James Brailean

2011 Distinguished Alumnus of the Year


James Brailean, Ph.D. (’85 CECS) is cofounder, president and CEO of PacketVideo, the world’s leading provider of carrier-grade infrastructure software. He started PacketVideo in 1998 with largest raise of venture capital in San Diego history. James’ initial invention, one of 16 patents he holds, was the compression, buffering, and transmission of video over existing cell phone networks, allowing for pictures and videos to be sent from one cell phone to another. Over 400 million handsets carry the very software that he imagined. Says a colleague “the University of Michigan-Dearborn can claim that in its engineering classrooms are where multimedia on mobile phones got its start. For that is where Jim Brailean got his start on a remarkable path that is truly distinguished.”

Besides being an entrepreneur in business, James and his wife, Karen, have also been entrepreneurs in philanthropy in San Diego. They were founding board members of Social Venture Partners in 2001, a charity that matches donors and their talents with charities in need of both funds and management experience. Social Venture Partners has assisted over 300 philanthropists, raised over $19 million, and directed over 77,000 volunteer hours. As a result, the Braileans have been involved in numerous charities, helping them start up and succeed in their mission. They continue that work today, with a particular focus on ending homelessness in San Diego.

James graduated from UM-Dearborn with a degree in electrical engineering and earned his doctorate in philosophy at Northwestern University. He is a board member for EvoNexus in San Diego. James received the Lifetime Achievement Award from Mobile Entertainment Forum and was featured as a 2004 Innovator in Telecommunications by Newsweek and Wall Street Journal. In 2005, he was named Northwestern University’s Distinguished Alumnus of the Year.