Wednesday, July 13, 2011

TieCon 2011. Day 1 - May 13th.

It has been over two months since TieCon 2011 and I had been meaning to write this post for a long time. Unfortunately, numerous other activities took priority. I will publish this in two posts, Day 1 and Day 2.

Steve Case:

The Opening Keynote featured Steve Case, Co-founder of AOL and Chair of Startup America Partnership. Rich Karlgaard, Publisher of Forbes magazine hosted this keynote. Rich walked Steve through the initial days of AOL - until they were sold to Time Warner in 2000 when they had 200m users and a market cap of $150b. Big ideas, Steve said, take a decade or more to mature. In the first 25 years of the internet, the idea is to get every one online, mobile and make it ubiquitous. In the next 25 years, the Internet will transform and disrupt every aspect of life.

Rich then moved to what Steve was doing these days - which is lead Here Steve's goal is to celebrate and accelerate entrepreneurship. He said that there are two models that investors adopt. One is the Kleiner Perkins approach of working with an "A" team that can successfully take a "B" product to market. The other is the Sequoia approach of looking for the next explosive new idea. In both cases execution is key - because, after all, as Thomas Edison said, "Vision without execution is Hallucination". When asked about his predictions for the next big hit, Steve stated that we are witnessing the early days of Local, Social Commerce. Healthcare, he said, will be transformed.

Rich asked Steve about the ability of Startups to survive the uncertain economic times that prevail these days. Steve said that similar conditions in the 1970s led to a very healthy entrepreneurial environment. FedEx, SouthWest Airlines, Microsoft, Apple and Oracle are all companies founded in this turbulent decade.

Mobility Panel:

I attended the Enterprise Mobility panel that discussed how Enterprises will adopt Mobility. Matt Marshall, Venture Beat, was the moderator. The panel had two Enterprise folks: a VP from Cisco (Tom Gillis) and a VP from Sybase (Raj Nathan); a VC (Sumant Mandal, Clearstone Ventures) and an Entrepreneur (David Sacks, Yammer CEO). There was general consensus that mobile is a very hard place for investors to make money.

There was fierce debate was on whether to get into the Enterprise at the grass roots vs work your way from the top. The arguments in favor of working from the CIO down is to have a more controlled, predictable, deterministic way of deploying your solution. On the other hand, getting in at the grass roots will result in the pipeline getting filled by people using the free, viral product and cause IT to be "dragged in kicking and screaming". In the end, getting in at the grass root won the debate. It is invaluable to rely on their experience in using the product. It is important to create tools and technologies to put policies in place for these "un-managed" end points.

David Ferruci:

In the "Breakthrough Thinkers" session, David Ferruci, an IBM Fellow, gave one of the best keynotes I have heard in years. Dr. Ferruci is the lead researcher and Principal Investigator for IBM's Watson/Jeopardy! project. The keynote was replete with engineering insights into the Watson's Unstructured Information Management Architecture (UIMA).

Vinod Khosla:

I was disappointed by Vinod Khosla's keynote. Perhaps I went in with very high expectations. He stated some very well known facts (on predictions that experts make) and arrived at some well understood conclusions (that these predictions are made by extrapolating past facts). He then went on to pitch ventures in which he has funded - on why they will succeed. Admittedly, some of them were accomplishing pretty lofty goals:
  • Calera - sequestering Carbon dioxide
  • Soraa - with 800% more efficient, pay for itself lighting
  • Caitin - with new thermodynamic cycles for cooling