Ukraine In The Spotlight At TNW 2022
16-17 of June, we visited the TNW Conference 2022 in Amsterdam, which came back after almost 3 years of lockdowns — and now present the coverage and insights into the latest developments in tech through the lens of the Ukrainian tech community perspective.
TNW Conference is where industry leaders and tech enthusiasts come together to explore how tech will shape the world of tomorrow. We got insights from industry pioneers and met international tech executives, policymakers, startups, and scale-ups to accelerate our efforts even in wartime — do business, get inspired, meet industry peers, and enjoy every minute of it.
Let’s dive into the Vision, Ignite, Discovery, and Growth Quarters conference’s stages together.
TNW at a glance
Taking place at Taets Art and Event Park, the two days of TNW were steaming with insightful sessions from speakers like Edward Snowden, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, Dr. Christian Busch, and the president of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky, panel discussions, startup battles, and pear-to-pear meetings.
TNW 2022 in numbers:
“TNW Conference is like Woodstock for innovators”, James Beacham, PARTICLE PHYSICIST AT CERN
TNW Conference 2022 Themes
Boost — discovering the most innovative ways in which companies lead with authenticity and creativity, how they maximize their marketing ROI, and leverage tech & data to fuel customer experience.
Growth Quarters — exploring all things Founders and Funding during thought-provoking sessions. Past talks examined the fundamentals of scaling a business, and how to initialize startup Davids against tech Goliaths.
Futureproof — tour the ways the tech of the future will transform society and businesses, and uncover what kind of influences lead to a resilient individual, company, industry, and society.
Impact — sustainability, diversity, and inclusive economies are current leading societal challenges. The experts discussed how technology and the tech industry can influence change for the better.
Neural — delved into the world of AI, and saw how it can reshape the businesses and societies of the future. Previous sessions have explored quantum computing, deepfakes, and the fate of humanity.
Shift — navigated the future of multimodal mobility with leading experts in the tech industry, as they reimagined transport, and discussed what we can do to reach our 2050 carbon emissions net zero goal.
Sprint — learned how to create the latest market killer and breakout tech from the CPOS and CTOs of products you love to use and best-in-class developers and designers.
Tech & Money — took a deep dive into the world of finance, and discovered the ways in which the latest tech is disrupting and transforming payment methods, currencies, financial markets, and economies.
Sorting the nonsense from reality can often be an exercise in trying not to throw the baby out with the bathwater.
These speakers helped us navigate the uncharted waters of the future of tech and society
We witnessed Edward Snowden‘s live Q&A discussing the future of the web. He urged everyone to fight for change: “How do we recognize that the system as it exists today is not good enough? And to recognize that it could be better, and to recognize that it should be better, and to recognize it individually and collectively we could make it better, but it will not become better unless we force that to happen. And if you’re not willing to make that happen, then who is?”
And we are being asked by history in this moment right now, what are we going to do with it?
Maxine Williams, Chief Diversity Officer at Meta, works to support the growth of underrepresented people at the company and improve cognitive diversity; she believes people with varying backgrounds, experiences, and knowledge help create a stronger company. “The next phase of online identity is an even more immersive and complete digital presence that can move with you across today’s internet and eventually the metaverse.”
We can put diversity, equity, inclusion and representation at the center of what we will build and how we will build it.
Edwin Aoki, CTO, Blockchain, Crypto, and Digital Currencies at PayPal spoke on the topic of the new normal for commerce and payments and that isn’t just about digitalizing existing processes and systems. Edwin emphasized on understanding consumers’ needs and taking advantage of new technologies so consumers can shop and pay on their own terms allowing new merchants to focus on delivering business value.
IBM’s first ever chief AI officer Seth Dobrin participated in the panel “Building creative partnerships between humans and machines.” Under Dobrin’s leadership, IBM’s AI department has become the world leader in B2B machine learning solutions. IBM and Dobrin are trying to redefine what big tech’s position in the AI sector is. And, it turns out, when your bottom line isn’t driven by advertising revenue, subscriber numbers, or future hype, you can build solutions that are as efficacious as they are ethical.
Be ready for regulations
Speaking at the Ignite stage, author of “Crime Dot Com: From Viruses to Vote Rigging, How Hacking Went Global” and investigative journalist Geoff White explained how North Korea has become a hacking superpower while the vast majority citizens of the country don’t have access to the global internet.
“But hacking is just the start of it. If I hack your bank accounts, and I steal your money, that’s fine, but I’ve got to put it somewhere. I’ve got to launder the money and I’ve got to get access to it. Computer hackers aren’t necessarily the best at all of that other stuff. But I’ll tell you who is... organized criminals. And so North Korea’s hackers have started working with organized crime, which can provide the necessary networks.”
Ukraine is in the spotlight
Oksana Zabolotna, Qubit Labs: “Ukrainian Startups During a War”
During the first day, on the Growth Quote stage Oksana Zabolotna, cofounder of Qubit Labs, CMO at Symptomatical, Women in Tech Ukraine, represented the ecosystem via “Ukrainian Startups During a War” and shared the view on how Ukrainian startups tackle challenges during wartime and why it’s the time to make impact investments in brave Ukrainian tech innovators.
