bold return of Collision to Toronto | by Peter Himler | adventures in consumer technology | Jul 2022
It’s been three years since Web Summit’s sister technology conference, Collision, was physically held at the Enercare Center in Toronto. This year, the tech conference is back in full force, with a sold-out audience of over 35,000 and more than a fair share of founders, entrepreneurs, VCs, and established tech giants and luminaries to fill the nearly of four days of programming over several, individual thematic stages.
I was happy to be back in Toronto, where I committed to chair two live sessions. The first featured “impact startups” selected by conference organizers for their adherence to some of the United Nations’ 17 Sustainability and Development Goals (SDGs). My role was to make the startup founders’ strict two-minute elevator pitches run – for three hours – which equated to about 17 pitches/hour, including interstitials!
The second was a bit more in the weeds: “Play-to-Earn: Creative Ways to Earn Money. He bowed on the Content-Makers scene with an SRO audience of over 1000 people. I guess monetizing the metaverse and getting paid as an influencer has massive appeal for a good portion of Collision attendees.
Coming back to that massive tech conference, I was struck by how many startups were tackling fundamental societal issues — from climate change and women’s health to food insecurity and remote learning. . Most fledgling companies I encountered in the Impact Startup scene were anything but vaporware. Many were well advanced in their missions, some even profitable – doing well BY doing good. And few could argue with the passion and commitment these founders brought to their fledgling businesses. Here’s a 9-minute preview:
If you’ve attended Collision or the Web Summit in Lisbon, you’ll know that the big-name speakers hold their court on the center stage. They typically range from heads of state and tech CEOs, to entertainment and sports celebrities, to former influencers and thought leaders. Some of the names in bold featured at this year’s Collision included Substack’s Chris Bestactress Lupita Nyong’o, Gary Kasparov, Eric Schmidtmayor of toronto John ToryDoorDash’s Andrew CrocTinder’s Renate Nyborg, Jimmy Wales, Jeff Katzenberg, carmelo anthonySprinkler’s Ragy ThomasTIFF Cameron Bailey, Antoine ScaramucciOlympian JAyna HeffordIndieGoGo’s Beck Center, Brian Tyler CohenCoinDesk Christie Harkinand many other top companies and speakers.
Of course, this media-obsessed PR person took note of the scores of high-profile reporters moderating, reporting, and/or speaking on stage. They included Wiredby Gideon Litchfield and Steve Levy, Recodeit’s Peter Kafka, Flightthis is Gillian Tett, Vox mediais Swati Sharma, CBSis Connie Guglielmo, The edgeby Nilay Patel, former NBC TV host Ann Curry, Initiatedit’s Nich Carlson, Forbesby Diane Brady and Steve Bertoni, Thomson Reuters‘Steve Hasker and Simon Robinson, ABC Newsthis is Kimberly Godwin, The interceptionis Betsy Reed, Inc.is Diana Ransom, The cupby Lindsay Peoples, Wash stationthis is Sally Buzbee, USA todayby Nicole Carroll Axiosby Aja Whitaker-Moore, Kia Kokalitcheva and Lucinda Shen, The rootby Vanessa DeLuca, HBRthis is Amy Bernstein, Politicsby Matt Kaminski and Ryan Heath, Pro Publicaby Stephen Engelberg “60 mins” EP Bill Owens, McClatchyit’s Tony Hunter, Bloombergby Angela Moon and Katie Roof, markupis Nabiha Syed, Fortuneis Anne Sraders, USA todayit’s Rob Pegoraro, Puckit’s Jon Kelly, WSJis Steven Rosenbush, MIT Technology Reviewis Jennifer Strong, and the list goes on and on.
As impressed as the number of fourth realm influencers are, they pale in comparison to the volume of venerable venture capital firms scouting for potential portfolio companies. But, alas, I won’t go there for fear of turning this post into a TL;DR.
I split my time in the sprawling Enercare center between hosting duties, interviewing selected participants for this post, and capturing some of the sessions. I gravitated towards the center stage, but checked the PandaConf (advertising/marketing) and FourthEstate (media/journalism) stages. Compelling conversations could be found on any of the other stages which also included Crypto, ContentMaker, SportsTrade, Startup, Venture, AutoTech & TaskRobot, planet:tech, HealthConf and Remote, to start with.
I made a point of attending these three sessions on the stage of the Fourth Estate:
“Prepare the filter bubble to find the truth” with Yahoo News’ Michael Isikoff investigating Vox Media editor Swati Sharma and AP editor Julie Pace. Notable quote from Ms. Pace in response to Mr. Isikoff’s observation about how our polarized media does and doesn’t cover the January 6 hearings:
“Our approach has been two-fold: we try not to be obsessed with the question “is it piercing? “…I want to make sure we create that historic record. The other element is that we try to find multiple ways and in as many forms to present ourselves to people. Finally, we focus on the facts and not on some kind of lagging our copy with some… I mean these are times when adjectives aren’t necessarily our friends. We don’t want to be a barrier to people who may not be inclined to know what’s going on in those hearings.
Notable quote from Swati Sharma:
“At Vox, we don’t have a payall and we believe our goal is to serve people. We try to make our coverage as accessible as possible, meaning with very easy to follow language. There’s this group of people who just want to understand this without having to subscribe to a newspaper or listen to NPR. It’s our audience. »
As for Mr. Isikoff, he quickly delved into the “existential threat” to democracy that America faces. “We have a fire alarm that needs to be obsessively, intensively covered and that needs to be our primary focus.” He suggested that many news organizations might be reluctant to fully cover this threat for fear of “carrying political water for one side”.
Here is a link to the AP blog on the session.
In “Innovation in the newsroom: what is the future of storytelling,Michelle Manafy of Digital Content Next (a former client when it was called the Online Publisher’s Association), served as moderator for USA Today Editor-in-Chief Nicole Carroll and Axios Editor-in-Chief Aja Whitaker -Moore.
Notably, Ms. Whitaker-Moore highlighted the importance of local news and cited some statistics on Axios’ investment in it – statistics I was unaware of:
To wrap up my visit to the FourthEstate stage, I enjoyed Matt Kaminski, Moderate Editor of Politico, Justin Hendrix of Tech Policy Press, and Betsy Reed, EIC of The Intercept, in a session titled “How to Fix Toxic Speech and Misinformation.” Notable quotes from Betsy Reed:
“One of the things we’ve learned over the past few years is that while it’s necessary for journalism to serve as a fact-checking function for those in power…it’s not enough. Because we have seen simply impervious politicians rise. They do not care. They lie on purpose. And their supporters…including other media institutions…will justify the lies. It is not enough to simply correct.
As much as I admire The Intercept founder/founder Pierre Omidyar – we’re both Tufts alumni – I’ll always find this investigative outlet suspect after handing over its platform to one Glenn Greenwald… but I’m away from the subject.
Mr. Kaminski had this to say:
“At Politico…we’re only 15 years old, but we consider ourselves very old fashioned in our approach to journalism…what stood out in 2015/2016 was that this world, this conference, technology , was also a major player in our world. The platforms were reshaping our world and reshaping our politics. We had to think about covering them much like we cover Nancy Pelosi, Kevin McCarthy and other powerful institutions…”
I’ll have more to share about the conference in a separate article, including my conversation with Vox Media’s Head of Innovation and Ideas, Edwin Wong, and video of the session with the enterprising entrepreneurs who have built new revenue models not only for themselves. , but also the members of their communities in the metaverse.