Where the world's top techies are this week
Innovation festival connects coders and creatives to build tomorrow’s next big thing.
Some cities have buskers’ festivals, Shakespeare in the park or weekend jazz concerts. Tel Aviv does its best at high-tech and parties. No, this isn’t about DJs and electronic beats, but a week where high-tech companies let loose, meet people and converge to create the next big thing in technology software and hardware.
The event, taking place this week in Israel, is called DLD (Digital Life Design Innovation Festival). The coastal city of Tel Aviv hosts the largest chapter of the DLD event, with events worldwide on a rolling basis in cities like New York, Munich and Palo Alto.
Thousands of people, international and local, pour into the outdoor conference in Tel Aviv – at a venue that is the city’s answer to the High Line Park in Manhattan. Professionals meet and mingle at workshops, pub crawls (“Cybeer,” or cyber beer, anyone?) and during morning swims or evening bike rides.
It’s a time when founders of high-tech companies, multinational corporations and investors can cooperate with the world’s zaniest creative and social leaders in an organized fashion.
The event was founded by Israeli entrepreneur Yossi Vardi, who played a leading role in creating the world’s first instant messaging system. At last year’s event, Vardi acted like a circus ringleader, inserting antics into everything he touched. While VIP guests were giving talks, he encouraged them to play paddleboard, a favorite Israeli beach sport, and virtual pinball.
Is zaniness part of the high-tech secret sauce to building Israeli startups like Waze, an app that helps people outsmart traffic, and Meerkat, which lets people stream videos? No one has the exact formula, but the DLD festival might be part of the equation.
American companies will be represented in Israel during the conference as well. For example, Airbnb has launched something special for Tel Aviv: Its Entrepreneur Hosts Entrepreneur feature allows startup geeks to share homes and cups of morning coffee in the city.
"Tel Aviv is a growing epicenter of innovation," says Efrem Epstein, who has worked with several Israeli startups in New York. "It will be very interesting to see what new ideas and developments come out of the DLD conference."
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