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Three former editors of Fortune Magazine are announcing later today the launch of their new media company, Techonomy, beginning with a conference planned in Tahoe, California this summer. The conference will focus on a message that technology can be used to solve some of societies biggest challenges.

The editors, David Kirkpatrick, Peter Petre and Brent Schlender, say they are optimists about progress. Kirkpatrick, who first told me last year about his plans to launch the media company, says technology can do everything from help clean up the environment to create breakthroughs in personalized healthcare. They’re starting with the conference, Kirkpatrick (pictured in the middle) told me in a phone call, because events have proven they can make money. Only in the fall, after the conference is over, will the company launch an online magazine.

Kirkpatrick said the new online publication will use things like video and long-form news journalism, but otherwise it hasn’t been fully planned out.

He said most people don’t fully understand how powerful technology innovation can be, and that greater awareness can lead to faster change.

The conference will be held on August 4-6, and already has attracted significant speakers: Microsoft founder and chairman Bill Gates, Google chief executive Eric Schmidt, Cisco chief technology officer Padmasree Warrior, and Citigroup chief technology officer Deborah Hopkins, among others.

Kirkpatrick just published a well-researched book called The Facebook Effect.

(Disclosure: I’ve agreed to attend the conference and to moderate one of the discussions, mainly because I agree with the philosophical direction of these guys.)


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