6 Things to Catch at TechFestNW 2015

Over the last two decades, Willamette Week’s yearly MusicFestNW has become a both a Portland institution and one of the town’s final rites of summer.  Every summer, thousands of people (both Portlanders and visitors alike) flock downtown to hear bands like Foster The People, Belle and Sebastian, and Modest Mouse.

However, during the first decade-plus of its existence, MusicFestNW was everything its name implied and nothing more – it lacked the broader cultural appeal of more established events like SXSW and Bumbershoot. That all changed in 2012, however, with the launch of sister event TechFestNW, which aims to bring together leading thinkers passionate about technology, design, entrepreneurship, and innovation”.


Now in their fourth year, TechFestNW returns to Portland on 21-22 August 2015 two days of speakers, networking and parties at the newly opened Revolution Hall in Southeast Portland. Here are six of the events we’re looking forward to during next two days:

Brittany Laughlin: “How to stop talking about diversity and actually do something about it.” (Thursday, 10:30 AM)
Portland’s a town where the importance of women and minorities in tech is frequently discussed – but perhaps less consistently acted upon. It should be interesting to hear the General Manager of one of the most successful venture capital firms weigh in on this issue.

Corey Pein: “The Dark Side of the Sharing Economy” (Thursday, 11:30 AM)
There are quite a few op-eds floating around right now about how the sharing economy is bringing back a bastardized form serfdom, making this talk by author and Laborize founder Corey Pein all the more topical.

eBay Opening Party (Thursday, 5:00 PM – 10:00 PM)
While speakers are important, having fun and connecting with like-minded professions is just as important at events like this – and what better way to do that than with a BBQ on the rooftop of Revolution Hall?

Vidya Spandana: “Shifting the Power: Using Tech, data, storytelling for a stronger democracy.” (Friday, 11:30 AM)
Vidya’s experience in bridging the gap between the public and private sector make her a favorite pick for our new Issues Director, Lynsey Smith (more on that a second).

Ryan Grepper: “Life After Kickstarter” (Friday, 2:00 PM)
Even if you’ve never heard of TFNW (or anyone on this list), you’ve probably heard of Ryan’s company, Coolest, which had an impressive debut at last year’s TFNW and a hugely successful Kickstarter campaign.

TFNW Game Jam (Friday, 6:00 PM)
Portland Indie Game Squad (PIGSquad) will close out TFNW a showcase of the finished results from their week-long hackathon. Should be an interesting way to close out the festival.


If you haven’t purchased tickets to TFNW, passes are still available ($65 a day, $99 for both days) here.

In addition to the lineup of lectures, parties, and extracurricular activities, your TFNW pass also gets you a shot at meeting the PretentiousPDX team – we’ll be reporting on both TechFestNW and MusicFestNW throughout the week. Make sure to follow us on Twitter for the latest news.

Lynsey Smith

Lynsey Smith

To that end, I’m pleased to announce that Lynsey Smith is joining our team as a correspondent and our Issues Director for Tech & Local Government (in keeping with our name, we believe in only the fanciest of titles for our team). Lynsey has been has been a long-time advisor and frequent sounding board for my article ideas, so in addition to helping me cover events like TFNW, I’m looking forward to having Lynsey’s expertise and guidance as we decide what issues to cover in the months to come.

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