Decode Innovation Conference 2020

Held on October 24th and 25th, Decode Innovation Conference garnered over 1.3 Million views across 44 countries and 300+ cities. The conference covered 18 hours of valuable content and is the largest tech entrepreneurship and innovation conference co-hosted by UC Berkeley and Stanford University students and alumni, for ambitious creators and builders to connect, collaborate, and co-create with one another globally.

This year, top tier speakers were invited to share their knowledge and experiences with us, to help us discover opportunities within this challenging time.

Day 1

Tech and Innovation Landscape

Michael Seibel — CEO of Y Combinator; Board Member of Reddit

“If you find yourself trying to figure out whether you have a good idea or not, or a good problem you are gonna solve, by talking to your peers, you’re probably going to get the wrong information.”

“If you’re not making friends, you’re not getting value out of college.”

“Ignore the trends. Ignore what’s hot on Twitter. Ignore what’s hot in the news. You’re aiming for a moment 5 to 10 years from now. You’re not aiming for now.”

From 0 to Unicorn in <2 Years

Henrique Dubugras — Founder & CEO of Brex

“You will miss an amazing opportunity to look for what’s good, not what’s bad… Every time I go to visit someone or I meet someone, I try to think of what’s the good in this person? What do they know? What are they talented in?”

“Every time we get advice, try to understand the context that it is coming from. A lot of advice comes from trauma.”

“A lot of times its about you, yourself being a star and what you do, but it is 10 times more about having amazing people around you.”

Leveling the Playing Field: How NVIDIA Democratizes AI

Keith Strier — Vice President of Worldwide AI Initiatives at NVIDIA Corporation

“Computing, the technology that drives all these great innovations that you want to participate in, that you want to profit from, and bring to the world to make it a better place, it doesn’t just sit in one place. It’s distributed across the whole place.”

“Silicon chips that power AI will more than double in performance every two years… attributed to both hardware and software.”

“Infrastructure that makes AI possible is now the foundation for a new economic model. It is the new concrete. They talk about data being the new oil. Well, AI compute is the new concrete. AI infrastructure is the foundation for growth.”

Work & Education in a Digital World

Priscilla Barolo — Head of Communications at Zoom

“Deeply personal and emotional for people when you’re talking about this is where you get to work… aggressive internal communications and having people understand the nuances in the experimentation of it all.”

“Trust and empathy are the most important things you can have in your culture and also you know they engender a certain speed of doing business.”

“If the world is going virtual, there will be a whole ecosystem out there that people can build upon, creating new companies. Think about different area of lives that can benefit from video, and come in and build it!”

Christyna Serrano — Director of Faculty Engagement at Singularity University

“It’s a steep learning curve and learning can be hard and it can feel bad sometimes, right? It can hurt in a good way.”

“We take things that we know from the past in order to make a sense of what’s coming new in the future, and to make those changes. And sometimes, if you haven’t yet had that experience, that cognitive dissonance is real. It’s a struggle.”

“We are already heading in a direction of virtual world. But what I saw that there is a lot of hesitancy around. COVID forces us to learn how to adjust and find the virtual equivalency of the real world.”

Future of E-Commerce

Ming Lu — CTO of eBay Classifieds Group Emerging Markets

“Take off your current hat and put on a different hat, and try to think from your stakeholders’ perspective.”

“Keep an open mind because ultimately you will realize that we are really all the same. We just happen to eat different cuisine and given food, but the motivation is the same. We all want to have the best life for our families.”

“Anyone who doesn’t have a goal, you will never have tailwind. It is like a sailboat without a goal.”

Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Ryan Chan — Founder & CEO of UpKeep Maintenance Management

“There’s never a good time to start a business. There’s also never a bad time to sort of business and now I’m going to contradict myself and say the only best time to start a business is sooner rather than later.”

“For some people, optimism and passion kind of get lumped into the same thing. You kind of need a whole lot of that to go through the crazy ups and the crazy downs, and keep going when everyone says should probably stop.”

“It’s really about hiring and bringing on people that are way smarter than me and enabling them to grow and thrive and strive in this role, knowing that they’re going to be way better than I am.”

Ariel Garten — Co-Founder of Interaxon & Creator of The Muse

“There is a wealth of new opportunities that didn’t exist before. You know the tides have just changed and in that moment of sea change there’s thousands of fish flopping up on the beach that have no idea where to go and what to do. If you can find the pathway to water, you are the winner.”

“Optimism is essential. As an entrepreneur, you are trying to do something that is impossible.”

“Money isn’t gotten in a day so these are relationships that you’re building. It’s not about one pitch, it’s about a continued relationship.”

Shishir Mehrotra — Co-Founder & CEO of Coda

“The best companies tend to have a very simple and very time testable thesis.”

“You need to create that group where the culture is naturally optimistic.”

“One of the things that people underestimate is the value of not the right answer, but the right question.”

