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GamesBeat 2017 is at San Francisco’s beautiful Fort Mason on October 5 and October 6, and we’re delighted to announce our next three speakers: John Underkoffler, CEO of Oblong Industries and science adviser for the influential sci-fi film Minority Report; Amit Kumar of Accel, a venture investor at one of Silicon Valley’s most prominent venture capital firms; and Jon “Neverdie” Jacobs, CEO of Neverdie Studios.

Above: John Underkoffler has high hopes for the user interfaces of the future.

Image Credit: Michael O'Donnell/VentureBeat

Underkoffler spoke at our GamesBeat Summit 2017 event, and he did a good job so we invited him back. I also visited his warehouse in Los Angeles, where he has created giant curved computing screens that you can control with gestures. He’s still very much inhabiting the future, and I’m interested in hearing his thoughts about physical, virtual, and game spaces in the future.

In 2006, Underkoffler started Oblong Industries to take the ideas from Minority Report and build the next generation of computing interfaces. In 2012, the company began selling commercial versions of that interface, the Mezzanine platform for immersive visual collaboration. Much of the work was based on a foundation of research at the MIT Media Lab, where Underkoffler worked for many years. Besides Minority Report, he was also the science adviser on films including The Hulk and Iron Man. Underkoffler is going to speak on a panel on science fiction, and he’s going to give a talk as well.

Above: Amit Kumar at Accel

Image Credit: Accel

Amit Kumar joined Accel in 2016 and focuses on consumer-facing startups with an emphasis on social, gaming, esports, VR/AR, and payments. He led Accel’s investment in He also works closely with the teams at, Cornershop, and UserTesting.


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Previously, Amit co-founded Accel-backed CardSpring, a payments infrastructure company, where he led engineering for its developer-facing API platform. Twitter subsequently acquired CardSpring, where Amit led engineering for several of Twitter’s commerce and customer service initiatives.

Amit is from Cupertino, California and graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with a degree in electrical engineering and computer science.

Above: Jon “Neverdie” Jacobs wants you to take your avatars from one game to another.

Image Credit: Gamelab

Jon “Neverdie” Jacobs created the avatar Neverdie and became the first gamer to make a million dollars inside a virtual world. He invested $100,000 in a nightclub on an island in the Entropia virtual world, and he later sold Club Neverdie for a bunch of cash. The club made the 2008 Guinness Book of World Records as the most valuable virtual item. Jon founded Neverdie Studios and has worked with Michael Jackson, Lemmy and Universal Studios bringing King Kong and The Thing to virtual reality.

Neverdie Studios developed and operates the Rocktropia virtual world, the first and only online game world to fully disrupt all existing gaming business models by providing real gamified jobs that pay any user $15 per month to play. In 2016, he ran for president of virtual reality and pledged to create a billion jobs in VR. In 2017, he launched the Neverdie Coin and Teleport token inter-operable cryptocurrencies and partnered with Richard “Lord British” Garriott to drive the growth of a decentralized virtual goods economy. He’s going to speak on a panel on the Leisure Economy about getting paid to play games.

Above: GamesBeat 2017 will take place at Fort Mason in San Francisco on Oct. 5-6, 2017.

Image Credit: Fort Mason

They will speak to our theme of the Time Machine. If you could see the future of games before it happens, that would give your business a competitive advantage. It’s like having a time machine where you can see the future and return to the present. You could also go back to the retro days of gaming to get the lessons that matter. This is the idea driving the theme for our GamesBeat 2017 conference.

We don’t know exactly what’s going to happen in games, and that’s what makes it fun and unpredictable. But we’ll make sure that we get the most interesting leaders of the industry to speak. And we won’t just talk about old times. Rather, we’ll pair the speakers from the past with the leaders of today so they can talk about the relevant strategies for the future.

