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A View From TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2012

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This year’s TechCrunch Disrupt, the annual Mecca of Bay Area entrepreneurialism, was an inimitable combination of great ideas, sharp mentors, impressive startups and contagious optimism for the future, along with the inevitable dash of caffeine overdose, self-reverence, insider lexicon and crazy socks.The enthusiasm was palpable, with over 300 startups exhibiting in the hallways and competing in pitch-offs to panels of angel investors and venture capitalists. In between, TechCrunch journalists hosted interviews onstage with interesting figures like Newark Mayor Cory Booker and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

The startup competition was friendly but fierce, particularly in the transportation disrupt-ors field where Your Mechanic, Lit Motors and a bevy of ride sharing services like Uber and Lyft showed off their business ideas and pitching prowess. Other clusters of innovation centered on food and wellness, parenting, sports, entertainment, publishing, conferencing, fan sites, careers, learning and mobile commerce.

The revered wise elders (at least relatively elder) at Disrupt, like Ben Horowitz of Andreessen Horowitz and Reid Hoffman of LinkedIn and Greylock Ventures, this year pointed to the enterprise as a key area for disruptive innovation. Hoffman predicted “the next cycle of IPO’s will be enterprise. And what’s interesting about that is much of [the innovative development] has roots in consumer, like Workday. And these will be substantial, world-changing companies.” The Wall Street Journal subsequently picked up this refrain.

Beyond the visions of smart, dedicated and passionate idealists, TechCrunch Disrupt also gave an entertaining view of some of the silly insider lexicon: terms like “iterate, liftoff, and glocal” used with very straight faces. Google Ventures’ Kevin Rose put it well in this New York Magazine capture of some of the day one conversation overheard on the floor of Disrupt. I didn’t check his socks.

Maria Amundson is GM, Edelman Silicon Valley.

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