Jim Fruchterman is social entrepreneur and CEO of Benetech, a nonprofit technology company based in Palo Alto, California. A technology entrepreneur and engineer, Fruchterman has been a rocket scientist, founded two leading for-profit technology companies and created numerous technology social enterprises. Fruchterman co-founded Calera Recognition Systems and RAF Technology, Inc., pioneers in optical character recognition technology. In 1989, Fruchterman founded Benetech as a nonprofit social enterprise, to produce reading machines, based on the Calera technology, for people who are blind.
Benetech expanded its focus in 2000 and began creating new technology for people with disabilities as well as the human rights and environmental movements. Benetech’s programs include Bookshare, the world’s largest accessible online library for people with print disabilities, Martus, software for tracking human rights violations, Miradi, project management tools for conservationists, and SocialCoding4Good, an online platform to match skilled software development volunteers from the technology sector with open source social good projects.
Fruchterman received a MacArthur Fellowship in 2006 in recognition of his work as a pioneering social entrepreneur. He has also received the Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship and receives the California Institute of Technology Distinguished Alumni Award in May.