Craig Taro Gold (born November 29, 1969), popularly known as Taro Gold, is an American author, entrepreneur, and entertainer. He is the author of several best-selling books including Open Your Mind, Open Your Life and Living Wabi Sabi, as well as a regular contributor for publications such as The Huffington Post. He is the co-founder of eVoice and Teleo along with other business ventures. He is also involved in the entertainment industry as an executive film producer, actor, singer, songwriter, and record producer.
Gold attended a Montessori education preparatory academy and Torrey Pines High School in his hometown of Del Mar, California, and also spent time as an AFS Intercultural Programs scholar in Brisbane, Australia. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Soka University of Japan, where he studied Economics, Psychology, and Philosophy, graduating Summa Cum Laude in 1994. Gold also earned the distinction of becoming the first American man to graduate from Soka University. Gold's postgraduate education included International Relations and Spanish at the University of Salamanca in Spain, and Computer Graphics and Graphic Design at UCLA.
Gold has been involved in many business ventures. His entrepreneurial career began in 1999 when he co-founded the telecommunications company eVoice with entrepreneur Wendell Brown. The company was acquired by AOL in 2001 and became part of the AOL voice services group. The company was then purchased by j2 Global.
After AOL's acquisition of eVoice in 2001, Gold became the founding CEO of Call Forwarding Services (CFS), an internet startup that provided white label VoIP communications services to AT&T, MCI Inc. and Qwest. CFS was acquired by Qwest in 2002.
In 2004, Gold launched another communications startup when he co-founded Teleo. The company provided a VoIP system enabling desktop and laptop users to send and receive phone calls over the Internet. Teleo was acquired by Microsoft in 2005 and became part of Microsoft's MSN group.
As a Silicon Valley angel investor, Gold has helped raise funds for several successful startup companies including CallCast (acquired by LiveOps in 2003), and IronPort (acquired by Cisco in 2007 for US$830 million).
In 2008, Gold ventured into the app development market as co-founder and CEO of the startup WebDiet. The patented technology of WebDiet uses mobile phones to count food consumption and was the first app to count calories and automate meal coaching.
In 2014, Gold joined the board of advisors of Cloudwear, which develops mobile applications focusing on wearable technology and artificial intelligence. Cloudwear launched the "iwunta" app with major international partnerships including Samsung and Telefónica.
Gold is the executive producer of "Out in the Line-Up," an independent documentary film that follows two friends on a global journey to discover the untold story of gay surfers and an emerging international surf culture of openness and LGBT acceptance. The film premiered on February 20, 2014 at the Sydney Mardi Gras Film Festival in Australia, where it won the "Best Documentary" audience award, and went on to win "Best Surf Film" at the Byron Bay International Film Festival on March 7, 2014, and "Best Action Sports Film" at the Newport Beach Film Festival on May 1, 2014.
Gold's career in entertainment began at an early age when he appeared in Broadway musicals as a child. He performed in the first national tour of the Broadway musical Evita, directed by Hal Prince, between 1980 and 1982. At age 12, after more than 700 performances with the show, Gold left the cast of Evita. In 1982, Gold worked again with director Hal Prince, this time in the Los Angeles production of the musical March of the Falsettos in which Gold performed the lead role of Jason. In 1984, Gold was cast as the starring character of John in the world premiere of the musical Peter Pan at the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood. From the mid-1980s to early 1990s, Gold worked as voice-over talent for the Disney Channel, was featured in Duncan Hines brownie commercials, an NBC television special with Clint Eastwood, and was a print model for PUMA sportswear.
In Japan, Gold produced a 14-track solo album titled The Diamond You, which was released in Asia by Virgin Music Japan in 2008 and on iTunes in the US and Europe by Taro Gold Music in 2009. Most of the album's songs were written by Gold, with several tracks co-written by Gold and Diane Warren, Robi Rosa, K.C. Porter, Ryo Aska, and Aleks Syntek.
Saxophonist Dave Koz and drummer Vinnie Colaiuta are featured players on the album, which was produced by an international team including Gold and Grammy Award winner Goh Hotoda. The album was recorded at Sony Music Studios in Tokyo and the Studio at the Palms in Las Vegas, and mastered by Grammy Award-winning engineer Ted Jensen in New York City. A remixed 13-track edit of The Diamond You album including a cover of John Lennon's Imagine was released worldwide on iTunes in 2010. Several tracks from the album appear in Sony PlayStation video games, including Vibes.
Gold called upon professional photographers and fans alike to help create a King Taro photo essay to coincide with the release of The Diamond You album, as well as a stylized Taro Gold coffee-table book. Images from live performances of The King Taro Show in Tokyo were featured at the international Realism Art Exhibit of Amsterdam in 2012 and have been sold in galleries throughout the world.
Gold has also worked with high fashion and celebrity portrait photographers, including Joanne Gair and Johnny Rozsa. He often collaborates with Jeri Heiden and Glen Nakasako of the California design house SMOG to create Taro Gold product logos, images, and designs.
Since 2012, Gold has appeared as a guest commentator on HuffPost Live, the Internet-based video streaming network run by The Huffington Post. Gold's first HuffPost Live appearance was broadcast on October 4, 2012, and featured journalist Dan Rather.
Gold is the author of numerous books published by Andrews McMeel Publishing and is a regular contributor to The Huffington Post, for which he began writing in September 2012. Gold's books have sold more than one million copies and have been published in seven languages.
