12 Musings From TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco, A.K.A. The Super Bowl For Silicon Valley
Launched in 2014, each year TechCrunch, the technology media company, puts on several events called “Disrupt.” This past week I attended my first one in San Francisco.
Tech conferences like Disrupt are what they are: A giant swath of startups and entrepreneurs working to convince anyone who will listen that they have created the most remarkably remarkable innovation in human history. They vie for the attention and dollars of venture capitalists and seek coverage by media, hoping any of it might ultimately vault them higher than a 25-year-old Colorado resident at a Phish concert.
Yet in spite of how tiresome I’ve found these events to be in the past – and for two years I ran one – they play an important role in the capitalism food chain. Plus, it’s a platform that, for a few days, actually removes the synthetic digital universe most of us live in today. We are forced to engage face-to-face, speak to one another in person and interact the way that Santa Claus imagined when he designed the universe. If a tech conference serves its true purpose, karma just might magically bring together a VC with just the right startup, or perhaps allow journalists like Techcrunch’s John Biggs or Anthony Ha to discover a product and write a feature about it. Then the next thing you know, it’s the bigtime. Capitalism happens.
Here are 12 musings from my first voyage to Disrupt:
Las Vegas: A layover in the Las Vegas airport is a heavenly lesson in overly muscular men in tank-tops.
Appropriate Scale: South By Southwest or the Computer Electronics Show (CES) are shit shows on many levels, but in particular, the size. They are just too massive, you get lost and don’t really know what’s important because Shaquille O’Neal is standing in a sponsor booth juggling a large pizza, two live mongooses and Justin Bieber while effectively applying Icy Hot to his lower back. Disrupt, on the other hand, was much more efficient. Located in Pier 48 on the San Francisco waterfront next to AT&T Park, I found it to be just the right size and scale. You could walk from one end to the other in 5 – 10 minutes but there was a lot to take in.