PROVO — In a week that's already included a monumental business deal, homegrown tech giant Qualtrics followed up on its Sunday announcement of an $8 billion buyout by dropping news Thursday that former President Barack Obama will be a featured speaker at the company's 2019 user conference.
And that comes on top of the company confirming in October that Oprah Winfrey will also be appearing at the Qualtrics X4 user summit March 5-8.
Qualtrics co-founder and CEO Ryan Smith shared a text Thursday confirming the news: "Excited to have President Barack Obama coming for a moderated conversation at X4: The Experience Management Summit."
How big a deal is it to get Obama and Oprah on the same ticket?
Ron Gunnell, the longtime booker of talent that accompanies the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square, has successfully scheduled some very, very big names to appear with the choir for its annual Christmas shows. Hugh Bonneville, Angela Lansbury and Walter Cronkite are just a few of his successful bookings. But, even for a guy who's used to working with high-caliber celebrities, Gunnell characterized Qualtrics' feat as quite a coup.
"It's remarkable," Gunnell said. "It's astounding, actually, to book those two incredible individuals."
Gunnell said it's sometimes a two- or three-year effort to get a top talent lined up, but the choir's international reputation play's a powerful role in helping to make connections. He also noted that Qualtrics' success in bringing Obama and Oprah to Utah will reflect positively on more than just the company and its customer conference.
"I am thrilled to see this happen and I think it's fantastic for the state of Utah," Gunnell said. "I'm very proud of the fact that this tech company was able to bring them … it bodes well for our tech industry and our whole state."
The last time Obama made an official visit to Utah was in 2015, when he made a whirlwind 15-hour stop that included meetings with officials from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Gov. Gary Herbert and a handful of Utah Democratic elected officials.
The former president and former first lady Michelle Obama have been much in the news of late, thanks to Barack Obama re-entering the arena of political campaigning on behalf of numerous Democratic candidates in the lead-up to the elections and the recent release of Michelle Obama's memoir, "Becoming."
Besides writing and campaigning, the couple are also entering the world of content creation for the largest U.S. video streaming service.
In May, Netflix announced the Obamas had entered into a "multiyear agreement to produce films and series" for the streaming giant. Recent news reports note the couple have optioned Michael Lewis' book, "The Fifth Risk," which tracks three federal departments while under transition from Obama's leadership to the new administration of President Donald Trump.
In a statement issued by Netflix in May, Obama said he was excited for the opportunity to curate content aimed at promoting creative voices.1 comment on this story
"One of the simple joys of our time in public service was getting to meet so many fascinating people from all walks of life, and to help them share their experiences with a wider audience," said the former president. "That's why Michelle and I are so excited to partner with Netflix — we hope to cultivate and curate the talented, inspiring, creative voices who are able to promote greater empathy and understanding between peoples, and help them share their stories with the entire world."
Michelle Obama has already made the swing through Utah on behalf of the state's burgeoning tech community, appearing on stage with Pluralsight co-founder and CEO Aaron Skonnard last September for Pluralsight's annual user conference.