Emotional videos about Ukraine, a techland in the heart of Europe, a home for hundreds of brave startups, developers, and cases of the deep involvement of the Ukrainian tech team during russian aggression touched the audience. We face enormous challenges but keep strong as our defenders on the frontline, address them, demonstrate resilience, and achieve goals and victories to prevail in this war.
As a special guest at the main stage, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressed TNW conference live by hologram via AR, announcing a program of ‘digital lend-lease’ in which Ukraine could be used to develop new technologies in return for financial and technological support. The scheme envisions tech firms developing new technologies in Ukraine to build a ‘new Ukraine together, free, brave, and digital,’ Zelenskyy said.
In a sea of tech geeks, the hologram of the President was something that drew eyeballs and kept attention on.
Highlights of the speech:
- Zelenskyy painted a vision of Ukraine as a fully digital democracy, where technologies would allow for the ‘total stability of all state institutions and the banking system,’ from cloud information storage, online learning, and medicine to using artificial intelligence in the judiciary.
- Zelenskyy urged the tech communities of Europe and beyond to continue connecting and investing in the bright minds of Ukraine. Companies like Grammarly, Gitlab, and MacPaw were all born in this growing innovation hub. And with further support, they can continue (despite the current circumstances) to flourish.
- The President also talked about how a recent fundraising initiative, United24, aimed at bringing donations and digital infrastructure into Ukraine.
- “Ukraine is a chance for you, for your companies, your technology, knowledge, expertise, and investments to bring even more value.” The Ukraine Recovery Conference will be held on July
4-5in Lugano, Switzerland. There the government of Ukraine will share its recovery plans with international partners.
- “Our goal is to make Ukraine the freest digital state in the world. Ukraine is a chance for a global digital revolution.”
- ‘Perhaps it’s unusual for presidents or heads of government to use a hologram to address people, but this is not the only aspect of Star Wars that we are putting into practice. We will defeat the empire, too.’
“Ukrainians today are on the frontline of the fight against Russian attacks. It’s not Star Wars — it’s reality... Let’s build a new history together, new Ukraine together, free, brave, and digital!”
A hologram of President Zelensky was beamed into six of Europe’s biggest tech conferences simultaneously: TNW, the President’s speech was broadcast to Paris’ Vivatech, London’s Founders Forum, Stockholm’s Brilliant Minds, the AI Summit in London, and SuperReturn Berlin.
Dima Shvets, Reface: “Born in a pandemic, tested by war”
During the conference’s second day, Reface’CEO Dima Shvets spoke at the Discovery stage to the global audience about how to be a wartime CEO via the presentation “Born in a pandemic, tested by war — how challenges helped us to build a hyper-growth product.” Dima shared the path and lessons of running a business in wartime, the projects and the charity initiatives launched during the war (Memomet, Reface Fund).
“The thing is that all founders of Ukrainian startups became wartime CEOs, literally, by default. And my mission is to share the message: after all of this, we became only stronger cause we know how to lead a company & outperform business goals even under SUCH EXTREME conditions.”
I couldn’t emphasize the great representations of brave Ukraine by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and by Dima Shvets from Reface — true examples of changemakers’ authenticity and benchmarks of leadership on the global stage.
Sneak Peak of TNW 2022 by Ukrainian tech community
Nina Bohush, PR Specialist at MacPaw
- This year, the lineup at TNW Conference was top-notch! AI, cybersecurity, sustainability, digital transformation, diversity, women in tech, future-proof design, innovation, and more tech-related topics were brought up at the stages of the event.
- All the panels I had a chance to visit were inspiring and insightful. It’s hard to choose one, but I’d say ‘The next decade of digital transformation’ panel provoked many thoughts in my head on how brands influence and shape the future of humans. The panel speakers discussed brands’ shift from creating just good services to ethical behaviors.
The main lines of benefit and ambition for brands will be tied to well-being, sustainability, and purpose. Sustainability takes center stage as a category of stakeholder benefit.
- And after listening to three amazing women at the session ‘Why women love tech: a CIO, Infosec and product executives view on how we can make the world a better place’ I felt so inspired! Speakers discussed why they love to work in and with tech and how they succeeded in large companies. The level of audience support was terrific!
The most fascinating speeches
Connecting the dots: the art and science of creating good luck. By Christian Busch
- Being lucky is not a gift of fate, it’s a skill that you can develop.
- Luck is an ability to notice and grasp your luck
- Over-focus, concentration and tension all prevent you from finding opportunities and being lucky.
Serendipity is a soft open, positive “explorative” attention for opportunities around you.
Pitching for scale — panel discussion by David Becket
- Client-orientation is a key for success — even when you pitch your project, so try to research and understand your investors. And please invest in beautiful pitch decks)
- Investors are looking for commitment balanced with coachability in startup founders
Great startups are a magnetic teams and not follow one person thinking
- The most prospective startup teams are deeply understand their strengths, as well as their weakness and blind spots
The Cyberdelic age by Jason Silva
- The new virtual worlds offer many opportunities to expand the limits for art, science and innovations. And the possibilities seem endless in any direction.
