It has been a very long time since I posted here. In a sense, we tried to quiet down this voice so that BetterPlace.com will become the official voice of our efforts.
I decided to reopen this channel today, due to the exceptional event of the posting on TED.com of my TEDtalk from February this year. For those of you who get to this blog or to BetterPlace.com after hearing about our project for the first time (where have you been hiding people??) there is a ton of extra material on the site’s video section. One of my all time favorites is still the one from Kennedy school at Harvard late last year.
TED this year was a very different experience for me than my first TED in 2007. I was still at SAP, had resigned twice already, and was on somewhat of a mental break for a couple of weeks. TED’07 was my first chance to experience TED after so many of my YPO friends raved about their experience at the conference. I spent the 72 hours in Monterey drinking from the fire hose. What an experience. Not only the smarts of the people, but what most impressed me was the general sense that the smartest people in the world are now dedicating themselves to solve the biggest problem in the world. My reaction was that Gates changed the rules of the game, when he decided to move into philanthropy and now all the silicon valley geeks found themselves in a new race. The race was defined by not who can give the most, rather by who can generate the biggest impact per buck spent.
I was anonymous, sitting next to giants. I could see myself in my imagination’s eye on that stage telling the story of BetterPlace, before I knew how there was a story, a company, or how it will be calles. Indeed I was so anonymous, that a young Google employee told me at one of the dinner events after a conversation on the world of software that “You are pretty good. Would probably make a good manager at Google, maybe even a VP” and offered to put in a good word for me. Given that I was the president of products at SAP at that time, I guess she meant it as a compliment, somehow.
Roll the clock forward by exactly two years, and TED ‘09 is a very different scene. The wired article by Dan Roth, published by the “other Chris Anderson” has probably 100% circulation within the TED community. Most people had ideas to share with me in person (that’s what TED is all about, Ideas worth sharing). No longer anonymous, we had some pretty amazing experiences at this year’s TED. A night with Robin Williams, Ben Zander and Daphne Zuniga (how do you know you are surrounded by geeks? everyone recognized her as princess Vespa of Spaceballs, not as the star of Melrose place...) was quite remarkable experience off the TED limelight. Still the talks were amazing. And as they start streaming in over TED.com, one can see how much Chris Anderson and company had outdone themselves this year.
As to my talk, well, 18 minutes are never enough. Chris almost pulled me off stage at the last minute, and then was gracious enough to pull me back on stage to take an ovation. What a class act he is!
I will probably publish some follow up presentations over our web sites. Think of them as mini-TEDtalks. They should complete the picture as to why the science, the economics, the social contract, and the execution aspects of our company and effort are so compelling. I just didn’t have enough time to wrap it all up on stage at TED. I will make sure though to keep every one of them mini talks to less than 18 minutes. I promise...