Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

More D10 Speakers: Ellison, Meeker, Myhrvold, Along With Pixar and Visa!

A month ago, I posted an initial list of speakers for the 10th D: All Things Digital conference.

After a decade, the event — which is held in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., just south of Los Angeles, at the end of May — has attracted another amazing group of speakers, including: New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg; serial entrepreneur Sean Parker, who will appear with Spotify co-founder and CEO Daniel Ek; Zynga founder and CEO Mark Pincus; Federal Trade Commission Chairman Jon Leibowitz; LinkedIn Chairman and VC Reid Hoffman, who will appear with the social business site’s CEO Jeff Weiner; and Skype CEO Tony Bates.

Now, here’s another group of stellar speakers we’ve added to the programming lineup (and there are still even more big names to come in the weeks ahead): Oracle CEO Larry Ellison; former tech analyst superstar and now VC Mary Meeker of Kleiner Perkins; Intellectual Ventures’ Nathan Myhrvold; Pixar co-founder and Disney animation head Dr. Ed Catmull; and Visa President John Partridge.

Larry Ellison, CEO and founder of the enterprise giant Oracle, needs little introduction, as one of tech’s highest profile figures and a true Silicon Valley icon. Frankly, I think the short bio that’s on Oracle’s Web site says it all: “Larry Ellison has been CEO of Oracle Corporation since he founded the company in 1977. He also races sailboats, flies planes, and plays tennis and guitar.” There will be a lot to talk about with the voluble and always entertaining exec — who appeared at the D conference once before many years ago — from the current state of the tech industry to insights to where it’s all going. (In addition, Ellison has agreed to appear on a panel we are doing as a tribute to his close friend, Apple’s former CEO Steve Jobs.)

Another well-known tech figure is Meeker, who is now a partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, having joined the storied venture capital firm in early 2011. She focuses there on investments in its digital practice and via KP’s Digital Growth Fund, working with companies such as Spotify, Jawbone and One King’s Lane. But Meeker is perhaps best known for her long stint — 1991 to 2010 — as a star Internet research analyst at Morgan Stanley, where she brought many of the Internet’s great companies to the attention of Wall Street and beyond. She also wrote a series of groundbreaking reports on the landscape. That includes her annual “State of the Internet,” which Meeker will debut this year at the conference in an extended demo of her always riveting Internet trends presentation.

Nathan Myhrvold is also a tech legend, having worked for 14 years as chief strategist and CTO of Microsoft. But, instead of retiring, the avid inventor decided to focus on patents, founding and leading a controversial company called Intellectual Ventures, which buys them up and licenses them out (or sues if it doesn’t sell). With all the mishegas around patents right now, it’s a good time to have Myhrvold back to explain it all and perhaps to take some of the blame for the explosion in intellectual property lawsuits. (Myhrvold also co-authored a cookbook, “Modernist Cuisine,” so we hope we will also get some sort of futuristic cooking demo. Perhaps, Patently Delicious Flan?)

Speaking of tasty, the animation from Pixar over the years has been just that and it’s been one of Disney’s greatest acquisitions. Given how much Pixar has contributed to animation technology, we are glad to finally get Dr. Ed Catmull onstage. As co-founder of Pixar Animation Studios and president of Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios, he will discuss where entertainment and technology are intersecting and where they are not. Catmull is a geek’s geek in the industry — having also founded the computer graphics laboratory at the New York Institute of Technology, the computer division of Lucasfilm, as well as Pixar, which he did with chief creative officer John Lasseter. Get ready to talk about image compositing, motion blur, subdivision surfaces, cloth simulation and rendering techniques, texture mapping and the z-buffer. Also, Catmull’s five Academy Awards.

Lastly, it is perfect timing for bringing on John Partridge, president of Visa. With swirling issues around online identity theft, digital privacy, the future of money and the rise of upstart competitors such as Square, Partridge has his hands full at the credit card giant. One of the most neglected arenas in tech, the way we manage payments is perhaps the biggest story of the next era, especially as it relates to mobile and the rise of smartphones as all-purpose devices.

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