- New innovations enable imagination to come to live instantly with a speed of light and make it on a regular basis.
- Soon everybody will be able to express him/herself and his/her true self in virtual space and give quick access to all of his/her deep internal facet or personality, imagination and soul.
- Technology is a manifestation of the mind. And we use our tools and technologies to extend our reach, overcome our boundaries and transcend our limitations.
Conscious leadership by Anouk Schaap
- Everything reacts to your inner world, so make it a nice place.
- Great leaders have a deep connection with their senses, values, meanings and true authentic self.
- Leadership is a process of self-awareness, self-acceptance, self-exploration and commitment to your core.
- Leader should more observe and reflect on what is going on with the team, rather than intervene and try to manage it directly. They let go of control.
- Leader should create safe and favourable conditions for their teams to fulfill their potential
- Snowden talked about the dangers of digitalization and how even a cashless payment at a store allows your state to know more and more about you. It honestly felt more like Putin became Snowden’s puppeteer, making sure his message complies with the party’s ideology.
- Right after Snowden, we expected a “secret guest” even though everyone knew it must be Volodymyr Zelenskyy. He voiced the opposite opinion of how technology helps build transparent systems of government and eliminate corruption. He didn’t say a single word about the war, but it’s difficult to imagine a TNW attendee who knows nothing about it.
- On the contrary, Dima Shvets revealed all the truth about the war in Ukraine, tech workers’ opinions and actions in this regard, and what Reface has been doing. Rather than featuring the efforts of just one company, it would be great to dig deeper and show how the entire IT industry has transformed and responded to the war — something I hoped to talk about but was too late with my speaker application.
- The best part was the remarkable people I met. I’ve never felt so thrilled at meeting Ukrainians, my fellow citizens. I used to talk to Ukrainian entrepreneurs only if I had spare time, focusing exclusively on networking with potential prospects and clients, usually from abroad. But not this time.
The feeling of unity during these tragic times for our Homeland hasn’t left me for a second. I wanted to hug every Ukrainian, ask how they were, and really get to know them better.
- And it worked! It was incredible to find out that I had common acquaintances with almost everyone I talked to — former or current employees, mutual friends, even classmates. I made 100500 selfies and sent my greetings to the better part of my contacts from Ukraine.
- TNW was more than a conference — it had a true festival vibe with an unbeatable atmosphere. The Ferris wheel right on the venue, spacious lawns, and side events in beautiful locations were delightful and memorable. I also enjoyed the music and entertainment program, such as karaoke after an eventful day. Of course, the experience wasn’t without some hiccups — interrupted connection, poor indoor ventilation, and stand navigation could have been more convenient. I also hoped to see some traditional Holland meals like the incredible herring sandwiches instead of overcooked pasta and kebabs made from soy. I’m sure these minor glitches can easily be fixed by the time the next year’s event takes place. Looking forward!
The best speech by Jason Silva, Christian Busch at Vision stage
- Such a conference (like any other large one) is a litmus test of changes in people’s minds, changes in thinking concepts, and priorities. Paradigms of thinking and values once changed every millennium, then a century; after the Second World War, these changes were considered decades... What’s next?.. How fast do you have to run to stay in the same place? The singularity, “abundance,” which we talked about a few years ago as something from at least 2050, and even from the novel “Dune,” covers us with a tsunami of unexpected sides. We did not have time to prepare for unpredictability as a wave of the unknown washed away the chairs in our cozy house by the sea.
Old “values” are no longer so important, but new ones are not created yet, and you need to sculpt something “out of shit and sticks” quickly — from what comes to hand: the information context, social networks, propaganda, Twitter statuses, crypt charts, etc.
- What’s with The Next Web in general? For example, the most popular Vision stream was less about technology and more about values and worldviews. Less about success, more about happiness and mental health. Less — about market competition, more — about creativity, balance, and self-expression. It seems that we have finally started moving from tools to meanings. They started waking up and thinking, “why am I here?”, “And what after?” and, sorry, “what if it’s my last day?”
In our Ukrainian context, this is more important than ever — the war drew singularity and meaning to us.
- Speaking about Metaverse is about how it will make you more open and creative. Talking about team management will be about people’s happiness and satisfaction. Speaking about scaling up a business will be about its impact on the world. If we talk about investing in a startup, it will be about relationships and honesty. Not about financial performance, not about technology for the sake of technology... Mindfulness and philosophy will allow you to think without borders and KPIs. Perhaps.
...As today’s headlines are ripped straight out of war, global crises, crypto winter, and metaverse booming, we all consider the power of tech and blurring lines between reality and the digital world. Russian full-scale invasion changed the common views on peaceful life, and now we see how the tech industry has become a driving force to tackle aggression, so we keep an eye on innovation, cybersecurity, digital transformation, and AI to prevail in this war and build a sustainable future in a global free world. Ukraine will win!
Great thanks and applause to the TNW team, and personally Laura van der Most and Zach Butler, for great event, partnership and support for Ukraine!