DEMO Spring 2011, the industry’s ultimate showcase for new products, is just days away — and as the event’s executive producer, I can’t wait to show you the startups and speakers I have in store.
I’ve been trotting the globe looking for companies ready to take the legendary DEMO stage in Palm Desert, Calif. And one theme I’ve found that’s universal in nature is that everything’s going social.
I’m not talking about the unstoppable rise of Facebook — though the rise of social-networking platforms has surely made people think about social in new ways. The new social wave isn’t about social networks or social media or social games — it’s about socially enabling and informing everything: from commerce to communication to collaboration.
We’re even transforming the DEMO program to be more social. For example, when we realized the first night of DEMO fell on the Oscars, we decided to turn the opening reception into a big, open viewing party. I don’t expect to see a lot of fancy dresses — Palm Desert and DEMO share a casual vibe — but I expect it will add to the buzz on Sunday. Through networking events sprinkled throughout the DEMO program, presenters and attendees form a special bond that goes way deeper than friend requests.
On Monday, I’ll be talking to Salesforce.com’s George Hu (left) about how the sales process is going social. Salesforce.com, of course, is a DEMO alum, having launched at DEMO more than a decade ago and returned to unveil new products — just one of the many truly world-changing companies like Netscape, VMware, and Adobe that debuted at DEMO. And before and after that, there will be a host of socially-infused startups — ah, but I can’t give away their secrets. You’ll have to wait until Monday.
On the second day of DEMO, my VentureBeat colleague, executive editor Owen Thomas, will interview Doug Mack (pictured right), the CEO of online home-furnishings merchant One Kings Lane. Haven’t heard of One Kings Lane? You’re probably a dude like me. One Kings Lane is rapidly becoming a household name among women — and savvy venture capitalists like Kleiner Perkins and Greylock just backed it with another $23 million. Mack and Thomas will talk about how commerce is going social — not just on the consumer end, but throughout the supply chain, as producers and retailers get more tightly linked.
And then we’ll talk to Mike Maples Jr. (left), managing partner of the Floodgate Fund, an entrepreneur turned investor who spotted the social wave early and backed companies like Twitter, Chegg, and Kongregate. Some of his portfolio companies drive social interactions directly, while others benefit from the trend in surprising ways. We’ll discuss how all this is changing early-stage investing.
That’s just a taste of what DEMO attendees will experience. I hope to see you there — but if you can’t make it, check out DEMO.com and VentureBeat’s complete DEMO coverage for every twist and turn of the most social DEMO ever.