This week I attended Recode’s annual Code Conference — the premier tech industry event attracting leaders in technology, media and venture capital.
The conference was held over 3 days at the Terranea Resort ~ 50 miles south of Los Angeles and featured on stage interviews with the founders / leaders of some the world’s best known tech companies and VCs. There were also some intensive learning sessions around topics ranging from blockchain to drones to biohacking. The conference was attended by 700 people via invitation from Recode.
Conference Summary: The topics centered on technology’s impact on the media, the responsibilities of tech companies and venture capitalists, job disruption and the intersection of tech and politics.
New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet talked about there being no viable model for local news and how this will become a major crisis. Nothing has replaced classified ad revenue for newspapers and only national scale publications can make digital subscriptions work as a business model. > Full Interview
Former CEO of Microsoft Steve Ballmer is building a platform to normalize data and report on government financials — with the target of helping to move discussions around policy towards one with true financial understandings. One driver to do this is his desire to invest more around education in lower income environments. > Website | Full Interview
Inventor of the browser Marc Andreessen and Linked In founder Reid Hoffman spoke about the responsibility of VC’s and social media companies in regards to news and influence. Andreessen pointed out that the jobs churn in media and retail has lead to falling prices and that transportation is next. He said healthcare, education, construction and government are not keeping up with the pace of change. Software is playing almost no role innovation wise in those spaces and as a result cost is going up dramatically. Thus, there are huge opportunities and VC’s are getting involved in those industries. He also spoke about the impact of AI — which he described as a feeding frenzy of exploration and investment. He used the auto industry as an example of how job displacement works; citing that people that cared for horses were displaced by the automobile 100 years ago. However, the automobile lead to paved roads, hotels, construction in the suburbs, etc. — which fueled job growth. Andreessen mentioned that self driving cars will drive up productivity and save lives — and could result in new industries and growth in existing ones including construction. Hoffman mentioned that while this is true the transition could be painful. He also spoke of focusing on software ecosystems that connect billions of people and investing in energy startups. > Full Interview
Kleiner Perkins partner Mary Meeker gave her annual Internet Trends talk. Some highlights: Internet Ads will surpass TV Ads this year in spend, Google and Facebook account for ~ 85% of digital ad revenue growth, 20% of mobile search is now done via voice, 9% annual growth rate in package delivery in US fueled by Amazon, retail store closings are breaking records and there are 2.6 billion gamers in world including 60 million fantasy sports players in USA. > Full Report | Full Presentation
Netflix founder Reed Hastings discussed utilizing binge watching as a competitive advantage in making content. He said Netflix is mostly focused on content creation at this point and has no plan to move to an ad based system. He also mentioned Net neutrality is not an issue for Netflix because of their buying power but it is vital for innovation in general. > Full Interview
Google CFO Ruth Porat discussed the balance of innovation and financial responsibility and how Google / Alphabet is using data to drive decisions around what to pursue for new products. She mentioned investment in self driving cars — and thinks the technology will save a million lives a year in the US and solve parking issues in cities. She also stated that Google has been late to invest heavily in the Cloud business and is moving to catch up with AWS now. > Full Interview
Founder of Braintree Bryan Johnson introduced his new company Kernal — a company focused on improving life by unlocking neuroscience mysteries via the application of AI. He described the work as a renewed focus on human intelligence (HI).
AOL founder Steve Case spoke about how 75% of venture capital goes to 3 states (CA, NY & MA) and how innovation that occurs in those states displaces workers in the other 47. He wants to help level the playing field. He is spending time in cities like Detroit, Pittsburgh and Nashville to create a network affect around enterpenureship. He also talked about Internet 3rd wave concepts — which is the intersection of tech innovation with social & political policy. He mentioned that in the 1st wave — the hardware centric Internet in 80s / 90s was driven by companies spread all over the country — and the 2nd wave which is software based — is very concentrated in Silicon Valley. > Full Interview
On a lighter note, Walt Mossberg in his last interview before his retirement pledged his allegiance to the New England Patriots and Boston Red Sox — which drew some boos but obviously are the correct teams to align with :)
Some of the companies represented by attendees at Code Conference 2017 included:
23andMe | Alibaba | Amazon | Angie’s List | Bank of America | Boston Consulting Group | Circle | Cisco | Comcast | DocuSign | eBay | Facebook | Fidelity | FOX | Goldman Sachs | Google | HBO | Hulu | Idealab | IMDB | Intel | JP Morgan | Kleiner Perkins | Microsoft | Nasdaq | NBC | Oculus | Quicken | Salesforce | Samsung | Sequoia Capital | Soundcloud | Spotify | Stubhub | Tech Crunch | The New York Times | The Wall Street Journal | Time Warner | Twitter | Walt Disney