Nov 02

Bloomberg Next Big Thing Summit: East

I love these Bloomberg conferences. They hit on a bunch of important themes across the entire technology sector. Their events are great for startups, VC investors, public market investors, corporate leaders, bankers, etc. Many of these types of events only cater to a couple of those (e.g. Disrupt is really just for startups and VCs). They always have great food too. Thanks to InSITE for getting me a pass again. Here’s the agenda for your reference

“The mentality of tech does not jive well with DC”
Alexis Ohanian talked with Diane Brady – not much about starting reddit or being a partner at YC – mostly about the regulatory environment and entrepreneurship across the country. Recently he’s been spending more and more time in DC discussing net neutrality. Apparently it’s not as bad as it sounds (they’re making some progress), but still petty frustrating. He got actively involved with politics with SOPA/PIPA and has stuck with it since.

“New York has never been a derivative of something else”
Ohanian had a bit of a discussion about each region owning its identity and creating new tech hotbeds based on natural regional advantages. Marc Andreessen wrote about this here.
Ohanian said something like “There’s no Silicon blank in Kansas” but that has to change.
When Brady asked about Silicon Alley as a nickname for NYC, Ohanian (a native New Yorker) said that he hates the idea that NYC is ever viewed as a copycat of the Valley or anywhere else.

“In high school, I wasn’t part of the cool crowd but I could hang around with them and help them with their computer problems and chemistry homework.”
Another good panel was “The New Mad Men” with George John, CEO of Rocket Fuel, a programmatic ad exchange, and Ned Brody, the head of Yahoo Americas. This was John’s response to the fear that agencies would disappear in the future.
He said Rocket Fuel provides an efficient means to trade inventory, but they do not create the inventory. In his view, there will always be a place for creatives because robots can’t tug on your heartstrings. There will always need to be a combo of Don Draper and Revenge of the Nerds

Shout out to Judith Rodin, president of The Rockefeller Foundation. She was the president of University of Pennsylvania for my first two years there. She had a good talk about her new book, The Resilience Dividend, with Diane Brady.

It was also pretty cool to hear James Blake (the tennis player not the musician) talk about his foundation that’s raising money to fight cancer. Lots of people walked out of the conference area for a coffee break during Blake’s presentation (a bit off topic), but for those of us who stayed, it was a great discussion about a real issue.

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Kevin Weeks is a second-year MBA student at Columbia Business School and InSITE Fellow. This summer, he worked on the Business Development / Sales team at Thanx.

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