What do Kevin Durant, Rich Kleiman, Kirsten Green and Sebastian Thrun all have in common?
Well, they’ll be at Disrupt SF (September 18-20) to tell their stories onstage, and we’re absolutely thrilled to have them join us for the biggest tech startup conference in all the land. We hope to see you at the conference, too, and general admission tickets are currently available with extra early-bird pricing.
Kevin Durant and Rich Kleiman
Kevin Durant needs no introduction. The new Golden State Warriors NBA Champ won the Most Valuable Player Award, NBA Finals MVP Award and the NBA All-star Game MVP award, not to mention being the holder of four NBA scoring titles. But ballin’ isn’t Durant’s only lucrative skill.
The hoops star is also investing his hard-earned cash into startups like Postmates, Acorns and The Players’ Tribune, alongside hotels, restaurants and media development companies. He looks the part, too — Durant drives a Tesla Model S and is known to rub shoulders with the likes of Ben Horowitz, Eddy Cue and Tim Cook. Plus, KD and his agent/partner Rich Kleiman have a content-generation company called Thirty Five Media.
Meanwhile, Kleiman has his own impressive resume. Kleiman started out in the music world at Roc Nation, and eventually rose to VP and agent at Roc Nation Sports, a company founded by Jay Z back in 2013. He now works full-time in sports and has become Durant’s manager and partner at The Durant Company, an umbrella corporation that spans Durant’s various investments.
At Disrupt, KD and Kleiman will pull back the curtain on how they source, evaluate and ultimately decide on investments. They’ll take us through what’s important to them in a company, and give us some insight into what their deal flow looks like.
Kirsten is the founder of Forerunner Ventures, an early-stage venture capital firm in San Francisco. With nearly two decades of investment experience, including from her earlier career as an equity research analyst who followed the specialty retail sector, Green has had almost laser-like focus on e-commerce businesses and her expertise has paid off in spades. Not only did her firm close on a $122 million fund last year — roughly three times the size of her debut fund in 2012 — but her ability to identify visionary entrepreneurs and compelling brand platforms has turned into some big wins for her young firm, including shave kit company Dollar Shave Club, which sold for roughly $1 billion to Unilever last year, and the men’s clothing retailer Bonobos, which just sold to Walmart for $310 million in cash. (Did we mention that she also won VC of the year at our 10th annual Crunchies award ceremony earlier this year?)
We’ll be talking with Green about the ever-changing landscape of the venture world and, more specifically, what she has learned about what makes certain new brands rise to the top, and where other e-commerce players tend to make mistakes. We’ll also get her thoughts on the intensifying battle between Amazon and Walmart.
Sebastian Thrun is one of the world’s most sought-after experts in artificial intelligence and robotics, as well as the founder of ongoing education startup Udacity. In 2010, Google persuaded Thrun to help them create Google X and start the early innings of Google’s autonomous car project, where he worked until founding Udacity in 2013. In fact, one of the first courses he designed was the the computer science of artificial intelligence.
At Disrupt, we plan to cover a lot of ground with Thrun, from the importance of lifelong learning and the progress of Udacity, to his interest in life sciences, notably his work at Stanford on an app to detect skin cancer. We’re also eager to dig in on how Thrun expects artificial intelligence is going to play out in our lives and work, as well as the startup world, where AI has become the new “mobile” in startup pitches around the world — a requirement to get investors’ attention.
AI will be one of the big themes at Disrupt SF. In addition to expert AI speakers like Thrun and others, we are featuring top AI / machine learning startups in the Startup Alley exhibit area, and alongside that we’re also introducing a new feature to Disrupt. Disrupt: Off The Record is a forum to bring together investors, founders, speakers and show attendees for a moderated discussion, Q&A and networking to go deeper. We’re doing one on AI that you won’t want to miss, plus, with our CrunchMatch program, we’re making it easier than ever for AI investors and founders to find each other and arrange a meeting.
Disrupt SF runs from September 18 to September 20. You can pick up tickets here.
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