Who could ask for a better job? For the past 13 years, I’ve spent my days talking with some of the smartest people on the planet. People passionate about technology and the art and science of molding that technology into products and services that address real challenges and bring new capabilities to people’s lives.
I’d be hard pressed to make an accurate count, but I’d guess that since taking the reins of DEMO in the spring of 1996, I’ve met no fewer than 15,000 entrepreneurs, inventors, and innovators, and helped about 1,500 of them launch their products to market on the DEMO stage.
DEMO has given me the opportunity to travel the world; meet with government officials and business leaders; interview certified geniuses and a few certifiable nut cases, and through newsletters (back in the day), blog posts, speaking gigs, interviews, and the DEMO conference itself share back a bit of what I’ve learned and the realizations that learning sparked.
DEMO, with its emphasis on product innovation, is an amazing lens and filter through which to gauge the future of the information technology industry and the markets as they open, undulate, and fold over time. The conference is a tremendous reviewing platform for new ideas and a lookout post for emerging and impactful trends.
It may not be surprising, then, to learn that after all these years, the lookout perch that is DEMO gave me the opportunity to see a new future for myself and for my company, Guidewire Group.
So early last year, I began the process of transitioning from DEMO so that I could start my next career in earnest. The first step, of course, was making sure that this was the right new path for myself, my family, and my Guidewire Group colleagues. DEMO has been a big part of all our lives for a long, long time. We all did a lot of soul searching and determined that, yes, we were ready to put our full energies behind the Guidewire Group business: working with technology companies during the critical transition points in their businesses to identify opportunity, define strategy, and accelerate the path to success.
The next step was more difficult: working with our partners at IDG and Network World to identify a successor. DEMO is a great job and a challenging one, and it’s not an easy post to fill. We found the most perfect fit in an accomplished journalist, entrepreneur, and kindred spirit, Matt Marshall. Over the last year, I’ve had the opportunity to work with and get to know Matt and his team at Venture Beat. He is a talented, smart, deeply ethical journalist and he and his writers have created a remarkable, respected brand and business. And he is the perfect person to pick up the reins of DEMO as I lay them down after the DEMOfall event in September.
Matt and I share many of the same values, foremost of which are the respect for entrepreneurs and the process of innovation and the commitment to act with integrity and fairness as we serve our customers and communities. But Matt and Venture Beat are more than a pin-for-pin replacement for me and Guidewire Group. They bring new perspective to DEMO. While much about DEMO will remain the same, surely Matt will make a wonderful impression on the brand and the business. The new partnership between DEMO and Venture Beat promises a broader platform for the DEMO community and a richer conversation that will span the events. Together, Venture Beat and DEMO have an exciting future, and I’m eager to see it unfold.
I’m equally eager to unfold the future of Guidewire Group, a company I co-founded in 200 with Mike Sigal. In the past four years, Guidewire Group has evolved into an analyst firm laser-focused on startups. We work with young companies in the U.S. and Europe at key transition points, to develop and deliver business strategy and monetization and market validation. Through custom projects, events such as Innovate!Europe, and Guidewire Studio, our exclusive in-residence program, we’re doing the work I love most – helping startups thrive.
We have an exciting future planned for Guidewire Group and I look forward to sharing our vision with you in the months ahead. We have been privileged and honored to work with this great brand and the amazing people who have been associated with DEMO across the last 13 years.
And we’re looking forward to the next six months as we work just as diligently as we always have on DEMOfall 09, while transitioning the Executive Producer mantle to Matt and his team.