding and shaping promising new moonshots along their journey from outlandish, high-risk ideas into projects that just might have a shot at making it into the real world — and making a difference in the big picture challenges facing society.
Phil Watson is a creative scientist, inventor, and organizational leader who runs Rapid Evaluation at X, a team tasked with repeatedly creating new X moonshots. They identify, investigate, and evaluate potential opportunities, and he builds new teams around the most promising ideas. Prior to joining X, Phil led various new technology development and integration efforts at 3M, managing innovation teams in the U.S. and Singapore while serving on the Genesis Committee, an internal seed investment granting organization. While his doctoral work focused on the optics and dynamics of liquid crystals, today he's most excited about creating unexpected breakthrough opportunities across domains, building high-performance teams, and imagining how emerging technologies can steer the future. When he's not at work, you might find him getting lost in the hills of Santa Cruz County while rethinking his assumptions.