“Technology doesn’t drive innovation – people drive innovation,” said Lori Goler ’91, vice president of human resources at Facebook, at the first Yale Entrepreneurs and Investors Conference in San Francisco on May 9.
The truth of her observation was evident throughout the conference, which attracted more than 200 Yale alumni and friends. The sold-out event featured presentations by Yale staff and graduates on how the university is encouraging startups on campus and around the country, and the ways in which the alumni network can help encourage entrepreneurship. Videos produced by the event organizers of many of the individual presentations at the conference are now available for online viewing on YouTube by clicking here.
Victor Wong ’11, co-founder of the San Francisco-based advertising technology startup PaperG and a lead organizer for the event, said, “What started as a Bay Area event for alumni quickly drew interest across the country and even internationally from current students and alumni.” Wong, whose own company was built through a 2008 summer fellowship at the Yale Entrepreneurial Institute (YEI), added: “We had a strong showing from San Francisco and Silicon Valley — but we were amazed to see folks coming from New York and even as far as Shanghai. I think it highlights how large and fast-growing the Yale community is in the technology industry.”
The day began with a presentation by James Boyle, managing director of YEI, and Kyle Jensen of the Yale School of Management on how the culture and practice of entrepreneurship has grown at Yale, and concluded with a discussion on “The Next Big Thing” led by Donna Dubinsky ’77, co-founder of Numenta and a trustee of Yale, and Roger McNamee ’80, co-founder of Elevation Partners. Other talks were led by Mitch Kapor ’71, founder of Lotus and partner at Kapor Capital; Jake Schwartz ’00 and Brad Hargreaves ’96, co-founders of General Assembly; Ronen Olshansky ’96, co-founder of Cross Campus; Bing Gordon ’72, partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers; Sarah Mishkin ’08, correspondent at the Financial Times; Steffi Wu ’07, public relations lead at ZenPayroll; Sander Daniels ’05 ’09 J.D., co-founder of Thumbtack; Jonathan Runyan ’02 M.B.A., of Goodwin Procter; Jules Maltz ’01, general partner at Institutional Venture Partners; Rob Glaser, ’83, founder of RealNetworks; John Chen ’06, founding chief financial officer of MoPub; Miles Lasater ’01, co-founder of HigherOne; Dan Chen ’99, managing director at Siemer & Associates; and Peter Bershatksy ’93, director of corporate business development at Amazon Web Services.
The Yale Entrepreneurs & Investors Network, an alumni group under the Yale Club of San Francisco, organized the conference with support from the Association of Yale Alumni and sponsorship from Goodwin Procter, PaperG, TeenTechSF, Siemer & Associates, and SAY Media. The latter also served as the venue for the event.
Based on the capacity crowd and interest generated, Wong and his colleagues are looking to do further events. “I'm sure the next event will see even more people as awareness of Yale's leadership in tech grows and more of our alumni enter the space as entrepreneurs, operators, or investors," Wong said.
As YEI’s Boyle noted before the conference, “Just as Yale is becoming more self-aware of innovation as a key part of its culture, the alumni entrepreneurs are becoming better organized as well.”
* For those not savvy in social media slang, “ICYMI” is shorthand for “in case you missed it.” Watch YaleNews for future ICYMI stories about events of note.