Meet The Team

For the next upcoming months, we’ll be interviewing a different member of the sponsorship team at TechCrunch. Check back to read the latest from our brightest and best.

February 2020: Safa Aliabadi

Safa Aliabadi is a senior events & digital advertising partner. She’s seen (and helped) Disrupt grow over the years. She is a tech news junkie, and has a special place in her heart for Michelle Obama.

Looking back on 2019, are there any sponsorships that stood out most to you?

I like when clients setup an experience at our events as I think that makes a big impact and it stands out. For example, the Summer Party was held at Park Chalet where it’s always cold and Brex hosted a S’more station and provided blankets. During Disrupt SF, Bumble had a large booth and they did hair and makeup and then took professional headshots. 

TechCrunch will host many industry specific events in 2020 including TC Sessions: Robotics+AI, TC Early Stage SF, TC Sessions: Space, and TC Sessions: Mobility. Which of these are you most looking forward to and why? 

I’m excited for all, but very much looking forward to Early Stage since it’s the first time we’re hosting this event. I think the event is very well aligned with what our readers want to learn about. 

How would you say TechCrunch events have grown over the years? 

I’ve been at TC for over 4 years now and it’s incredible to see how much we’ve grown. Moving from a small space for Disrupt SF into Moscone where we have 2 stages and over 10k attendees is huge. Not only that, we’ve added Sessions to our events calendar to go more in-depth on certain topics and we continue to make changes to meet the growing demand of our readers and event attendees. 

How do you like to stay up to date with the constantly changing tech world? 

I’m always reading TechCrunch, I listen to many podcasts, and get a lot of my news from Twitter as well. 

If you could have coffee with one person living or dead, who would it be? 

Michelle Obama 

November 2019: Jeff Taylor

Jeff Taylor has been with TechCrunch for 6 years. He’s seen (and helped!) the events business grow into what it is today. He’s currently working on a gothic horror novel with a friend, and has been a student at the Berkeley Zen Center for 10 years.

You’ve seen TechCrunch’s events grow over the years. What’s your favorite event, your favorite sponsorship opportunity and why? 

There are so many great TC events and great programs. People bring us needs across 3 wide need sets, and our programs are designed to address those need sets.  Broadly speaking, people bring us brand goals, thought leadership goals and deal flow targets. We’ve had great sponsorships across all 3.

One of my favorite memories was the Battlefield Reception we did at St James Palace at DIsrupt London. It was my first time in a real live-in palace. 

My sponsor was elegant, educated, and his company accomplished. The event was hosted by Prince Andrew, who was a gracious host.  The room was full of the best and the brightest across VC’s, founders, and media, and our client was quite pleased at the resulting relationships, and the superlative setting.  I often talk about the Story of We, that story involves those things that can only be done by all of us together. Great programs at our events are that story. The client, our team and the TC crowd. This story is a great example of that.

Another great sponsorship was a contest run by an AI video editing company. Every entrant was required to submit a 2 minute video from Disrupt. There were hundreds of entries and some astonishing creativity! I was in Startup Alley every day talking about ideas and techniques, and got up close and personal with a huge number of startups. It was a circus!

So, my favorite programs are the ones where clients meet their goals and we create high touch across as many companies as possible. That is a harbinger of great success!

Disrupt SF 2019 just came to a close. What did you most enjoy from this year’s conference?

In addition to great programs from enterprise companies like IBM, Lenovo, mid market and startups like the Korean pavilion, I loved the content on the Extra Crunch stage. Our Extra Crunch offering offers startup specific advice and guidance across any number of important topics. That stage was abundant with amazing speakers and programs.

How would you say TechCrunch events have grown over the years?

I was here when we did our final Disrupt at the Concourse (condos now), outgrew Pier 48, and took over Moscone. Our constituencies at Disrupt have grown and widened over the years. Our dedication to the startup community has broadened our sponsorships to include innovation hungry folks like Novartis, Byton, Red Bull and Baidu. On the startup front, we’re now attracting larger numbers from the global community, and on the attendee front, more attendees from diverse settings than ever. 

Across the legs of content, sponsors and attendees, Disrupt is the place to be.

Is there anything special on the horizon for Disrupt Berlin in December?

Berlin is a great show and we’ll have a fantastic stage with a ton of amazing content. On the

Show floor, we’ll be hosting the DT50 European Startup Awards and the WeChat Developer Challenge assembling brands and innovators to support the Chinese traveler in WeChat. It’s going to be a great show.

What do you like to do outside of work?

