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One of my favorite conferences of the year is Defrag happening in Boulder on November 9th and 10th. Eric Norlin is gearing up for it and just announced several scholarships for Defrag, underwritten by the Kauffman Foundation. The Kauffman scholarships are for students and entrepreneurs who can’t afford to attend Defrag, but would receive significant benefit from doing so. Eric is making a concerted effort to get more women to Defrag so he’s allocating 50% of the scholarships to women. For information on applying, take a look at the Defrag scholarship post.
On a completely different note, I love rockets. I’m a boy – I can’t help myself. This video of the launch of Juno on the APOD site gave me chills.
Finally, if you are a video watcher, take a look at ThisWeekIn TechStars. The first episode, hosted by David Cohen with me, Jeff Clavier (SoftTech VC), and Ari Newman (Filtrbox – acquired by Jive) is up.
The Glue Conference is next week – 5/25 and 5/26 – in Boulder. When Eric Norlin and my partner Seth Levine first cooked up the idea for glue, they built it around our Glue theme – namely integrating (or “glueing”) together web applications.
We’ve invested heavily in the area with great success, but have only just begun. Our activity around Glue + AdTech generated our Adhesive theme. We’ve been thinking a lot lately about “ecommerce glue” and expect to learn some things at Gluecon on this front.
To get a feel for Gluecon, take a look at the Agenda. The concentration of companies and executives around this topic is awesome. The format is short keynotes surrounded by lots of networking, a hackathon, and a few short, interactive panels. Having been to and participated in many of Eric’s conferences, they are an extremely high concentration of relevant people talking real tech and product – no marketing garbage allowed. Eric has worked hard this year to bring Gluecon to a new level and set a new bar for all tech conferences – I believe he’s got it wired.
If you want to spent two days with 500 of your best friends talking about technology that integrates web services, APIs, web meta-data, and the rapidly evolving new data economy, there is still time to register for Glue. I’ll be there along with my partners, a few other VCs like Mark Suster, and a whole bunch of key tech entrepreneurs hanging out and talking with you.
I’ve been getting at least one invitation a day to speak on at a conference or on a panel. My general rule is to only say yes when it intersects with my travel, if it is for an organization I’m already involved in or a person I want to support, or if it’s in a place I’m interested in visiting. When invited, I typically end up getting asked to give a keynote, be interviewed on stage, or be part of a panel. I enjoy the first two and hate the last one.
Fred Wilson and I were both on an email thread today from a good friend of ours asking us to be on a panel with him at an event in November. Based on my rules above, I said “yes, if it’s really important to you.” Fred had a better answer:
“i have a no panels rule.
i am trying like hell to enforce it.
panels are awful and should be eliminated from planet earth.”
Fred is so correct on this. Whenever I’m in the audience listening to a panel, I’m almost always bored. Every now and then someone on the panel captivates me, but the vast majority are dull, vapid, generic, stupid, non-controversial, politically correct, or just plain boring. And a conference of panels? “E#kl;asdfpoi#0c90k;@$Q”.
When I give a keynote, I usually do a 15 minute rant on whatever topic I think is relevant to the audience and then do Q&A for whatever my allotted time is. I’ve generally stopped “telling my story” since I find myself incredibly boring to listen to when I’m recounting my history. Every now and then I fall into this trap of an extended introduction and always am annoyed with myself. Whenever I do this (and I did it a few weeks ago in front a class of undergrads) I hit myself in the forehead afterwards and say out loud “don’t do that again.”
I’ve never been a particularly obedient panelist. I’ve been told numerous times that my body language gives away my response to whomever is talking, especially if I don’t agree with them or think what they are saying is wrong. While I try to let people finish their thoughts, I’m not bashful about cutting in and I’d guess that I usually end up taking more than my calculated ratio of air time (e.g. if four panelist, I talk more than 25% of the time.)
While I’m not going to adopt Fred’s no panel rule, I’ve decided that I’m going to have a much higher bar going forward for agreeing to be on panels. And, when I do, the panel inviter should beware that I’m going to be even more assertive about my perspective, especially if I’m bored while sitting on the panel. Maybe that’ll filter out all the panel inviters that want a nice peaceful panel.
And – if you are a conference organizer, consider eliminating the panels altogether. As Fred says, “panels are awful and should be eliminated from planet earth.”
On April 11th, I’ll be the interviewee at CU Silicon Flatirons Entrepreneurs Unplugged. The event will be held at ATLAS Room 100 from 6:15pm to 7:30pm; Brad Bernthal and Jill Van Matre will be interviewing me.
If you’ve come to an Entrepreneurs Unplugged event in the past, you know that I’m usually the interviewer with help from Brad Bernthal. I’ve loved playing the part of a very amateur Charlie Rose with some great Boulder (and Denver) entrepreneurs. It’ll be fun to be on the receiving end this time. I promise I’ll tell at least one new story that’s never been heard before.
GlueCon is coming up soon and is going to be awesome. Alcatel-Lucent is underwriting a demo pavilion this year that will house fifteen demo pods.
If you are a startup and interested in participating, make sure you apply to get a GlueCon Demo Pod. The pod companies will be chosen on merit, the pod space will be free (that includes electricity, signage, hard wired internet drop — basically, everything – just show up with your computer), and will be chosen by the following judges:
- Eric Norlin (GlueCon Organizer)
- Chris Shipley (Guidewire Group)
- Mathew Ingram (of MESH and GigaOm)
- John Musser (Programmable Web)
- Laura Merling (Alcatel-Lucent)
- Alex Williams (ReadWriteWeb)
- Jeff Lawson (Twilio)
- Jeff Hammond (Forrester)
- Ian Glazer (Gartner)
- Ben Kepes (Diversity.net)
- Krish Subramanian (CloudAve)
- Vinod Kurpad (Best Buy)
- Seth Levine (Foundry Group)
The deadline for applying is March 24 (5pm EST) and the selections will be made by April 1.
If you aren’t applying for the Demo Pod but want to come to GlueCon, the “super early bird price” expires on Friday 3/18. The discount code feld12 takes 10% off the super early bird price (discounted to $472 – this is the lowest price that GlueCon tickets will be available for.)