Last week my friend Mark Pincus noted, via twitter, that I was not at the D conference and wondered if I knew something others did not. I replied back to Mark that I'm not a big fan of attending conferences.
I don't go to TED and never have and don't think I ever will. I don't go to Demo or Techcrunch 50 or any of those kinds of events either.
I spent the weekend in Vegas with a bunch of people who go to the Lobby conference every year, including its organizer David Hornik. David was trying to convince me to come this year, but I told him the idea of a ten hour flight to Hawaii was not attractive to me. I suggested to David if he did it in a place where us east coasters could get to a bit easier, I might consider it.
Travel is a hassle. Its time consuming and gets in the way of doing other more productive things. I'll gladly travel to the west coast or europe to visit our portfolio companies and meet with new investment opportunities.
But the idea of travel to get together with the same old group, the tech biz insider club, doesn't appeal to me at all.
I do like attending events that happen in NYC, like I am doing tomorrow morning. I am speaking at Federated Media's Conversational Marketing Summit. I'll spend the morning there, get some networking in, and be back in my office for our monday meeting in the afternoon. That's how I like to do conferences, short, sweet, and easy. I think our industry places too much emphasis on conferences in an era where there are amazing tools to congregate online and find like minded people. I am not suggesting that face to face meetings aren't important, they are critical. But schmoozefests at fancy resorts aren't the kinds of face to face meetings I want to do.
And 'by invitation only' or high priced events are particularly bad in my mind. The most interesting people you can meet are the outsiders, the up and comers, and the hackers who can't afford to lay out $4000 to attend an event and are never going to get an invite to an event where you have to know somebody or "be somebody" to get in. So I avoid those most of all.
Back in the 90s, I was unknown to the powers that be and could not get into TED. I don't forget that and that's why I'll never go to it. I don't want to play that game. If I ever got an invite to Davos or Sun Valley, I'd have a really hard time saying yes. These power parties are not for me.
I've got this blog and the rest of social media where I try hard to be approachable and where I can meet interesting new people. And I take an average of twenty to thirty meetings a week. That seems to work pretty well for me. And I think I'll just keep doing it that way.