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Box Dev 2015

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Last Wednesday, April 22, I attended the Box Dev 2015 at Fort Mason, San Francisco. It was Box’s second annual conference, offering attendees a chance to hear what the company was up to and hear from various speakers talk about the ins and outs of the software business world.

This was my first tech conference in the Bay Area. At first glance, I liked the vast empty space within the conference room. Minimalist styling and scattered booths made walking around and meeting people easy. Folks crowded over the various food stands, the center coffee bar, and the various sit-down spots.

One thing I was impressed with in general was that an app was made specifically for the event. The app contained the day’s agenda for the various tracks and speakers involved. More impressively, it was interactive and allowed folks to meet others via location tracker – if you pinged, nearby folks with their general profile will be able to get a hold of you. Professional Tinder, in short.

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The opening talk introduced Box’s founder and CEO Aaron Levie and Google’s executive chairman Eric Schmidt engaging in lighthearted talks about what their respective companies were up to. In summary, Google is immersed in machine learning, and cars will be self driving within decades.

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Sitting in a room with a combined personnel net worth possibly nearing $100 billion USD was humbling, not because of their worth, but because the entrepreneurs remained obsessed with product creation rather than making money. If the products are great, the money will naturally come.

Swag bags were nice. Every attendee received a free copy of How Google Works. I’m currently 1/3 through the book, and have noticed some overlap in mindset with Peter Thiel’s Zero to One. Both are easy reads and highly recommended for anyone interested in innovation and entrepreneurship, irregardless of industries.

Moving on with the conference, I admit I was disappointed with some promising panels. Marc Benioff acted pompous, and the talk was awkwardly felt across the audience. The VC Panel was lackluster and the conversations felt forced. The CIO Panel was fairly interesting, but the room acoustics made hearing the speakers difficult.

An exception was the Security Panel with Andrew Rubin, Michelle Zatlyn, and Paris Tabriz. The three held a natural conversation revolving around cybersecurity with a moral spin. Highly interesting talk, and relate-able, as I’ve experienced a few DDoS attacks. My former company’s CTO eventually adopted and uses the CloudFlare software, which was cofounded by Zatlyn. She is a fan of the platform.

Overall, I would give the conference 3/5 stars. Great effort on lightheartedness, like the developer handprints on each of the bathroom urinals.

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Points off for overly loud music, yet underwhelming microphones. Points off for many speakers who did not seem interested in the dialogue.

All in all, still a great time spent with buddies Eddie and Shir.

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