Apple CEO Tim Cook, longtime Microsoft chief and LA Clippers owner Steve Ballmer, NBA superstar and now Utah Jazz part-owner Dwayne Wade, Jazz majority owner Ryan Smith, US Senators from Utah and many others are in the mix for two days at the Salt Palace on Wednesday.
The Silicon Slopes Tech Summit is back in action this week, with its final performance dwindling to early 2020 before the Kovid-19 closes the world, with more opportunities for A-list speakers and spectators, which are now being measured internationally.
Since its inception in 2017, the annual summit has been growing by an event that has attracted a few thousand durables, which, in pre-epidemic times, had built its audience into the tens of thousands.
“The Silicon Slope Summit is, in a way, a great reunion for our local and wider, startup and tech community,” Betts said. “We haven’t seen each other for a year and a half. It has a real appetite and it makes sense to finally be able to do that.”
This year’s edition will include personal and virtual attendance options, Silicon Slopes Executive Director Clint Betts said the summit is a unique opportunity to reunite the community beyond Utah’s borders.
Tech’s unlikely ringer: Mike Lee
Challenges and Successes have been the focus of many debates at the Slope Summit this week, with some insight into some of the biggest names in the tech world. If Apple’s Tim Cook heads this year, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg will be featured at the 2020 event. Interestingly, a well-known, non-technical Utah man has been instrumental in locking both of these back-to-back mega bookings.
Utah Sen. Mike Lee.
In an interview on Tuesday, Lee said he has known Cook since 2015 and speaks to the Apple leader fairly regularly.
He shared details of the surprise profit he received from his first visit with the man who succeeded Steve Jobs. Jobs, Apple’s co-founder and long-time figurehead, died Oct. 5, 2011 from complications related to pancreatic cancer. “Cook contacted me in 2015 and asked if we could meet,” Lee said. “They came in and we had a good conversation and it felt like we were really hitting it. After we discussed all the things they wanted to discuss, I got a chance to ask some questions about Apple products and then I said, ‘When I bring you here, my iPhone is working’.
Lee said he was not sure what Cook’s reaction would be and expected to put him on guard. But instead, Cook asked a senior senator from Utah some questions to nullify the problem, diagnose the problem, and tell him how to solve it. Lee said his first experience with Apple’s top executives is about a cook-like business leader.
“I was talking to the CEO of the world’s largest market cap corporation and I had a really vague question about one of their products,” Lee said. “And he knew how to fix it.” Lee said Cook’s deep agility on big and small issues sets him apart in the global tech market with aggressive and competent competitors.
“It was telling me, along with having a firm idea of what to do to make a profit, expand the company, identify new product lines … and maintain their relevance and appeal to customers. That’s how things work,” Lee said. “I don’t think there are a lot of business leaders at Apple’s level that can do both.” And Lee had the opportunity to explore the depth and breadth of Cook’s knowledge and insight as he joined Fireside Format Chat at the Summit on Wednesday afternoon.
Connections big and small Along with a long list of high-octane speaker line-up and breakout sessions that cover the latest trends and issues in the minds of tech and innovation businesses, the gathering is a place of unexpected connections and sometimes nuts.