From founding Shazam to going to Microsoft, Google and now Dropbox. How did Chris Barton do it?

We dug up some facts about 2017 Legacy Speaker Chris Barton, founder of Shazam - the first music recognition technology - and now the head of Dropbox mobile carrier partnership.

Here’s the story on how he created a service that would connect people and music.

It's called something and goes too doo doo

Ever heard a song over the radio/bar/restaurant? Now that song's stuck in your head, and you hum it until it drives you mad. You don’t even know the rest of the lyrics and forgot the title.

So, you Google it... hum it to Siri who hits you back with a "Sorry, I didn't quite catch that"

Hmmm, there must be a better way.

Hmmm, there must be a better way.

Easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy. Shazam it.


What is Shazam?



A  commercial smartphone-based music identification service based on the concept of a new pattern recognition technology.


IN SHORT… Just throw your phone up in the air *like you just don’t care* and the app will name it for you.

It’s the same concept when you ask Siri to name a song. In fact, Apple wasn’t the first to create this feature. This technology was first launched by Shazam.


Shazam was created in the late 1999 during the boom times for the internet.

“when it felt like everyone in California was just changing the world with, not an app, but with a website.”


This new trend in entrepreneurship inspired Chris Barton; he decided to jump into the wave and invented Shazam. In the following years, his co-founder, Avery Li-Chung Wang developed Shazam’s music recognition algorithm.

Here’s how it works:

Impressive, right?

Aaand there you go. Shazam and enjoy that good ol’ jam.



Chris pursued a BA and MBA in UC Berkeley and holds a Master’s degree in Finance from Cambridge University.



Back in business school in UK, Chris’s peers were starting their businesses. Then, he felt the desire to start a company of his own #triggered

“During MBA program I decided, hey, what I really want to do is start a company. Sort of, something about being in that environment with MBA made me realize, wow, you kind of felt empowered, like you really can just start a company. And that was sort of the hit thing to do at the time. And so I went into a ...long with a couple co-founders we went into a brainstorming mode of trying to think of different business that we could start, and we thought this is the perfect time to do it.”

Up to the drawing board he went

Starting from scratch, Chris finally came up with something that no one has ever done before.

“I remember I used to meet in cafes with one of my co-founders, and we would just sit there and just brainstorm ideas for hours throughout the afternoon on weekends. And, gosh, a couple of the ideas that I remember thinking about, one was as simple as just simply selling contact lenses on the internet. Because at that time any, selling anything on the internet was an innovation. And actually some companies have made great successes out of selling contact lenses on the internet. But I remember that, the one in particular, I just felt like I can’t really get that passionate about it. It just wasn’t that exciting. There was another one where we thought, we’re going to try to bring the star quality, what we called, so when you go see a movie, you often do it because a star’s in it.


Barton led the creation of Shazam and turned into this wildly popular app.

He invented the world’s first mobile music recognition service.

“I was essentially creating something that solved my own problem. But the real aha moment with Shazam was when I came up with the idea of implementing a technology that have never been done before - the sound recognition that could work in a “noisy environment” and over a mobile phone.”

Shazam today has more than 350 million users and drives more than $300M in digital downloads. It expanded to international markets like US, Germany, Japan and Australia.

Although, Chris left the company he founded, he’s still on the board of Shazam Entertainment.



Spent nearly 8 yrs at Google focused on mobile partnership with his last 2 years on the Android business development team



He’s now at Dropbox, where he leads the Global partnership and business development with mobile operators/carriers

“I was excited about Dropbox because it had all the makings of an amazing company. I foresaw a chance to be part of something really influential as the world moves to the cloud. The caliber of the people, the passion for great product, the love of our users, and the opportunity to help drive massive growth rate were all factors that I considered when making the very difficult decision to leave Google for Dropbox.”

Chris also worked at Microsoft (MSN), News Corp, San Francisco Consulting Group and LEK Consulting.


Chris will be at the Legacy Conference this year.
Find out more about how his star quality ideas was brought to life.

Remember: Eureka moments just don’t happen when you want it to … it’s when you start to feel that desire to create a concept that you’re passionate and crazy about.



How do we know that the idea we have is worth pursuing and not just crazy?

“One quote I’ve heard is that a new idea, a new product, has to be 10 times better than its predecessors to capture people’s attention, and it’s really true. It can’t just be incremental; it has to be something just so amazing, and if it’s not that amazing, then that means you’re going to have a really hard time getting user adoption”


Here’s a crazy idea: what if you are in the same room as Chris?