CHINA. DISRUPT. OMFG.
The other day I got an innocuous email in my inbox from United Airlines making sure if I was prepared for my upcoming flight to China. Wait, what? That's still weeks away right? Why am I getting this email now?
As it turns out I leave for China on WEDNESDAY. That's right: Disrupt Beijing is almost here. It's as tantalizingly close as a warm Jian Bing from a Beijing street vendor. (My first stop, btw.) I spent years arguing we should do a Disrupt event in China, and honestly, I never really thought it would happen. I mean, for Mike Arrington, Seattle is an emerging market.
Even after it was greenlit-- sometime late last year-- there were still a million times it almost failed. There were many times Mike shook his head and said to me, "You don't have a conference." And indeed, I didn't for a while other than in my head. We had epic problems with the venue and dates. An unexpected pregnancy boxed us in on dates and meant I had to plan the agenda totally remotely. I had a devil of a time getting many US names to commit to coming, and a harder time working amid the schedules of the ones who wanted to come. Our first choice of venue was cruelly snatched away by a Ferragamo fashion show and I've boycotted everything Italian since. The astronomical costs weighed against the limited sponsorship and ticket revenues ensured this thing would never make money.
As I frantically tried to finish an agenda before my due date, I was gnawed by guilt that I'd talked our very fiscally responsible CEO Heather Harde into a money pit of a conference and wrecked the health and wellfare of our amazing conference coordinator Tanya Porquez, who has worked US and China hours for most of the last few months. (Tanya has probably invested even more sweat and tears into this event than I have. I hope her husband forgives me one day....) Worse was the fear that I'd have to write a post saying we weren't bringing Disrupt to Beijing after all. I discovered every reason more blogs don't launch major conferences in mainland China-- even with amazing help and local partners, it is just not easy.
But somehow it has not only come together; it has come together more beautifully than I could have hoped. I've gushed about all of our speakers here, but the Battlefield companies are just as impressive. If you live in Asia and you aren't coming to this conference, you'll be sorry. If you're in the US and have always wanted to learn about China's startup scene and aren't coming, you'll be sorry. And if I asked you to speak and you said no, you'll really be sorry when you hear about how much fun the US speakers are going to have between karaoke nights, picnics on The Great Wall, and a potential evening with a mechanical bull in a Chinese Honky Tonk. I mean....a night of Chinese Urban Cowboy? That is just awesome.
My future at TechCrunch has been a little uncertain since the drama went down last month, but even if I wind up moving on, this conference will be one hell of a final swan song.
Of course, the conference is somewhat bittersweet for me, as I have to leave my six-week old baby for a week. Nearly every mother I know has spent the last ten months telling me how impossible this will be. Even Marc Andreessen bet me $100 I wouldn't wind up getting on the plane. I GET IT. it's biologically hard for any mom to leave a new baby. I'm not a robot. I feel a surge of sadness everytime I hand my baby off to the night nurse-- even on days when I'm exhausted and have been counting the minutes until she arrives. It's going to be tough. Pandora finding excuses to play "Cats in the Cradle" over and over again doesn't help.
I mean, look at this smile:
No one wants to leave that. But this is life as a working mom. I've spent most of my maternity leave working on final details, dragging Eli from meeting-to-meeting, vetting Battlefield companies while I burp him and feed him. At least the time zones have been less of a problem, since I'm awake in the middle of the night anyway. It's not ideal, but having a baby didn't change who I am. The insane love for my son didn't eclipse every other passion, it just added another huge one to the top of the list.
Hopefully he'll forgive me. I'm leaving him in good hands with his daddy and granddad (#twoandahalfmen) and I've left him a freezer full of milk and a bunch of mommy-smelling clothes in ziplock bags. Having fully Disrupted my work and homelife, we're officially ready to Disrupt Beijing.
(Yes, Tickets are still available.)
An unforgettable portrait of the emerging world's entrepreneurial dynamos Brilliant, Crazy, Cocky is the story about that top 1% of people who do more to change their worlds through greed and ambition than politicians, NGOs and nonprofits ever can. This new breed of self-starter is taking local turmoil and turning it into opportunities, making millions, creating thousands of jobs and changing the face of modern entrepreneurship at the same time. To tell this story, Lacy spent forty weeks traveling through Asia, South America and Africa hunting down the most impressive up-and-comers the developed world has never heard of....yet.
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