- 1. Career
John David Risher is an American businessman and philanthropist. He is the CEO and co-founder of Worldreader, a non-profit organization that aims to get children reading so they can reach their potential, and the co-founder of #HalfMyDAF whose goal is inspire more philanthropic giving.
Risher served as an executive at Microsoft Corporation, and was Senior Vice President of US Retail at Amazon.com from 1997 to 2002. In November 2009, together with Colin McElwee, he founded Worldreader. Risher succeeded Lyft co-founder Logan Green as its CEO in April 2023.
At Microsoft, Risher was General Manager in charge of launching the company's first database product, Access. He went on to found and manage Microsoft Investor. In 1997, he left Microsoft over Bill Gates' objections to join Amazon.com as its first Vice President of Product and Store development. He later served as the company's Senior Vice President, US Retail, leading the marketing and expanding into new categories to grow Amazon's retail sales from $15 million to $4 billion. As a tribute to Risher's leadership, Jeff Bezos created a hidden perpetual "easter egg" on the Amazon website when he left the company.
After leaving Amazon in 2002, Risher taught at the University of Washington’s Foster Business School, where he created the University’s course on “Competing on the Internet.” He was elected Professor of the Year in 2004.
Risher co-founded Worldreader after a year-long, 19-country trip around the world with his family, road-schooling his daughters and volunteering. After visiting an orphanage in Ecuador, Risher saw how technology could help traditionally underserved children read.
Worldreader is a US-based 501(c)(3) and European public charity with additional registrations in Kenya, Ghana, India, and the United Kingdom. Worldreader believes that “readers build a better world" and works with partners to get children reading so they can reach their potential. In March 2010, Worldreader launched a trial in Ayenyah, Ghana. Worldreader reports that, after receiving positive results, they were granted permission from Ghana's Ministry of Education to distribute e-readers to additional schools in Ghana. Since then, the organization has helped over 20 million readers in the United States and globally across more than 100 countries. Worldreader's BookSmart reading app offers children books and learning activities in six languages.
Risher is Schwab Foundation Social Entrepreneur of the year, a Microsoft Alumni Foundation Integral Fellow, and Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation Social Entrepreneur. He serves on the board of directors of Lyft, Inc, on the International Advisory Board of ESADE, and sits on the International Advisory Board of Catalunya.
Risher succeeded Lyft co-founder Logan Green as its CEO on April 17, 2023.