LEHI — Following an uprecedented year of successes, the Utah tech community will have a chance to launch 2019 in equally grand style thanks to the biggest lineup yet coming to January's Silicon Slopes Tech Summit.
While there are many slots still to fill, the two-day event is currently slated to host baseball great Alex Rodriguez; Arizona Sen. (and BYU grad) Jeff Flake; Adobe co-founder, Salt Lake City native and University of Utah graduate John Warnock; Pinterest CEO Ben Silbermann; Ancestry.com CEO Margo Georgiadis; Peloton CEO John Foley and many more.
Silicon Slopes Executive Director Clint Betts said the third iteration of the annual summit follows a year in which the state's tech community confirmed, without question, that it's playing on the world stage. Those benchmarks have been numerous but include major public stock offerings by Domo and Pluralsight, as well as an $8 billion buyout of customer experience innovator Qualtrics by European tech giant SAP.
"The success of the past year proves beyond a doubt that Utah is a part of the world-class tech ecosystem," Betts said. "I think 2018 will be viewed, in the decades to come, as an historic year where we proved that we're not a regional tech hub … that Utah builds companies that can compete with anyone, anywhere."
Betts and his team are building a tech event that's also no longer just a regional get-together. Last year's summit drew some 15,000 attendees from around the country and the globe, and this year it is expected that 20,000 will convene at downtown's Salt Palace Convention Center at the end of January.
"The growth of the event has been remarkable," Betts said. "In just our third year, I'm blown away by the attention and prestige we've been able to build.
"Everyone we called or invited to speak not only had heard of the event, but wants to be a part of it."
Unlike the ubiquitous tech company user summits that frequently look and feel like marketing exercises executed at an arena-sized scale, Betts said his non-profit group's summit is about delivering usable, relevant and forward-looking content that appeals to a wide audience, regardless of what part of the tech world they inhabit.
"No matter where you are, we probably have something on the agenda that's relevant and useful," Betts said. "It isn't just for entrepreneurs, isn't just for software technicians, isn't just for blockchain people. It's an event for everyone."
Betts said the six topic tracks planned for the summit include entrepreneur, software development, consumer products, artificial intelligence, blockchain and social good.
While Betts noted sponsorships will cover the cost of putting on the event, the summit will also be getting some help from the state Legislature for the first time in 2019.
A $250,000 appropriation sponsored by Sen. Jake Anderegg, R-Lehi, aimed at helping boost out-of-area participation was approved in the 2018 legislative session, but the money is available only as a post-performance rebate pending the group's ability to hit certain minimum goals.2 comments on this story
The Silicon Slopes Tech Summit has been on a stellar growth arc since launching in 2017 and drawing some 5,000 attendees. Betts said, like the state's burgeoning tech sector, the summit is coming into its own.
"We're working on building an event that functions at the same world-class level as our tech community," Betts said. "From top to bottom, we're programming the highest quality content with the brightest minds from all around the world."
For more information on the 2019 Silicon Slopes Tech Summit, visit siliconslopessummit.com.