LA is Finally Taking Off as a Destination for World-Class Conferences

Back in 2014, one of the key recommendations from our LA Tech Agenda report that looked at what needed to be done to strengthen L.A.'s tech ecosystem was to attract world-class conferences and events to the region.  

The lack of events with world class speakers was one big reason we decided to start doing our own events.

Finally, it's starting to happen. Of course, for a while, we've seen conferences like Recode's Code Conference (and All Things D) before it take over Terranea -- but it's a bit of an oasis outside L.A.  As is the WSJ D.Live Conference down in Laguna Beach.  And Upfront Ventures has built a world-class annual summit of its own.

But now this year we're seeing Vanity Fair bring its New Establishment Summit to Beverly Hills (next week!), and one of the former event planners of the World Economic Forum bring a new conference called LA CoMotion to the Arts District this November. 

The Self-Driving Cars Revolution is Closer Than You Think

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I've been waiting for the self-driving cars revolution ever since I was a kid, reading Boys Life Magazine in the 1990s about the magical future that autonomous vehciles would unleash. 

But now, that future is approaching, faster than many of us think.

VentureBeat has a great run-down of the timeline that automakers are working under to bring autonomous technology to market -- and at the head of the pack? Elon Musk predicts that "by the end of this year a Telsa will be able to drive from Los Angeles to New York City without a human touching the wheel"!

Cities need to immediately start thinking about how to rezone and rebuild to make way for the dramatic changes that self-driving cars will unleash on urban design.  

We think autonomous vehicle technology and the startups that build services and platforms on top of it will be the next big thing. It may be a meme, but seriously -- what a time to be alive!

Brexit be Damned -- London's Tech Scene is Thriving, and They're Not Going to Stop Now

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Deputy Mayor of London for Business Rajesh Agrawal & TechFire CEO David Murphy

We're just back from London, and it's clear that while London's tech leaders -- like us, too -- wish that the Brexit vote never happened -- they're determined to thrive anyway. 

We came away extremely impressed by the London tech scene. 

Read about it yourself in London & Partners' excellent PDF overview of the London Tech Scene. 

While in London, TechFire CEO David Murphy had a chance to sit down with tech leaders including Deputy Mayor of London for Business Rajesh Agrawal (himself a highly successful fintech entrepreneur), Tech London Advocates founder Russ Shaw, CEO Gerard Grech and colleagues from Tech City UK (the group established by Prime Minister David Cameron), as well as Pru Ashby from London & Partners, the Mayor of London's economic development & tourism promotion agency. 

We encourage the TechFire community to make plans to attend London Tech Week in 2018 (which attracts 45,000 people!) and couldn't be more excited about deepening ties between L.A., S.F. and London. 

Burbank Tech Talks Receives Statewide Award

TechFire congratulates our consulting client, The City of Burbank, for winning a statewide economic development award for Burbank Tech Talks, the event series that we are privileged to support City staff in planning and to emcee.  The award was given by the California Association for Local Economic Development (CALED).

Read about the award in the San Fernando Valley Business Journal, or in the City of Burbank press release.

Honoring & Remembering a Remarkable Man: Dave Goldberg

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We honor & remember the memory of Dave Goldberg, CEO of SurveyMonkey, who had been scheduled to speak at TechFire Ignite before his tragic death. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.  He built SurveyMonkey into a powerhouse valued at $2 billion, after having earlier led Launch Media in Santa Monica to an IPO & acquisition by Yahoo, but it's been so touching to see so many people remember and honor him this week not for his achievements, but for his character and kindness. Our thoughts & prayers continue to be with his wife, Sheryl Sandberg, and their two children.

And read my reflections over on Medium on how, perhaps, we all can try to adopt a bit of the kindness he engendered.

