Last week hundreds of entrepreneurs, business executives, and influencers convened for the sixth annual Global Technology Symposium, where they discussed issues ranging from the current state of the economy to new methods of energy production. Below we've highlighted some of the most compelling panels, which featured exectives from companies including Facebook, Google, and a number of venture capital firms. We were also lucky enough to have the chance to sit down and talk with T. Boone Pickens, which we've included in video below.
During a panel titled “Founders of Silicon Valley Venture Capital”, which included Reid Dennis (Institutional Venture Partners), Bill Draper (Draper Richards L.P.), Pitch Johnson (Asset Management Company), and Ann Winblad (Hummer Winblad), the attitude reflected the global nature of the conference, highlighting the growing opportunities abroad. A number of large VC funds originally based in Silicon Valley have opened up international branches, and local organizations are growing as well. The panel noted that while we may see reductions of up to 40-50% in the number of VC funds in the United States, international funds will help offset this loss.
During a one-on-one interview, Facebook COO Cheryl Sandberg spoke about concerns with the new homepage, noting that the response has actually been more positive than past updates, though Facebook will continue to iterate. She also downplayed the idea that Facebook has not yet found a business model, explaining that it is an advertising based business.
During the panel on Corporate Venture Capital, David Lawee (Google), Dan'l Lewin (Microsoft) and Claudia Fan Munce (IBM) discussed the increasing role large companies are taking in the startup space. Programs like Microsoft BizSpark help foster the startup community (Google is also getting involved with Google Ventures). Lawee said that Google was unsure if the rate of acquisitions will increase or decrease in 2009 (I'm guessing the latter), and everyone seemed to agree that there will be ongoing changes in just about everything that goes on in this space.
Prior to the conference, the GTS held a pitch competition at the Plug and Play Tech Center, during which Crystal Clear Technologies won the top prize (the company manufactures a water filter than can inexpensively remove metal contaminants).
We also had a chance to sit down and ask T. Boone Pickens about his thoughts on emerging green startups, the United State's dependence on foreign oil, and entrepreneurship. You can watch the entire interview below.