Opts Ideas is unique among creative event agencies in the way we bring ideas to life. This case history details how Opts successfully worked at the very inception of a new concept - and a new company - to bring them both to the forefront of discussion and awareness of key business and thought leaders worldwide.
techonomy (te-kän'-uh-mē) n. [tech(nology) + (ec)onomy] organized activities related to the invention, development, production, distribution and consumption of technology-enhanced goods and services that a society uses to address the problem of scarcity and to enhance the quality of life.
TECHONOMY is a completely new endeavor devoted to the idea that invention based on technology is intrinsically central to progress both for business and for human society.
Michael Christman, Opts Founder and CEO, partnered with the three Techonomy founders to help bring this groundbreaking concept to life, initially in an event forum. Michael and his Opts Partners took a lead advisory role in collaboration with journalists David Kirkpatrick, Peter Petre and Brent Schlender, all senior writers and editors at Fortune Magazine, who have dedicated their careers to reporting on the influence and power technology has in all aspects of society.
The team, along with other key partners and sponsors, launched an unprecedented gathering of thought leaders, business leaders and innovators, based on the theory that technology and economics go hand in hand to mold humanity. The vision and logistical experience of Opts Ideas helped to create an event that was intellectually stimulating, innovative and grounded in actionable solutions. The first conference took place at Lake Tahoe, California in early August 2010.
"We are at an inflection point in the global economy and need to accelerate innovation. Techonomy is about identifying and promoting ideas, principles and enterprises that have the potential to change the economics of industries and create new forms of growth and opportunities to solve global challenges."
- Bill Joy, a partner at Kleiner Perkins and co-founder of Sun Microsystems, advisor to Techonomy from its inception
The goal of Techonomy is to improve our world by leveraging invention and technology, utilizing it to focus on big problems that demand big solutions. In a fragile world where technology can damage as much as it can help, Techonomy examines how best to marshal invention so that we can salvage, sustain, and ensure longevity for our planet.
As David Kirkpatrick describes, "Technology is moving so fast, the tools are emerging for all solutions, and we just need to identify them."
Techonomy's objective is to identify and assemble a diverse group of leading techonomists who will set in motion a dialogue that will bring this important subject to the public eye. To accomplish this, we would:
- Host a conference that is insightful, surprising and dynamic
- Attract an audience that has leverage in their fields and inspire them to act on the issues discussed with the tools they have acquired
- Build awareness around the ever-growing threats to the planet and offer technology and social medias as rapid-fire catalysts for change.
- Leverage the press and attendees to position Techonomy as a world-class informational forum not to be missed.
- Engage companies to sponsor the event in order to sustain momentum profitably.
"We've created Techonomy because we believe that the pace and importance of technological change in business and society remains underappreciated," said co-founder David Kirkpatrick. "The Techonomy conference will gather many of the world's smartest and most accomplished leaders to engage in a dialogue about the roles of technology and invention in all areas of human endeavor and act as a catalyst for transferring those ideas across industries and sectors."
We established the platform for Techonomy as a series of forward thinking conferences showcasing the centrality of technology to common life and the opportunity that it presents to help us, as a human race. Along with the founders and a team of other advisors, Opts Ideas used their strategic expertise to develop a conference structure that would bring together high-level thought leaders with an engaged audience to participate in a proactive, live, "Think Tank".
The structural needs of the conference were identified to attain this level of spontaneity:
- An environment conducive to learning and sharing ideas
- Intriguing, high priority topics
- Sufficient time allotted for networking between attendees and speakers
- Exciting multi media incorporated throughout the conference
- Smaller, more intimate meetings that would allow for in depth conversation and thus more call to action focus
- Allowing for social networking tools to expedite the messages created and heard at Techonomy2010
- Creating a comfortable mix of instruction and conversation between the speakers and the audience.
The audience was carefully selected and maintained at 300 people. This being the first Techonomy forum, we wanted an intimate setting, offering speakers on stage and in the audience to interact and brainstorm easily.
The content platform was developed around the format of dialogue between the experts, encouraging the eclectic mix of audience members to engage in debate and take part in the solutions. A methodical exploration of the issues as facilitated by establishing four tracks, or dimensions, to the conference: Elements, Structures, Networks and Systems - distinctive categories that address human advancement and our ability to innovate through technology,
We drew from a wide spectrum of techonomists to assemble Techonomy2010's guest speaker lineup—breakthrough visionaries in the fields of technology, science, education, social media, literature, journalism, and finance. Guest techonomists included Bill Gates; Padmasree Warrior, CTO of Cisco; Deborah Hopkins, Chief Innovation Officer, CitiGroup; Reid Hoffman, founder of LinkedIn; and Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google.
The event sponsors and strategic partners embodied and fostered the techonomic spirit of working to propel our economy, enhance our lives and preserve our planet. These included HP and Open First, the launch partners of Techonomy2010. CNBC served as the exclusive broadcast partner for the event and broadcasted live daily.
Opts Ideas played a lead role in the multi media development with an array of videos pre and post conference, to solicit interest and develop the brand. Footage from throughout the conference, including all presentations, was compiled and posted on the event's YouTube channel and website as resources to all attendees and future techonomists.
The inaugural Techonomy2010 conference was sold out months prior to the event. The objectives of gathering Techonomy's most influential speakers and putting them in direct dialogue with an audience of business and thought leaders, were met and surpassed. One attendee wrote after the conference: "Put smart people in a room, give them time to mix it up and good things happen."
There was a huge amount of media coverage, with CNBC's Maria Bartiromo reporting live from the event, as well as a host of bloggers, tweeters, and print and Internet journalists.
The attendees included CEOs of Fortune 100 Companies, Media Moguls and Publishers, Professors and visionaries. This included Jeffrey Bezos, President and CEO of Amazon.com, John Markoff of the New York Times, John McDonald, Vice President and CTO, Chevron Corporation, and Andrew McAfee, Principal Research Scientist MIT Sloan School of Management.
The Techonomy2010 post-conference surveys were filled with rave reviews and thoughtful suggestions for future conferences—the goal of launching a unique, world-class event that get people talking, and keeps the talking, was clearly achieved. Plans are already in place for Techonomy2011 in the US and abroad.
Here are some verbatim comments from guests:
"Geoffrey West was amazing. Bill Gates was at his best. Really enjoyed hearing Negroponte's OLPC success. You should devote a whole session to OLPC and Willie Smits next time, and in general make more room for presentations of things that are working among all these big ideas, so that they can be replicated around the world"
"[Techonomy] is the place to recalibrate the assumptions that one uses to create one's perceptions."
"I was so impressed with the eclectic group of people— every conversation was fascinating. So many persons doing such interesting work. I feel honored to be included in this group. Thank you!"
"The word on the street is: Fabulous event! I heard from several people that they'd never seen such interest level in an MIT event, all around, as in this one.
People were thrilled to be there."
- Patti Richards, Senior Communications Officer, MIT News Office