Good people of P2PU, I thank you!

Philipp here. I am taking a position at the MIT Media Lab and am joining the P2PU board. Which means I have to step down as Executive Director of P2PU. There, I said it. Read on for the details.  

Last year I relocated from Cape Town to Boston to spend a year at the MIT Media Lab as a Director’s Fellow in Residence. Over the course of that year a lot of things happened (for one, Big Papi hit a game-tying Grand Slam against the Tigers, and the Red Sox went on to win the World Series) and I came to realize that I would like to stay in Boston. So, when Joi and Mitch gave me an opportunity to build a role at the Lab, I took it.

After more than four years as Executive Director of Peer 2 Peer University the time is right for a change, for me and for P2PU. I will be joining the P2PU board and we will hire a new Executive Director in the first quarter of 2014. This doesn’t mean that I am leaving P2PU, only that I will be taking a slightly different role going forward. I will continue to raise funding, identify new opportunities, develop partnerships and help set the overall strategy.

The move feels right for me, and I also think it’s good for P2PU. For one, it gives the amazing people I work with room to grow into bigger roles. P2PU is a small team (Bekka, Dirk, Erika, Vanessa) that has already taken over a lot of the responsibilities that I used to have, when we started out. And we’ve been fortunate to bring on an amazing COO recently. Carl has helped us focus and get better at doing the work we love doing, and he is working with the board to manage the ED transition. The timing is good as well. We are on solid financial footing and have a clear strategy where we are going. Finally, for P2PU to have a partner at the Media Lab opens up many opportunities. Over the past year, the collaboration has already allowed us to try out P2PU-style learning in the context of a top research university, given us a much broader audience, and introduced us to new collaborators. We will be doing more and bigger things together in the future.

Since I am not leaving, there is no need for soppy words and emotional statements… Agh, screw that. It’s always a good time, to say what’s in your heart.

I am not moving on from P2PU, but I still feel sentimental when I look at the #P2PU picture stream on flickr. And all the memories that they bring back. I am very grateful that I have met some of my best friends through P2PU (you know who you are!), that I got to work with them on some of the most interesting problems I could think of, and that we have had so much fun doing it.

I love that we care about the things we work on, but that we care more about the people we work with (and I mean the entire community here). I love that we’ve always had a sense of humor (even if not everyone thought it was funny).

At one workshop, the post-it note that asked “Should Philipp wear a Cape?” received more votes than the suggestion that P2PU “use new learning models to hack into popular notions of independence and self-reliance”. My kind of people!

I think of the 09/09/09 t-shirt as my cape, and I will always wear it proudly (or try to, because it is getting a little small these days). And yes, that is a terrible picture in which I look positively insane, but who cares, right?


People of P2PU, peers, all of you are really very special to me! Thank you!


Executive Director Search > The search for a new ED will start in the next few weeks. The best person to contact about the role is board chair Delia Browne and you can reach her via




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