Krisztina Holly

Visual Voice(TM) telephony software
Computing and Telecommunications

Krisztina Holly is an inventor and entrepreneur with roots at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).  Her co-inventions in computer telephony include a system that was eventually sold for nearly $13 million. 

Holly had the privilege of playing with lasers as a child at InterScience Technology, where her father, Sandor Holly, worked.  She developed her childhood fascination into a formidable talent at the Media Lab at MIT, where as an undergraduate, she helped to develop the world’s first computer-generated, full-color reflection hologram. 

Continuing in Mechanical Engineering at MIT for her master’s degree, Holly began to concentrate on computer telephony software, winning MIT’s $10K (now MIT $100K Entrepreneurial Competition) along the way in 1991.  With Michael Cassidy and John Barrus, Holly invented and patented “The Stylus” in 1992, software that operated as a consumer’s personal interpreter and mediator in the languages of bar code and touch tone.  The system was a unique and useful hybrid of existing technologies. 

Holly and her partners founded a company, Stylus Innovations, whose most successful product was yet to come:  Visual Voice, co-invented by Holly, Cassidy, and Chris Brookins in 1993. 

Visual Voice was a tool that allowed even a modest software developer to create and coordinate complex telephony systems with call answering, voice-mail, and even call placing and fax transmission. Visual Voice was a huge success, not only because it was user-friendly, but also because it offered a sweeping range of advanced telephony applications at a price even small businesses could afford ($500).  It was the combination of technological and marketing know-how that brought Visual Voice the skyrocketing profits that allowed its founders to sell the company for $12.8 million just three years later. 

Since the sale of Stylus, Krisztina Holly has been involved with various start-ups and prominent positions. She was the founding executive director of the Deshpande Center for Technical Innovation at MIT and Vice Provost for Innovation, as well as the founding executive director of the Stevens Center for Innovation at the University of Southern California.   Holly also served as an advisor to the Obama Administration and the World Economic Forum. She also curated and hosted the first TEDx event in 2009.

Holly currently serves as an advisor to the Obama Administration and the World Economic Forum.