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500 Startups founder Dave McClure leads the audience in 'power moves'
500 Startups founder Dave McClure leads the audience in ‘power moves’ at the GeekWire Summit in Seattle on Thursday.

From civic engagement to artificial intelligence to the changing landscape of work itself, Day 1 of the GeekWire Summit covered a wide range of issues. While speakers ranged from early-stage entrepreneurs to industry titans, a common theme emerged: The human element.

Venture capitalist Nick Hanauer, for example, steered his fireside chat toward employee compensation, civic engagement, and how technology can solve social issues.

GW_Summit_2015_0356“The minimum wage is one of the most powerful, efficient and effective levers we have to raise the standard because when every worker earns a decent wage, then every single business benefits,” he said.

morning panel that included former Amazon employees also explored expectations and compensation for employees.

“We can’t afford to let people burn out,” said former Amazon exec and SquareHub co-founder David Cotter. “The cost of letting someone go and hiring somebody in a startup is really, really high.”

Some of the most poignant insights on culture and employee satisfaction came from Robert Hohman, CEO of anonymous employer review site Glassdoor.

“The whole nature of, ‘what does work mean?’ is changing and I think that’s really fascinating,” he said.

Here are some quotes and reactions from Day 1 of the GeekWire Summit. Stay tuned for more updates from Day 2 on Friday.

Former Amazon execs: Working at Amazon a cinch compared to startup life

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Former Amazon.com employees Sandi Lin, Dave Cotter, and Nadia Shouraboura speak with New York Times reporter David Streitfeld.

“I love beauty, I love fashion, I love comfort. I would never work at a company where everyone cries.” — Nadia Shouraboura, former Amazon executive.

“I think there’s way too much glorification of hard work in tech culture.” — Sandi Lin, former Amazon manager.

Join our Geeks Give Back campaign and help raise money to fund STEM education

Washington State Opportunity Scholarship Recipient Rutha Nuguse.
Washington State Opportunity Scholarship Recipient Rutha Nuguse.

“In ten years, I’ll have my own innovation center … and I’ll be hiring.” — Rutha Nuguse, Computer Science Student, UW; recipient of Washington State Opportunity Scholarship

For Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff, creating a softer workplace culture was always the goal

Spencer Rascoff
Zillow Group CEO Spencer Rascoff.

“There are a lot of lawsuits but we’re on the receiving end of those and that’s the cost of being number one.” — Spencer Rascoff, CEO of Zillow.

Xbox chief Phil Spencer on how Microsoft recovered from early Xbox One blunders

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GeekWire co-founder Todd Bishop interviews Xbox Head Phil Spencer.

Nick Hanauer to tech community: Step up your social and civic engagement

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“What do we do with good, hard-working people, whose lives are destroyed by technological innovation?” — Nick Hanauer, co-founder of VC firm Second Avenue Partners and founder of Civic Ventures.

Reporter John Markoff and Microsoft Research head Peter Lee talk self-driving cars, robots taking the SAT and the AI of Hollywood

Microsoft Research VP Peter Lee and New York Times reporter John Markoff.
Microsoft Research VP Peter Lee and New York Times reporter John Markoff.

Red planet vs. blue planet: Lori Garver looks ahead to Mars and the future of space

Lori Garver discusses the future of space exploration.
Lori Garver discusses the future of space exploration.

“Certainly by 2018 you will have multiple launches for a lot less money. That opens up what you’re doing in space to new markets.” — Lori Garver, former NASA Deputy Administrator.

GeekWire Summit 2015: Here are 4 inventions we love

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Inventions We Love winner You Kick Ass presents action figures of GeekWire co-founders.
Glassdoor CEO Robert Hohman.

500 Startups co-founder Dave McClure: 90 percent of VCs are going to look like idiots in 10 years

500 Startups founder Dave McClure leads the audience in 'power moves'
500 Startups founder Dave McClure shows the crowd his ‘power moves’

“I take incredible issue with the fact that my strategy is considered gambling or risky or not thoughtful when I’m the f–king mathematician.” — 500 Startups co-founder Dave McClure.

Opening Night Party at Sullivan’s Steakhouse

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