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A little over eight years ago, Eric Norlin and I decided to start Defrag. It all started with an email exchange, wherein Eric thought one of my posts would make a good conference, I told him how much I disliked tech conferences, and we resolved to go build one that was done the right way.
Since that point, Defrag has grown into what I think is one of the most influential conversations in technology. Several years back, we consciously decided to limit Defrag’s size (number of attendees) because we were afraid of losing the intimacy of the networking. The result has been the growth of a community that gathers every year at the Omni Interlocken for two days plus of really amazing ideas, relationship building, and conversations.
Along those lines, just take a look at some of this year’s speakers:
Chris Anderson, 3D Robotics (ex-editor of Wired)
George Dyson (author of “Turing’s Cathedral”)
Amber Case (Esri)
Penny Herscher (FirstRain)
Helen Greiner (CyPhy Works)
John Wilbanks (Sage Bionetworks)
Shireen Yates (6Sensor Labs)
Paul Kedrosky (Bloomberg)
Kin Lane (API Evangelist)
Laura Merling (AT&T)
Danielle Morrill (Mattermark)
In short, drones, robots, APIs, big data, mobile, and history all coming together in one compact place.
Defrag is a unique experience, and if you’re local to Colorado, it brings some of the most influential names in tech into your backyard.
Lastly, I’d like to recognize how much work Eric has put into achieving some level of gender parity on the agenda, especially at the keynote level. Far too many conferences these days are doing a horrible job at this. Defrag has been out in front of this issue for a long-time, and I know that we work every year to get better at it. And, if you’d like to apply for a “Women in Tech” scholarship to Defrag, you can do so here.
Don’t miss out. Register now. Use the code “brad14″ to get $200 of the registration.
Jason and I are once again doing the Venture Deals online class as part of the Kauffman Fellows Academy. The course begins on Monday (9/29/14) so sign up now if you are interested.
This will be the third time we are doing this course. We are having a lot of fun with it and love the dynamics of working with the Kauffman Fellows Academy. The feedback has been generally excellent and we’ve tried to take into consideration all the suggestions we’ve heard about what we can do better.
We’ll be actively involved with hangouts during the course as well as on the message boards. If you are interested in really understanding how venture deals and startup financings work, please join us for the course.
Larry is one of the originals in the Boulder biotech scene, having founded numerous successful companies including NeXagen (acquired by Gilead) and Synergen (acquired by Amgen). He’s been a professor at CU Boulder since 1980 and was the chairman of the Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology Department from 1988 to 1992. So – when you think of the evolution of the Boulder startup community around life sciences, Larry has been involved since the beginning.
I’ve gotten to know Larry over the past few years through a few different vectors. He and my dad (Stan Feld) have become friends and my dad participates in Larry’s annual GoldLab Symposium. He and I have spent some 1:1 time together and I’m blown away by how similar some of our values and deeply held beliefs are. In Larry, I’ve definitely found a mentor and someone whose path I can learn from as I get older.
Next week on February 18th, I have the honor of having a conversation with him as a part of the Silicon Flatirons Entrepreneurs Unplugged series. He’ll be telling his story, and with the help of the audience, I’ll explore his background that resulted in a successful career. I encourage you to join us.
David Cohen (Techstars Founder) and I are doing a Google Hangout On Air that is open to anyone on 11/13/13 (what a prime day for something like this). It’s part of a Google Enterprise series on Colorado pioneers driving the local economy and culture. We’ll be talking about Techstars, Colorado, tech, and anything else that comes up.
This came out of a series of interviews with Google recently where we explained why Foundry Group takes venture capital to the cloud with Google Apps and how Techstars assists tomorrow’s entrepreneurs with help from Google Apps.
Come join us! Register here if you want to hangout.
Last week our portfolio company, JumpCloud - who is deep in the DevOps market with their automated cloud server management product – hosted the first annual DevOps conference here in Boulder. It was a huge success – we had over 200 people show up and engage in a full day of deep discussions on DevOps.
We are huge fans of the DevOps movement. Similar to how we got involved in the Agile movement early with our investment in Rally Software, we are long on DevOps with investments in companies such as JumpCloud, VictorOps, SendGrid, Pantheon, Authentic8 and others. We see DevOps instantiating the lean startup culture throughout an organization. DevOps promotes short cycle times, automation, and deep integration across a company with the goal of innovating quicker and more effectively against customers’ needs. In short, we view it as a cultural methodology that increases the odds of success for a company.
The day was fantastic, starting with Raj Bhargava (CEO of JumpCloud) and Paul Ford (SoftLayer) kicking things off with a short discussion about what DevOps is. I was next with a quick discussion framing why DevOps is critical to our companies and their customers. From there, we had presentations by Ryan Martens (CTO of Rally) on learnings from Agile, Nathan Day (Chief Scientist of SoftLayer) on the incredible automation at SoftLayer, and a number of great panels from CEOs, CTOs, and VPs of Engineering of DevOps related companies. Three of our portfolio companies – SendGrid, Mocavo, and Gnip – closed the formal part of the day with case studies on different areas of DevOps.
Later, the full group headed to Bacaro for more casual conversations around DevOps. I ended the night at Walnut Brewery with Raj and a few close friends watching the Red Sox lose game two of the World Series to the Cardinals.
The engagement on the topic of DevOps was really powerful. The questions flowed quickly – it’s clear everyone is struggling with how to define DevOps – what it means, who should be involved in an organization, and how to recruit for it. While the word is quickly becoming entrenched, it’s a new category with a wide range of opportunities.
When Raj came to me several months ago suggesting that we should put on a conference around DevOps for all of the Foundry Group, Techstars, and Bullet Time Ventures companies it was easy to be excited about it. I expected about 50 people to participate – it was amazing to look around the room and see 200 really engaged people. I’m proud of Raj and Paul for putting this on and thankful for all of the effort that our companies made to get there and participate!