The 2019 GeekWire Summit kicked off Monday evening in Seattle with a waterfront welcome party to give attendees the chance to mix and mingle ahead of two days of our signature tech conference.
Hundreds of people crowded the headquarters offices of party host and sponsor Flyhomes on Western Avenue. A mac-n-cheese bar, beverages, prizes, assortment of games, and Dick’s burgers were all part of the attraction — as was the view west out of the front of space, thanks to the recent demolition of the Alaskan Way Viaduct just feet away.
The party serves as the opener for the Summit, now in its eighth year. One of the premier technology events in the country, the Summit will explore what’s next in the innovation economy and big trends that will shape society — everything from artificial intelligence to the future of health care to privacy.
Benjamin Leeds, co-founder and president of audio startup Modern Fidelity, was handing out business cards and talking up the Summit. A relatively recent University of Washington graduate, Leeds had his eye on one particular Summit speaker.
“I’m a Husky, so I’m definitely looking forward to Ana Mari Cauce, UW president,” Leeds said. “I always like to stay connected to my UW roots.”
Cauce is part of a panel on Wednesday called “Leadership: How to Build Impactful Organizations.” She’ll be joined by Jessie Woolley-Wilson, president & CEO of DreamBox Learning, and Marilyn Strickland, president and CEO of the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce.
Carmen Valdez, an event planner, said she was interested in “immersing a little more” in the Seattle scene, since she just moved to the city from San Diego two months ago.
“I know the city is big on tech and this is a good opportunity for me and what I need to incorporate in my business,” Valdez said.
Andrea Brice is the new founder of Afterwardz, a startup that uses big data to bring personalized cost of living calculations to people who are looking to retire. She was hoping to learn how to hone her company pitch at the Summit and was intrigued by the finals for GeekWire’s Elevator Pitch, which will take place on Wednesday.
Check out more photos from Monday’s welcome party at Flyhomes: