Susan Athey, Stanford Graduate School of Business


Stanford Graduate School of Business
The Economics of Technology Professor

Research Statement

Susan Athey’s research is in the areas of industrial organization, microeconomic theory, and applied econometrics. Her current research focuses on the design of auction-based marketplaces and the economics of the internet, primarily on online advertising and the economics of the news media. She has also studied dynamic mechanisms and games with incomplete information, comparative statics under uncertainty, and econometric methods for analyzing auction models.

Research Interests

  • Economics of the internet
  • Economics of the news media
  • Platform markets
  • Online advertising
  • Internet search
  • Econometrics and machine learning
  • Big data
  • Math-based currency
  • Industrial organization

Teaching Statement

Professor Athey teaches classes about the economics of the internet and digital markets, platform markets, and internet search.


Susan Athey is the Economics of Technology Professor at Stanford Graduate School of Business.  She received her bachelor’s degree from Duke University and her PhD from Stanford, and she holds an honorary doctorate from Duke University. She previously taught at the economics departments at MIT, Stanford and Harvard. Her current research focuses on the economics of digitization, marketplace design, and the intersection of econometrics and machine learning.  She has worked on several application areas, including timber auctions, internet search, online advertising, the news media, and virtual currency. As one of the first “tech economists,” she served as consulting chief economist for Microsoft Corporation for six years, and now serves on the boards of Expedia, Rover, and Ripple.  She also serves as a long-term advisor to the British Columbia Ministry of Forests, helping architect and implement their auction-based pricing system.

Academic Degrees

  • PhD, Economics, Stanford Graduate School of Business, 1995
  • BA, Economics, Computer Science, and Mathematics, Duke University, 1991

Academic Appointments

  • Professor, Stanford University Graduate School of Business , 2013-present
  • Professor of Economics, Harvard, 2006-2012
  • Holbrook Working Professor of Economics, Stanford, 2004-2006
  • Associate Professor of Economics, Stanford, 2001-2003
  • Castle Krob Career Development Associate Professor of Economics, MIT, 1998-2001
  • Assistant Professor of Economics, MIT, 1995-1997

Awards and Honors

  • Jean-Jacques Laffont Prize, 2016
  • Codirector, Digital Business: Data, Decisions & Platform Strategy Initiative, Stanford GSB, 2015
  • Spence Faculty Fellow, Stanford GSB, 2013-2014
  • Fellow, Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory, 2013
  • Member, National Academy of Science, elected 2012
  • Honorary degree, Duke University, 2009
  • Fellow, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, elected 2008
  • John Bates Clark Medal, 2007
  • Fellow, Econometric Society, elected 2004
  • Guggenheim Faculty Scholar, Stanford University, 2004-2006
  • Elaine Bennett Research Award, 2001
  • Sloan Foundation Research Fellow, 2000
  • Undergraduate Economics Association Teaching Award, 1995-1996
  • Review of Economic Studies Tour, 1995
  • Stanford University Lieberman Fellow, 1994-1995
  • State Farm Dissertation Award in Business, 1994
  • National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship, 1991-1994
  • Jaedicke Scholar, Stanford Graduate School of Business, 1992-1993
  • Mary Love Collins Scholarship, Chi Omega Foundation, 1991-1992
  • Duke University Alice Baldwin Memorial Scholarship, 1990-1991


Degree Courses


MGTECON 515: Cryptocurrency

This class will provide an overview of the rapidly evolving area of distributed ledger and blockchain technologies, with a focus on economic and strategic issues. We will cover key components of the architecture that affect the products derived...

STRAMGT 518: Advertising and Monetization

Advances in advertising technology, such as online publishing, digital and mobile advertising platforms, as well as new ways of consuming video content are driving a rapid evolution of the advertising market. We analyze this evolution from the...

STRAMGT 529: Marketplaces for Goods and Services

In this class we will analyze the economics and strategy of marketplaces and platforms for goods and services. We will consider the forces that have led to the proliferation of these marketplaces, as well as the economics behind which ones are...


