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What you can learn from the calendar of our fifth annual Philly Tech Week

The fifth annual Philly Tech Week, now presented by Comcast, kicks off later this week. There are more than 150 events on the calendar, two dozen of the largest anchors we at Technical.ly organize. We publish in five markets now and do an array of events but this is easily the largest undertaking of ours each year.

Below find out what you can learn by looking at that calendar.

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A few additions to Philadelphia magazine’s profile of Technical.ly

Ahead of the fifth annual Philly Tech Week, Philadelphia magazine profiled Technical.ly, the local tech news site I cofounded that helps to organize the calendar of more than 150 events.

The piece is fair, largely flattering but challenging, too. It was written by Joel Mathis, whom I’ve come to know some through Philadelphia media circles but got to speak to more at length during the interview process (thanks for the interest Joel). I can admit that I was nervous how the piece would land after I found out the magazine announced plans to launch a vertical focused on “innovation,” but I’ve seen the piece and their plans for Biz Philly appear to be a wider business blog.

It’s still a strange time here for the local news media environment.

Still, though I think Joel did a fine job, I wanted to share a few more background thoughts for those who might be interested. Read the item here, or buy the mag if you can, then check out below. (Also, check out this cool blog post of a mutual friend who reached out to make sure the typewriter I’m using in the photo was authentic — it was a gift from my grandfather.)

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Don’t build a company for 60 days. Try 60 years: SAP CEO Bill McDermott

When you run a publicly-traded company with an $80 billion market cap, it’s easy to focus on the short-term. Strained by a year of declining share price, Bill McDermott, the first American CEO of German software giant SAP, says he’s far more focused on making an organization-wide shift that will better suit the company for the future.

“You can’t build a company for 60 days; build for 60 years,” he said.

I interviewed McDermott as a keynote for the IMPACT venture capital conference held by PACT in Center City Philadelphia last week. Find my coverage of our conversation here.

Number of Views:770
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Obamacare more than doubled my company’s healthcare costs: here’s what we did

Following the July 2014 final rules implementation of the Affordable Care Act, my company Technical.ly was impacted more severely than we expected. This is not a political article — I am not opposed to Obamacare — this is a small business owner’s experience.

With just eight full-time team members (excluding, of course, our part-time independent contractors), I am solely responsible for managing our healthcare coverage plan, and while I tried to prepare for what the change might be, I wasn’t ready for our costs to more than double, and, for some plans, almost triple. Here’s what I learned and what we did.

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Founders aren’t scalable

Founders aren’t scalable. You can grow an organization only so far with a founder and her emotion, personality and drive.

So you shouldn’t build an organization around them. They’re great in the beginning. They’re the ultimate generalists, as a good founder will do anything to get the job done. But it won’t last. It can’t last. Even if a founder stays a lifetime, eventually that life will end.

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Number of Views:2143
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I don’t believe the estimates for how many people attended your event

I go to a lot of events. I cover them. I organize them. I speak at the em. I attend them. For any given event, easily the most common question is how many people attend. It’s how we get a sense of how popular (which is a clumsy shorthand for how valuable something is) the event was. But it’s the wrong question and, I’ve found, almost always a lie.

Because it’s so damn hard. Think about the challenge of estimating attendance at large-scale public events. We always have our reporters estimate attendee counts and often have organizers challenge us. Once an event stretches beyond even just a few dozen people, there’s no sure thing that anyone there will have a good sense of the attendee count. People will have a perceived sense of the crowd — was the event well attended or not — but that has very little to do with actual account and more to do with how full an event location is, among other biases and perspectives. Give me the right number of chairs, and I’ll make your 20-person event crowded.

It’s become second nature for me to hand count attendance at smaller events and do batch counting for larger ones (gauge what a group of 100 looks like and then estimate from there). So I read other event estimates with heavy skepticism.

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“How Philly Tech Week Became an Institution” Philadelphia magazine

Christopher Wink isn’t yet on Philly Mag’s list of the city’s most powerful people (check out the newest issue!) but give it time. He’s a young man in a hurry, a co-founder of the Technically Philly website that has grown into a franchise covering the tech scenes in several East Coast cities. That venture gave birth to Philly Tech Week — the fourth edition of which starts today — and which is expected to draw 25,000 people to game-playing, hack-a-thons, seminars on starting up your own tech company, and much more. (And oh, yeah: People will be playing Tetris on the side of the Cira Centre.)

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Philly Tech Week: 5 events I’m most proud of happening

Event production is stressful, chaotic and labor-intensive. It is also an act in designed collision. There is a lot of learning to be done in all of these ways.

This Friday will kickoff the fourth annual Philly Tech Week Presented by AT&T, far and away the largest collaborative effort in which I have ever taken part. To track what I’m learning in the process, I pulled five of the more than 130 events happening during the week from which I believe I’m learning the most.

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Number of Views:1263
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Journalism DNA: Is Technical.ly a journalism outlet?

Acts of journalism are challenging and at times infrequent things for local news organizations. Pushing a community and seeking to find outcomes through difficult questions is the best of what media can do. Balancing that with the work tied to creating a sustainable news venture is a consuming one. Here’s where I am in my thinking about that process.

When we launched in 2009 what has since become Technical.ly, we always prepared for a content mixture that would include information and community journalism. We were trained in a newspaper worldview that put a type of ethical paradigm and professional standards that we embraced, even as we challenged its traditions.

Along the way, I found out that I want to build something that could have an impact. Pessimists are nothing but spectators and reporters are almost always pessimists.

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Number of Views:4798