Author Archive: Sarah Milstein

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Sarah Milstein is the General Manager & Co-Chair of Web 2.0 Expo.


Aug 10th, 2010 | Sarah Milstein

Web 2.0 Expo NY Makes the Move to Midtown

Sarah Milstein

Our vision for Web 2.0 Expo NY looks like this: smart leaders, looking toward the future of the web, gather together in a lively venue to meet, exchange ideas,  and get a serious dose of inspiration. You make connections, you learn a lot, you have fun.

Here’s what Expo NY looked like last year: smart leaders, looking toward the future of the web, gathered in the vast lobby of the Javits Center and had a hard time finding our show at all. The Web 2.0 Expo signs were obscured by the much larger banners of a manufactured chemicals show that was in town the same week–and the conference portion of our show, in line with the Javits layout, was in the basement.

New York hosts not only a burgeoning tech startup scene, but also thousands of people who lead tech adoption in sectors like media, fashion, finance and the arts. Attendees of Web 2.0 Expo have repeatedly told us that they’re part of these groups, and they’re looking to our show to help them connect. So while Javits, like most expo halls, has acres of space designed to show off everything from  new cars to fancy packaged foods, it’s not an ideal place for the Web 2.0 community to meet.

This year, to better align the venue with our vision and our attendees’ needs, we’re moving to the Sheraton Hotel & Towers in midtown. It’s better suited to fostering the kinds of connections we care about and, excitingly, it lets us hold evening program onsite.

We’ve cooked up three great nights. On September 27, we’re bringing back an annual Expo favorite: Ignite, a fast-moving series of entertaining and enlightening presentations (with all-new speakers). On September 28, we’re hosting The Liar Show: four people tell outrageous tech stories–but only three are true. Grill the storytellers and guess which is fiction. On September 29, we’re holding Startup Showcase, in which 30 young companies demo their products, and you help pick three to join Tim O’Reilly and Fred Wilson for onstage pitch sessions. Of course, our evening events all include food and bevvies.

What else would you do with a conference-friendly hotel space?

[Cross-posted to O’Reilly Radar.]

May 6th, 2010 | Sarah Milstein

Big News for Expo NY

Sarah Milstein

The tech scene in NY crackles these days with a growing sense of community. Our attendees say they’d like the show to reflect and support that, so we’re shifting to a venue where people can better connect. Instead of holding Web 2.0 Expo at the Javits Center, we’ll be at the Sheraton at 51st & 7th, a hotel with great conference facilities.

The new location means that our announced dates for NY have changed. Mark your calendars for our new dates: September 27 – 30, 2010.

We’re currently reviewing proposals for speakers in NY, and we’re excited about the program that’s shaping up. In early June, look for announcement of the schedule.

Meantime, save the dates for September and plan for a Web 2.0 Expo with strong new opportunities to learn from and meet up with other people who are passionate about working on the web.

Apr 21st, 2010 | Sarah Milstein

The Lean Startup Intensive at Web 2.0 Expo SF

Sarah Milstein

This is a verbatim re-post, with permission, from Eric Ries’s blog, Startup Lessons Learned. Eric is leading the Lean Startup Intensive at Expo, and we’re excited to have him on board.

Eric sez:

I’m discovering the truth of the old saying, “when it rains, it pours.” I keep waiting for the tide of interesting people, opportunities, and ideas to ebb – but so far it has done nothing but accelerate. Thank you all so much. Just one year ago, I gave my first big conference talk at the 2009 Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco. I had no idea what to expect, and the response was truly humbling. So I am particularly excited that the Lean Startup is a big part of this year’s Web 2.0 Expo. Steve Blank and I are both giving keynotes in the main conference track. And for those who want more than just the overview, we’re offering the Lean Startup Intensive on the first day of the conference: May 3, 2010.

We’ve built the Intensive into an all-star program designed to give a comprehensive overview of the methodology, taught by its leading practitioners. Unlike the conference on April 23, the Intensive does not assume any prior knowledge of lean startups, and is designed for a wide audience. Anyone who’s thinking of attending the Expo will get something out of it. I believe it will be the first time each of the following speakers will be presenting a full session back-to-back: Steve Blank, Dave McClure, Sean Ellis, Hiten Shah, Dan Martell, as well as an investing panel which we’ll announce soon. Here’s an excerpt from the official program:

“A startup is a human institution designed to deliver a new product or service under conditions of extreme uncertainty.”

All entrepreneurs face the same fundamental challenges:

  • How do we know if we’re making progress?
  • How do we know if customers will want the product we’re building?
  • And, if they do, how do we know what kind of value we can create with it?

But because every startup also strives to become an institution, answering these questions requires more than just disciplined thinking at the whiteboard. It requires the coordination of many different people, working in concert to answer them. In other words, it requires management.


This event brings together the leading thinkers and practitioners of the Lean Startup movement. The goal is to provide a complete introduction to the theory as well as a grounding in advanced techniques that you can put to immediate use.

