Entrepreneurial zeal is the inevitable theme at technology conferences like TechCrunch Disrupt, which ends its three-day run in San Francisco on Wednesday. Start-up founders and those who wanted to be overdosed on self-promotion, salesmanship and name-dropping while Silicon Valley celebrities pontificated on stage.
However, a few minithemes emerged during the event. Although not the kind that generally make headlines, they are nonetheless worth noting.
Books, at least those made with paper and ink, may be in decline. But they still retain a certain appeal with Silicon Valleyâs elite.
Peter Thiel and Max Levchin, two of PayPalâs co-founders, mentioned on stage that they were writing a book together called âThe Blueprintâ that will detail how to get the United States back on the road to innovation (they think the country is in a funk in terms of big, new ideas).
Reid Hoffman, another member of the so-called PayPal mafia who spoke, is also co-authoring a book, âThe Start-Up of You,â about the ins and outs of entrepreneurship.
Both books are expected to be published in 2012.
Eric Ries, author of âThe Lean Startup,â also took to the stage and drew a big crowd wanting him to sign their copies, proving that e-books are not the only books read in the technology industry.
Another offline product, food, took center stage with a start-up, Farmigo, that promises delivery of organic food from local farms. Grow Planet, another start-up, pitched itself as helping people grow organic vegetables at home.
Food came up yet again when Vinod Khosla, a venture capitalist, mentioned a stealth investment of his, which he called âmeat 2.0.â Although short on details, he mentioned that its vegan hamburgers would premiere soon and that they are nothing like the grilled cheese sandwiches from The Melt, a company funded by a rival venture capital firm, Sequoia Capital.
âIâve tried vegan cheese and itâs awesome,â Mr. Khosla said.
Best Idea That Bombed With the Judges
Many of the companies showcased had an element of me-too, whether they involved users rating local businesses or some social networking element. Few could be called original.
Tonara was one of the exceptions, making sheet music available on an iPad. As musicians played, a bar moved along to show their place. The pages turned automatically.
Musicians brought on stage showed how the technology coped with multiple people playing different instruments simultaneously. Banging in the background did not seem to confuse the software.
The judges, however, dismissed sheet music as a small market and questioned whether the company could get rights to contemporary music. A show of hands by the musically inclined in the audience, however, showed that there was at least some potential market.
So much for upending centuries of tradition.