 

Speakers Announced for TechFire Ignite 2015

EDITOR'S NOTE: in the weeks after this press release was sent, one of the speakers, Dave Goldberg, tragically passed away. Our hearts and prayers are with his family, friends, colleagues, and all who mourn the loss of this truly wonderful and remarkable man. 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: David C. Murphy, TechFire, david@techfire.co 

TechFire Ignite 2015 to Feature Prominent Silicon Valley CEOs, May 28 in Santa Monica  

Speakers include Sam Shank (Co-Founder & CEO of HotelTonight), Dave Goldberg (CEO of SurveyMonkey), Tony Conrad (Co-Founder & CEO of about.me, and Partner at True Ventures) and other titans of tech 

Santa Monica, CA (April 23, 2015) -- The second annual TechFire Ignite Summit on May 28 in Santa Monica will feature high-profile CEOs from Silicon Valley -- speakers of the caliber that they've also taken the stage at some of the world's leading tech conferences. Details are at http://techfire.co.

 "L.A. tech is on fire, and to quote a recent news headline, TechFire is catching fire, too," said TechFire Founder & CEO David C. Murphy.  "We're thrilled to host a number of extremely high-caliber speakers at TechFire Ignite 2015. Many of our speakers have also spoken at long-established, world-class conferences like TechCrunch Disrupt, SXSW, and Web Summit, and we're honored to host them at TechFire in just our second year, too," he said. "We believe in L.A.'s thriving tech ecosystem, and so we've been working tirelessly for many months to recruit an incredible roster of speakers from Silicon Valley to come speak. It'll be our best event yet!"

Last year, TechFire hosted seven events attracting 1700+ registrants from Los Angeles, San Francisco, and as far away as Miami and even Istanbul, who came to network and to hear prominent speakers like venture capitalists from Sand Hill Road firms like Kleiner Perkins & Greylock, and some of LA's leading startup CEOs. 

 

SPEAKERS AT TECHFIRE IGNITE 2015:

  • SAM SHANK, Co-Founder & CEO, HotelTonight. This year, HotelTonight won big at the tech industry's annual awards bash, the Crunchies Awards (presented by TechCrunch & VentureBeat). Voters named HotelTonight the Best On-Demand Service, beating Uber, Lyft, and other nominees. HotelTonight currently serves 500+ destinations in 28 countries. → TechCrunch profile.
  • DAVE GOLDBERG, CEO, SurveyMonkey. $2 billion: that's SurveyMonkey's valuation, as of its latest funding round. As CEO, Dave Goldberg has grown SurveyMonkey into a multibillion dollar business used by millions (and, as Business Insider notes, he's also famous for being "half of one of Silicon Valley's most powerful couples" -- he's married to Facebook COO & Lean In author Sheryl Sandberg)). Earlier, he co-founded Launch Music, led it through an IPO and acquisition by Yahoo, and grew it into the internet's biggest video site and music site at the time. → Business Insider profile.
  • TONY CONRAD, Co-Founder & CEO, about.me;  & Partner, True Ventures. Tony Conrad sold about.me to AOL just four days after it launched — but got to have his cake and eat it, too: he later bought it back from AOL for a fraction of the price. Besides running about.me, he's a partner at True Ventures, where he has led investments in WordPress.com, MakerBot, Blue Bottle Coffee, Typekit and High Fidelity. He's also a personal investor in Slack→ Vanity Fair profile
  • DAN MOREHEAD, Founder & CEO, Pantera Capital. Dan Morehead runs a ~$150 million bitcoin investment fund and bitcoin venture fund.  He previously raised $1.3 billion for Pantera as a macro hedge fund, before choosing to focus exclusively on Bitcoin. Earlier, he headed macro trading & was CFO for Tiger Management Corp., also known as “The Tiger Fund" (with as much as $22 billion in holdings).  →New York Times' DealBook profile.
  • THERESE TUCKER, Founder, CEO & Chairman, BlackLine. Therese Tucker founded BlackLine in 2001, growing it into an enterprise SAAS powerhouse, whose modern finance platform is used by a who's-who of blue chip Fortune 500 companies like Verizon, Hyatt, United Airlines, MasterCard and NBCUniversal. An L.A. success story, Woodland Hills-based BlackLine has seven global offices, from Paris, to Sydney. → Fortune profile.
  • BRANDEE BARKER, Co-Founder & Partner, The Pramana Collective. Renowned for her role helping grow Facebook into a global phenomenon as their first Head of Global Communications and Public Policy, Brandee Barker has advised clients like Sheryl Sandberg (on her Lean In campaign), and companies like Uber, Dropbox, and Spotify. → New York Times profile.
  • AND MORE TBA.

