Last night, I attended a dinner hosted by Fortune magazine at the La Mar, a new-ish Peruvian restaurant in San Francisco. The dinner, which was emceed by Fortune magazine managing editor Andy Serwer, attracted more than 20 of the better-known technology industry insiders and investors, among […]

Last night, I attended a dinner hosted by Fortune magazine at the La Mar, a new-ish Peruvian restaurant in San Francisco. The dinner, which was emceed by Fortune magazine managing editor Andy Serwer, attracted more than 20 of the better-known technology industry insiders and investors, among them Alan Patricof (GreyCroft Partners), Marc Benioff (Salesforce), Ann Winblad (Hummer Winblad), Reid Hoffman (LinkedIn), Ron Conway (Silicon Valley angel investor), Max Levchin (Slide) and Mark Pincus (Zynga).

Fortune editors wanted to find out what was on the mind of technology insiders so that they could craft the right agenda for their Brainstorm Tech 2009 conference, scheduled for later this summer in Half Moon Bay, Pasadena, Calif from July 22-to-24. The discussions were wide-ranging and the topic suggestions, diverse.

Gina Bianchini, CEO of Ning, believes that even people who find themselves unemployed are unlikely to give up their $50-a-month broadband connection; after all, it’ll be a way for them to find bargains, hunt for jobs or seek out cheaper apartments. She thinks more time will be spent online, including on social networks. Recent upsurges in the usage of Twitter, Facebook and other such services offer a good proxy for Gina’s predictions.

It was also suggested at one point that this downturn would be the end of licensed packaged software. And some think we’re on the cusp of personalized medicine, thanks to the availability of diverse biomedical resources and their marriage to ever-cheaper computing. But by and large, the focus was on our government, in particular the bailouts and the impact of the credit crunch. And most expressed belief in the power of innovation and optimism.

Just to be clear, being a devotee of technology, I am still an optimist, just a more pragmatic one. My view is that most of us (including myself) who live very comfortable Silicon Valley lives don’t quite grok the current economic crisis and the sociological upheaval it’s unleashing across the world.

My view stems from the fact that an increasing number of people live in sub-human conditions. Others, thanks to closing factories and moribund economic activity, are losing jobs and facing their own bleak futures. These are bad tidings that could result in chaos. However, just like the Renaissance followed the dark and chaotic Middle Ages, we will see a revival. Call it Renaissance 2.0 or whatever, but this adversity is going to result in an innovation boom.

I plan to write up some of the individual conversations I had as blog posts, but I first want to take this opportunity to ask you guys: What are the big themes that Fortune should cover at its Brainstorm Tech 2009 conference?

  1. Why would anyone listen to the ceo of a company (Ning) that has no revenue after many years in business? Seriously?

  2. Abdullah Anwar Friday, February 27, 2009

    Education, online has been a key market but not many start-ups and big companies have yet targeted it. Perhaps, that can really transform the world! I mean, given that college costs continue rise, it will be a good idea if we can work on education online and yet offer the same value…

  3. Diversify the topics covered, tech geographical focus, the panels and the audience — beyond the narrow confines of the usual suspects.

  4. Om the Blogger,
    Cheaper Wireless Broadband
    Solar Charged Handsets
    Cheaper Computing and Communications
    Low cost and make sense IT infrastructure – Get Cisco out of its constant and stale productivity driven claims
    Please do not use the phrase web 3.0.

    Note to Ning CEO: You obviously have not been to a public library lately and tried to use a library computer. In some libraries the wait can be more than 30 mins. People are canceling broadband. Anyone, remember Maslow’s theory, or does it not apply to web 2.0?

    Om my friend,
    Hope you are getting rest. Please reply to my e-mails.

  5. Knowing how effective Sillicon Valley’s VC teams are, I think they should use their influence to bring mass monetization to the online worlds.

    One such innovation and idea is Noca.com. And with a crisis that has extended its tentacles beyond American borders, there is a great challenge to create job opportunities for the ever-swelling ranks of job seekers.

    And then there’s the abundant skills that the job seekers bring on the market.

    For me, Fortune offers a powerful connection with a diverse global readership, making it a reservoir for ideas, especially for start-ups.


  6. Brainstorm this;NOT only American soil means of FORTUNE found,fortune magazine that the rest of USA also a huge goldfield they should cover up,the use of “accept only credit card make people who have the money who have yet access to credit card eager to buy,so If company like to more fortune. DON’T JUST stay AT HOME>MOVE OUT and explore Plan your seed there

  7. What will rise to take the place of professional journalism. Specifically, will Fortune be replaced and if so, by what?

  8. More. Why didn’t netbooks happen 5 years ago?

    What will Twitter look like 5 years from now? Netbooks?

    What’s the connection betw Twitter and mobile tech?

    Is 140 chars really magic? What about metadata? Will twits come with location data?

    What is the biggest innovation of the iPhone?

    Does the economic collapse keep you up at night?

    Will Om run for President in 2012? :-)

  9. How abstract do you want to go. I mean you can go from:
    Distinguish between Data and Information processing (Today and Tomorrow)
    Or just sum it up with:
    Information/Data overload

    If that is to complicated:
    The echo chamber of Silicon Valley also known as me too.

    Some were in the middle:
    Productivity increases of the past and future( company versus individual productivity increases )

  10. Something tells me you are not really Dave Winer….


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