Bob Metcalfe

Internet Pioneer and Ethernet Founder

Trace Labs Advisory Board Member


Robert M. Metcalfe, PhD has just been appointed Professor Emeritus at UTAustin and Member Emeritus of the National Academy of Engineering. But don’t let those added emeriti fool you. Bob is still a free agent prospecting for his 6th career. And we are getting warm.

Bob was for the last 11 years Professor of Innovation at the Cockrell School of Engineering, Professor of Entrepreneurship at the McCombs School of Business, and Murchison Fellow of Free Enterprise at The University of Texas at Austin.

Bob was an Internet pioneer beginning in 1970 at MIT, Harvard, Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (Parc), Stanford, and 3Com. He invented Ethernet at Parc on May 22, 1973. Today Ethernet is the Internet’s standard plumbing, each year adding billions of ports, if we let Bob count Wireless Ethernet (Wi-Fi). Bob remains a champion of Ethernet and connectivity in general, according to Metcalfe’s Law. The Internet turned 50 in 2019. The most important new fact about the human condition is that, and it’s mostly good news, we are now suddenly connected.

Among many other honors, Bob has won the Bell, Hopper, Japan C&C, Marconi, McCluskey, Shannon, and Stibitz Prizes. He is a Life Trustee Emeritus of MIT and a member of the National Academy of Engineering. Bob received the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) Medal of Honor in 1996 and the National Medal of Technology in 2005 for leadership in the invention, standardization, and commercialization of Ethernet.

Bob founded Internet startup 3Com Corporation in Silicon Valley on June 4, 1979. He took 3Com public on March 21, 1984 and “retired” in 1990. In 1999, 3Com revenue peaked at $5.7B and its market capitalization momentarily peaked at an inflation-adjusted $52 billion, of which Bob didn’t even get half. 3Com was acquired by HP Enterprise in 2010.

During the 1990s, Bob was CEO/Publisher/Pundit at IDG/InfoWorld Magazine. His Internet column, FROM THE ETHER, was read weekly by a million? information technologists among IDG’s 90 countries.

During the 2000s, Bob was a limited, venture, general, and now emeritus Polaris Partner in Boston.

Talks and Events

2022 Keynote: Network Effects in Web3

The Internet is rapidly changing the way we own things, and this creates unprecedented opportunities along the way. If the Internet of the first and the second generation gave us the ability to read and write (exchange) information, the third generation Internet brings the ability for us to establish ownership of currencies and things.  

Using the same knowledge graph technology Google used to organize information, and blockchain tech powering Bitcoin and other crypto currencies, OriginTrail is organizing humanity’s most important web3 assets, making them discoverable, verifiable, and valuable.

As more users get involved in using the fundamentals of the next-generation Internet building blocks such as blockchain-based applications for payment, storage, and asset discoverability, this will increase its value according to the law of network effects – also known as Metcalfe’s law.