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Joel on Software

The Business of Software 2009 speaker lineup

by Joel Spolsky
Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Three years ago, I was invited to New Zealand to speak at Webstock, the local web conference. Now, let me tell you honestly, I go to a lot of these conferences, and the speakers are often saying the same things, or I’ve heard them before, so it’s hard for me to sit still when the other speakers are talking.

But once in a while, someone gets up and just blows me away. I’m absolutely riveted and I start scribbling notes furiously. One or two good speakers like that, and you’ve got a conference that’s worth going to. In Wellington, New Zealand, it was Kathy Sierra. Kathy co-created those Head First programming books with all the crazy pictures and diagrams and the cover stock photography of cool-looking models taken from a very high angle. Kathy used to write a blog called Creating Passionate Users which, though dormant, is still awesome. At Webstock, she got up and started talking about brains and lions and all kinds of things and it was the most amazing speech I ever heard.

So I’m incredibly excited to announce that Kathy will be speaking at this year’s Business of Software conference (Nov 9-11, San Francisco).

And it’s not just Kathy. Neil and I share a philosophy that instead of doing a conference with one or two keynote speakers and a lot of filler, we want to have a conference where every speaker is worth going out of your way to hear. With any one of these speakers, it’d be worth going to this conference. With all of them, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

We’ve got Geoffrey Moore. His seminal book Crossing the Chasm discovered the problem growing high tech companies making the leap from the early adopters to the mainstream. You won’t find many successful startup founders that haven’t read and learned from Moore.

We’ve got Don Norman, author of The Design of Everyday Things, one of the most influential books about usability in the history of the field.

We’ve got Paul Graham, who created one of the first internet ecommerce sites, who invented a spam filtering algorithm that has kept our inboxes relatively clean, and who has inspired and funded a whole generation of entrepreneurs through his seed investment fund Y Combinator.

We’ve got Heidi Roizen, who co-founded T/Maker, a PC software company that she grew to over 100 employees, and is now CEO of SkinnySongs.

We’ve got Jennifer Aaker, a professor of marketing at Stanford, Michael Lopp, a.k.a. Rands in Repose, who wrote the book on managing humans at high tech companies.

I’m just getting warmed up. You’ll also hear from Ryan Carson, Paul Kenny, Dharmesh Shah, and the mysterious entity known only as The Cranky Product Manager.

I’ll be speaking, too.

I’ve never seen anything like this ... a one-track conference with two and a half days of awesome speakers, every one of whom would be worth going to San Francisco to hear. This one will sell out. The conference is $1995, but the next 65 people to register save $500, so register sooner rather than later.


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