Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

D: Dive Into Mobile Speaker Bonanza: Google’s Rubin, Nokia’s Elop, Mozilla’s Kovacs, Facebook’s Schroepfer and WhatsApp’s Koum

Now that the 10th D: All Things Digital conference is done, we are full speed ahead on our next event: D: Dive Into Mobile — Global Edition, scheduled for Oct. 29 and 30.

We’re headed to New York City for this gathering — our first one held in the Big Apple — with a lineup that is strongly focused on the globalization of mobile and its worldwide implications.

At the D10 conference, we announced Google mobile guru Andy Rubin, Nokia CEO Stephen Elop and Mozilla CEO Gary Kovacs, but now there’s more:

First up, we have Mike “Schrep” Schroepfer, Facebook’s VP of engineering.

Facebook is unquestionably a mobile superpower — with more than 500 million mobile monthly active users as of April 2012. But mobile products and monetization of them are the company’s biggest weakness and potential source of competition.

No surprise — Facebook is currently in the process of transforming itself from a Web-first to a mobile-first mentality.

Schrep, who joined Facebook in 2008 from Mozilla, is a key steward of that shift, as Facebook builds its infrastructure, systems and engineering to be mobile-first.

With a couple of computer science degrees from Stanford, Schroepfer is on the board of Ancestry.com and is also a trustee of the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology.

We’ve also landed Jan Koum, the co-founder and CEO of blockbuster cross-platform messaging app WhatsApp.

As a free texting alternative, WhatsApp has insane global scale. It’s the No. 1 paid app in more than 50 countries on iOS. And it’s now one of the Top 10 apps of all time on Android, with more than 50 million installs.

As Ina Fried and I started planning Dive Into Mobile, we were cautious about committing to app makers early in the process, given that the market is so incredibly volatile. But it’s pretty clear that the story of WhatsApp will still be compelling in late October.

Just to give you a sense of the acceleration of this app: As of February 2012, WhatsApp said it was sending two billion messages per day — having doubled from one billion just three months before.

Koum, a Yahoo alum, has somehow managed to keep WhatsApp almost entirely off the press and speaker circuit radar — while fending off acquisition offers aplenty, from what we hear. He’s only ever spoken on stage about WhatsApp at Mobile World Congress, where WhatsApp took home the award for best overall app.

Schrep and Koum join an already strong lineup of timely speakers:

Android head Rubin returns to the D stage to talk about where things are headed. In addition to finding out what tasty dessert follows Jelly Bean, Rubin is likely to talk about the challenges of chasing Apple, bringing Android to ever-lower prices, and its latest efforts to crack the tablet market.

Nokia chief Elop is in the midst of a bold but difficult transition, as he aims to remake the Finnish phone maker. The company’s Windows Phone effort has taken off more slowly then hoped, while its existing Symbian phone business has tailed off faster than expected, adding financial pressure to the big strategic shift.

The result is that Nokia has had to cut jobs, close plants and make other moves designed to give the company the resources it needs. While some cutting was an inevitable part of the transition, the most recent efforts involved deeper moves, including the killing off of the company’s next-generation Meltemi operating system for low-end phones.

Mozilla leader Kovacs has grand ambitions of building a standalone operating system for the open Web. He’s working with Telefónica to release HTML5 devices, which should be a well-timed topic this fall when Dive Into Mobile kicks off.

There will be a lot more to come, of course, including some extraordinary demos, so we’ll update our speaker list as soon as we have more news.

As with all D events, tickets are selling fast.

Also to keep on your radar is our second annual D: Dive Into Media conference, next February in Laguna Niguel, which is being run by ATD media ninja Peter Kafka. The conference will delve into the extraordinary changes the media business is undergoing in every sector — from television and film to music and publishing.


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As much as I personally hate it and want to kill them, I think competition is great for consumers.

— Groupon CEO Andrew Mason on would-be Groupon killers