 

GREAT NETWORKING:

  • WHO ATTENDS OUR EVENTS: Our 2014 events attracted 1700+ registrants from Silicon Valley, Los Angeles, and even as far as Europe: founders & CEOs of VC-backed companies, business leaders, investors, press, entrepreneurs, and key connectors. Companies represented include Tencent, Upfront Ventures, PandoDaily, Creative Artists Agency, Techstars, Hulu, Beachmint, Oracle, Zefr, GumGum, Sony, Technicolor, Toyota, McKinsey, the Office of LA Mayor Eric Garcetti, Deloitte, the Los Angeles Times, Factual, LegalZoom, Symantec, Toyota, Live Nation, Hautelook, and many more. Learn more at http://techfire.co/attendees
  • Our 2015 summit already is attracting high-profile attendees flying in, like the investment banker who's done more tech IPOs than anyone else in the industry (200+ companies, including Alibaba--the world's biggest IPO ever).    

  

EVENT INFO: 

WHEN & WHERE:  TechFire Ignite 2015 will be Thursday, May 28, 2015, in downtown Santa Monica. Doors open for networking at 8 am, and the program begins at 9 am.

SPONSORS:  Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati is the 2014 & 2015 Presenting Sponsor for all of TechFire's events. BlackLine is an additional Presenting Sponsor the summit; CBRE is a Platinum Sponsor, and EY is a Silver Sponsor.  Additional sponsorships are available -- email david@techfire.co for details.  

URL FOR TICKETS & INFO (for the public): http://techfire.co.  Early bird discounts are currently available -- ticket prices will keep going up in the coming days & weeks.

MEDIA REGISTRATION: apply for a free media pass at http://techfire.co/press. (Space is limited.)

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ABOUT TECHFIRE (techfire.co)

TechFire is the leading producer of tech events in Los Angeles, featuring nationally prominent speakers. Our events last year attracted 1700+ registrants, to hear speakers like David Lee (SV Angel), Brad Feld (Foundry Group/Techstars), Howard Morgan (First Round Capital), Michael Dubin (Dollar Shave Club), and Beth Seidenberg (Kleiner Perkins).  Visit techfire.co to learn more.   TechFire is led by Founder & CEO David Murphy.  (c) DMBH Group. 

Follow us on Twitter at @DavidCMurphy and @TechFireLA, and on Facebook.

TechFire in the News: "It’s Official: TechFire is Catching Fire"

It’s official: TechFire is catching fire.
— Jeff Hall, WestsideToday.com

"David Murphy, CEO of TechFire, a leading organizer of “fireside chats” with digital leaders, just announced the speaker lineup for TechFire’s May 28 TechFire Ignite Summit.

These events are generally recognized as top quality gatherings, where entrepreneurs can learn from legendary business builders who have come before."

Read the full article at WestsideToday.com.

Don't Be Evil

Don't Be Evil
by David C. Murphy (@DavidCMurphy)

Editor's note: David C. Murphy is the Founder & CEO of TechFire. Long passionate about ethics & business, his thesis at Claremont McKenna College was on "doing well" while "doing good." 


Megan Smith, the former Google[x] executive who joined the White House as Chief Technology Officer of the United States last Fall, had a great line in the her interview in the New York Times Magazine, when asked about the problems of government: "If you come, you can bring your own methods. The American government will be whatever we all make of it."

