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John Legere

It kicked off with the future of flight and ended with an honest — and hilarious — chat with T-Mobile CEO John Legere. In between, there were dog-dispensing machines, insight from one of Seattle’s lesser-known billionaires, and a talk with the nation’s chief information officer.

DSC_1278The 2014 GeekWire Summit had it all.

It was a blast welcoming 800 of you to the Pacific Northwest’s premier technology conference on Thursday at the Westin in downtown Seattle, where we heard from some of the leading thinkers, leaders and innovators across a wide variety of industries.

If you missed out on Thursday, or just want to re-live the experience, we’ve got you covered here with a play-by-play recap that includes words, photos, video, and social media reaction. Enjoy.

9 a.m. — Fireside chat with drone entrepreneur Chris Anderson 


The day started in the world of drones, as 3D Robotics CEO Chris Anderson joined us for a fireside chat. Anderson, the former editor-in-chief of Wired Magazine, noted how the growing drone market is going to see a massive expansion.

“The military market is about $18 billion, and the consumer market is now about $1 billion,” he said. “And then we’re about to see the launch of the commercial market, which I think will be bigger than both of them combined.”

Anderson’s company, which recently received an investment from Richard Branson, plans to create consumer devices that will allow people to “take the ultimate selfie,” and provide software for flying the drones through the DIY Drones open source community.

9:30 a.m. — Drone panel with Chris Anderson and Chad Copeland


After chatting with Anderson, we invited National Geographic contributor Chad Copeland — a pioneer in the use of drones — for an engaging discussion about the future of unmanned aerial vehicles. The pair spent some time speaking about the tense intersection of drones and privacy.

IMG_1144“It will be our job to keep the jackasses from doing stupid stuff,” Anderson said. “We can’t stop them, but we can let them know what the rules are.”

In Copeland’s experience, he said people should reserve judgment — for example, he believes his carbon fiber drone, the size of a small coffee table, is less intrusive than the alternative.

“I was flying over a first wonder of the world,” he said, adding that a man-powered aircraft would have been much more intrusive, not to mention dangerous if it ever crashed. “If this goes down,” he said pointing to his drone, “no one is hurt.”

9:30 a.m. — Fireside chat with Steven VanRoekel

Steve VanRoekel

Next up was President Obama’s top geek, Steven VanRoekel, who shared insights he’s learned about cloud computing, open data, and the future of technology while working as the U.S. Chief Information Officer.

VanRoekel, a former Microsoft executive, is actually leaving his post as the U.S. CIO next week and will help coordinate the administration’s response to the Ebola virus outbreak in Western Africa. He offered up some thoughts on how technology can help the effort to stop the deadly disease. VanRoekel wants to see changes to healthcare workers’ protective suits, better communication between workers and citizens, and improvements with big data use.

“Modeling certain behavior, modeling movement based on cell phone signals, understanding how you can frontload aid supply to clinics based on certain populations — we need to get in front of this,” he said.

10:45 a.m. — Innovations we love


After a quick break, some of our region’s most creative entrepreneurs took the stage as we had a chance to learn about five super cool innovations. Products ranged from an automatic all-grain beer brewing system to an Internet-connected dog treat dispenser created by a 14-year-old that ended up winning the audience favorite award.

11:30 a.m. — Fireside chat with Neil Ashe, Walmart Global E-Commerce CEO


Our final morning session featured a chat with Neil Ashe, who is leading the online charge for one of’s largest competitors in the commerce space.

Ashe, who took a couple funny digs at Amazon in his competitor’s backyard, talked about Walmart’s e-commerce business in comparison to the Seattle online giant, while also touching on the future of retail.

“What’s interesting about the general conversation about the future of commerce is that it’s a conversation of ‘or,’” Ashe said. “Are you buying online, or are you walking into the store?” He disagreed with that sentiment, arguing that consumers buy where it’s most convenient, either online or in retail.

Noon — Lunch

Our lunch included demos from our favorite innovators and a VIP room for speakers and special guests.





1:15 p.m. — Fireside chat with Kara Swisher & Walt Mossberg


Our afternoon session kicked off with a great chat featuring two of the more well-known technology journalists: Re/code founders Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg.

The duo, who previously started AllThingsD, took their own turns in the interviewee hot seat and talked about the future of media, their relationship as startup co-founders, and their thoughts on tech giants like Apple and Microsoft.

“It’s a really hard time to be a publisher, and a really great time to be a journalist,” Mossberg said.

1:55 p.m. — Panel: Innovation, Impact, and the Future 


Next up was a thought-provoking panel moderated by Madrona Ventures Group’s Julie Sandler that included some of Seattle’s top startup CEOs: Moz’s Sarah Bird, Chef’s Barry Crist, and Redfin’s CEO Glenn Kelman.

The leaders touched on an array of topics ranging from innovation, business, and the future of the tech economy.

3:00 p.m. — Fireside chat with Zulily Chairman Mark Vadon


For our 3 p.m. fireside chat, we had the pleasure of speaking on stage with Mark Vadon, one of Seattle’s most successful entrepreneurs who co-founded both Blue Nile and online retailer Zulily.

Mark VadonVadon shared startup advice that he’s picked up over the past several years and also noted how Zulily is “misunderstood on Wall Street.”

“They don’t understand what’s motivating our customers,” he said. “They think it has to be low-priced, and a commodity, and that you have to get it to them fast — two-day is good, one day is better and same-day is best.”

Asked about Zulily’s slow shipping speeds, Vadon said that worrying about that could potentially make Amazon a competitor.

“We found a white space — a consumer opportunity, where it isn’t being dominated,” he said. “If we went head to head with Amazon, we’d get crushed.”

3:55 p.m. — Panel: The Sharing Economy 


Next was our sharing economy panel, featuring Rover CEO Aaron Easterly, Couchsurfing CEO Jennifer Billock, Uber Seattle GM Brooke Steger, and FlightCar co-founder Kevin Petrovic.

Scott Stanford, managing partner of SherpaVentures, moderated the panel, which discussed the intricacies of a new industry that includes transportation companies like Uber and pet-sitting services like Rover.

4:15 p.m. — Fireside chat with T-Mobile CEO John Legere

John Legere

Perhaps the most entertaining session came toward the end of the GeekWire Summit, when an unfiltered John Legere joined us to talk about fast-growing T-Mobile and the wireless industry as a whole.

Legere, drinking a Red Bull and donning the classic T-Mobile magenta colors, certainly did not hold back with any thoughts on his competitors, potential acquisitions, and Apple.

Thanks to all of you for attending, and a huge thanks to all of our GeekWire Summit sponsors for helping to make this event happen.

Presenting sponsor: CenturyLink

Gold SponsorsPerkins CoieTechnology Association of Oregon,Tableau Software, EMC, BrenthavenAlaska Airlines, UPS, Point InsideMicrosoft Azure, Nutanix, Hired and Frontier.

Silver Sponsors: Davis Wright Tremaine, Wave Business Solutions, Avalara, Zillow,Fresh Consulting, Moz, First Tech Federal Credit Union, Allovus Creative Partnerships, Knoll, Barokas PR, Sharp, Nytec, Xtreme Consulting, Ernst & YoungAcumatica, Macabe Associates, Taser.


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