This program is designed for people who have a stake in creating great products: engineers, designers, product managers, marketers and businesspeople—from companies of any size. And, of course, for present or future entrepreneurs who are hoping to do more than punch a lottery ticket.

Read the rest here…

I’m incredibly excited about the lineup, and think it’ll provide the world’s first comprehensive introduction to these ideas. If you’re thinking of attending the Web 2.0 Expo, I hope you’ll consider spending your first day with us.

To sweeten the deal, we also have a special 25% discount code which you can use for either the Intensive itself or for a whole Expo pass. The code is websf10ls25 and can be redeemed here. And there are still a (very) few application spots open for a complete conference pass scholarship; details are available here.

So yes, there are two major lean startup events coming up in San Francisco in the next month. Both are going to be amazing, so take your pick. And, as always, if you do decide to stop by, please say hello and let me know you’re a reader. I’m looking forward to meeting you.

Sarah Milstein

You may know that we hold Web 2.0 Expo NY in the fall. But here’s something that may surprise you: the drop-dead deadline for submitting a proposal is next Monday (April 12). In the past, we’ve extended the deadline a week, but we don’t have time for that this year. For a lot of people, that means a big scramble on Monday to get in your submission. As far as we’re concerned, that’s no problem.

But as far as you’re concerned, there is potential snag. For this CFP, we’re requiring video of the proposed speaker or panel moderator. If you don’t have a clip handy, you have to make one. While we don’t expect that to take more than 30 mins or an hour, you could have a hairy evening if you’re working on your submission at 11:45p.

We want the submission process to be smooth, even fun, for you. So we held a webcast with tips on submitting, and I’ve written up the Q&A, below, which includes full detail on the video requirement. Don’t miss the webcast–which has more info on what we look for. The webcast itself is posted on YouTube. The slides from the webcast are posted on SlideShare.

We look forward to reading and watching your proposals.

Q&A on the secrets of submitting a winning conference proposal:

Q: You HAVE to include video? A: Yes, we require it this year.

Q: Can you clarify on the video: sample speech video or elevator pitch — which is it? A: If you have a video of a strong presentation you’ve given before, feel free to post the link to that. If you don’t have a great video (or any video), create a quick-and-dirty (but clear and energetic!) elevator pitch and post that.

Q: So for the video – just be your fabulous self… yes? A: Yes, but we want to see that you can communicate. If your recording a fresh pitch for us, make sure you describe your talk, who it’s for, and what they’ll get out of it.

Q: What’s the ideal video length? A: The video should be no more than about two or three minutes long.

Q: Are there sample videos available? A: Not yet. We’re working on that.

Q: Is there a certain topic that you feel is overdone or that you get a lot of so that we can maybe avoid it? A: Not specifically, but we do see a lot of generic proposals that look very similar. If you propose a session that has unique lessons or data only you could reveal, it doesn’t matter nearly so much if the topic is fairly common.

Q: Can the presentations be too technical? A: We have a Development track, and a very large number of our attendees are programmers. See past shows for examples of technical talks we accepted. (Of course, we also take non-technical talks that are about applications or implications of technology. See past conferences to get a feel for the sort of things we look for.)

Q: If the speaker will speak at Web 2.0 San Francisco, will they NOT be considered for New York? A: We try not to repeat people too much from one show to the next. But if a speaker is very good, we will work with them for more than one show.

Q: Are you open to receiving two proposals from a given company? A: Our system doesn’t prevent you from submitting multiple ideas. But a lot of proposals from one individual or organization most often looks like that proposer has no idea what will work and is just spamming us with everything possible. Better to focus on one or maybe two ideas that are really sharp. We’re far more likely to take those seriously.

Q: You’ve mentioned particular ”tracks” of conferences — are those listed, or something we should consider when proposing? A: In the CFP form, we ask you to pick one or two topics that your session would fit under; those topics are the tracks. We don’t change the tracks a ton from show to show, so you can also take a look at previous shows to get an idea of our tracks, which generally include Development, Marketing, Design and Business Strategy, plus a bunch of mini-tracks on hot topics.

Q: You’ve had hands on session previously, are there any of those available? A: We’re looking primarily for 20-minute and 50-minute breakout sessions. These sessions can feature single speakers, co-presentations or panels. If you have more in-depth, hands-on content, we also program several 3-hour workshops, scheduled for the first day of the conference.

Q: Would submitting myself as a panelist be any different than a single speaker? A: Unlike a lot of other conference organizers, we don’t typically create panels ourselves. That is, we accept proposals for full panels, but we very, very rarely come up with ideas for panels on our own and then solicit people for them. In addition, we almost never place somebody on a panel that’s been proposed to us. So you’re welcome to submit panel ideas with yourself as moderator or panelist, but we can’t recommend that you simply submit yourself as a potential panelist.

