Following on from the success of last year’s event, we once again brought Silicon Valley to London. In partnership with two of Silicon Valley’s most successful Venture Capital firms – Greylock Partners and Sequoia Capital, we brought together technology leaders from across Europe with the latest and most relevant enterprise-ready startups from Silicon Valley, for another exclusive event in the heart of London.
Hosted by one of our Partners, Brandon Bichler, Tom Frangione, COO, Greylock Partners, and Jeff Pashalides, Head of Business Development, Sequoia Capital, the European Tech Leader Summit set out to discuss the latest investment trends and philosophies from Silicon Valley and develop stronger relationships with technology leaders in Europe.
A full house of C-level technology trailblazers joined us at Altitude 360 in the Millbank Tower. The buzz was palpable and contagious. Against the stunning panoramic backdrop of the London skyline, the event kicked off with the first panel discussion. Brandon, Jeff and Tom explored what is meant by machine learning and how the industry is gaining altitude on a topic that suggests anything from advanced analytics to artificial intelligence. This is a topic we explored in much more detail later on in the day.
The discussion then moved to address corporate venture funding, looking at the recent increase and asking: what is the best way for tech leaders to engage with venture capital firms and the startup space? A third of the of the Fortune 500 have acquired a tech company, explained Jeff from Sequoia Capital, but the merits of a corporate venture effort tend to be more nuanced. Personal relationships are critical, continued Jeff, given how noisy the venture ecosystem can be. Firms that have removed the layer of personal accountability or optimised for quantity over quality, are likely missing a critical opportunity. In the US, some of the banks host annual innovation summits where the personal touch may have been lost. When it comes to building familiarity and trust, simply sitting down and having a coffee with someone is much more valuable.
The second session set up to demystify Cloud computing and Eoin Cosgrave, UK Enterprise Lead at Amazon Web Services, took the stage. Eoin outlined three reasons why organisations are adopting AWS: 1) to disrupt convention and traditional industries, 2) for the creation of new revenue streams, and 3) to drive agility and speed up the process to deliver on business requirements. And when it comes to adoption, no two organisations approach it in the same way.
Using AWS turbo-charges innovation. It is not magic, nor a silver bullet, but it’s an enabler to change. The challenge is how to build and embed innovation in a culture, something Amazon is passionate about. Eoin explained how Amazon hires against leadership principles and has teams no larger than can be fed by two pizzas, to ensure more effective communication. Placing importance on experimenting frequently and embracing failure significantly helps increase innovation driven from the team.
The third session of the day focussed on deep learning. Moderated by Brandon Bichler, the panel featured AJ DeRosa from Orbital Insight, Harold Schneider from Tandem Bank, and Gordon McKenzie from Digital Reasoning. Starting with a discussion of what AI, machine learning and deep learning actually are, the panel turned to neural networks and how, when derived from machine data, can be used to track and predict the future. Machines will build and forecast things that they have not been taught.
The final point of discussion was: what has driven the recent explosion of AI? A combination of factors, said the panel, including more data availability, cheaper storage, and increases in computational power means that it is lot easier to bring AI ideas into reality. Orbital Insight, who combine deep learning, cloud computing, and growth in the satellite industry, will enable time series data sets based on geo-analytics. By spring 2017, we will be able to see every space on earth within a 2 to 3 metre resolution. Pretty incredible stuff.
“It was a unique experience and certainly something I would recommend to other CIOs in growing and changing businesses,” said one CIO.
It was a great event, and we were delighted to have brought the best of Silicon Valley’s innovation ecosystem to London once again to lead the tech summit. “It was a unique experience and certainly something I would recommend to other CIOs in growing and changing businesses,” said one CIO. “It’s encouraging to hear other execs facing similar challenges, and then meet the potential solutions right there in the same room.”
A big thank you to all those who came to the event, and a special thanks to Tom from Greylock Partners and Jeff from Sequoia Capital. We look forward to seeing you all in 2017 for the next in our European Tech Leader Summit series…
You can register your interest here for future events for C-level technology leaders.