What’s in a Name? A Lot. PARC, a Xerox company

By many measures, last week was an amazing week of visibility here at PARC – Tuesday’s New York Times Science cover article on our amazing chiplet technology by John Markoff, Wednesday’s expert interview on American Public Media’s Marketplace program, and Thursday’s PARC Forum discussion featuring Larry Vincent and Eric Kuhn from the United Talent Agency moderated by the illustrious Kara Swisher of AllThingsD. Ok, Kara gave us a little Twitter beef about being “too quiet” and we weren’t on 60 Minutes (yet), but we’ll take it anyway.

And yet we had to remind NYT that we are “PARC, a Xerox company” not “Xerox PARC” when the article went live on Monday evening, despite multiple visits and interviews, so we’re definitely not where we want to be or need to be yet. It may seem like a small semantic issue, but to those of us chartered with building and maintaining the brand, it makes a world of difference.

Yes, the GUI, the Ethernet and the personal computer were all invented at Xerox PARC. But in 2002, we were spun out as a wholly-parc-brand (3)owned subsidiary of Xerox to forge our own way in the business world. Since then, we’ve successfully developed an open innovation business model that enables our breakthrough technologies to come to market via the best commercial route, whether that means as part of a Xerox service offering or embedded in one of our many other commercial clients’ products. Those are clients we’ve acquired on our own, and our offerings to them (expertise, IP, custom development) are completely separate from Xerox’s lines of business. Because these customers have entered into a relationship with PARC, not with Xerox, they need the confidence that we’re a separate entity.

And as we look to acquire new customers, it’s vital that those businesses are aware of what PARC can offer them as an independent provider of technology and expertise. Did you know that PARC has an Energy program that is launching breakthrough technologies into the solar and battery markets? (Probably yes if you’re here reading our blog, but you get the idea.) The key here is that to continue to grow our business, it’s essential that when a business executive hears “PARC,” he or she envisions the new PARC and all that includes, and not our 1970s heritage of Xerox PARC.

I don’t mean to imply that we’re not completely proud of our forebears, who paved the way for who we are today with their transformative approach to managing innovation. And we are also extremely proud of our on-going work with Xerox – we are bringing exciting and surprising innovations to market together that could change the way many services in your everyday life will be delivered to you.

But we really hope that the next time you hear “PARC,” it conjures images of chiplets, cutting-edge science, business opportunities, and a totally new future. You know, just like “Bond” suggests shaken not stirred, tailored dinner jackets, and, well, other types of partnerships. After all, hasn’t he just redefined himself (again)?

I think we can too – here at PARC.

Amy Hawman is PARC’s senior director of marketing, responsible for the PARC brand, communicating the wide variety of business innovations at work today, and making sure people interested in technology innovation know that all these years later, PARC is still very hard at work and play.

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