We’ll touch on the parts of gaming that are driving excitement, growth, and new startups. That includes augmented reality, virtual reality, esports, influencers, mobile games, core games, indies, new game technologies, and the connection between games, tech, and science fiction. We want to show you the edge and the strategies that will succeed in the future.

Above: GamesBeat 2017’s first speakers.

Image Credit: VentureBeat

The past can be prologue. But games have changed as they’ve reached a billion people and $100 billion in yearly revenues, reaching the mainstream like they never have before. Can we still apply the lessons from the past to the current and future marketplace? And what type of innovations and companies will draw the blueprint of what’s to come? So much of the industry’s internal narrative has been about it being cutting-edge. How can we imagine a broader set of drivers other than technology that will shape the industry?

GamesBeat 2017 is the destination conference for networking, inspiring talks, intelligent interaction, and getting all the right people in the room to make great deals happen. It targets game and tech industry CEOs, executives, marketers, investors, venture capitalists, and developers.

Our previously announced speakers include Robyn and Rand Miller, co-creators of Myst and Riven; Ed Fries, former head of Microsft Game Studios; Josh Yguado, president and chief operating officer of Jam City; Matt McCloskey, vice president of commerce at Twitch; Joost van Dreunen, CEO of SuperData Research; Dan Connors, CEO of Telltale Games; Nick Earl, CEO of Glu; Mike Vorhaus, president of Magid Advisors; Michael Metzger, investment banker at Houlihan Lokey; Aaron Loeb, president of FoxNext Games; Chris Heatherly, head of NBCUniversal’s new game business; Debbie Bestwick, CEO of Team17; Perrin Kaplan, principal at Zebra Partners; Stephanie Chan, writer at GamesBeat; Tim Chang, managing director at Mayfield Fund; Ramez Naam, science fiction author and writer of the Nexus series; Herman Narula, CEO of Improbable; Bill Roper, chief creative officer at Improbable; Paul Bettner, CEO of Playful, the creator of the VR titles Lucky’s Tale; Steven Roberts, chairman of ESL, the biggest independent esports tournament company; Hilmar Veigar Pétursson, CEO of CCP Games, creator of Eve Online and VR games such as Eve Valkyrie; and Bernie Stolar, CEO of The Stolar Group and former head at Sony’s U.S. PlayStation business and Sega of America.

Advisory board

  • Nicole Lazzaro, CEO of XEO Design
  • Nick Beliaeff, senior vice president at Spin Master
  • Noah Falstein, chief game designer at Google
  • James Zhang, CEO of Concept Art House
  • Joost van Dreunen, CEO of SuperData Research
  • Nathan Stewart, Dungeons & Dragons senior director, Wizards of the Coast
  • Peter Levin, president of Lionsgate Interactive
  • Ravi Belwal, Facebook Games
  • Jamil Moledina, Google Play
  • Sunny Dhillon, partner at Signia Venture Partners
  • Michael Metzger, senior vice president at Houlihan Lokey
  • Mihir Shah, CEO of Immersv
  • Zvi Greenstein, general manager at Nvidia
  • Gordon Bellamy, visiting scholar at USC
  • Tadgh Kelly, Vreal
  • Kate Edwards, former executive director at IGDA
  • Tom Sanocki, CEO of Limitless
  • Phil Sanderson, managing director at IDG Ventures
  • Walter Driver, CEO of Scopely
  • David Pokress, senior vice president at AdColony
  • Mike Vorhaus, president of Magid Advisors

Topics will include:

  • Intersection of sci-fi, games and tech
  • Platforms: Where to place your bets? AR, VR, & more
  • Creating a culture of inspiration and creativity
  • Emerging markets for games
  • Monetization: How to acquire and retain users
  • Esports and building the community
  • Deals: Follow the money
  • Diversity and the expanding ecosystem
  • Early Access as a business model
  • How mods can launch new game genres
  • What game engine should you use?

Sponsors include: Intel, Appodeal, Accel, Epic Games, and Samsung.

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