I attended TiE Silicon Valley’s Conference on the 6-7th May 2016 at the Santa Clara Exhibition Centre. Over 4,000 people attended the event and there was a real mix of Business Leaders, Entrepreneurs and Capital not aligned to any particular market sector.
So what were my observations?
- Why different? I asked many people what made this conference different since there are many in Silicon Valley. IBM said that this was the best place to meet real Entrepreneurs and Morgan Stanley said great place to find wealthy and potentially wealth people to serve. Attendees reported that the event covered many industry verticals which allowed one to understand what is happening in the technology space as a whole.
- Indian Time. Many joked that the conference runs on “Indian Time”. Normally this wouldn’t be a problem except for the fact that the conference venue ran on “Pacific Standard Time”. On Friday lunch started at 12:00 and my stream over-ran by 40 minutes. By the time I got out they were clearing away the remains of the food. No problem you might say – except that there were no other eating outlets other than a 5m square shop and a café I the hotel.
- Videos. There were many video promotions of things. A large number of them were largely devoid of significant content but had great visual effects. To me, the money spent making the video explaining the change of TiE’s logo would have been better spent updating the website. I guess that’s the engineer in me rather than the marketing person. My attitude is to get the systems in place so that you can take money from and service the customers when they arrive rather than get them to the door and hope!
- Racial Mix. It’s not politically acceptable to say it, but I was one of the few Caucasian faces at the event. This was explained by Dr Nirvikar Singh of UC Santa Cruz, a keynote speaker who was about to launch statistical book about the Indian community in the USA. Around 130,000 to 150,000 Indians are arriving in the USA each year. His explanation as to why Indians do better than the locals is that they are of a significantly higher educated than the population they are joining (it is well known that the most highly mobile are the most highly educated, so that shouldn’t really come as a surprise). One benefit for me – I stood out so whenever an Executive Director of a chapter passed we said “Hi”.
- Commincation methods. Email addresses are out, twitter handles are in. The death of email? No, I think it is quite the reverse. Few speakers had business cards available so the only way to contact them would be through twitter. Speakers are guarding the email addresses now.
- Women. There were few women at the event. Both on panels (indeed I saw ratios of 1:12) and in the audience. There was one memorable exception where there were 3 women and 1 man. The gender gap was really obvious.
- Hotel of Choice. I stayed in the Hyatt Regency which is connected to the convention centre. I strongly recommend you do this if you decide to go since many events take place in the Hotel Lobby as well as the convention centre.
Worth attending? Yes. I learned lots of interesting things and did collect the business cards of people who were interesting to talk to.
Would I go again? Yes but providing I go on a preshow Silicon Valley tour like the one that Naveen Raju (TiE Mumbai) kindly let me join where we visited Google, Intel, VMWare and Facebook.