TechCrunch Disrupt: 5 Things I’m Watching

I’m doing some light mental prep for my trip to NYC next week and TechCrunch Disrupt. In looking over the agenda, here’s what I’ll be thinking about, in chronological order according to the timeline of events:

  1. Chris Dixon interviews Charlie Cheever — Chris and many influential investors, thinkers, and bloggers recognize that Quora is a huge potential opportunity, but are sometimes reluctant to use Quora because they already have huge audiences. There are two camps in this debate — those that think Quora will dominate vs. those that are betting on a more federated approach to building interest-based communities online. Chris is an investor in Stack Overflow and has an indirect position through SV Angel in Formspring, two sites with potentially better user and engagement numbers. Chris also exposed how someone with influence could game the Quora system with celebrity up-votes, which is going to be a serious challenge to Quora’s ambition.
  2. Dave Morin — I like Path and see the vision. I just hope he talks about the potential acquisition offer and how the company worked through what must have been a challenging dilemma.
  3. Making Music Social — Even Pandora or Apple can’t get “social music” right. Who can? Companies today are focused on sharing and discovery features, but the real money for artists is in live performances. Are we all thinking about “social music” as an online concept when the solution may be offline, God forbid?
  4. Charlie Rose talks with Paul Graham — I believe that PG is the one individual who has truly changed the game in the startup world. Charlie Rose brings this to the financially literate masses and thought-leaders. It’s too bad we can’t clone PG for the country’s sake. Lots of pundits would argue that the startup community needs to work with the government in order to foster more and more entrepreneurship and innovation. I’ve never met PG and would never speak for him, but I’d imagine he’s the type of person who thinks on a totally different plane. For instance, you don’t work with Washington DC or Wall Street — instead, you create and build from the edge, using offer power to force incumbents to change their ways. I hope Rose teases out PG’s thinking into the future.
  5. NYC Startup Scene — In my mind, the clear #2 place in the U.S. to start a company today, and in some areas (digital media, finance, fashion, etc.) it may be on par with Silicon Valley. While I do think there’s been a lot of hype about it in the media, too, there is real money there. Accel is opening an office near Google NY. A quarter of Ron Conway’s investments are in NYC. These are all trending up.