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Day 2 Summary – Gilder Telecosm 2006

This is really an excellent conference. I am blogging only the sessions that I believe my readers have a direct interest in, but it should be noted that the many interesting sessions are in topics OUTSIDE of what this blog typically covers. I’ll try and summarize some of those events, and add some color to my experience here.

The most surprising aspect of the conference was the high degree of technical aptitude among many of the attendees.  I was concerned this was going to be a popcorn tech conference but the discussions and the attendees are of high technical caliber.

I had dinner with several sharp folks from EZ-Chip (LNOP) and sat at a table with an Intel Senior Fellow and a researcher from Hughes Research Labs. I had lunch with folks from Infinera and a company I wasn’t familiar with that sounds interesting – Equinix (EQIX). I spoke with their Chief Technologist and learned more about data centers and carriers. Very nice guy, very sharp guy.

The most mentioned company? YouTube.

There was a presentation on Very Light Jets (VLJ’s) and how they could disrupt air travel. The concept is to have small, cheap, fast aircraft that allow people to bypass the carrier hub-and-spoke model. It struck me as being analogous to migrating from a circuit switched network to a packet switched network… maybe I’m stretching a bit there. Air Taxis cannibalize car travelers or trips that would never have taken place in the first place – not necessarily commercial airline passengers. Air Taxis even convert some of those passengers to learn to fly (Not for me, I’ve run out of gas on the road too may times). One thing struck me- there were lots of heavy financial hitters in the audience- what a great advertising opportunity for the VLJ guys. They were literally mobbed on stage by the audience at the conclusion of the panel.

Michael Milken made a great presentation about how America must adapt to a world rapidly evolving due to financial and medical revolutions. Some quick factoids from his pitch:

  • Sputnik shocked the US in 1957. America looked much different then. (Intl phone calls were $12 a minute. 253k Cancer deaths). This was not the end of the US as many feared, it was the beginning of the end of the USSR. Where is Sputnik today? Where is our wake up call?
  • General Electric indicated that 20% of their growth in the previous decade came from emerging markets. It will be 60% in the next decade.
  • China will be the largest English speaking country in the world by 2020. English rapidly becoming the universal global language.
  • The biggest challenge America faces is low educational standards in the face of 600M ascendant middle class individuals in Asia.
  • Medical Tourism: 3x the risk of dying of heart valve transplant in US when compared with India though it costs 10x more.
  • Access to capital is a civil right. Financial revolution has a huge positive impact on global civil rights. Terrorist defined as an Entrepreneur with no access to capital. Securitized mortgages (require good property rights and laws) are a huge democratizing force.
  • Lifestyle is 70% of health care costs (Holy Sh*t!). Nutrition is huge.
  • Health care costs are expected to reach 20% by 2015. Not necessarily bad if it improves life expectancy and this increases productivity. My children born today should live to be 110.

While readers may disagree, I have always admired Milken as a financial innovator. He is also an excellent speaker who is pursuing initiatives that I agree with wholeheartedly (Teacher merit pay, privatizing education).

There were more presentations on Medical technology after dinner, a very straightforward and moving pitch by scientist Arthur Robinson.

  • Diagnostic Medicine needs to be put into the hands of the consumer, and the Internet can be used as an interpretive tool. Currently these tools are monopolized by your doctor.
  • The computing power now exists to use biomarkers as ways to set up health benchmarks, and bring quantitative measurements to gauging overall health.
  • Eliminate the gatekeeper, give the consumer control, and then Medicine will be benchmarked by quality and price.

I don’t feel like I am doing justice to the simplicity and clarity of Mr. Robiinsons arguments.

That’s day one. I have two more session summaries to write up, very interesting discussions about data center hardware and ‘The Death of the All Optical Network’. You really get your moneys worth with this conference – it runs 8AM to 9PM. It leaves little time for getting work done, and getting blogging done.

This post is one of a series as I blog the Gilder Telecosm 2006 conference. All posts can be found by searching for ‘Telecosm 2006’.


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  1. very good job!

    Posted by ron redfield | October 6, 2006, 5:55 PM
  2. Love Milkin’s ideas to empower the consumer. First you need to break the medical union. many routine tests that catch things early could be performed by nurses. Then you have to get the lawyers out of it and use arbitration panels to settle malpractice cases. Eventually we will get to free markets. right now medical costs are deadly to prosperitiy.

    Posted by Ron Z | October 6, 2006, 11:05 PM
  3. Milken opened my eyes to someting. It isn’t medical costs that are the problem. It’s ROI. If you spend 20% of GDP on medical care, but if people live to be 150 and work (this is the key change) until they are 100, then 20% is actually pretty cheap.

    I propose this: The ROI on an incremental dollar spent on health must return more net GDP due to greater productivity as a result oflongevity. That is the only metric that matters.

    Posted by Andrew Schmitt | October 7, 2006, 12:26 PM