This Week’s Keynote Presentations

Posted on Oct 5, 2010 | 18 comments

I have often complained how much I hate sitting on panels.  The reason is that conferences usually pack them up with speakers to maximize the number of high profile guests in attendance to sell more general admission tickets.  So with a panel of 5-6 people and 30-45 minutes it’s hard to have a real conversation.  Every speaker wants to get their points in so the conversation often lacks rhythm.  And often the “moderators” are nothing more than an extra panelist hoping to score his/her key talking points as well.

In contrast, I absolutely love public speaking and am willing to speak to audiences large or small.  I love the energy of sharing ideas in a coherent flow on topics for which I’m passionate.  I almost always stay afterward and meet as many people as I can until the post speaking event is over.  I do this because there are often people who want to meet VCs and don’t have a chance in their current roles to do so.  And this is my chance to give back to all of those people for whom I don’t have enough time in the week for that “15 minute coffee meeting” that many people wants with a VC.

I don’t really proactively ask often to speak at events but I’m always open to it provided it’s somewhere that I already need / want to be.  I’m hoping to speak later this year in Philly, for example, where I’ll likely be in November and/or December (also in Annapolis so maybe Washington DC and/or Baltimore?).  And I’ll be in NY in early-to-mid November so if you know of anything ….

Coincidentally I was asked to speak three times in the coming week.  If you have any interest come on out.  I’d be happy to hang around and say hello and meet some of the people that I usually only know online.

1. Startup Matchmaking (Tues 5th Oct – Santa Monica) - The first event is tonight (Tues, Oct 5, 2010) at Wokcano in Santa Monica.  The event is Startup Matchmaking Night organized by William Belk.  I agreed to give up my evening at home because this is such an important topic to me.  In LA we lack the same scale of technology ecosystem as they have in the Bay Area.  We have tons of entrepreneurs but our technology community has historically been splintered across town and across industries.  In aggregate we have a ton of great developers but we need a better feeding system into our startups.  So any event that seeks to marry up great LA startups (Beachmint, Sometrics, Cramster, Factual, GumGum, Burstly, etc.) with high calibre technology people will get my time.  I’m doing a short keynote tonight.

2. Caltech / MIT Enterprise Forum (Sat 9th Oct – Pasadena) - I love speaking at Caltech because you get a great cross section of some of LA’s smartest people (I think definitionally this is people from Caltech) with many people from the business community.  This Saturday morning I’ll be giving the keynote presentation on “The Future of Social Networking.”  (unfortunately they didn’t give this event it’s own URL so this link should only work until the day of the event.) Of course nobody really knows what the future of social networking is and anybody who claimed to know would be a shyster (yes, a little bit too close to my last name for comfort.).  But for the first time I’ll start talking publicly about the debates I’ve been having privately over the past 2 years about the direction of websites like Facebook, Twitter & Foursquare.

3. Stanford’s Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders (ETL) Series (Wed, 13th Oct – Palo Alto) - Many of you will be familiar with Stanford’s annual ETL series and I feel honored to have been invited by Steve Blank to present this year.  I will be giving a longer version of a presentation I gave in China earlier this year on classic lessons for getting a startup off the ground.  I plan to cover the early mistakes startups make, how to maximize value for your venture, how to come up with the right idea, how to raise your initial capital, etc.  It seems they broadcast these online so even if you don’t live in the Bay Area you should be able to watch this event.

I’d love to meet as many people as possible at these events so feel free to come and say hello.  If you have any specific requests for things you’d like me to cover I’m happy to consider adding it to the presentations.  I have my basic slide decks complete but always happy to add, amend or ad-lib.

Hope to see you!

  • Jayant Kulkarni

    When do you visit New York? Would love to have you talk at the Columbia Ventures Community. If you have the time and the interest I can speak to the organizers and get the ball rolling.


  • Dale Allyn

    Mark, I'd love to meet you in Palo Alto, but alas, I'll be en route to Thailand on the 13th.

  • HistoryInAction


    Hope you don't mind, but would you please change “CalTech” to “Caltech”? We Techer alumni have been fighting against that misplaced capital T for decades, unfortunately /grin

    Also, looks like I'm heading down from the Bay Area to Pasadena for an alumni event this weekend, so I'll be able to check out the forum. Win for me!

    If you don't know him already, you should chat with Professor Pickar, who is our one man b-school. He's got a cool class called Product Design for the Sustainable World, which involves getting a bunch of engineering students to understand how to develop and market a product for a <$1 sales price. He's had some notable successes mentoring student groups, with the goal of delivering engineering solutions to Guatemala, like rugged wheelchairs made from sliced-up bikes.


  • msuster

    Nov 9-15th.

  • msuster

    Thanks, Craig. I always make that mistake. Sorry. Fixed. And thanks for the tip on Professor Pickar. Hope to see you Sat.

  • philsugar

    Early or late November??? Early is a great time for “casting and blasting” (striper fishing and sea duck hunting) on the Eastern Shore of MD. I'll have to put my boat up my late November. I'm exactly mid-point between Phila-Balt on the Eastern Shore. Look forward to hearing about your plans.

  • Al

    Mark, it's always great to see you speak. And yes it does show that you are uncomfortable sitting at panels where there is not enough time to let you complete your thoughts – a Docstoc monthly meetup comes to mind where Jason kept rushing you.

    Anyways – sidebar question. Is there going to be a Launchpad LA V3 ? Haven't heard of it and know of people interested.

  • Jayant Kulkarni

    I just sent an email to CVC. Will get back to you with details of possible dates. Thanks!!


  • HistoryInAction

    Appreciate it! I'm going to promote this to the Caltech Entrepreneur Club (E-Club), who has Professor Pickar as its mentor, since it sounds like this should be a great event for them to be interested in.

    Thanks for mentioning it here, too, otherwise I might have missed it.

  • msuster

    Or if they want somebody to come to speak to a smaller & entrepreneurial minded crowd happy to come back on a weekday also.

  • msuster

    NY nov 9-15th. md late december (every year).

  • msuster

    LPv3 to be announced within a month.

  • S Jain

    I wanted to speak to you at the meetup…specifically about social networking and on the idea I was working…but you happened to be talking to my current employer at the meetup…too bad I had to step out.

    I hope I can catch you sometime again or communicate with you.

  • Greg4

    I won't be able to make these, but I'm looking forward to catching the Stanford talk online.

    The online resources for new entrepreneurs these days are ridiculously rich, which I hope over time forces some speakers to raise their games.

  • S Jain

    Also, would love to know your opinion on companies like Gowalla, FourSquare and others. There future with Facebook also doing places. I was astonished at the amount Yahoo was willing to spend for 1 Million users of FourSquare and moreover VC's going against it.

  • HistoryInAction


    Can I send you an email about Saturday? I'd love to chat about entrepreneurship at Caltech, as an alumnus, and naturally, as a follower of your blog, I'm involved with a startup myself.


  • John Humphrey (DomainNoob)

    I saw that you're speaking at the Stanford Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders series and am looking forward to hearing the podcast. For those interested, it should be up within a few days of Mark's talk at

  • Aaron Klein

    Did you post the China slide deck online yet? Would love to see it.