Head in the Cloud: SaaStr Annual 2019

Head in the Cloud: SaaStr Annual 2019

These days, on every corner in the Bay Area you can spot a software-as-a-service (SaaS) company—B2B organizations firing up products through the cloud that impact the way we work and engage with one another.

Last week, more than 12,500 founders, entrepreneurs, senior executives, and VCs from the SaaS community gathered in downtown San Jose for the fifth iteration of SaaStr Annual 2019—the premiere SaaS conference in the Bay Area drawing in attendees from around the world. This was the  first year the conference took place at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center and the outcome showed the event is growing more than ever.  

Reflecting on Illuminate 2019: How to Empower the Modern Workplace

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Last week, I attended Illuminate, a one-day people conference on a mission to make the manager-employee relationship better. Hosted by people management platform Reflektive, the event was filled with tactical takeaways to improve myself as a manager and contribute to the growth of cred’s culture and people.

Featuring speakers from Allbirds, Airbnb, Omada Health, AppAnnie, Pinterest, and 23andMe, Illuminate shined light on the employee journey and its expansion to include a company’s work environment, mission, values, culture, and wellness.

Omada Health CPO Jo Dennis and CEO Sean Duffy weighed the pros and cons of anonymous feedback before concluding their business is better off without it, opting for a transparent culture of feedback. Transparent feedback limits confusion, has ownership, and provides context. While not easy for anyone, giving constructive feedback does gets better with practice.

In addition to sessions discussing diversity and inclusion and coaching culture at scale, Illuminate offered attendees a chance to win a pair of Allbirds following the event. While I didn’t win the Allbirds giveaway, I walked away with a deeper look into what it takes to be a better manager and overall a better team.

More thoughts from the stage:

  • Fairness is the foundation of feedback. Create an equal playing field by offering tools and resources that ensure everyone is speaking the same feedback language.

  • Peer-to-peer feedback is just as important as manager-to-employee feedback.

  • No one quits because they received too much praise from leadership. Top communication issues that prevent effective leadership include failure to recognize employee achievements, offer clear directions, and carve out time to meet with employees.

  • People development and culture is a work in progress. It can be rewarding, challenging, messy and constantly has to be worked on.

  • For more, here’s Reflektive’s official event recaps.

Interested in continuing your learning and fostering a culture of #nobadmanagers? Check out these four books that stood out and were recommended by speakers and other attendees. I’ve added them to my reading queue, what about you?

Gathering Around Modern Campfires at TEDxSoMa

 

There’s nothing like sitting around a campfire sharing stories and creating conversation—but is it possible to recreate this warm and whimsical experience in a tech-obsessed city like San Francisco on a Tuesday night? TEDxSoMa thought so.

On January 15, about 700 attendees braved rainy weather to gather in the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts to receive inspiration from six hand-selected speakers, each with an idea worth spreading. The TEDx event theme? Modern Campfires. The TEDxSoMa website creatively elaborated on this theme of choice sharing, “The campfire has been a place for people to come together - a place to tell stories, learn from each other, and gain a sense of belonging and community.

A handful of us from the cred team had the pleasure of volunteering at TEDxSoMa. We loved interacting with other San Franciscans passionate about attending a “modern campfire” to create community and connection.

Ideas Worth Spreading

After months of coaching and training, six speakers took the TEDx stage for a night of modern campfire conversation. Here’s a recap of TEDxSoMa’s 2019 speakers:

  1. Juliana Delgado, an award-winning Colombian writer, spoke about the language hierarchy in the United States and how it limits a group’s access to opportunities and social acceptance.

    • “...staying up late to practice pronouncing words so the kids at school wouldn't make fun of me. I hated myself for not fitting in, not realizing that there was a hierarchy much bigger than me at play here. I felt I was the one who was wrong.”

  2. Mazin Jamal, founder and director of Holistic Underground, spoke about masculinity in today's culture and how to redefine what it means to "be a man."

    • “When I was hopeless, I was useless to everyone, and I was making things worse. And that’s what happens, men feel useless and hopeless so they double down on the problem. And everyone pays the price-especially women and transgender people.”

  3. fnnch, an artist who believes art is for everyone, spoke about how street art is art for the masses. He shared the importance of looking for canvases everywhere, taking back public spaces, and investigating your town's local regulations around public art.

    • “Public space is our space...our way to communicate with each other. To express ourselves. To be heard. To listen. To inspire each other. To comfort each other....And you do not need to be a professional artist to join in….”

