It could have easily been called “This Pandemic Life,” a post-apocalyptic series featuring billionaire founders, celebrity investors and the Canadian prime minister in their respective bunkers casually chatting with viewers about end times.
But rather it was Collision From Home, one of the first major tech events to go online after SXSW was cancelled earlier this year due to coronavirus concerns. From June 23-25, 32,000 attendees, 634 high profile speakers, 850 investors, 1,008 startups and 1,143 journalists from 140 countries huddled together to enjoy five action-packed channels of content plus a dozen breakout rooms featuring robotic demos, startup masterclasses and whisky mixers.
Key insights were shared by leading venture capitalists including Vinod Khosla and Felicis Ventures’ Wes Chan along with celebrity investors Paris Hilton, Shaq, LL Cool J, and Steve Aoki. Within weeks of speaking at the conference, Uber Eats acquired Postmates, Amazon acquired Zoox, and Microsoft became a white knight for TikTok. Google’s Chief Sustainability Officer Kate Brandt reported that CO2 levels temporarily dropped 17% during the global Covid-19 lockdown, chess legend and human rights activist Garry Kasparov spoke of the promise and peril of AI, best selling author Margaret Atwood (The Handmaid’s Tale) warned of the dangers of a two party democracy, and Justin Trudeau announced that Canada would be deploying a contact tracing app with no identifiers. Fast paced, interactive, up close and personal, the programming was so compelling it set the bar high for all virtual conferences to follow.
Now with Fall underway, nearly every major tech show has gone online. Web Summit, producers of Collision From Home, will be back streaming December 2-4 with another star-studded roster. The first 150 speakers have just been announced and include rare appearances by Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin, legendary environmentalist Jane Goodall, Andrew Ross Sorkin (HBO Billions), Zoom’s Eric Yuan, and Portugal’s president Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa. CES, which isn’t until January 6-9, 2021, has also started to announce speakers.
The season kicks off this week with Apple, Facebook and TechCrunch Disrupt taking the stage with major product announcements, breaking news and a cast of characters that include celebrity investors Kevin Hart, Kerry Washington, Conan O’Brien, Ron Howard, The Chainsmokers and dozens of venture capitalists including Cyan Banister, Aileen Lee, Charles Hudson, Lo Toney, Peter Fenton, Hunter Walk and Niko Bonatsos who are scheduled to give founders advice on pandemic rounds.
TechCrunch Disrupt begins Sunday, September 13, 12pm PT with free and for fee options. The Apple Time Flies Event with Tim Cook’s keynote begins Tuesday, September 15, 10am PT and can be watched on the Apple website. Facebook Connect begins Wednesday, September 16, 10am PT and for the first time ever the entire conference is open to the public and can be watched for free, including Mark Zuckerberg’s keynote, the Jaden Smith after party, and all developer sessions.
Here are my top picks for the week:
Sunday, September 13
12:20-12:30pm PT Disrupt 2020: CAA founder Michael Ovitz with Human Capital co-founder Baris Akis on making rock stars out of tech talent. (Disrupt Stage)
Monday, September 14
9:05-9:25am PT Disrupt 2020: Bumble’s Whitney Wolf Herd on hitting 100 million users and filing for $6 billion+ IPO (Disrupt Stage)
9:05-9:45am PT Disrupt 2020: Initialized Capital’s Garry Tan, Y Combinator’s Anu Hariharan and GGV’s Hans Tung on the nuts and bolts of fundraising. (Extra Crunch Stage)
10:30-10:50am PT Disrupt 2020: Speed Networking (Sidebar)
