An overarching theme of TiEcon 2007 was to showcase established companies and startups intent on creating and sustaining social value. Although it was tough to whittle down the highlights of the presentations and panels that I attended, these are my top picks of the two-day conference. Read co-blogger, Steve Yamaguma, of Design2Market as he offers another perspective of the conference.
Meg Whitman, eBay
The Cleantech Trail Blazers
Cleantech from the Trenches
Marc Benioff, Salesforce.com
Eco-tourism - Masai
eBay: Innovation is Key to Our Growth
Saturday, May 19 - Keynote - Empowering People through Entrepreneurship
Although less than a handful of corporations could entice me to return to the world of full-time, regular employment, after listening to Meg Whitman, eBay's powerhouse CEO, deliver her Saturday morning keynote, I'm adding eBay to this short list.
Her crisp style, sense of humor, and ability to adapt the message to a wide range of attendees raised the bar for keynote deliveries.
Sharing the evolution of eBay from writing code in a weekend that launched its success with collectors, to the time she joined eBay in 1998 when they had thirty employees and its acquisition of PayPal in 2002 and Skype in 2005, Whitman's whirlwind of success at the helm of eBay appears unstoppable.
So, how does she empower people through entrepreneurship? The company strives for a 60 percent batting average of successful risktaking amongst its workforce. "The price of inaction is greater than making a mistake."
Meg's Business Lessons
Obvious pride in the company's ability to help entrepreneurs create businesses around the world, she tossed out impressive eBay stats--$1,800 traded by users per second and 1.3 million people make all or part of their livelihood selling on eBay.
Enable your customers, don't direct
It's all about the customer experience
Level the playing field as often as you can
PayPal gave eBay a tremendous lead in online payments
Make size an advantage
Help employees reframe and reinvent
Disruptive ideas are vital
Sometimes inside the company / sometimes outside the company
Constant innovation must come from inside the business, but not depend
on the core business
Disrupt yourself before someone does it to you
Innovation is a mindset, it needs to be in the company's
You can't process your way to innovation
Speaking about the intellectual exchanges she would miss at eBay - "The last big job for me, for sure," - the CEO is focused on growing a global company, while creating a communication mechanism that keeps eBay's values and entrepreneurial business practices front and center.
Right person, right job, at the right time, with the right values
Continuous innovation requires different skills
Enable people to do what they love
Some people are more gifted at disruptive innovation ("baby
- Always plant seeds and nurture early ideas
- Allow employees to muck around in a focused playground
Reorganize early and often
Allows for innovating around the core business (70% of eBay's
Hire ahead of the curve
eBay grows its execs
Focus, focus, focus
The art of exclusion is more important
Get out and about
Get out of your cube and see what's going on around you
Never, ever compromise your integrity
People should know the right thing to do when she's not around
Social Entrepreneurs: The New Agents of Business and Social Change
The Cleantech Trail
"Green is the new red, white, and blue." Thomas
Conference panels where I walk away learning more than I walked in
knowing are good time investments.
Providing one of the best-moderated panels I attended, Ira
Ehrenpreis, General Partner, Technology Partners, asked the four panelists
well-researched, probing questions, sprinkled with a good dose of humor.
Laying the groundwork for the panel, Ira spoke about how Green,
today, is not about the trade-offs, but what we can do to converge and solve
21st Century issues.
David Dreessen - Partner, Battery Ventures
- Charlie Gay - Corporate VP, GM, Solar Business Group, Applied Materials
- Tim Healy - CEO & COB, EnerNOC
- Neel Kashkari - Senior Advisor to the Secretary, U.S. Treasury Department
Charlie Gay, a veteran of the
Green evolution when science journals and not popular magazines wrote about
it, noted how large corporations pursuing clean technology indicate a major
shift for the industry.
Enticed to join Applied Materials from his
position at SunPower, Gay now runs the growing Solar division where the
company's history of scaling things quickly could result in the doubling of
their current $200M in customer contracts. He believes there are five reasons
the timing is right for large-scale solar success:
People get it
Intangible nature of energy is not hitting
Government and business are now on the
Industry is credible and you can make
Adapting technologies have dropped in
Tim Healy, started his company as an MBA project after meeting
with a venture capitalist who suggested a deep dive into energy. Part-time
student and full-time entrepreneur, Healy and his co-founder, decided to focus
on managing the use of energy. Emphasizing the value of having a co-partner
who balances the naysayers, "Being an entrepreneur you're already out on a limb,
you hear a lot of No's".
Although working with a partner is not all fun and games, Healy and
his partner share an "untapped passion for changing the world". Their partner
and company success stems from clearly defining their roles, adapting
their communication and leadership styles, aligning personal philosophies, and
managing their company with quarter-to-quarter transparency.
Pariah to profit, the founders' passion has paid off. EnerNoc
recently took their company public.
