TechCrunch Disrupt took place last week at Pier 48 in San Francisco. Disrupt is a melting pot of startups, venture capitalists, thought-leaders, and tech-enthusiasts. For years it has been a staple of the Bay Area tech community. Attendees take part in three main activities: listening to “fire-side” conversations with thought-leaders, engaging in “elevator pitches” from startups on the convention floor, and observing a venture capital competition between 26 pre-selected startups. I was lucky enough to attend all three days of the conference last week while on my midway break week from Galvanize.
Across the span of the conference, there were many exciting moments, from Steph Curry discussing his non-profit work to the head of Boston Dynamics demonstrating his company’s animal-like robot. Instead of focusing on a comprehensive recap (TechCrunch already has that covered), I want to quickly note five speakers that stood out.
1. Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce
Every company has an obligation to pay it forward to the wider community it serves.
Benioff implored all companies, but particularly recently founded startups, to incorporate a 1-1-1 model into their business DNAs. The 1-1-1 model is an integrated philanthropic approach that empowers Salesforce employees to donate 1% of their product, time and resources to charitable activities. So far, the company’s employees have completed more than 1.6 million hours in community services and have supported $128+ million in grants.
2. Marc Andreessen, GP at Andreessen Horowitz
Every company will become a software company.
Andreessen sees a transformation taking place in the coming years whereby even strict hardware companies will become defined by their software products. The rise of the Internet of Things and SaaS models is going to force every company maintain great software. Those that create the best software will dominate. Andreessen believes that in a decade every technical vertical will be controlled by the single company with the best software.
3. Daniela Tutor, Founder of WeConnect
We can help prevent relapse through connected support.
WeConnect stood out as the most socially-minded startup in the venture capital competition. It combines a variety of resources and accountability tools to help prevent relapse in the weeks and months following treatment for addiction. One of the app’s notable features is a “SOS” function that empowers users to instantly reach out for support from close family or friends. Upon hearing this feature, my mind immediately began brainstorming ways WeConnect and Crisis Text Line could form a partnership. Crisis Text Line could bring tremendous value to WeConnect’s platform by providing integrated in-app support to users when friends or family are out of reach.
4. Rana el Kaliouby, CEO of Affectiva
Soon we will interact with our devices like we interact with people.
Affectiva has trained a deep learning algorithm on billions of faces to create a recognition model that understands human emotions. The company wants businesses to use their SDK and APIs to power more intelligently aware systems and mobile applications. Kaliouby predicted a future where all of the devices we interact with understand our emotional state and adapt by providing more contextually aware solutions.
5. Leslie Miley, Head of Engineering Slack
You don’t fix diversity with quotas.
Slack prides itself as having one of the most diverse workforces among Bay Area tech companies. On the engineering team, the company uses a blind coding test to screen applicants to prevent unintentional biases. Miley believes that this, as well as looking beyond a narrow list of target undergraduate schools for candidates (i.e. Ivy Leagues), has helped Slack set a new standard for inclusive workforces.
I am thrilled to be in the final six weeks of my time at Galvanize. In ten days we will finish our main coursework and start spending our time completing a capstone project on a topic area of interest and preparing applications for full-time positions. I am eager to begin synthesizing and implementing the approaches I have learned at Galvanize into the professional world.
Four months ago I set my intention on Data Science because I saw it as a field that would combine by creative, analytical, and technical passions. That intention is close to becoming a reality, and I couldn’t be more excited. As I slowly enter this application-oriented phase of my journey, I would greatly appreciate any guidance or advice that you, my readers, could offer.
Thank you all for your continued readership and support,