Announcing Chris Messina for TNW2020!

I first became aware of Chris Messina when I heard him promote Flock. He was famous before that, as a vocal supporter/evangelizer of the Mozilla browser, but it was Flock that put me in touch with him. 

At the time, just before we started TNW, we were building a web annotation service named Fleck and I was very proud when Chris signed up as a beta tester in the first week. We exchanged a few emails and he told me to go easy on hyping our unreleased product. We had used a bunch of buzzwords and teased a few journalists and TechCrunch’s Michael Arrington wrote: “I don’t know what Fleck is or does, but I want it”.

Based on that single line review we received 17,000 sign-ups within a few hours. Our product was non-existent but our hype was right up there, and Chris was worried. Obviously and foolishly I ignored his advice and our product never lived up to its hype. But out if its ashes rose The Next Web, so the whole exercise of building and launching another startup did lead to something good.

I first met Chris in the flesh at a conference in Hamburg in 2009 where I moderated a panel on social media. The next interaction we had was when he was at Google+ and I built an unsanctioned statistics service based on the upcoming Google social network. Chris told me: “I like what you did, but don’t like the way you did it.” But he left it at that and no lawyers ever told us to shut down the service. Years later, Google+ would quietly disappear and my statistics service disappeared along with it.

Chris’s most important claim to fame might be an invention you use or interact with every single day. He single-handedly ‘invented’ the hashtag with this one tweet in August, 2007. It goes to show how influential Chris is; all he had to do was simply suggest it and a bunch of other influentials jumped on his proposal, making the hashtag a phenomena that still adds structure to the web today. It's as much a part of our digital vocabulary as links and GIFs are. 

So I’m proud to announce Chris will be speaking at TNW2020 where he will talk about what went wrong with tech, and how tech culture and product design needs to change to make it better for humans. It's a topic I’m very interested in, as TNW wants to be a force for good in digital innovation, so this is right up our alley.

Speaking of TNW2020, TNW’s tech festival is coming up on June 18 & 19 in Amsterdam. Don’t miss the chance to hear from the people leading tech’s biggest brands, including Steve Huffman, CEO of Reddit, and Peggy Alford, Senior VP at PayPal & board member of Facebook. We’ve already confirmed 100+ speakers – check out the full lineup so far. This one is gonna be big! See you there?

What we've been talking about this week

👍 Here's why open offices suck, according to researchers.
😮 Vivo's new concept phone is wild.
👀 Being a good boss is about being yourself — and a road sweeper.
👌 Apple wants to put a trackpad on your iPad's keyboard.
🔍 Miss my story from yesterday? Read it here: "If you want to win everything, you have to be prepared to lose everything."
Bye for now!
Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten
Co-founder & CEO, TNW
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