TEDx NewWallStreet – impressions and conclusions

Peter Vander Auwera (@petervan) and me were at the TEDx NewWallStreet event in Mountain View, CA, on March 9th. The event was the first one to feature a SWIFT speaker  – Peter!

The event was curated by Bruce Cahan (@brucecahan), an old timer – to put it this way as he is with us since almost the beginning – of Innotribe, and “mceed” (mc = master of ceremonies) by Camilla Webster (@camillawebester).

Bruce has many facets – he is a social entrepreneur and an Ashoka fellow, passionate about a project he calls Goodbank. He is also co-founder of Urban Logic, a nonprofit. He is an architect of systems with for example NYMAP- a geo-tagged map of NYC. As such  he was part of the command center responding to 9/11 attacks.  I love his friendliness and passion about everything he does. He took us for dinner the day before the event in old Palo Alto, and he was an excellent guide.

I got to know Camilla for the first time in person. She is a very well know journalist for Forbes and Huffington Post and she is coming up with a new book – I love the title! –  “The Seven Pearls of Financial Wisdom: A Woman’s Guide to Enjoying Wealth and Power.” She gave us one of the pearls in her opening of the event, which I’ll preciously keep for me until the book is out! 🙂

We started the day with an interview of Bruce, Camilla, Peter and Ken (another speaker) on a local radio station. Bruce explained in a nutshell what the “New Wall Street” is all about – if banking is all about information processing, and silicon valley is all about tools for information processing, shouldn’t the silicon valley be the new Wall Street? Interesting, no? This was echoed by several of the speakers through the day.

Here’s how I saw it –

We then went into the heart of the subject – the talks!

Before I get there, let me say a few words about the location – the Computer History Museum (CHM) in Mountain View. About 5 minutes from the Googleplex, the building hosts hardware and stories of the – young – history of information science. Where can you see computer code written in 30 cm font on printouts hanging from walls? At CHM of course 🙂 Seriously, if you’re even remotely interested by computers, it’s an excellent 2 – 3 hours visit. This was not my first time there, as the location is very popular for seminars and conferences. Last year, I was there for the Internet Identity Workshop (IIW).

We started the day with a very soft touch. Ken Kruzska – a very calm and humane guy – set the stage with a simple message – money is all about humanity. Many millions of foreign workers in the USA and California send money back to their families. For these families, money is an incredible enabler. And we should make sure there is as little or no obstacles to this flow of money.

After this very emotional kick-off, we dug into the first hard subject – big data and how the enormous computing capacity that is available can be harnessed by banks to increase welfare.  Doug Merrill, founder and CEO of ZestCash, explain how a better computed credit score (based on aggregating huge amounts of data, low cost storage and computing power) can lead to a better life for people because they have a correct score.

A second subject was somewhat unexpected (at least for me) – the fact that basic accounting, planning and budgeting skills were an absolute must for small and medium business owners. First, we had Shivani Siroya of InVenture, explain how her company provides some very basic but immensely effective financial tracking tools to developing countries businesses. Imagine this – an SMS based accounting! Then we had Jake Soll, an historian, explain how the double book accounting practice, invented in the Renaissance period, is still a critical enabler to do business today.  He explained this in a very fun way telling how Necker tried to introduce proper accounting in the pre-revolution France.  These were excellent talks, basically saying that there is some essential education effort needed to make sure basic accounting and budgeting skills were there for the masses.


A third subject, truly fascinating, was about where the New Wall Street should focus to invest. The theory developed by Howard Gould, co-founder of Tundra Capital LLC, is that we should focus on essentially  (brick&mortar) infrastructure, rather than the current focus on pure ventures. The needs of the exploding population and in particular the middle class are enormous!

Then we had the Innotribe’s Petevan! For his first TEDx speech, he painted a very broad picture about how established companies should innovate – in a sandbox and with passion – and he gave the example of the Digital Asset Grid project Innotribe is currently incubating as a major disruptive scenario for the digital economy.

There were several other speakers I didn’t get to hear because of some calls I had to take and then I had to leave early to catch my plane from SFO. Sorry I couldn’t hear you all, in particular Simon! Next time…


If the silicon valley wants to be the New Wall Street, it needs to establish itself as the sandbox (where it can experiment) vis-a-vis the NYC castle (the core of finance).

And my conclusion is: Innotribe can and should help!

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This work by Kosta Peric is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.


Compass Summit scribings

The Compass Summit (www.compass-summit.com, #compass11)  is just over, and I’m off for 10 days of holidays in sunny California (writing this from Santa Barbara).

I have many things to say about the summit itself, and especially about the high quality people I’ve met and some deep contacts I’ve established. More on that later though.

Under the influence of Mariela and Martine, I’ve jumped in the pool and I’m experimenting with scribing. I can tell you: it’s a lot of fun! So right now, here are my scribings (drawing summaries) of some of the sessions that inspired me (most of these were twitted before, so I’m compiling everything for easy reference)

Be constructively critical!

Here you go –







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This work by Kosta Peric is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Banks for a better world – video of Innotribe@Ashoka’s changemaker’s week

The Innotribe team was out in Paris to run a segment in Ashoka’s changemaker’s week (link to the description of the event) – for the first time we experimented with our “banks for a better world” subject (the baby of Innotribe’s @Petervan)  which will find its way into Innotribe@Sibos in Toronto. Below is a short 2:30 video showing the incredible enthusiasm and good vibe of the participants to the workshop.

