Virtual Events 2020: Pandemic opens biggest tech, startup conferences to global audiences

Dispatches Europe usually focuses on Europe. But on 25 March with the first virtual FasTrackathon, we realized we were thinking too small. Way too small. Now, with technology such as Microsoft Teams, Slack and Google Drive, we think global virtual events will remain a thing long after the coronavirus is a painful memory.

Coincidentally, we got an email from Lizzie at DeveloperWeek asking us to post their virtual event coming up in June. Which made us realize, we need a new list!

The great thing about virtual events is that the tech and startup world is suddenly a world without borders. You can be in Tallinn or Cluj and get a taste of how the mega-ecosystems such as The Valley do things without the expense of actually going to San Francisco.

Think about it: An organizer can rent out a 30,000-capacity event space and charge 100 euros. Or he/she can just lease a whole bunch of cloud capacity, work a deal with a virtual conference platform and put on an e-Woodstock for the entire planet. We know which makes more money.

The down side is, you don’t get all those freebies from vendor booths, or get to hang with Bill Gates and Sundar Pichai.

Here’s a quick list to get you started. If you’ve gone digital (and global), send us your event info at: [email protected]

EIT Digital DeepHack ‘Data against COVID-19’, 1 May thru 3 May

There’s been an outbreak of hackathons as startups do their bit to stem the pandemic. And that includes EIT Digital, Europe’s EU-sponsored digital innovation and entrepreneurial education organization.

The DeepHack concept is, COVID-19 will not be the last global pandemic and identifying better tools and methods to deal with pandemics is a primary concern of policy makers and industry leaders. Modern digital technology, like mobile phones, data analytics, AI and social media offer a unique set of tools to provide and analyze data, to model, communicate and influence behavior.

So, EIT is looking for ideas related to:

  • alert or monitoring systems using mobile DATA
  • information and data sharing relevant to COVID-19
  • Systematic data analysis in different regions, populations and age groups (allowing for more targeted responses)
  • integration of epidemic and economic data to drive more accurate societal impact analysis

The global online DeepHack is schedule for  1 May thru 3 May and the deadline for applications is  noon on 27 April. As many as 15 teams of students, entrepreneurs, start-ups, scale-ups, SMEs and corporates can win a total of 15,000 euros. Promising ideas might also be considered for a follow-up activity for six months with substantial financial support from EIT Digital to fully develop and deploy their solution, according to the news release we got.

You can apply here.

Venture Summit  Virtual Connect, 5 May thru 7 May

Welcome to the New Normal in VC summits. Venture Summit/Virtual Connect promises 100 VCs as speakers/judges; presentations by 100 Top Innovators; one-on-one Zoom investor meetings, two days of content including panel discussions, workshops and a keynote by Uri Levine, co-founder of Waze and the guy who got an average payout of about $1 million for each of his Israeli employees when Google bought Waze.

There are sooo virtual attendees/investors that we can’t list them all, but firms include 500 Startups, Munich Re Ventures, Sand Hill Angels, Citi Ventures, E.On, Samsung Catalyst Fund and other include a few people we actually know.

Founder passes start at $200 and you can get them here.

Bits & Pretzels Live: Future of Work, 14 May

The Munich founders festival Bits & Pretzels is going all in on virtual events for 2020 starting with a new Bits Live series launching 14 May. Each #bitslive will focus on one future trend. But the first virtual discussion is about the all-to-current trend of working from home.

From the media release we got:

Future of Work. In an age where there is current change and disruption, what are the trends and best practices for working from home. What new technologies, habits or rules are here to stay and what needs to be improved to succeed in tomorrow’s workplace? Let’s come together and discuss!

After the discussion, you can continue the conversation with a virtual networking event.

Unlike so many other events that had to cancel, the main Bits & Pretzels festival is still on as a virtual event … six days of speakers and networking from 27 September to 2 October. You can get tickets here.

Microsoft Build 2020, 19 thru 21 May

This is Microsoft’s big developer conference … and you don’t have to go to Seattle to attend. Microsoft’s tagline is “By developers, for developers,” this is 48 hours of non-stop talks/seminars. And this year, there’s a film festival, though there are no details yet on the website. Also, make sure you check the times for some of these West Coast events because they’ll either have you up all night, or super early in the morning, 9 hours behind Central European time.

Best part … it’s free. You can register here.

Cisco Live 2020, 2 & 3 June

Another freebie from a global IT giant. San Jose-based Cisco is putting on a virtual event with four channels with interactive sessions – Possibilities Channel, Innovation Channel, IT Heroes Channel and the IT Leadership Channel. Topics include security, cloud, enterprise networks and IOT.

The event will include top Cisco execs and technology experts including CEO Chuck Robbins.

You can register here.

