XPRIZE Appoints Anousheh Ansari as New CEO

Anousheh Ansari

LOS ANGELES, October 18, 2018 (XPRIZE PR) — XPRIZE, the world’s leader in designing and operating incentive competitions to solve humanity’s grand challenges, announced at their annual Visioneering event today that Anousheh Ansari has been named as chief executive officer. Dr. Peter H. Diamandis will continue in the role of founder and executive chairman.

Ansari, a serial tech entrepreneur and astronaut, is an active proponent of world-changing technologies. No stranger to XPRIZE, Ansari, along with her family, sponsored the organization’s first competition, the Ansari XPRIZE, a $10 million competition that ignited a new era for commercial spaceflight. Since then, she has served on XPRIZE’s Board of Directors and has closely worked with the foundation. Ansari was asked by Diamandis, and the rest of the board, to help lead the foundation as it extends its reach and impact.

“The XPRIZE model of crowdsourcing innovation is as important as ever, as increased access to exponential technologies is truly democratizing the ability for anyone to solve today’s most pressing issues,” said Diamandis. “I have tremendous confidence in Anousheh to help lead XPRIZE during its next stage of evolution. She is a powerful and inspiring CEO who brings passion, intelligence and tremendous dedication to XPRIZE and I can’t think of a more perfect person to lead our next decade of impact.”

Prior to this role, Ansari served as the CEO of Prodea Systems, a leading Internet of Things (IoT) technology firm she co-founded in 2006, and will continue to serve as the executive chairwoman. She captured headlines around the world when she embarked upon an 11-day space expedition, accomplishing her childhood dream of becoming the first female private space explorer, first astronaut of Iranian descent, first Muslim woman in space, and fourth private explorer to visit space.

“As I take on the helm at XPRIZE, I feel the same exhilaration as I did the day I was sitting in my capsule atop of my Russian Soyuz rocket – waiting impatiently to be launched into the infinity of the universe that I had dreamed about as a child, and in nervous anticipation of the enormous possibilities in front of me,” said Ansari. “I have been a spokesperson, a board member, an advocate, a sponsor, and one of XPRIZE’s biggest fans, and I am grateful for the opportunity to work with such a passionate group of individuals dedicated to changing the world for the better.”

Ansari serves on the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Global Future Council and has received numerous honors, including the WEF Young Global Leader, Ellis Island Medal of Honor, and STEM Leadership Hall of Fame, among others. She is a UNESCO Good Will Ambassador and serves on the board of Jabil and Peace First, as well as several other not-for-profit organizations focused on STEM education and youth empowerment.

Ansari also co-founded The Billion Dollar Fund for Women, announced earlier this month at the Tri Hita Karana (THK) Forum on Sustainable Development in Bali, Indonesia, with a goal of investing $1 billion in women-founded companies by 2020.

She published her memoir, My Dream of Stars, to share her life story as inspiration for young women around the world.

Ansari holds a BS in electronics and computer engineering from George Mason University, an MS in electrical engineering from George Washington University; and honorary doctorates from George Mason University, Utah Valley University, and International Space University.


XPRIZE, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, is the global leader in designing and implementing innovative competition models to solve the world’s grandest challenges. Active competitions include the Lunar XPRIZE, the $20M NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE, the $15M Global Learning XPRIZE, the $10M ANA Avatar XPRIZE, the $7M Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE, the $7M Barbara Bush Foundation Adult Literacy XPRIZE, the $5M IBM Watson AI XPRIZE, and the $1.75M Water Abundance XPRIZE. For more information, visit www.xprize.org.

  • ThomasLMatula

    Peter Diamandis has really done well capitalizing on the hype of the failed Ansari X-Prize. It looks like he is probably the only one who benefited from it.

  • Paul_Scutts

    Yes, Thomas, it appears that they all hold MBS qualifications, Master of Bull Sh!t. 🙂 Regards, Paul.

  • Robert G. Oler

    good choice

  • Douglas Messier

    The prize was a great success in terms of inspiring people. Technologically, not so much. Ansari takes over at a make-or-break moment for Virgin Galactic in testing SpaceShipTwo. It can either reliably reach space on a regular basis, or the program will prove to be a colossal waste of time, money and lives.

  • savuporo

    Good, maybe they’ll actually do something useful now.

  • patb2009

    pity the X Prize didn’t follow up with a high flight rate prize.

  • Vladislaw

    Actually if it fails it would have served a real purpose.. how NOT to do it…

  • Vladislaw

    Paul Allen benefited, so did Burt and scaled composites plus every t-shirt and hat seller… I believe the multiplier effect off that 10 million was well spent.

  • Zed_WEASEL

    Not really for Paul Allen. He spend about triple the worth of the paltry X-prize to get Spaceship One operational. IIRC

    Without Paul Allen, the Anzari X-prize would look a lot like the sad Google Lunar X-prize. As it is, the Burt Rutan design concept don’t appear to be able to scale up to a bigger spacecraft. The hybrid propulsion and the lack of capability to get to orbital velocity appears to be the main culprits IMO. Spaceship Two is only barely qualifies as a Trans-Atmospheric vehicle.

    One wonders if Paul Allen took another path to spaceflight. He might have get to orbit something before his pre-mature passing.

  • duheagle

    I’m no fan of VG, but SpaceShipTwo was never intended to get to orbital velocity or anywhere close to it. Criticize the thing for what it is, not for not being something that it was never intended to be.

  • Zed_WEASEL

    What I meant by scaling up is a path for spacecraft development that results in an orbital capable vehicle or at least a sub-orbital inter-continental point-to-point transport.

    Virgin Galactic was proposing a more capable Spaceship Three. However the path from Spaceship Two to Spaceship Three seems to face almost insurmountable technical barriers IMO. Think Virgin Galactic needs a new clean sheet design.

    Branson is still making noise about introducing his own point-to-point service eventually.

  • Vladislaw

    and how many MILLIONS in free press did Paul Allen receive and how many times was his name mentioned in the press, online, TV ect ect ect relating to the X prize and on to stratolauncher for well over a decade..


  • duheagle

    Okay, on SpaceShipTwo being a dead end we can agree.

    Which raises the interesting point as to what Mr. Branson imagines he could use to start a point-to-point service. SpaceShipTwo is ludicrously inadequate.

  • Zed_WEASEL

    Somewhat in jest.

    A joint venture with the folks from Hawthorne with Virgin Galactic doing the booking, luggage handling and supplying the flight attendants plus lots of cash.

    Why start a P2P flight service from scratch when you could just borrow HR assets from an established global airline group with additional funding.

  • Zed_WEASEL

    IMO Allen always gets free press whenever he announces something. Because he is Paul Allen, Microsoft co-founder.

  • Vladislaw

    true but he would have not gotten the global attention that WINNING the Xprize brought him … period.