Global Entrepreneurship

Qi Lu — Founder of MiraclePlus; ex-COO of Baidu

“Innovation change the world for the better, and entrepreneurialism at a global scale is the new frontier.”

“The real University for entrepreneurs to learn product development jobs, tech job, is actually to work for those companies.”

“Let’s embrace the future. There will be a huge amount of uncertainties, some head wings.

But let’s all rise to the occasion. Seize the opportunity.”

Day 2

Future of Education

Sal Khan — Founder & CEO of Khan Academy

“All of us have some agency in determining how things fall back down and so as stressful as this is, as hard as this is, this is a time where it will be easier to change things than in normal times.”

“Learning should not be bound by time or space. Technology shouldn’t be in competition with in person. It really should unlock in person.”

“Go deep into the problems space. Once again, it should never be technology for technology’s sake.”

App Modernization & The Innovator’s Dilemma

Raghu Raghuram — COO of VMware

“If you think about why innovators dilemma arises in the first place, it is cause all the managers and leaders are acting rationally. So in many ways, if you have to counteract it, you have to do something irrational.”

“You really have to make the problem open to the company, and take ideas on, and make it everybody’s problem. And the amazing thing about Silicon Valley companies, including VM Ware, is everybody feels invested in the problem, contributing to solve the problem and we get greater and greater ideas.”

“Hold yourself accountable for your own learning… If you’re religious about what you learn and the dimensions that you’re expanding yourself on that, I think there will be a lot of opportunities.”

Future of Transportation

Andre Haddad — Founder & CEO of Turo

“Obviously we all make new mistakes, but I was determined not to make the same mistakes.”

“I find that one thing that makes things really easy and makes things really fun is being surrounded by cofounders and your team that have the same level of passion that you have around the mission of the company.”

“We’re still on the cusp of significant technological changes that will be impacting transportation over the long term… the pandemic may have slowed down some of these efforts a little bit, but they will be back and I think transportation is going to be a completely different landscape.”

Dont’ Follow Your Passion

Kanjun Qiu — Co-Founder & CEO of Sourceress; ex-Chief of Staff at Dropbox

“Every single decision point in my life was not super clear, and has a lot of doubts and insecurities just like you. If I can go on to do great work, then you can probably do that too.”

“I’ve changed a ton over the past 12 years. It would be unwise to follow a “passion” decided at age 22.”

“Trying to do hard things makes you fail and struggle and get beat up and battered… but at the end, you get up and you grow stronger and you get wiser and become more capable.”

Future of the Internet

Jingming Li — Founder & CEO of TrovaPage; ex-CTO of AliPay

“Technology is the consistent driver changing how human organize to work and live together as a society.”

“You have to have dream, you have to be persistent and keep working on your dream, and the third part is that you have to see the big picture. You actually know how things is actually working. Otherwise, with only those two, you can be entirely in the wrong direction. You will never get out of it. Your life is gonna be miserable.”

“Entrepreneurship is really, really really really hard. You need a lot of things working together, meaning you need a network, you need economic foundation, you need a lot of things to be going your way and there’s no rush. So so basically don’t hit yourself.”

Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Joe DiMento — Head of Enterprise at Coda

“Remember that your career is very long and this pandemic hopefully will not be nearly as long as that. And so there’s plenty of time, hopefully very soon, to take that kind of plunge when you are operating in this unbelievable world of uncertain date.”

“Hiring and attracting the right talent and knowing exactly when you should go after someone who’s in the market who might not be looking and find them. And conversely, how do you continue to motivate the people on the team.”

“Whenever we’re making big decisions, we say, ‘OK, is this two way or one way?’ And then oftentimes we try to force ourselves to redesign it so that it can be two way, and so we’re not making so many decisions that are impossible to revert in the future should we ever need to.”

Andrew Tjang — Co-founder & CEO of Cognition IP

“When you are small and you are building something that you want to grow to scale to hundreds and thousands of people eventually, being early on and setting that culture is all that much more important.”

“The amount of time you spend on hiring is directly proportional to the quality. It’s necessary, but not sufficient.”

“All customers somewhat have this issue of like not being able to communicate what it is they really, really want… You talk to customers and they tell you they want XYZ and then you build XYZ and then they’re like, well, I didn’t really mean.”

Future of AI and Big Data

Feifei Li — Vice President of Alibaba Group

“The fact that people are doing more things online means that the workload will be more elastic, more volatile. This means that the system that you build to support this needs to be more elastic and to use resources in more intelligent fashion. “

“The next generation big data database system is to tap on the cloud native technology and make them more elastic, more secure, more reliable, to deploy on a hybrid multi cloud model, to be able to support multi model data like data of different format on different structures, and to use machine learning AI technology to make the systems self driving.”

“Data-driven approach has fundamentally changed the way we do things in different industries.”

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