(Editor’s note: This is a West Coast event, 9 hours behind Central European Time.)

Apple World-Wide Developer Conference, summer 2020

Yep, that’s all the Apple website says …. “Coming this summer.”

WWDC20 is the big event where the Cuppertino creatives show off new stuff including new/updated operating systems. They promise an event where you can engage with Apple engineers, which is kind of cool.

There’s no link to a sign up, so stand by.

SaaStock Remote, 10 & 11 June

The theme of this SaaStock event is, “Adapt, Survive, Thrive” as the software as a service world gets dinged by the pandemic along with everyone else. The two-day event will present speakers to help you pivot into a new social-distancing reality; help you survive the interruption in cash flow and help you thrive as the global economy rebounds. Sounds like a plan ….

Speakers include Ruby on Rails creator David Heinemeier Hansson and Bill Macaitis, the marketing genius who had a hand in three mega SaaS hits – Slack, Zendesk and Salesforce.

You can get tickets here starting at $129.

DeveloperWeek Global, 16 & 17 June

DeveloperWeek Global 2020 is the world’s largest virtual developer and engineering conference. Theoretically, thousands of participants from across the globe will converge online for 100-plus keynote and technical talks as well as virtual expo, workshops, pitch content and hackathon, according to Lizzie’s email.

DeveloperWeek Global is produced by the San Francisco-based DevNetwork team, which until now has put on live events such as DeveloperWeek SF Bay, DeveloperWeek New York, DeveloperWeek Seattle and others.

Tracks include:

• Dev Leadership Summit – What does it take to progress from software developer, to team lead, to engineering manager? 

• Containers and Kubernetes –  Introductory and practitioner education on why you need to implement containers & kubernetes.

• Artificial Intelligence Automation – Discover the new AI architectures and libraries.

• API Innovation – Learn from industry experts about API design, development, scalability, management, security, and analytics.

There is no speaker list yet, but previous speakers include execs from GitHub, Hootsuite, Ripple, Shopify, StubHub and Intuit.

You can participate for free, or get the all-access pass for $395. You can register here.

Collision from Home, 22 thru 25 June

Scheduled for Toronto this year, Collision bills itself as “North America’s fastest growing tech conference,” and it’s more than a tech conference, with thought leaders and journalists on stage with disrupters. Collision was created by Paddy Cosgrave, the same guy who gave us Web Summit. So, yeah, this is a mega-event with 25,000 people usually in attendance.

Speakers include:

• Aaron Levie, co-founder of Box

• Dawn Ostroff, chief content officer at Spotify

• Brad Smith, president of Microsoft

• Greg Peters, chief product officer at Netflix

• David Eun, president of Samsung

• Melissa Selcher, CMO at LinkedIn

• Shaquille O’Neal for the slam-dunk contest (kidding … he’s an investor in the Steady jobs platform)

• Margaret Atwood, who also will compete in the dunk-off

• a bunch more people including tech journalists and – not surprisingly considering where we are – an epidemiologist from Johns Hopkins.

It’ll be interesting to experience the on-line version.

You can get virtual tickets to the virtual event here, starting at 79 bucks.

KPN’s Startup Afternoon – Internet of Things Edition, 24 June

The Rotterdam-based telecommunications giant is making its 16th Startup Evening a startup afternoon. We’ve been to KPN events and they’re great. As usual, KPN execs are scouting for IoT startups that can dovetail into their core business.

This year’s event – scheduled for 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. – includes:

• insights on how to create future proof IoT and 5G solutions

• speed dating with KPN, KPN ventures, several external investors and other corporates

• informal online networking via networking app so that you can see who is attending

Even though this is the IoT edition, KPN execs still want to hear about your non-IoT startups/scaleups.

You can sign up here on Eventbrite and its free.

Google Cloud Next, tba

Google cancelled its big industry conference schedule for 6 thru 8 April in San Francisco, but executives have hinted it will be rescheduled on-line:

We are transforming the event into Google Cloud Next ’20: Digital Connect, a free, global, digital-first, multi-day event connecting our attendees to Next ’20 content and each other through streamed keynotes, breakout sessions, interactive learning and digital ‘ask an expert’ sessions with Google teams.

You can sign up her for alerts.

Microsoft Ignite, September (details TBA)

Microsoft Ignite big annual gathering of Microsoft-friendly tech leaders is recreating itself as a digital event after having been cancelled last month.

You can sign up here for alerts.

Viva Technology

This event – one of Europe’s biggest, with speakers such as IBM’s Ginni Rommety – was scheduled for 11 thru 13 June in Paris, but has been cancelled. One of the possibilities under consideration is recreating Viva Technology as a virtual event.

You can sign up here for an alert.

Look for more events to go virtual as countries around the world extend their coronavirus measures.

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