GSBGEN 199: Curricular Practical Training for PhD Students

GSB students are eligible to report on work experience that is relevant to their core studies under the direction of the Director of the PhD Program. Registration for this work must be approved by the Director of the PhD Program and is limited to...

MGTECON 513: Platform Competition in Digital Markets

This class will analyze the economics of digital platform markets. The class format will consist of lectures and guest speakers. Concepts will be presented in the context of leading examples of internet and technology platforms such as online...

STRAMGT 518: Advertising and Monetization

The Global advertising market is forecast to top $600 Billion in 2016, with advances in advertising technology, such as online publishing, digital and mobile advertising platforms, as well as new ways of consuming video content, driving a rapid...

STRAMGT 529: Marketplaces for Goods and Services

In this class we will analyze the economics and strategy of marketplaces and platforms for goods and services. We will consider the forces that have led to the proliferation of these marketplaces, as well as the economics behind which ones are...

Executive Education & Other Non-Degree Programs

In the Media

Pizza over privacy? Stanford economist examines a paradox of the digital age

Stanford News, August 3, 2017

Machine Learning for Policy Analysis

The Wonk, June 2017

Can business schools prepare students for a 70-year career?

Financial Times, September 8, 2016

Featured Economist

STEM Gem Book, June 6, 2016

Designing Online Marketplaces

AdExchanger, April 14, 2016

Why Do Technology Companies Hire Economists?

Forbes, January 27, 2016

What Will The Impact Of Machine Learning Be On Economics?

Forbes, January 27, 2016

Bitcoin Blockchain Technology In Financial Services: How The Disruption Will Play Out

Forbes, September 14, 2015

CMSA Big Data Interview

Harvard University, August 26, 2015

Prof. Susan Athey discusses her research and work on big data

Economists and the Real World

Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, August 2015

The Economics of Bitcoin and Virtual Currency

Stanford GSB, June 18, 2015

Susan Athey explains how Bitcoin works, and why virtual digital currency might change the way consumers and financial institutions do business. Athey is the Economics of Technology professor at Stanford Graduate School of Business.

Why Managers Must Embrace Big Data or Be Left Behind

The Fast Track, June 1, 2015

Nasdaq Signals Confidence in Bitcoin, Not Just the Blockchain

American Banker, May 19, 2015

Stanford Professor Combines Machine Learning and Econometrics

The Harvard Crimson, April 29, 2015

E-Commerce Ad Rates Paying by Time, Not Clicks

Businessweek, April 26, 2015

Diverse Perspectives Needed To Provide Better Analysis Of Big Data

Becker Friedman Institute, April 10, 2015

University of Chicago undergraduates heard an array of views on the economic, moral, and political effects of so-called "big data" at a student-organized panel discussion held on April 10, 2015 at the Saieh Hall for Economics. Led by fourth-year students students in the College, the panel featured economists Susan Athey of Stanford University and Hal Varian of the University of California, Berkeley, as well as statistician and machine learning expert Larry Wasserman of Carnegie Mellon University.

Women in Business: Sara Clemens, Chief Strategy Officer, Pandora,

Huffingtonpost, March 31, 2015

Who Will Benefit From Digital Currency? Bitcoin Experiment Gives A Glimpse, November 26, 2014

Could Digital Currency Make Our Money More Secure?, November 25, 2014

Susan Athey On How Digital Currency Could Transform Our Lives, November 24, 2014

Challenges for Women in Economics

Bloomberg Businessweek, July 27, 2013

Insights by Stanford Business

writtenPizza Over Privacy? A Paradox of the Digital Age

August 3, 2017

Consumers choose convenience over protection.

writtenFixing Big Data’s Blind Spot

March 10, 2017

Susan Athey wants to help machine-learning applications look beyond correlation and into root causes.

writtenThe Promise and Peril of Bitcoin

February 25, 2014

Economist Susan Athey and venture capitalist Balaji Srinivasan discuss the digital currency.

writtenSusan Athey: How Big Data Changes Business Management

September 20, 2013

The Stanford economist explains how troves of digital data will reshape competition.

Read about executive education

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