What?! There’s an outside of work? Kidding…. The things that occupy my interest, in no order, include my study of Zen, I’ve been a Zen student at the Berkeley Zen Center for 10 years. I also am working with an author / friend in the UK writing his first gothic horror novel. Being a beta reader is the most amazing thing that I didn’t really know was a thing. Finally, I help the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society with the Woman / Man of the Year Campaign. That is an amazing campaign that provides so much help for so many in great difficulty.

Who’s someone living or dead you’d like to have a drink with?

I hate this question…I mean really. We’re talking cocktail party at least, and the guest list would depend on the day. DaVinci, Guillermo del Toro, James Baldwin, Alexandra David Neel, Shunryu Suzuki Roshi, Dorothy Parker, my mother…. 

October 2019: Adriana Gadala-Maria

Adriana

Adriana’s been a member of the sponsorship sales team at TechCrunch for nearly two years. She relocated to the Bay Area from the East Coast, and loves wine and Ina Garten equally.

So, you’ve been at TechCrunch for nearly two years. What’s been the most exciting part about joining the team?

Being at the source of startup news. I’ve been a longtime TechCrunch reader and fan of its “Equity” podcast, and it’s fun to be working alongside some of the most knowledgeable people in this fast-paced industry.

Disrupt SF 2019 just came to a close. What did you most enjoy from this year’s conference?

Startup Battlefield and Will Smith! It’s always exciting to see early-stage startups battle it out, and this year we also had Will Smith give a startup that pitched him an $10,000 check on the spot—which was crazy.

When you’re not killing it at the office, how do you like to spend your time?

I love to cook, and most recently have been enjoying making dishes from Gastón Acurio’s, “Peru: The Cookbook”. He is one of the most famous Peruvian chefs in the world, and it’s been fun recreating his dishes. The best one I’ve made so far is “Pollo A la Brasa”, which is a heavily-spiced roasted chicken that goes with an aji verde sauce. It’s pretty delicious.

We heard you’re an avid wine country fan. Can you give us a recommendation on what winery we should hit up for a tasting?

Yes! I recently made a trip to Booneville and visited Pennyroyal Farm, which I highly recommend if you love wine and cheese. They are a family-owned sustainable farm and produce great Pinot Noirs and fresh cheese onsite. Pennyroyal also gives tours of their farm, which has baby goats! And who doesn’t love baby goats?

And finally, what person, living or dead, would you like to share a glass of wine with?

Ina Garten. Some of the best recipes I’ve made are from her cookbooks, and I’d love to spend an afternoon cooking with her and learning how she comes up with her recipes.

 

September 2019: Zack McKnight

Zack McKnight

Zack recently joined the team as our Branded Content Manager. He works directly with our partners to craft each native advertising campaign. He also just relocated from NYC to SF, and enjoys driving convertibles, hiking and jamming out to Lizzo.  

What do you miss most about NYC?

Everything’s always buzzing in NYC and I definitely miss that. 

Favorite part about living in SF/The Bay Area?

Definitely the nature. Living in NYC didn’t provide too many easy opportunities to get out and explore the outdoors. Living in SF makes it super easy. In 15 minutes, I can be in a totally different environment with a totally different climate, and I love it. There’s so much natural beauty here too, and I love that as well.

What’s your favorite thing about writing?

I never really considered myself a writer, but when I was in film school, the only movies that I would ever direct or produce were from screenplays I would write myself. I love storytelling, and I believe you can storytell in a variety of mediums from cooking, how you dress, and of course through writing.  

What percentage of your responsibilities include writing?

Only about 30% of my job is actually writing. The rest of my time is spent working with our partners to create custom campaigns, pitching ideas, producing video, and on internal projects. 

What is your creative process when it comes to tackling so many different asks?

I firmly believe in the importance of process. I learned the best way to write a story is to first come up with the ending, and then work backwards from there. I apply this approach to everything I do. Before I get started on a project, I try to understand the goals and then reverse engineer how they can be attained.

What do you like to do outside of work?

I love anything outdoors! I didn’t get to do a lot of driving in New York (if ever), but it’s one of my favorite things to do. On the weekends, I sometimes rent a convertible to drive to one of the many hiking trails in the Bay. I’m also saving up for a motorcycle, so watch out!

Who’s someone living or dead you’d like to have a drink with?

Lizzo hands down! She’s everything. Who knew a jazz flute could be so sassy. She’s humble, willing to be vulnerable in her music and her persona while also balancing a level of self-assuredness that’s nothing but aspirational. She’s the new queen, watch and see!