The same, of course, is true for the startup world. What kind of business culture do we want? Here's a suggestion:

Don't be evil.

Sure, the company that bears that motto isn't perfect. No company, and no person is. 

But we can -- and should -- try.  

Bad Boys of Tech?
In recently months, there has been a lot of talk about bad behavior in tech.  And sadly, there have been concrete examples of bad behavior, which rightfully have been reported on far and wide.  It seems it'd do a lot of good for more of Silicon Valley to take the "Don't Be Evil" approach to heart.

Sarah Lacy's 6000 word piece, "Silicon Valley has an asshole problem" continues to be an important read. She laid out her view of the problem, "decrying the sad reality [of] the continual erosion of what Silicon Valley—as a place—stands for, if anything."  Talk of intimidating her for daring to speak out is deplorable.  Instead, as a tech community, we should step back and look at what more we can do to be disruptive -- but always being careful to make the world a better place as we do it, not worse.

One investor told Kara Swisher in Vanity Fair  that "it’s hard to be a disrupter and not be an asshole."

Maybe. But maybe not. 

There's no question you do sometimes have to go to war to fight for what's right. Heck, there would be no United States without a revolutionary war. There's no question some of the greatest innovations in the tech world have come out of cutthroat competition, from the iPhone vs. Android battle, to the Mac vs Windows in decades prior.

But when we seek to emulate Steve Jobs' business acumen, say, we shouldn't imitate his flaws -- like his lies to his friend Steve Wozniak about the amount of money Atari paid them which they were supposed to split.

It's possible to go too far. 

In the startup world, founders love to talk about changing the world. We have to ask, what kind of world, then, do we want to live in? Just as Megan Smith said about the government, in the startup ecosystem, it's what we we, collectively, create. 

What's the point of changing the world if we don't change it into something better? 


Stand Your Ground
The reality is, it's a tough world out there sometimes. Some bad apples do lie, cheat, and even embezzle money.  It's absolutely critical to fight tooth and nail to defend yourself and your startup. If you're about to be run over, you have to fierce and unrelenting in defending yourself. Whether in the courts or the court of public opinion, if things escalate, don't be shy about defending yourself.

Make it a habit of being assertive -- albeit not overly aggressive. Don't let people take advantage of you on big things or little things. 

But that doesn't mean in the day to day course of business you should be an asshole.  Fight battles fiercely when needed -- but day-to-daydon't be afraid to be a nice guy. Don't be an asshole; treat others well. You'll build an army of friends and goodwill amongst the broader public, whom you can rally when the going gets tough. 

But if you treat people poorly -- business partners, vendors, investors or executives, employees and contractors -- then in the long term you'll poison your personal & professional brand and be left with undesirable partners who will try to take advantage of you as you've taken advantage of them.


VCs Aren't Always Your Friend
For a young founder, it can be tempting to take the first investment offer that comes your way. But be careful. There are a lot of truly "founder-friendly" investors out there -- but there are also sharks who will eat you alive, and the merely clueless whose lack of common sense will create havoc. Ask around. Don't just talk to references provided or rely on news coverage -- dig deeper for people who can tell you what a potential investor is really like.

If your sixth sense tells you something's wrong, trust it. No matter how desperate you are for money, hold off. You'll thank me later.  Or maybe you won't because you'll never know what disaster you avoided by running the other way. 


"Be the Change You Wish to See in the World"
We're at an inflection point in the growth of the startup world. Will we build companies on shaky foundations built by "assholes", and risking the entire tech community's goodwill allure held by the broader public? Or will we built the truly great companies of tomorrow on strong foundations, with loyal employees, customers, and business partners who truly believe in a startup's mission to change the world for the better?

It's up to us. Whether you're an entrepreneur, investor, mentor, or employee, do your part to change the world -- starting with the startup world -- for the better, not the worse.

When you're looking to disrupt the status quo with your startup, don't disrupt the Golden Rule.

Don't be evil.