Q: Do you allow co-presenting? Example: agency + client. A: Sure. But beware that often, those agency + client proposal look like product pitches. And we’re seriously allergic to product pitches.

Q: How many people attend Web 2.0 Expo? In NY in 2009, we had about 1,300 conference attendees (and about 4.500 total attendees, including people who came for just the keynotes and/or Expo Hall). Double both numbers for Expo SF in 2009.

Q: What makes a proposal stand out? A: A talk is two parts: the speaker and the topic (we talked earlier about sharing your unique story). A gem is less-known speaker who has been writing/speaking about their ideas. A great way to get a speaking slot is to be noticed first for your thinking and writing. Hacker News, for instance, is a good place to get recognized for Development sessions. Bar Camps and Ignites are another great place for speakers to share their ideas and show us some presentation chops.

Q: If we have more questions, who can we ask? A: or

Cross-posted to

Mar 26th, 2010 | Sarah Milstein

Apply for a Full Conference Scholarship

Sarah Milstein

This year, to help make Expo more accessible to early-stage entrepreneurs (for-profit and non-profit), we’re offering 10 full scholarships. The show is May 3 – 6 at Moscone West in SF, and if you receive a scholarship, you can attend any or all days (including the workshops and full-day Intensives on May 3). Of the applications we receive, we’ll award scholarships to those that seem most likely to get a lot out of the event and participate as strong community members.

The application form will remain open until April 15 or until we receive 100 submissions–whichever comes first. We’ll let you know by April 20 whether you’ve been accepted.

Apply today! If you have questions, please leave ‘em in the comments below.


Sarah Milstein is the co-chair of Web 2.0 Expo. She can be reached @SarahM.

Nov 30th, 2009 | Sarah Milstein

What Would Jane Austen Have Twittered?

Sarah Milstein

After the recent Web 2.0 Expo NY–a sprawling, week-long conference and exhibition–I ducked into the Morgan Library to catch A Woman’s Wit: Jane Austen’s Life and Legacy. A one-room show about an 18th century novelist seemed like the perfect antidote to a week of tech talk in the Death Star Javits Center.

As I’d hoped, the Morgan focuses on a handful of objects from Austen’s life, and the commentary is thoughtful. I was surprised, though, to find myself thinking that had Twitter been around in Austen’s time (1775-1817), she would likely have been a fan.

Austen wrote more than 3,000 letters, many to her sister Cassandra. They corresponded constantly, starting new letters to each other the minute they finished the last one and sharing the minutia of their lives. From reading Austen’s novels, I’d always assumed that people in her era spent a long time waiting for the mail. But the show mentions that during Austen’s life, mail in London and environs was delivered six times a day. Sometimes, a letter sent in the morning was delivered the same evening. Which makes snail mail sound a lot more like email or twitttering.

The speed of mail at the time and the content of the Austen sisters’ letters suggest that the desires to communicate instantly and to let other people know what you ate for breakfast aren’t modern phenomenon. Of course, Twitter lets you share your soy milk-to-cereal ratio with strangers and thus adds a layer of publishing to our updates. But people today often assume that email, Twitter and other relatively instant communication media have created a slew of brand new communication behaviors. The Jane Austen show at the Morgan suggests just the opposite: our human patterns are surprisingly consistent, and technology evolves to meet us.

Incidentally, the show doesn’t say when multi-daily snail mail faded, and I wonder if it passed out of fashion with the rise of the telegraph in the mid-1800s. Anyone know?

Mar 25th, 2009 | Sarah Milstein

Web2Open: Sessions You Won’t Want to Miss

Sarah Milstein

I’ve posted this to the O’Reilly Radar and wanted to share it here, too. -Sarah

Next week is Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco, a four-day mind meld for programmers, practitioners and novitiates. The Expo is co-produced by O’Reilly and TechWeb, who, for the third year in a row, are devoting resources and a row of rooms to Web2Opena free, two-day unconference that anyone can attend.

The Open, April 1 and 2 at Moscone West, is like most unconferences in that we provide a blank grid and designated rooms so that you can create your own discussion sessions. But unlike a lot of unconferences, the Open includes a handful of prescheduled sessions. And I gotta tell you, this year, we’ve got some incredible stuff on tap–all for the low, low price of free.

Among the highlights are Hybrid sessions (more fun than the name suggests). We pick three sessions in the main conference track and open them to all Web2Open attendees. Then the presenters from those sessions follow up with lively discussions in the Open. You can join both parts of Hybrid, or just one. This year’s Hybrids include:

- Web Developer Tools with Ajaxian’s Ben Galbraith and Dion Almaer

- The Lean Startup with customer development expert and “Lessons Learned” blogger Eric Ries

- Sparking a Crush: Attracting and Retaining New Users with Adaptive Path’s Alexa Andrzejewski

To attend the Open, you need a free Expo pass and the urge to participate in conversation. The Open site has details on how to register, along with session times. See you next week!