I arrived this morning to a downpour and a city that feels exceedingly waterlogged. I’m sitting at a coffee shop in Berkeley in advance of a talk I’m giving on Startup Communities, a topic that to me suddenly feels even more relevant than before given the self-inflicted chaos going on at a macro level in America. As things unfold, I’m calmly pondering the next 20 years as I put the final touches on a presentation for a talk at the Greenspring Associates annual meeting later this week.
My partner Ryan is going to the NewCo Shift Forum while I’m theoretically covering SaaStr (and doing a brief speaking bit tomorrow there and then at the Strictly VC event.) While reading Fred Wilson’s post Capitalism At A Crossroads, John Battelle’s efforts and conference spiked in relevance to me. But it’s too late to shuffle things this time around.
Last week was sunny in LA at the Upfront Summit. Mark Suster and team did an amazing job – I think this was one of the best two day conferences I’ve ever been to. If you want a quick taste, read Mark’s recent posts titled Why Was Winter in Venture Capital Funding so Short? and How Glenn Beck Won the Audience Over at the Upfront Summit.
My version of VC Conference Season ends on Friday, as there are endless opportunities in the next few months to spend two days to pretend to work while sitting with a bunch of other people at a conference, waiting to participate in a 30 minute panel or doing a fireside chat. I’m wrapping this week up and then I’m done for a while, as I shift my extra energy to maker mode. In this mean time, I’m pretty sure I won’t need a shower tomorrow to fit in around the bay area – I’ll just need to go outside and walk a few blocks.
I’ll be at CES from Wednesday to Friday. I went for many years, punted for the past few years, but decided to go again this year.
Techstars runs a big program called the Startup Stage that has three days of programming. It also co-hosts Eureka Park, at the Sands, Level 1, Hall G which is a collection of around 600 startups. I’ll be hanging out there when I’m not walking to CES floor, which typically takes me a day.
My dad will be with me. We love to walk to the show floor together and just be together for a couple of days. While he’s a doctor, he’s been a tech nerd since I was little, always alongside me as I played around with new stuff. He’s endlessly a kid around this stuff – always trying new things, talking to everyone, and just having the time of his life.
I’m giving two talks this year at CES as part of Startup Stage at the Sands, Level 1, Hall G.
- Thursday 1/5: 1 – 1:45: Fireside chat with Fitbit: From Inspiration to IPO
- Friday 1/6: 1 – 1:45: Diversity in Tech
I don’t go to CES to find the next great thing. I go to soak myself in what companies are releasing now. I run into (randomly – I don’t schedule anything) a lot of friends from the industry. I relax into the density of the amount of stuff getting shipping in 2017, as I think about where it will be in 2022.
And – I hang out with my dad. Which I love.
This week is Denver Startup Week 2014. Seth, Ryan, and I are spending all day Thursday in Denver doing startup week stuff.
If you are looking for me, I’ll be hanging out all day at Basecamp, which is sponsored by Chase.
Following are the events I’m participating in.
8:00 – 9:00: Building Great Entrepreneurial Communities
1:00 – 2:00: Feld and Friends
2:00 – 4:00: Mentor Hours (special Foundry/Galvanize/Techstars Edition). People can sign up here (sorry – they don’t have this organized by day, just by mentor).
4:00 – 5:30: Practice Pitch with Techstars
5:30 – 7:30: Beers at Basecamp, Foundry/Galvanize/Techstars edition (Seth and Ryan only – I’ll be doing a talk at Condit about creating innovation spaces.)
I hope to see you sometime during the day.
The agenda is now about 90% complete (check the google doc for real-time updates) and Eric tells me that he’ll be finalizing everything in the next week or so.
For those of you who attended two years ago, you may remember my “Resistance is Inevitable” talk about the rise of the machines. This year, I’ll be leading two different sessions.
First, Jerry Colonna and I will be having a discussion about the emotional challenges of entrepreneurship. I’ve written about Jerry many times on my blog. He’s a huge resource to entrepreneurs, a great mentor and confidant of mine, and I’m looking forward to a public conversation about some topics near and dear to both of us.