Neel Kashkari was tapped to head President Bush's Twenty in Ten security plan that hopes to
reduce U.S. gasoline usage by 20 percent In the next ten years.
As Senior Advisor to the U.S. Treasury, Kashkari is responsible
for reducing risks associated with U.S. dependency on oil, a formidable
challenge for a public sector leader whose goal is to move the ball
forward in the bureaucratic world of big government. "Everyone in the room has
passion, but everyone has different ideas on how things should play out."
"There is no cleantech market," David Dreessen
explains, "It applies to an extremely large sector with lots of opportunities
within each sector. Partner of Battery Ventures suggests that those interested
in moving into a cleantech sector should consider three things:
Cleantech from the Trenches
Will clean technology be sustainable?
"Look at what's driving the need--cost, security, energy, depletion of resources." Martin Roscheisen, Nanosolar
Is hype causing us to focus on the wrong things?
"Hype is causing us to focus on the right products, but may be driving the wrong behavior."John Melo, Amyris Biotechnologies
"U.S. consumers want to do the right thing." JB Straubel, Tesla Motors
Getting a feel for the trenches--batteries to biofuel--moderator Ajit Nazre, Partner, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, posed these and other questions to his four panelists:
- Lee Arikara, Exec VP & Founder, Jadoo Power
End users get to pick and choose the fuel they want to use.
- John Melo, CEO, Amyris Biotechnologies
Reduces cost of treating
African children; cost-effective, renewable biofuels
- Martin Roscheisen, CEO, Nanosolar
Reducing materials and product cost through
- JB Straubel, CTO, Tesla Motors
Telsa Roadster, 100% electric, zero to
sixty in four seconds
John Melo spends a good deal of time with policy
makers, attempting to integrate existing policy with a vision of a sustainable
future. "We begin with economics--cost per gallon or cost per barrel--the
controls of renewable energy; below $40 we have a sustainable future. The
challenge is how to level the playing field (policy and informed drive) where
consumers won't need to decide what the right thing to do is."
Salesforce.com:The Pillars of
Friday, May 18 - Keynote - Entrepreneurship in the on-demand World
"Success is creating a great company, not just a good product." Marc Benioff
No two ways about it, Salesforce.com had a presence at this year's TiEcon. Marc Benioff delivered Friday afternoon's closing keynote presentation, preceded earlier in the day by his Salesforce.com Foundation CSO & ED, Suzanne DiBianca, an active panel participant on social entrepreneurism.
Benioff is a man on a mission or make it three missions; what he refers to as the company's three pillars of success.
He shared a succession of success stories of how the company leverages the
power of the community; a prime example being AppExchange,
which allows developers to run their code on Salesforce.com servers. Appirio, built their business in
six weeks using Salesforce.com tools - tools that let them run their apps with
nothing more than an Internet connection and browser.
Building upon the AppExchance concept, IdeaExchange allows
customers to post and promote their product concepts on the site, where the
community then votes on their favorites for future development by
Walking their talk is the company's mantra with its 1/1/1/1 Power of Us
- Salesforce.com employees are encouraged to donate 1% of their
working time to the community.
- 1% of the company's equity goes to community grant
- 1% of the company's product is dontated to
qualified nonprofits to increase their efficiency
- Earthforce is Salesforce.com's "one with the earth" initiative
to create a carbon neutral salesforce.com in 2007.
Masai Mara - A Case Study of Wildlife Conservation and Eco-Tourism
What a shame this keynote panel was scheduled late in the day on Friday and sparsely attended by TiEcon attendees.
Sharing the story of the Olare-Orck Conservancy in Kenya and the impact unmanaged tourism is having on the wildlife and Masai landowners, A.J. Patel, one of TiE's founders, and currently Chairman of the Board of Hasla- Mara Wildlife Conservation Foundation has been passionately involved in wildlife conservation since 1994.
Issues of land use and revenue distribution, where 40 percent of tourism income does not reach its intended beneficiaries, have left the locals disenfranchised by the airlines and hotels bringing in people from the outside.
That's where the Olare-Orok Conservation program comes in with its goal of giving Masai landowners the means of sustaining themselves through tourism and conservation.
Kenyans Jake Grieves-Cook, chairman of Kenya's Tourist Board, and Ron Beaton, conservationist extraordinaire, formed the Conservancy in 2006. Masai landowners lease their land within the Olare-Orok Conservancy to tourism partners who pay sustainable rents to relieve poverty in this area.
Beaton has formed the KIoiyaki Guide School and Wilderness Camp to train men and women--particularly challenging in a male-dominated society--to become tour guides and manage the tourism trade, thus guaranteeing them an income not dependent on cattle or rainfall
James Sengeny, a guide and Masai elder, spoke of the lease plan for eco-tourism and its value to the locals, the land, and the wildlife, while giving visitors an experience of a lifetime to take home.