Guest Speaker Recap

By: Aditya Srinivasan

A sudden silence enveloped the room. The forty-something members of the audience, students and faculty alike, sat dumbfounded and utterly mystified by the man addressing them. As the words spun from his mouth, they wove inspiration and fear, at the same time, into the minds of the audience.

 This man was Vivek Wadha, a highly accomplished technology entrepreneur, delivering a 50-minute presentation encompassing the breadth of his vision regarding the future of technology. Wadhwa is a highly revered member of the Valley, earning recognition as an “Outstanding American by Choice” from the U.S. Government, being named second on a list of “ten men worth emulating” in the Financial Times, and earning a spot in the list of the “Top 100 Global Thinkers” by Foreign Policy Magazine. The tech guru addressed his audience inside the auditorium of Plug & Play Tech Center, an early stage investment firm and incubator in Silicon Valley.

 He began his oration on a familiar note, as he spoke of the proliferation of technology over the last few decades and its large impact on humanity. He discussed the evidence of Moore’s Law, the famous claim that the surface density of transistors on integrated circuits doubles every 18 – 24 months, and how its validity has allowed computing power that used to require acres of physical space to fit in the palm of ours hands. He radiated optimism as he asserted that growth in technology is exponential.

And so was the pace of his talk. As a researcher, Wadhwa performs cutting-edge exploration into new technologies, particular within the field of artificial intelligence. After a brief discourse of the state of current technology, he began to leave the realm of the familiar and venture into the strange land of the unfathomable. The students in the room inched closer to the edge of their chairs, as Wadha discussed digital doctors, 3D-printed organisms, sentient artificial assistants, and quantum computing. There was a brewing sense of awe and trepidation in what the future held, which was only heightened as Wadhwa spoke of the oncoming era of superintelligence, manifest in the hybridization of humans and robots. He stood as the harbinger of the scary truth, and captivated every individual in that room.

It was to experience the surreal, the marriage of what is and what is dreamt of.

Student Recap- Week Two

By: Madison Boyan

Week 2 Woohooo! We had the privilege of starting class with Dr. J this week. I say privilege because several of us have already started calling Dr. J the best professor we have ever had. Monday was Memorial Day and although, to our dismay, we did not have the day off from class we did have a barbeque in the afternoon to celebrate the holiday. We had the chance to meet some of the grad students on the program and a chance to eat some hamburgers and hot dogs.

On Tuesday we returned to the Plug and Play center for class. Plug and Play, the location of our classes this summer, is a super cool space: it is essentially a hub to help get start-ups up on their feet, there are VCs and investors in house and office spaces for groups pursuing their start-ups. In the afternoon we traveled to the Hewlett Foundation and spoke with Lyndsay Louie who is in charge of selecting the foundations beneficiaries each year. This was a really interesting site visit because it was our first private non-profit that we visited.

Wednesday was an early wake-up day as we couldn’t miss our train (again haha) for San Francisco. We visited Coinbase first, a bitcoin company founded by a young Duke alum, Fred Ehrsam. Everyone was wowed by Coinbase’s office space! There were 360 degrees of window looking out onto downtown SF. We traveled to an equally interesting office space later in the afternoon, Common Sense Media, a company that helps to protect children from the harms of today’s media.

The week finished with two quest speakers, Vivek Wadhwa and Michael Tauiliili-Brown. Vivek, a tech entrepreneur, academic, and researcher gave an extremely interesting presentation predicting the future of technology. Although we were all a little scared by the increasing power of technology, it was an eye opening presentation that gave everyone a lot to think about. Michael Tauiliili-Brown, an ex-Duke football player and retired NFL player turned start-up founder, spoke to us about his path: self-learning how to code, raising capital, and launching a business. I think I can speak for everyone in saying that this was a tremendous first week of classes and week of visits!!

Welcome to DSV- 2016

Greetings from Silicon Valley! Week two has officially come to an end and our students are fully immersed in the full Duke in Silicon Valley experience. While we are living in the Mountain View area, we have been traveling throughout the Bay to apply knowledge from the course in both learning and understanding the nuances of the many company visits and guest speaker talks. All 23 students are enrolled in the “Building and Sustaining a Successful Enterprise” instructed by Dr. Jeremy Petranka. Affectionately known as “Dr. J.” to the students, he is currently an Associate Professor of the Practice in the Duke Fuqua School of Business. While this is his first year collaborating with Duke in Silicon Valley, Dr. J. has hit the ground running and guided the students into full engagement with building a foundation of understanding the entrepreneurial life cycle.

During the first week of the program, we visited a number of companies, the first of which was Intuit. SVP Chief of Staff and Duke Alumna, Lindsay Argalas shared their “Design for Delight” strategy and walked individual groups through customer satisfaction experiences via rapid prototyping. Following our visit at Intuit, both the Undergraduate students and the Graduate students attended a San Francisco Giants game and had the opportunity to meet with CIO Bill Schlough, who is also a Duke alumnus. Later in the week, our students visited Idea Couture to gain more insight on global strategic innovation. On our first Friday, we ended with visiting Education Superhighway, where the students met with Founder and CEO, Evan Marwell. At Education Superhighway, Evan outlined specific goals to attain by 2018 in order to provide internet access at every public classroom in America.

The second week of the program kicked off with a visit to the Hewlett Foundation where students dissected the differences between foundations and charities. They then had the opportunity to visit Coinbase, the largest bitcoin wallet company in the world, which was Founded by a Duke alumnus. Throughout the week and during their coursework, Dr. J. guided the students through the elements of ethnographic observations and dissecting psychographic information.

This entire summer has a lot on the menu between the “Building and Sustaining a Successful Enterprise” enterprise, visiting companies, hosting guest speakers, and networking with Duke Alumni. We are very excited to share the experiences of the Summer 2016 Duke in Silicon Valley Cohort! Please stay tuned, as there is much more to come!