Tech Elite Gather at DLA Piper Summit

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2008-10-23 Print this article Print

DLA Piper's Global Technology Leaders Summit drew together a small but powerful crowd of IT CEOs and CFOs this year for a behind-the-curtain conversation on the global financial crisis and how IT can avoid drowning, or maybe save the world. Access to the conference, hosted by Sen. George Mitchell's DLA Piper law firm, was tightly controlled and limited--no cameras, no reporters, no leaks. Inside this relatively secure room, the leaders of technology were able to speak candidly about the financial troubles facing their firms.

EAST PALO ALTO, Calif.-Earlier this week, in a conference room here at the Four Seasons, some of the most powerful figures in Silicon Valley gathered for an informal meeting to discuss the state of IT in general and, by the way, how the rapidly zig-zagging economy also is impacting it.

The conference, hosted by the DLA Piper international law firm, was tightly controlled and limited in access, in that no outside cameras and no working reporters were allowed inside. So, inside this relatively secure room, the leaders of technology were able to be candid about their situations in the new economy, as well as talk about trends-and any other news-they are seeing in each of their sectors.

The 2008 Global Technology Leaders Summit featured some true name-brand players from Microsoft, Sun Microsystems and other major IT leaders.

The guest lineup could have rivaled any "Who's Who in IT." CXOs from Amazon,, Stanford University, Safeway, Pacific Gas & Electric, the state of California, the U.S. Departments of Transportation and Health & Human Services, Research In Motion, Qualcomm, Cisco Systems, NetSuite, Pfizer, and several other distinguished enterprises were in attendance.

Even though there appeared to be only about 200 guests, the world was well-represented. The U.K., France, South Africa-even Macedonia-had people at the conference.

Former Sen. George Mitchell, chairman of DLA Piper-a leading international firm that does a busy practice in IT venture capital and intellectual property law-was the third keynote speaker, and he proved to be a gracious, humble host with a marvelous self-deprecating humor.

You might remember Mitchell as the key U.S. envoy in the accords that brought peace to Northern Ireland in 1998 after generations of fighting (thanks to the Good Friday Agreement) and as the director of Major League Baseball's 2007 internal investigation into the illegal use of performance-enhancing drugs among its athletes.

Here are a few of the highlights that were talked about at the summit:

  • Cloud computing for large enterprises is a dead duck, in the opinion of several venture capital firms.
  • The current slowdown in the U.S. macroeconomy is definitely going to hurt the IT industry, as it will most of the nation's businesses, for at least the next year and most likely into the next two years.
  • The major pharmaceutical companies are fast becoming glorified marketing and sales organizations, and if they aren't careful, they could soon become irrelevant as consumers move more and more toward generic brands. Biotech companies are "where the biopharm[aceutical] money is at," one astute observer said.
Chris Preimesberger Chris Preimesberger was named Editor-in-Chief of Features & Analysis at eWEEK in November 2011. Previously he served eWEEK as Senior Writer, covering a range of IT sectors that include data center systems, cloud computing, storage, virtualization, green IT, e-discovery and IT governance. His blog, Storage Station, is considered a go-to information source. Chris won a national Folio Award for magazine writing in November 2011 for a cover story on and CEO-founder Marc Benioff, and he has served as a judge for the SIIA Codie Awards since 2005. In previous IT journalism, Chris was a founding editor of both IT Manager's Journal and and was managing editor of Software Development magazine. His diverse resume also includes: sportswriter for the Los Angeles Daily News, covering NCAA and NBA basketball, television critic for the Palo Alto Times Tribune, and Sports Information Director at Stanford University. He has served as a correspondent for The Associated Press, covering Stanford and NCAA tournament basketball, since 1983. He has covered a number of major events, including the 1984 Democratic National Convention, a Presidential press conference at the White House in 1993, the Emmy Awards (three times), two Rose Bowls, the Fiesta Bowl, several NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments, a Formula One Grand Prix auto race, a heavyweight boxing championship bout (Ali vs. Spinks, 1978), and the 1985 Super Bowl. A 1975 graduate of Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., Chris has won more than a dozen regional and national awards for his work. He and his wife, Rebecca, have four children and reside in Redwood City, Calif.Follow on Twitter: editingwhiz

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