Second, I’ll be having a conversation with Boris Sofman of Anki. Hopefully he’ll bring some toys for us to play with.
For a taste of some of the other topics, ponder:
- The Rise of the Citizen Explorer (which about the happenings at OpenROV)
- The History and Future of Calm Technology
- One Billion per Second: The Rise of Designer Data Architectures
- Lighting up the world with sensors: using data to effect change
Add in great WiFi, amazing people, an intimate and welcoming atmosphere, and three days of impact-filled ideas, and you’ll quickly find out why Defrag is one of my favorite events of the year.
If you register before Friday, the code “brad15” will take 15% off of your registration.
See you there!
Defrag is entering its seventh year of existence. That’s kind of amazing to me. What started as a simple email exchange between myself and Eric Norlin almost eight years ago resulted in a conference that has grown in importance, had meaningful impact on my thinking (and that of many others), and spawned other shows, most notably Gluecon. Most tech conferences don’t last seven years, and they certainly don’t get better with time. Defrag has and is.
Eric has been outlining his thinking for this year’s agenda here, but let me point out a couple of things of note:
- Defrag is 3 days long this year, as we’ve rolled the Blur content into the overall Defrag agenda. This means that if you register for Defrag, you’re registered for 3 days (not 2, as in previous years). By the way, we did not increase the price as we did this.
- We limit Defrag to 325 people (25 press/analysts; 300 attendees) on purpose, as the primary goal of the Defrag conversation is intimacy. All of which is to say, don’t delay in grabbing a spot – it will sell out.
This year’s Defrag is covering everything from drones to robots to the cloud to APIs to big data. The full Defrag 2013 agenda is here (and it will continue to evolve) but topics will include the following:
- The History and Future of Calm Technology (Amber Case)
- The Identity Manifesto: Seven Points On The Future of Identity (R Ray Wang)
- Great, Software Ate My World. Now what? (Oren Teich)
- Industrial Entropy and the Future of Work (Chris Devore)
- The Coming Digital Dark Ages (Maggie Fox)
- The Girl Geek Imperative (Lorinda Brandon)
- How to make Skynet User Friendly (Bret Tobey)
- Security in the Cloud for the API Economy (Andy Thurai)
- Healthcare After The Deluge (John Wilbanks)
- Existence as a platform: Quantified Self meets the internet of Things (Chris Dancy)
- The Future of Flying Robots (Chris Sanz)
Jerry Colonna and I are also going to have a special fireside chat about surviving the startup life.
Use “brad12” to take an additional 10% off of the early bird pricing (which ends September 20th).
I’m a huge fan of the The Entrepreneurs Foundation of Colorado. In fact, Foundry Group is such a fan that we’ve donated a part of our profits to this state-wide organization that gives back to local communities through the success of our entrepreneurs. This Saturday, September 7th, EFCO is holding a big fundraiser. It’s at the Boulder Theater and should be a ton of fun.
It also happens to be the 20th Anniversary of Cooley’s office in Colorado. Cooley is being incredible generous donating the resources to make this event happen. I hope everyone can attend, have a good time and support a great cause.
A few weeks ago at Thinc Iowa I noticed the tradition they had of giving a standing ovation to the speaker when the speaker took the stage. I had never seen that before and thought it was awesome. Speakers also got a standing ovation after their talk. As someone who does a lot of public talks, the first sixty seconds of warming up a room are often awkward (even if well executed) and the standing ovation at the beginning eliminated all of this for me.
I just spent an awesome day at the EO Entrepreneurs Masters Program 20th Anniversary. This program started out as Birthing of Giants 20 years ago and had a profound impact on me when I was 25 years old and running Feld Technologies. We were 12 people at the time and were just at the $1 million annual revenue minimum for applying. It was the first time I had really found my peer group and it helped me understand the value of peers and mentoring at a very young age. It also resulted in me getting involved in Young Entrepreneurs Organization, starting the Boston and Colorado chapters, and serving on the YEO board for several years. As icing on the cake, I met Verne Harnish, who became a good friend, was the only person I knew when Amy and I moved to Boulder, and has continued to have an amazing impact on a huge number of entrepreneurs over the 20 years since I first met him.
