Jun. 3, 2014 SVForum Visionary Awards

On June 3, 2014 at Kelly Porter’s home in Lost Alto Hills, SVForum held its 17th Annual Visionary Awards. Tim Draper of DFJ was introduced by his son Billy Draper of Apartment List. Jessica Jackley of Kiva was introduced by Reza Aslan of AslanMedia. Tim O’Reilly of O’Reilly Media was introduced by Steven Levy of Wired Magazine. Dr. Tina Seelig of Stanford was introduced by Tom Byers of Stanford.

Usually there would be a large numbers of pictures of the event, but I have hit the size limit on this website and will be posting the images on Flickr. Actually SVForum may have its own limits as well. It makes you think about where SVForum started thirty years ago and where it is now.

Seventeen years ago one of the founders named Barbara Cass decided to hold an awards event recognizing leaders in technology. At the height of the dotcom boom, we did not know how unusual it was to have winners like Bill Gates or Steve Wozniak pose for pictures. Because I was an experienced member of the press, Barb Cass asked me to cover the events and take pictures so there would be some sort of historical record. Later when she was dying of cancer she made me promise to continue to cover these events independently, no matter who was in charge, and to post them on my site so people could see them. When you see me at an SVForum event, I am honoring her memory.

I just try to report what I see. SVForum seems to be in a struggle to reinvent itself again. Since 1997, there have been at least three name changes, a couple of mergers and six CEOs of SVForum, three in the past year alone. They moved four times. They had a swanky Redwood City office with easy freeway access and free parking. To cut costs they moved to an old building in downtown San Jose over a pizza joint. They share a few cubicles with other organizations in a open office that is up two flights of stairs with no elevator or reasonable accommodation for the disabled. It is a much more casual environment with a fully functioning bar. Occasionally dogs wander through the aisles and do what dogs do. I am told you get used to it.

I do not know how SVForum will bounce back, but they will. Think of the organization as a Restartup ™. At the award ceremony, Tim O’Reilly talked about Silicon Valley becoming more active in helping the government help people. Along those lines, I saw former CEO Susan Lucas Conwell talking to someone from a government agency with interests in Silicon Valley a few weeks ago.  She told me she supports former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. That may come in handy.

(BTW: After a year, Susan is still looking for a job. If you know of an opportunity, call her. Former interns tell me that working with her is an experience they will ever forget.)

At the award ceremony, the latest CEO Adiba Barney talked about setting up operations in other countries. She also wants to attract younger members, to “coolify” with a new fresh look. With their current headquarters, SVForum could offer lots of talk, pizza, beer and dogs for hipster startups. Some things never change in Silicon Valley.

Whatever happens I will try to cover it. I want to thank the extraordinary volunteers and  increasingly decreasing staff of SVForum. If you see SVForum on their resumes, hire them. Good people do not just cost more, they are priceless. You will miss them when they are gone.

The link to pictures will be here. Copyright 2014 DJ Cline All rights reserved.