His first book, Open Your Mind, Open Your Life, was released in 2001 and became a perennial best seller that has been published in English, French, Portuguese, Hebrew, Japanese, and Korean. The book received a strong endorsement from Arun Gandhi, director of the Gandhi Institute and grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, who said of Open Your Mind, Open Your Life: "This book will enlighten and ennoble the reader." The book's cover was created by Gold and designer Laura Shaw, and its depiction of purple irises became an iconic image of Gold's literary work that later influenced the development of a Taro Gold brand logo.
Gold's book Living Wabi Sabi: The True Beauty of Your Life, released in 2004, was called a recommended read by Time Magazine, featured in a Time Magazine holiday gift guide, and subsequently featured in a Time Magazine article on Asian aesthetic philosophies.
In 2005, Gold received a Book Of The Year Award from ForeWord Reviews for his book What is Love? A Simple Guide to Romantic Happiness, and in 2007 received a Benjamin Franklin Literary Award for his book Living Wabi Sabi. His work has been cited by various authors including in the books Even June Cleaver Would Forget The Juice Box and Wisdom For The Soul. All of Gold's books have received endorsements and positive reviews from Publishers Weekly.
Gold has written essays for magazines and newspapers including The Advocate, the World Tribune, Tricycle: The Buddhist Review, Parabola (magazine), and Beliefnet. He also served as an associate editor for three years with Living Buddhism, a publication where he was a regular contributor.
In Popular Culture:
In 2003, Gold made a cameo appearance on the Fox sitcom That '70s Show, in the episode titled Whole Lotta Love. The appearance coincided with the release of Gold's book What Is Love? A Simple Guide to Romantic Happiness during the week of Valentine's Day, and first aired on February 19, 2003.
In 2011, British journalist Marcel Theroux presented "In Search of Wabi Sabi" on BBC Four as part of the channel's Hidden Japan programming, beginning by comically enacting a challenge from Gold's book Living Wabi Sabi to "ask people on a Tokyo street to describe Wabi Sabi." Theroux showed that, as Gold predicted, "they will likely give you a polite shrug and explain that Wabi Sabi is simply unexplainable."
2011, 心を開けば,人生も開く (Open Your Mind, Open Your Life) Japanese language, Takaraden 978-5748934528,
2010, 侘び寂びを生きる (Living Wabi Sabi) Japanese language, Takaraden 978-2345712537,
2009, לפתוח את הראש, חיים פתוחים (Open Your Mind, Open Your Life) Hebrew language, Focus Publishing 978-0974988445,
2009, 愛とは？ (What Is Love?) Japanese language, Takaraden 978-4789541231,
2008, Ouvrez Votre Esprit à la Vie (Open Your Mind, Open Your Life) French language, ADA Éditions 978-2895656203,
2007, Qué es el Amor? (What Is Love?) Spanish language, Grupo Editorial Panorama 978-9683816450,
2006, The Tao of Dad: The Wisdom of Fathers Near and Far, Andrews McMeel Publishing 978-0740757198,
2005, The Tao of Mom: The Wisdom of Mothers from East to West, Andrews McMeel Publishing 978-0740739583,
2004, Living Wabi Sabi: The True Beauty of Your Life, Andrews McMeel Publishing 978-0740739606,
2004, Abra Sua Mente, Abra Sua Vida (Open Your Mind, Open Your Life) Portuguese language, Editora Sextante 9788575421291,
2004, Open Your Mind, Open Your Life (Box Kit), Andrews McMeel Publishing 978-0740742538,
2003, What Is Love? A Simple Guide to Romantic Happiness, Andrews McMeel Publishing 978-0740738388,
2002, 오픈 유어 마인드, 오픈 유어 라이프 (Open Your Mind, Open Your Life) Korean language, Jisangsa 9788995360101,
2002, Open Your Mind, Open Your Life (Second Volume), Andrews McMeel Publishing 978-0740727108,
2001, Open Your Mind, Open Your Life: A Little Book Of Eastern Wisdom, Andrews McMeel Publishing 978-0740714467,
In 2010, Gold launched a unisex jewelry collection based on the Taro Gold logo design found in the cover art of his books and music CDs. Gold has explained his design inspiration as "the diamond of wisdom and joy we all possess in our hearts, and the flower of strength and beauty that blossoms from our lives as we overcome each challenge and hardship.... The lotus flower blooms most beautifully from the deepest and thickest mud." The jewelry line consists mainly of diamond rings and pendants made in gold, platinum, or sterling silver, and sold primarily at specialty boutiques in Osaka and Tokyo in Japan, and in San Francisco in the United States.
Gold is involved in different philanthropic efforts including private sponsorship of underprivileged students in Asia and South America. Gold is also a long-time supporter of The Trevor Project, founded in 1998 by his friend James Lecesne, with profits from the Taro Gold CafePress Diamond You shop benefiting The Trevor Project. In 2005, Gold endowed a named scholarship at Soka University of America called The Rainbow Family Fund for LGBT students and families.
Gold has been a Patron Circle member of the Sundance Institute and Sundance Film Festival since 2006, and of Sundance London since 2013.
Gold maintains a vegan diet, practices yoga, and is an animal rights supporter. He lived on four continents during his childhood, high school, and college years, including Del Mar, California, in North America, Tokyo, Japan, in Asia, Brisbane, Queensland in Australia, and Salamanca, Spain, in Europe. Members of his extended family live around the world and come from a range of philosophical traditions, including Judaism, Protestantism, Catholicism, and Buddhism, which Gold says gave him "a keen awareness that there are many ways to view the same thing." He has self-identified as a "JuBu," a Jewish Buddhist. Gold knew he was gay from an early age and has written about growing up gay for the Gay Voices section of The Huffington Post. Since his teenage years, he has practiced Nichiren Buddhism as a member of the worldwide Buddhist association Soka Gakkai International.