  4. Chief Sylvia Moir, a California native who serves as the Chief of Police in Tempe, Arizona, spoke about mindfulness.

    • “There was plenty of Resistance. To some it meant that by encouraging the practice of mindfulness, I was softening policing. The science and research suggested that building resilience to trauma and toxicity was hard work, and changing culture and climate is tough.“

  5. Dr. Yoni Alkan, a professional cuddler, sexual educator, and consultant, spoke about the power of platonic touch.

    • “Rejection feels so searing to us, that we try to avoid hearing ‘No’ at all costs and stop asking. Rejection is hard, but I’d much rather have an honest ‘NO’ than a ‘YES’ you don’t mean.

  6. Bishop William Swing, the former Bishop of San Francisco and current President and Founding Trustee of United Religions Initiative (URI), spoke about unity within community.

    • “I thought: ‘If the world has a United Nations, then most likely the world needs a United Religions. Someone should do something about that.  Why not me?’ The question captured my heart.”

Besides the original content coming straight from the lips of these six  speakers, the audience enjoyed an intermission filled with a meditation session and  dance performance from Vancouver dance troupe TWObigsteps Collective. The dance titled “Veils” was influenced by W.E.B. Dubois' theory of “double consciousness.”

Takeaways

The original and carefully crafted TED talks from these speakers did not fall on deaf ears. There was a full house and the audience was extremely excited to be there. One cred team volunteer even took a photo for a man in front of the stage who he said that being there was "a dream come true."

While the speakers and topics were diverse, TEDxSoMa 2019 had the resounding theme of mindfulness as the common thread–the consistent theme about reframing how we think about our everyday lives.

 

Digital Transformation at World of Connections 2018

 

On November 14, Nokia Growth Partners hosted its fourth annual World of Connections event at the Golden Gate Club in San Francisco. This year, 300 entrepreneurs, innovators, and technology leaders gathered to hear industry executives discuss this year’s theme of Digital Transformation. With a packed schedule consisting of three simultaneous tracks running throughout the day, attendees could listen in on sessions covering Intelligent Enterprise, Smart Mobility, and Digital Health.

The day kicked off with an inspirational talk from Nokia CEO Rajeev Suri about the power of communication and value in addressing world problems. The schedule then split into the three key themes, each featuring varying formats of keynote speakers, panels, and fireside chats.

Smart Mobility, one of the most popular tracks of the day, drew speakers from Ford, Uber Freight, Lime, and BMW i Ventures to touch on topics ranging from autonomous driving technology to the implications of smarter commutes creating smarter cities.

Boasting another large crowd, Google Product Management Director Sampath Srivinas kicked off the cybersecurity session debating the increasingly prevalent topic of authentication. He was followed by a series of ‘innovator views’–emerging companies disrupting the space–who are tackling securing your workforce and addressing security threats.

As the three successful tracks wrapped up for the day, attendees gathered one last time to hear from Oracle Executive Vice President Amit Zavery on the industries most likely to be transformed by software and the factors driving rapid adaptation. As the final keynote came to a close, everyone headed outside to conclude the day with a cocktail reception and networking.

Check out some highlights from the conference below!



 

Exploring the Future of Payments at Swell by Ripple

 

Earlier this week, hundreds of seasoned professionals from the blockchain and global payments community gathered in San Francisco for Swell— the second annual conference by our client Ripple. Hosted at the Terra Gallery, the venue was buzzing with innovation as the brightest minds in policy, payments, and fintech discussed the next era of payment technology across the two-day event.

Installations demonstrating facts about cross-border payments and Ripple software decorated the walls. The second floor was home to the main stage where the conference’s sessions took place. Across both days of the conference, a central theme was highlighting blockchain as a global opportunity, as well as exhibiting use cases.

Day one kicked off with a keynote by 42nd President of the United States Bill Clinton, who drew parallels between the new wave of blockchain enthusiasm to that of the internet during his presidency. Clinton’s fireside chat with Gene Sperling, National Economic Council Director and National Economic Advisor under Presidents Clinton and Obama, covered concerns around regulation and emerging technology.

Thoughts from the stage:

“To effectively advance in blockchain, we must move on from horse and buggy technology in other areas.” - Former U.S. President Bill Clinton

On top of opening remarks from Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse and sessions with speakers from Banco Santander, the IMF, and RiceHadleyGates, the day continued the excitement with the official announcement that xRapid, the Ripple product powering transactions, is commercially available and will go into production with three financial institutions.

Closing out the first day of the event, attendees were treated Monday night with a performance from the Counting Crows.

On day two, the morning began with Ripple Chief Market Strategist Cory Johnson and Celent Senior Analyst Alenka Grealish discussing proprietary research on payments trends. The rest of the day included panels and flash talks on cross-continental crypto regulation and digital asset adoption, and thoughts from futurist leaders in the blockchain space.

Professionals in the audience left the conference with key insights on the future of global payments and blockchain technology. Garlinghouse drove the conference home with a final thought: “Change takes a grassroots movement, and Ripple is driving it.”