10:50-11:30am PT Disrupt 2020: Precursor Ventures’ Charles Hudson, BBG Ventures’ Susan Lyne with pitch deck tips (Disrupt Stage)
11:45-12:30pm PT Disrupt 2020: YC/Reddit’s Michael Seibel shares tactical fundraising advice for Black founders (Extra Crunch Stage)
Tuesday, September 15
9:25-9:45am PT Disrupt 2020: Triller’s Mike Lu on TikTok (Disrupt Stage)
9:45-10:05am PT Disrupt 2020: Sequoia Capital’s Roelof Botha COVID outlook (Disrupt Stage)
9:45-10:30am PT Disrupt 2020: Plexo Capital’s Lo Toney, Floodgate’s Ann Miura-Ko and Sequoia’s Rajan Anandan on crafting pitch decks (Extra Crunch Stage)
10am PT Apple Event | Time Flies: Watch the Watch Series 6 reveal here
10:30-10:50am PT Disrupt 2020: Diversity investing with All Raise’s Pam Kostka, Backstage Capital’s Christie Pitts and Cleo Capital’s Sarah Kunst (Extra Crunch Stage)
10:50-11:30pm PT Disrupt 2020: Sequoia Capital’s Roelof Botha and Niantic’s Megan Quinn with pitch deck tips (Extra Crunch Stage)
11:35-11:55am PT Disrupt 2020: Dropbox’s Drew Houston on cloud innovation (Disrupt Stage)
11:50-12pm PT Disrupt 2020: Speed Networking (Sidebar)
11:55-12:25pm PT Disrupt 2020: Catching up with The Chainsmokers (Disrupt Stage)
12-12:30pm PT Disrupt 2020: Taiwan AI showcase (Breakout | Taiwan Tech Arena)
12-12:45pm PT Disrupt 2020: Homebrew’s Hunter Walk, Inspired Capital’s Alexa von Tobel, Cowboy Ventures’ Ted Wang (Extra Crunch Stage)
12:25-12:45pm PT Disrupt 2020: Facebook’s Stan Chudnovsky on shipping features for Messenger’s 1 billion messages a day (Disrupt Stage)
Wednesday, September 16
9:05-9:25am PT Disrupt 2020: Actress Kerry Washington on diversity investing (Disrupt Stage)
9:45-10:30am PT Disrupt 2020: Greylock’s Sarah Guo, GV’s Dave Munichiello and Index Ventures’ Sarah Cannon discuss strategies on founding AI-powered companies from home (Extra Crunch)
10:10-10:30am PT Disrupt 2020: UC Berkeley update on CRISPR (Disrupt Stage)
10:30-10:50am PT Disrupt 2020: Speed Networking (Sidebar)
10:50-11:30am PT Disrupt 2020: Cyan Banister and Forerunner’s Kirsten Green’s pitchdeck critiques (Extra Crunch Stage)
11:35-12pm PT Disrupt 2020: Amazon Alexa’s Rohit Prasad and Toni Reid on the future of voice AI (Disrupt Stage)
12-12:45pm PT Disrupt 2020: DoorDash’s Andy Fang and Peloton’s Yony Feng on building a service marketplace (Extra Crunch Stage)
5:30pm PT Facebook Connect: Oculus’ John Carmack Unscripted, watch here
7pm PT Facebook Connect: Jaden Smith After Party, watch here
Thursday, September 17
9:05-9:30am PT Disrupt 2020: Comedian and tech investor Kevin Hart with Fabletics’ Adam Goldenberg on celebrity brand partnerships (Disrupt Stage)
9:30-10am PT Disrupt 2020: Imagine Impact founders film director Ron Howard with Brian Grazer and Tyler Mitchell on their accelerator to help writers to create a story pipeline for the streaming platforms (Disrupt Stage)
10-10:20am PT Disrupt 2020: Boston Robotics new CEO Robert Playter on their recent pivot (Disrupt Stage)
10:50-11:30am PT Disrupt 2020: General Catalyst Niko Bonatsos and Cowboy Ventures’ Aileen Lee on crafting pitchdecks (Extra Crunch Stage)
11:45-12:05pm PT Disrupt 2020: Benchmark’s Peter Fenton on the future of venture capital (Disrupt Stage)
12:05-12:35pm PT Disrupt 2020: New York Times’ David Sanger on HBO’s The Perfect Weapon (Disrupt Stage)
Friday, September 18
9:55-10:25am PT Disrupt 2020: Plexo Capital’s Lo Toney, Renegade’s Renata Quintini and Construct Capital’s Dayna Grayson on how to become an investor (Disrupt Stage)
12-12:20pm PT Disrupt 2020: Conan O’Brien on podcast landscape (Disrupt Stage)
12:20-12:40pm PT Disrupt 2020: Rep Zoe Lofgren on fixing Big Tech (Disrupt Stage)