Tech elite warm up for Davos at DLD

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Adam Ewing Munich

As the global business and political elite pour into Davos this week, more and more are arriving with pockets already full of business cards from a similar, but newer, event in Munich.

DLD, a forum for entrepreneurs and technology companies, focused this year on data privacy and the future of Bitcoin, with headliners including Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales, Huffington Post creator Arianna Huffington and Tumblr founder David Karp.

“I’ve been here for three hours and have already met with interesting people where there are immediate opportunities,” said Peter Vesterbacka, the chief marketing officer of Rovio Entertainment, which makes the Angry Birds games.

DLD, which stands for Digital-Life-Design, has attracted about 1 000 attendees for the past several years to the HVB Forum in the heart of Munich, which has just two stages for sessions, plus a smallish dining room with catered food where delegates are almost forced to share tables and interact. Despite rising demand, the organisers say they don’t want to move to a larger venue because they want to retain an intimate atmosphere.

The conference “is about bringing together the brightest, most innovative and the most disruptive in a friendly, open atmosphere”, co-founder Steffi Czerny said.

While DLD has in the past pulled in marquee names such as Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg, Google chairman Eric Schmidt and Yahoo! chief executive Marissa Mayer, it serves as a kind of anti-Davos, a place where the young and exuberant can get pumped up before heading to dinner with the in-laws.

On Monday evening, the DLD crowd headed to a conference centre near the Oktoberfest fairgrounds for a party where two Playboy bunnies posed for photos.

The final event of DLD was scheduled for 10 pm last night in Davos to allow the Munich conference’s digerati to rub elbows with the more buttoned-down denizens of the World Economic Forum meeting.

“It makes a convenient package to do to the digital-lifestyle-design bit first – the fun part as a casual conference – but go on because there are a lot of meaningful meetings in Davos,” said Wales. “It’s a nice combo.”

Huffington, who hosted a session on “mindfulness” with author Paulo Coelho at this year’s DLD, said it would be unthinkable to attend just one of the two events. “There’s an amazing spirit each time I’m here. I don’t think it’s either-or. I love doing both.” – Bloomberg


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