Here’s a very inspired summary blog from the Master of Ceremony of the event, Innotribe’s Martine de Weirdt: link.

Untitled from Copernicc on Vimeo.

Innotribe Mumbai – summary, videos and materials

 “Innotribe Mumbai – Connecting the unbanked”, the first Innotribe stand-alone event, was a fantastic happening!

The event tagline was: “A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history” (Gandhi)

We’ll see if this event will change history 😉 but for sure the sense of mission of the participants was very clear! We had about 220 participants on the first day and 170 on the second.  

As a reminder, here is the agenda and the speakers: link

From the format perspective, we started with presentations and then quickly moved to interactive workshops. On day 2, we also featured the “mixer”, a very lively presentation of a number of local and regional entrepreneurs, and the “mobile arena”, the crowning of the event where the participants had the opportunity to present their ideas to the crowd and get feedback in a very special “Indian wave” way.

As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words, so the best way to experience the event for yourself  is to watch the summary video available here (about 3 and a half minutes long): link (to my personal blog)
The video does show the gradual buildup of interactions and energy as we progressed in the two days

From the content perspective, I’ve summarized the event in the closing plenary with a number of tweets, which I reproduce here –

1. Opportunity – domestic payments, international remittances, for banked and unbanked.

2. Challenge – 300 million people to bank and connect. Staggering.

3. India – it’s already mobile payments 2.0, but beware of non interoperable systems

4. Make it simple – languages, voice, graphical user interfaces, devices.

5. Hidden assets – 200,000 Nokia outlets that can be leveraged for distribution

6. Ecosystem – many players, interconnected in a complex mesh

7. Collaboration – no one can attack the unbanked and mobile payments challenge alone.

8. Opportunity – there is enough revenue to make collaboration profitable to all players in the ecosystem.

9. New business models- think freemium

10. Innotribe Mumbai- smile, fun, work, variety of ideas and initiatives.

11. SWIFT is part of the ecosystem, we can and we will help

You can find here a single pdf file with all the presentations: link    

Finally, here are links to the videos of the ideas from the Arena (each is about 3 min long – the pitch itself, and the the “Indian wave” feedback)

Idea 1: link
Idea 2: link
Idea 3: link
Idea 4: link
Idea 5: link
Idea 6: link
Idea 7: link
Idea 8: link

See you at Innotribe@Sibos in Toronto, Sept 19-23 for other Innotribe adventures!


Innotribe, back to school in Stanford university

In my last post I told you about how Petervan (@petervan), Mela (@mela_atanassova) and I were the #Innotribe representatives at #IIW12 (Internet Identity Workshop #12) in California, on 3-5 May 2011. In that week, we also went back to school and had immense fun with professor Andreas Weigend and his Social Data Lab students at Stanford University. We were also joined by Venessa (@venessamiemis), our friend and part of many Innotribe adventures.

Introducing Andreas. He is a very, Very, VERY energetic, passionate, inspiring, fun guy. He used to be chief scientist at Amazon.com where he was part of building what they are now. We got in touch with him while doing research for our upcoming Innotribe@Sibos 2011. He has a healthy german accent and he likes varied and quality food, as I do, so we immediately connected. And, he is very very sharp.

I teach the course The Social Data Revolution: Data Mining and Electronic Commerce at Stanford University, and the executive MBA course The Digital Networked Economy at Tsinghua University and INSEAD.My courses focus on how the data people generate by interacting with each other and with the world can be used for better decisions about how to spend attention, money and social capital. I bring my broad industry experience into the classroom, exploring real-world scenarios and solving real business problems

So, we went to Stanford for an afternoon, first to just listen in to the class of Andreas, and then to run an Innotribe Lab with his class.

First, about the campus itself – we were blessed with a perfect sunny weather and the campus looked amazing!

So, we all first went to listen to Andreas’ class – we sat down with about 40-50 students. For this particular class, Andreas had invited an alumni, less than 30 old, telling the class about his latest startup. If I understood correctly, he was at his startup #4 already…. Yes, this is California indeed…

After that, we ran a lab with the students. The idea was to see what is at the intersection of banks and social data/media.The format was the “usual” (if there is anything usual about it … 😉 ) Innotribe lab – highly interactive, small groups, full of energy – all this scribed beautifully by Mela.

I must say, I was a bit afraid… What were all these young people going to thing about us, representatives of the banking community that these people don’t much care about. Well, kudos to them, they engaged with us and totally wholeheartedly!!!

Some conclusions –

  1. Banks will become digital. In other words, from the current status of safekeepers of currency, to safekeepers of digital assets.
  2. Digital assets are really social data: things that we share with other people, and that other people say about us. eBay reputations,LinkedIn profiles, Facebook profiles, etc
  3. Wish for banks to become more transparent and ethical: transparent as to how/where do they invest their (our) money
  4. Opportunity for banks to become social (actual or virtual) community hubs. This rang so many bells with me, remind me to write another blog about my old “village” banker some day.

And, at the end, so much enthusiasm and honesty from these students. They told us something that will remain in my heart: that they enjoyed having met us, representatives of the banking industry! I do wish they keep a nice, warm image of SWIFT.

Thank you again Andreas, Aldo, Alex, Ali, Jaso, Karthik, Pao, Sebastiaan, Ben, Alan, Becky, Fontaine, Michelle, Emma and many others.

Our paths will cross again.