We are at a 3-day event, organized by Fortune, named the BrainstormTech. It’s always great to be in San Francisco, but this location at Half Moon Bay is pretty incredible (good though that there are conference rates for the hotel though).

The first day started in the afternoon, and at most conferences this usually means 1 speaker during opening reception. BrainstormTech’s first afternoon already featured some pretty strong discussions and presentations, especially from the Marc Benioff (ceo salesforce.com), Michael Dell (Dell), Gary Hamel (Professor London Business School), Jeff Bezos (ceo amazon), and some others. During evening dinner, some bloggers got a stage – and it was entertaining though pretty ‘light’. There’s definitely something going on in blogosphere.

The 2nd day got sort of ‘disrupted’ by an enduring tooth ache, and I have already seen 2 dentist here to help me out (I’ll write a dentist recommendation post later on), and the 3rd day was again amazing, with speakers like Chris Dewolfe (ceo MySpace), Eric Schmidt (ceo Google) and Neil Young (yes, THE Neil Young), who talked about music, technology and green tech. You have the full program here.

I need some time to devour all the info, but here are my first take-aways:
- mobile is HOT, and the iPhone is the king in mobileland creating an entirely new application distribution and usage pattern (although Europe and Asia are way ahead of the States)
- a quite pessimistic view about entrepreneurialism in Europe (talent, capital, platforms and especially risk taking and appreciation), especially from the Europeans in the panel (Loic LeMeur, Martin Varsavsky).
Or let me phrase it differently: an incredible ‘fun, ease and potential glory’ of innovation and scaling out of Sillicon Valley (and Sillicon Valley only – as it is consider a ‘land’ on its own). It was also great to hear from Alex and Tariq, but especially Loic’s Seesmic has gained an incredible amount of traction in a very short period.
- software development has known very few innovation over the last 10 years, but a fundamental shift is about to occur (a panel discussion about the future of code with very smart ideas and opinions from Charles Simonyi)
- Saas, Paas, Aaas (inside industry acronyms) are gaining importance rapidly
- some social media details like: Facebook has now over 650 employees, MySpace does 800M to 1billion USD turnover and is launching a music platform in september, Hi5 is the strongest grower worldwide. European platforms like SkyRock, StudiVZ, Bebo are very well known – but others like Netlog or Hyves are completely unknown (unbelievable actually)
- the success and drive of Nicholas Negroponte’s project ‘one laptop per child’
- and probably the main message: simplicity rules on apps, devices, platform, … More about that in a later post.

It felt rather weird to enjoy Neil Young twice in 2 weeks: once at a rock festival in Belgium, and once at a Fortune conference in California. And damn: this 62 year old has so much energy that it inspires all of us to do so much more.

This kind of conferences gets you thinking. A lot!

bart.