What struck me about the recent TiECON event (this was my 3rd year attending) is that it has gone far beyond the “techno-engineering-entrepreneur meet venture-capital-monies” event and is attempting to address social, cultural, economic and “health and well being” issues. Sure, there are the hundreds of entrepreneurs with innovations that will change the world (or at least make themselves very rich), but there were others that were truly interested in social networks and communities as not just a “web 2.0” phenomenon, but a means to connect with others, to share experiences and to enrich lives.
At first it seemed odd to me that one of the keynote speakers, Robert Ingram, Chairman and CEO of GlaxoSmithKline was discussing the healthcare system in our nation and how 45% of the total U.S. population has a chronic disease. Does this matter to the next “Bill Gates” whose well-guarded software code is on the line for a hefty round of VC funding? Well, considering 45% is almost one out of every two people, I think it should matter. In fact, isn’t that what really matters? Quality of life? Our health and well being? Our friends, family, community?
For sure TiECON embodies the spirit of Silicon Valley: The “think-out-of-the-box” entrepreneur. The “go beyond” attitude. The ‘next great thing”. But taking Silicon Valley to the next level of personal and social responsibility, community and environmental sustainability as well as global economic leadership is the bigger picture and the greater opportunity.
Enlightened TiECON founders brought the likes of yogi Sadhguru, Founder of the Isha Foundation to talk about “inner wellbeing” and “self-awareness” as a critical core of effective leadership. Meg Whitman, President and CEO of eBay, spoke not only about the visions and strategies that made eBay the number one ecommerce site on the internet today, but about eBay’s social responsibility and commitment to positive changes in the world through its philanthropic endeavors.
And what about Nobuyuki Idei, the deposed Chairman and CEO of Sony, who for the past 20 years guided the consumer electronics company to become a $70B global giant? He continues to invest in the future with his new company, Quantum Leap, guiding budding entrepreneurs and the next generation CEOs. His philosophy of “soft alliances” suggests that building relationships for the long term is the only way to sustain business.
Which brings us to Anshul Samar, the 13 year old CEO and founder of Elementeo, the creator of, a board game that teaches science and chemistry in a fun and challenging way. Watching Ansul pitch his company demonstrates that the vision and hope for the future lies in our youth. Their vision is more about “understanding the world around us in order to create a better life for all” than about “going IPO and creating wealth for the shareholders”. We must nurture and encourage this valuable commodity and continue to create an environment that is healthy, stimulating and supportive.
TiECON exemplifies the “best of the best” of the Silicon Valley brain trust. Let’s hope the “New Face of Entrepreneurship” is an enlightened leader that values long term sustainability and the health and well-being of our global community. I look forward to the next generation of entrepreneurs and innovations that will lead us to this vision of the “world 2.0”.