Thank you to the Ripple team for having us at #SwellByRipple!

 

Disrupting Trends and Traditions at Disrupt SF 2018

 

When arriving to Disrupt SF at the Moscone West Convention Center, there is absolutely no mistaking where you are. This year, there was a buzz around the venue as a record-breaking 9,000 registrants arrived to learn, network, and promote their latest gadgets and startup ideas. Inside, the whole venue was decorated with the familiar TechCrunch green, from the banners hoisted on the ceiling, to the TC logo for photo ops—even the escalators had a green glow, although it’s debatable whether this was intentional or not.

The first floor was dedicated to their Startup Alley, featuring almost 1,000 startups and exhibitors from all across the world. The second floor had workshops, receptions, and meeting rooms where All Raise hosted an AMA and roundtable for female funders, founders, and executives. The female-focused events had an amazing turnout, with many who came prepared with questions to ask the All Raise investors. Table topics ranged from raising capital and recruiting tactics, to investor/board management.

The third floor was dedicated to the main stage, where our client Brad Garlinghouse, CEO of Ripple, spoke on Day 1. He was joined by Arrington XRP Capital and TechCrunch Founder, Michael Arrington, to discuss blockchain, banking, and what sets XRP apart from other cryptocurrencies. Brad stated that in order to accelerate the natures of transaction, Ripple needed to take a different approach to appeal to banks and institutions, recognizing that not everyone was willing to give up existing infrastructures to switch over to a new and unknown one.

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi spoke on Day 2 about taking on the company following former CEO Travis Kalanick’s departure. Dara addressed revamping Uber’s image to become “a positive force for change,” eliminating minority biases in the workplace, Uber’s expanding services, and becoming the company for mobility. In addition, he shared his long-term mission to build Uber’s autonomous fleet so “10 years from now, no one in the audience will own a car.”

More insights shared by Dara from the stage:

  • Monetization will come later, first “you have to be solving for the customers”.

  • “People like choices”. It creates more engagement and breadth of use.

  • “People and computers work together better than as standalones.”

On the last day of the event, entrepreneurs from around the world took the stage for the final round of Startup Battlefield. Over the course of three days, 21 startups gathered at the competition to pitch their company to investors and the audience for the grand prize of $100,000. Concluding with final demos presented in front of a panel of judges, the five finalists included CB Therapeutics, Mira, Forethought AI, Origami Labs, and Unbound. After much deliberation, Forethought AI was named the Startup Battlefield winner of Disrupt SF 2018.

Attendees are loyalists for a reason, some mentioned this was their fourth time at Disrupt. With all the excitement that was going on, there was never a dull moment.

Thank you to the entire planning team at TechCrunch, the volunteers, and everyone who helped put on Disrupt SF. We had a blast and look forward to next year!

 

Hustle Con-nections: A Day of Hustling, Skee Balling, & Networking

 
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Brought to you by cred...connecting thought leaders through speaking & creating environments that inspire.

“What does it mean to hustle?”
We all know & love The Hustle as the daily email with the latest updates on tech, business, and deals deals deals. Yet, very few are aware that Hustle Con, the annual conference, is what started it all back in 2014 to answer the question: what does it mean to hustle?

Hustle & Flow (through the Paramount Theatre)
Last Friday, 2,000 hustling entrepreneurs—non-technical and technical enthusiasts alike—gathered in Oakland’s historic Paramount Theatre to see speakers from companies like BARK, Instacart, Ellevest, MVMT, and 1-800-GOT-JUNK discuss how they got started, how they grew, and what they learned along the way. Mixing old with new, interactive booths from Microsoft, WeWork, Premier Talent, and Salesforce stood throughout the 1930s art-deco halls of the theatre.

Attendees were greeted with breakfast, coffee served by Algorithm Coffee Co., and lively music blaring in the background, packing the theatre with exciting energy. Opening remarks were made by Sam Parr, CEO & Founder of The Hustle, asking everyone to “be kind to each other,” and Lindsey “always rockin’ that amazing orange blazer” Quinn, The Hustle’s Managing Editor.

“How much does it cost to buy an entire Trader Joe’s?” $22,000.
Max Mullen, Co-Founder of Instacart and cred client, shared his hustle story during a fireside chat interview with Sam Parr—like that time he bought every item in Trader Joe’s to create the very first grocery store inventory for the Instacart app. Free samples and coffee never sounded more desirable.  

