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Silicon Valley Trip Journal: Day 1, TechCrunch Disrupt

Guest Post - 18 October 2012

This is part two of Jaka Wiradisuria's journal of his recent trip to Silicon Valley. Read part one here.

This journey was my first time to United States and it definitely was a remarkable one. I was humbly welcomed by several prominent events by some big names in global Tech industry, i.e. Endeavor, TechCrunch, SalesForce and Gogobot. As soon as I arrived in San Francisco around 1.30pm PST on September 12th 2012, I immediately rushed downtown, to TechCruch Disrupt 2012, one of the most awaited tech startup events in 2012, created by TechCrunch.

In general, TechCrunch event was like TechInAsia's StartupAsia 2012 in Jakarta couple of months ago, but in much much larger scale from almost all perspectives. The event was located in Concourse Exhibition Center,  a well-renovated ex-warehouse building in 8th Brannan street, downtown San Francisco.

I considered myself as both lucky and unlucky by arriving at the TechCrunch event on the last day. Rather unlucky since it is the last day of the event and I already missed some essential keynotes made by the invited speakers. On the other hand, I was quite lucky since I got the chance to attend the event FREE OF CHARGE and take the best out of the remainders. You know how much the entrance fee would have cost you for a 3-day-event? Okay, it's 'only' $ 2,995 per person. If you are a student -like my friend here, Adam Jaya Putra, a Sloan Fellow of Stanford GSB- you can get 90% discount though, if not, you can choose between paying for the entrance fee or paying your wife's return flight ticket :p

*Curious on how I can get free entrance? Ask yourself how you can get free entrance into any conference in Kemayoran or JCC :D #IndonesianStyle

Ok, let's cut to the chase. Here are some of the takeout from wandering around for 2 hours on the last day of the event.

- TechCrunch Disrupt was a 'playground'. It was quite obvious if you are an entrepreneur in tech industry, you don't want to miss the opportunity to be acknowledged by the global startup environment, especially from the investor and media perspectives. Since this is an event established by one of the most prominent media in tech industry, not only that your venture was put alongside the powerful list of the 'big boys' that became the speakers and judges, but also the list of the investors and sponsors that came from prominent VC's e.g. Sequoia Capital, Google Ventures, and Gree Inc.

- Emerging market is sexy. As media company, TechCrunch did a great job in gathering the support from many governments in emerging markets to support their prospectus startup ventures to attend and exhibit their products and/or services in the event. It didn't take long for them to take the opportunity in strengthening the presence of 'Silicon Valley' towards these countries. As an emerging countries, especially those of the Latin Americans, they are not only well-known for their capability as a growing market economy, but for churning out their own young entrepreneurs.

Among the countries that sent their delegates were Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Israel and South Korea. Some of the official report on the pavilion of the invited countries can be found here: Chile, Brazil, Argentina, and Israel.

- TechCrunch Not-So-Disruptive 2012. Despite all the hype, according to some people I met during my trip in the Bay area, this year TechCrunch Disrupt did not live up to its name compared to its predecessors. I did not say that the Battlefield finalists (the competition that sought the most 'disruptive' startup) were not good, for instance LitMotors.com, a mash up vehicle of small car and motorcycle, as presented by Danny Kim, its founder & CTO was actually very good. And the winner, YourMechanic was not bad at all. They have the potential to be a very big business and a game changer in the industry. But, I don't know, maybe it's just the media exposure and the fast-pace of tech industry that made us having this disproportionate appetite on getting something new.

About the previous days, one of the notable points was the hype Mark Zuckerberg created on his September 11 session. It was his first public appearance since the IPO and at that time, Michael Arrington, TechCrunch founder, directed some questions about Facebook's directions post-IPO's stock price decline and some future possibilities regarding HTML5 vs native apps, Facebook phone, Facebook as search engine, etc. Zuckerberg concluded the session by saying, “There are all these long-term projects that I can’t get into right now, but we are retooling to work on, and we’re about halfway through that cycle.” However, that statement didn't relinquish his big goals through Facebook. “The legacy of this company should be: We connected everyone in the world, and everyone should share all they want."

There were some other sessions or keynote speeches that I was dying to see, to name a few, Jessica Alba (obvious right? :p but no kidding, she's a startup founder of Honest.com), Reid Hoffman of Linkedin.com, Mark Benioff of Salesforce, Dave Morin of Path, Sal Khan of Khan Academy, Kevin Rose of Google Ventures, David Sacks of Yammer, Jack Dorsey of Twitter and Square Inc., and Adam D'Angelo of Quora.

Now, after looking at those names (see the complete list here) and seeing the opportunities and exposure that we might get from the event, let's not argue why the entrance fee was more expensive than return flight ticket from Jakarta to San Francisco :)

Photos courtesy of Jaka Wiradisuria

 

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