How Big Tech Is Dealing with the Big Backlash
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It’s a big day in the world. Two unlikely leaders of powerful countries met in Singapore. Later in the day a federal judge will rule on the most significant antitrust case in years. Peace among women and men and massive conglomeration of tech and media assets are among the potential outcomes.
If you’ll permit me to draw a thin thread between these events and what’s on my mind today, it’s the importance of face-to-face communications. That summit meeting and the ruling in court are the result of humans arguing, discussing, negotiating, and, dare I say, learning from each other.
And as you undoubtedly know by now, convening face-to-face meetings is an increasingly important part of Fortune’s business. In five short weeks Fortune will convene Brainstorm Tech, our annual meeting of tech executives, entrepreneurs, and investors in Aspen, Colo. We tend to keep our agenda close to the vest until it’s mostly baked, which it is now.
The program will cover the waterfront of topics and people in tech this year. The ongoing “techlash” is topic No. 1, and our annual town hall meeting on the topic will include comments from Facebook (fb) scourge Tristan Harris, Facebook’s head of sales Carolyn Everson, and Twitter’s (twtr) “trust and safety” chief, Del Harvey. For the second year in a row, the town hall will be moderated by a broadcast journalist perfectly positioned to ride herd on the topic, Jo Ling Kent of NBC News. (Last year, Bloomberg’s Emily Chang masterfully oversaw the town hall on diversity and inclusion.)
Speaking of our well-timed discussion 11 months ago, we’ll feature an update on where we stand from Open Table (open) CEO Christa Quarles, who memorably, and literally, called bullshit on something said during last year’s session that wasn’t to her liking.
The biggest investing story in Silicon Valley right now emanates from Japan in the form of SoftBank, which tosses around billions of dollars as if they were nickels. (For you Chicago Bears fans, that’s an inversion of a famous Mike Ditka swipe at the legendary George Halas.) Longtime SoftBank investor Lydia Jett and her new colleague, former Shutterfly CEO Jeff Housenbold, will explain if there is a method to SoftBank’s madness. They’ll be interviewed by a surprise returnee to the Brainstorm Tech tent, our formerly-very-own Dan Primack.
You’ve probably heard that innovation in China is a big topic these days. I’m particularly proud of the panel we’ve assembled that includes Fosun Group’s Silicon Valley venture capitalist Wang Ying, Andreessen Horowitz’s Connie Chan, China research ace (and former Citi analyst) Deborah Weinswig, and the always perceptive Hans Tung of GGV Capital.
There are oodles more conference participants who’ll share their thoughts onstage. Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang, one of the most successful investors ever in China, will be our opening-night speaker. Others include Stacy Brown-Philpot, CEO of TaskRabbit, now part of Ikea; Mike Capps, former president of Fortnite producer Epic Games (who is doing something new I can’t tell you about, but he can … on July 17); former prosecutor Kathryn Haun, who is teaching at Stanford now and is knee-deep in cryptocurrencies; Stripe’s Claire Hughes Johnson; a pair of ex- and soon-to-be-ex Microsoft (msft) muckety-mucks: Julie Larson-Green and Terry Myerson; and, finally, Vista Equity’s Robert Smith, an influential private-equity investor in software companies.
We’ll have a couple more surprise announcements before July 16. I’ll put those on Twitter rather than in Data Sheet. Also, though I’ll only see a few of you in mountains, all of you will be able to watch the proceedings live on Fortune.com.
I encourage you to read this commentary by my friend and mentor Joe Nocera. It can’t be easy writing about one’s own depression. Joe’s words very likely will help others who’ve shared his experiences.