This isn’t the first Hustle event where a cred speaker has brought their insight to the stage. Other cred speakers including Edith Yeung (500 Startups), Anneka Gupta, (LiveRamp), Tara-Nicholle Nelson (SoulTour), and Sree Menon (Tophatter), have spoken at The Hustle’s 2X programs earlier this year in San Francisco. Tara-Nicholle Nelson is a top 50 finalist for The Hustle’s Woman of the Year.

friday shower thoughts from the stage:

“If you’re passionate about what you do, you’ll push through and be tenacious. If you’re not passionate, you’ll give up.”
-Max Mullen, Co-Founder, Instacart

“I couldn’t get to that next stepping stone without having that experience of failure and falling flat on my face.”
-Brian Scudamore, Founder, 1-800-GOT-JUNK

“Entrepreneurs typically do a terrible job of taking care of their own financial futures...Remember to invest in your future too.”
-Lisa Stone, Chief Strategy Officer, Ellevest

We didn’t only eat donuts...
The cred team also volunteered this year at the event, continuing our “fangirl”—yet mostly professional—relationship with The Hustle Team. We helped with guiding attendees, displaying food, and bringing leftovers to St. Vincent de Paul, a shelter a few blocks from the theater. On top of seeing our clients on stage, we had a great time being a part of the event and helping our friends at The Hustle.

See you at the next Hustle event!

-Abrisham “overthinking this signature” Khosravyani

Youth Marketing Strategy SFO: Catching Up with The Future of Marketing

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Following the success of events in London, Berlin, and New York, Voxburner brought their Youth Marketing Strategy summit to San Francisco for the first time on June 12 at Fort Mason’s Gallery 308. YMS offers insights that reflect the latest trends and hottest topics in the youth marketing industry. We attended to see our speakers from Tophatter and Greenbrier and hear what’s driving the behaviors of GenZ and how brands and agencies can do a better job of meeting the youth market where they are. Here’s what we learned.

CEOs, VPs and Founders shared their thoughts on current marketing opportunities and challenges and why young people are so important to their organizations:

  • “These issues that are polarizing to older demographics are not to younger ones. Be a human, that’s what these young consumers want. Staying silent is not a long term strategy.” - Meredith Ferguson, DoSomething Strategic

  • “We know that most young consumers, don’t read the New York Times or watch Bloomberg Tech. Surprisingly, most younger consumers get their news from local news websites. We need to figure out how to meet them where they are vs. trying to get a story in a top tier.” - Lane Kasselman, Greenbrier

  • “We have to think very carefully about what we do. I encourage our company to act as a media/publishing company and think about planning every 3 hours vs. every 3 months.” - Livio Bisterzo, HIPPEAS

25-year-old Steve Bartlett of Social Chain helped us understand How to Avoid Becoming Completely Irrelevant in 2018 and the power of working with micro-influencers:

  • “Most people are creating things from the perspective that people care. The only thing people really care about is what I can do for them . . . you are not a marketer, you are a publisher.”

  • Personalization is the way to turn everyone into an influencer (ex. people sharing photos of their names spelled wrong on Starbuck cups)

  • Where is the opportunity? Podcasting, free reach on LinkedIn because they haven’t figured out their algorithm yet, music.ly, Twitch, and Facebook Groups.

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During The Kids That Are Changing the World panel,  the audience had a chance to ask ambitious youth what they want from their brand relationships. Authenticity, relatability and transparency were key:

  • “GenZ grew up on social and smartphones and can detect BS much faster than other generations. Brands need to take this into account.” - Tiffany Zhong, Zebra Intelligence

  • “No-one really gives a shit about you and what you’re doing, what they do care about is the content you're building out and what they can do with that. It’s all about trying to create content where, after people watch it, they feel like they’re walking away with something.” - Mehak Vohra, Jamocha Media

The first panel after lunch and a 10-minute guided meditation brought together speakers from brands TOMS, Casetify, Par en Par, and Tophatter to discuss The Future of Retail:

  • “Instant gratification is what we see shoppers wanting, and snackability. In a world where our attention spans are shorter than goldfish, you have to bump the adrenaline up quickly." - Malcolm Scovil, Tophatter

  • “It should be a given in your business model that you’re doing good, or at least doing no harm in your process of creating.” - Laura Choi, Par en Par

Ben Harms of Archrival gave an engaging talk on The State of Youth Culture and Shifting Trends. Key insights included:

  • Youth are compelled to find and follow their personal passions to build up a life resume of experiences.

  • GenZ is the most self-reliant generation yet. They know how to find the answer. 72% want to start a business.

  • “This generation has blown open the world of acceptance. The more unique and individual you are, the more oddly normal you are.”

  • “Girl Power” is an outdated mantra. In Z’s minds, the gender paradigm has already shifted and it’s up to us to catch up.

  • 82% of GenZ said they’d rather trail blaze than follow traditional paths.

  • “The idea of building loyalty among this generation is one of the most elusive things. They’re incredibly loyal - but that definition is changing. Youth are loyal to creativity and innovation. Brands must constantly push themselves to keep favor.”

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