Fortune Brainstorm Tech 2012 was an immense success as the world’s top technology and media leaders, entrepreneurs, innovators and visionaries explored trends impacting the future of business. They outlined company visions, debated the state of technology and discussed the importance of women in media. Facebook’s IPO and Marissa Mayer’s appointment as the new CEO of Yahoo were also recurring topics of discussion at the conference and across media this week.
10. Dell Ventures launches fund for storage startups
Dell CEO Michael Dell unveiled plans for a new $60 million investment to support storage start-ups, funded by Dell Ventures. The main purpose of the initiative is to revamp the entire storage market. CEO Dell believes that the storage market is an area of “continuing innovation.” Of late, the PC maker has attempted to corner the networking and data storage market with a concerted mergers and acquisitions frenzy.
9. AT&T chief says network is getting stronger
AT&T’s Randall Stephenson announced that the continuing growth in data traffic could lead to bandwidth constraints. AT&T is currently using up 10MHz of spectrum a year and in the next few years there is a possibility of exhausting the spectrum it currently holds. Stephenson commented that the company is now shifting focus to smaller and less populated areas, a change from their traditional focus on larger cities like New York, Chicago and San Francisco. The AT&T network is growing and Stephenson feels as good about the company now as he did five years ago.
8. What Facebook’s IPO really means
Facebook’s embarrassing IPO is old news, but at Fortune Brainstorm Tech, the discussion carried on about the lasting effects it could have on other start-ups. Since its May debut, Facebook shares have dropped 27 percent. Will Facebook’s IPO fallout hold back other tech start-ups from going public? Lisa Buyer, Principal and Founder of Class V group, commented that Facebook’s issues are not issues most companies commonly run into. Facebook board member Marc Andreessen stated that given the hostile IPO market most companies will not stall on going public.
7. Is “disruption”, a dirty word?
The tech panel named “Disruptive Innovation: Dogfight in the Cloud,” debated the usage of ‘disruption.’ Disruption is oftentimes referred to as innovative technology and panelists debated whether the term is abused. Aaron Levie, CEO of the enterprise-focused file-sharing service Box, believes that the term “disruptive” should not have a negative connotation, especially if the technology in question helps “improve cost and availability.”
6. Marc Andreessen: America’s consumer electronics comeback
According to Marc Andreessen, consumer electronics may be moving back to the U.S. Andreessen argued that almost all smartphone software is developed in the U.S. and “product profits are realized domestically.” Better software could lead to fewer components, and while products like iPhones and tablets get assembled in China, they often include U.S. components and run software designed in the U.S. Andreessen, who has tended to invest heavily in software, explained that “software is becoming so important that it is leading to hardware renaissance.”
5. Why women matter more online
The announcement of Marissa Mayer’s new role as CEO of Yahoo served as a fitting backdrop to one of the keynote discussions regarding “Women and the Web.” The discussion illustrated that women play a large role in tech companies as they have a strong influence in driving Internet use. Brit Morgan, Founder and CEO of Brit & Co., pointed out that women like to be visual and social, which is one of the reasons why Pinterest is so popular with women. According to Susan Lyne, Chairman of Gilt Groupe, 58 percent of all internet purchases are also made by women, which is why it has become a rich marketplace for savvy marketers.
4. Zynga’s Pincus on mobile, gambling and over-paying
Zynga’s CEO Mark Pincus addressed some of the negative talk about the social gaming giant at this week’s conference. Pincus feels there’s need to move away from social networks to mobile gaming and spoke about Zynga’s future commenting on the fundamentally different approach they have taken. Zynga is working on games that can be multitasked and learned in “three clicks.”
3. JC Penny’s CEO: It may get worse before it gets better
JC Penny CEO Ron Johnson spoke about his plans to transform the embattled retail business. Johnson announced new technology to improve the in-store experience with mobile checkouts, self-checkouts and even tags based on RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) technology (instead of bar codes), to speed up purchases. With “mindshare always precedes marketshare” in mind, Johnson expects to turnaround JC Penny. But are we ready for a cashless society?
2. Eric Schmidt & Peter Thiel: Is technology working?
Google’s Eric Schmidt and Venture Capitalist Peter Thiel debated the state of technology. Schmidt argued the positive impacts of technology, but Thiel countered that there isn’t enough innovation. Thiel believes that government has outlawed “the world of stuff and not the world of bits.” As a result, Thiel believes that there has been progress only in computers and finance. The heated debate between the two was enriching as they articulated very different visions of the future and technology’s role within it.
1. Michael Dell: We are not just a PC Company
With recent acquisitions of cloud-based companies, Dell has made it clear it isn’t just a PC company anymore. Michael Dell shared that Dell has transitioned to an “end-to-end business IT company” and made a point to focus on the $75 trillion enterprise IT market. Dell now has four major businesses – client, software and service businesses and the enterprise data center. With its new focus, Dell truly believes that it is a “pretty different company” now.