I was on a panel with a few of my colleagues from that first Birthing of Giants class that graduated in 1992. The room was full of warmth and there was no awkwardness, plus I was the last person on the panel to talk. Our assignment from Verne was to discuss several profound life moments and try to work the notion of “a billion” into the examples as one of the themes of this year’s class was “a billion.” The audience of 500 was engaged for our entire panel (which is a big deal for anyone who has ever sat on a panel as they can be soul crushing experiences to sit and watch people disconnect in the audience – well – reconnect with their iPhones – while disconnecting from the panel.
We got a standing ovation and the end which caused me to flash back to the Thinc Iowa event and made me wonder why the tradition of giving a standing ovation at the beginning hasn’t taken off. I hope Eric Norlin incorporates it for Defrag and Blur – it so changes the ton of the transition from speaker to speaker in a powerful and positive way.
In approximately seven weeks, Defrag will be happening again. It’s the sixth incarnation of Defrag, and over time it seems to have become an annual Fall rite of passage.
This year’s Defrag is no different: an intimate gathering and great conversations. Speakers like Kevin Kelly (founder of Wired Magazine), Jeff Ma (inspiration for the movie, “21”), Bre Pettis (of Makerbot), and many, many others. Topics like mobile development, identity management, social business, big data, and APIs.
One key difference with this year’s Defrag, though, is the addition of Blur. Defrag and Blur will overlap for half a day. This means that in three days time, you can get the experience of Defrag, and then stick around for robots, 3D printing and all kinds of cool HCI stuff at Blur. Two shows in three days in one place. (Note: we’ll also be having the Boulder is for Robots meeting at Blur, and opening up some “hacking space” to build stuff.)
In short, you should plan to be at Defrag and Blur (November 14-16). Early Bird registration expires this Friday, and “brad12” takes an additional 10% off. See you there!
Here’s a taste of what’s saturating my brain.
- Shit My Cloud Evangelist Says, Just Not to the CSO by Chris Hoff, Juniper Networks
- Foragers, Farmers, Forks & Forgers: On Software, Patronage and Craft Brewing by James Governor, Redmonk
- Using APIs and Infrastructure by John Musser, Programmable Web
- NoSQL Smackdown: Cassandra, MongoDB, and Neo4J by Tim Berglund
- The Badass Beyond Hadoop: Percolator, Dremmel, Pregel by Mike Miller, Clouant
And then it was lunchtime. Breath deeply.
Gluecon is now slightly less than a month away, and if you’re not going, you should. Gluecon is a phenomenal gathering of developers working in the big data, mobile, and cloud computing arenas (where the topic of the API comes up continually). Yet, Gluecon is not “expo-big,” so you’ll be able to actually interact with everyone there, and not feel like you’re drowning in a sea of people amidst a concrete hall full of vendor booths.
The sessions that are assembled for Gluecon are done the right way — namely, there are no panels (zero), and they’re technically deep. Sessions like:
“The Badass Beyond Hadoop: Percolator, Dremmel, Pregel”
“Why MongoDB + Node.js is the new server-side stack”
“Architecting for Performance in the face of Mobile and APIs”
“Building the best mobile libraries to consume all kinds of backend APIs”
“Scaling Mobile Services on Diverse Networks”
“Big Pipes: Architecting for High-Volume Realtime Social Data”
“Securing Your Pocket to The Cloud: OAuth and Mobile Devices”
“Model-Driven Deployment: The Best Practice Successor to Virtual Appliances”
Beyond the sessions, there are three, 4 hour long workshops being presented. They cover:
“Constructing Cloud Architecture the Netflix Way”
“Developing polyglot applications on Cloud Foundry”
“Inside the DevOps PaaS Toolshed”
No matter where you live (east coast or west coast or anywhere in between), you should get to Gluecon. And if you’re a developer that lives in Colorado, it’s an absolute must.
Use “brad12” to take 10% off of your gluecon registration. See you there!