Announcing the agenda for TechCrunch Sessions: SaaS

TechCrunch Sessions is back!

On October 27, we’re taking on the ferociously competitive field of software as a service (SaaS), and we’re thrilled to announce our packed agenda, overflowing with some of the biggest names and most exciting startups in the industry. And you’re in luck, because $75 early-bird tickets are still on sale — make sure you book yours so you can enjoy all the agenda has to offer and save $100 bucks before prices go up!

Throughout the day, you can expect to hear from industry experts, and take part in discussions about the potential of new advances in data, open source, how to deal with the onslaught of security threats, investing in early-stage startups and plenty more.

We’ll be joined by some of the biggest names and the smartest and most prescient people in the industry, including Javier Soltero at Google, Kathy Baxter at Salesforce, Jared Spataro at Microsoft, Jay Kreps at Confluent, Sarah Guo at Greylock and Daniel Dines at UiPath.

You’ll be able to find and engage with people from all around the world through world-class networking on our virtual platform — all for $75 and under for a limited time with even deeper discounts for nonprofits and government agencies, students and up-and-coming founders!

Our agenda showcases some of the powerhouses in the space, but also plenty of smaller teams that are building and debunking fundamental technologies in the industry. We still have a few tricks up our sleeves and will be adding some new names to the agenda over the next month, so keep your eyes open.

In the meantime, check out these agenda highlights:

Survival of the Fittest: Investing in Today’s SaaS Market
with Casey Aylward (Costanoa Ventures), Kobie Fuller (Upfront) and Sarah Guo (Greylock)

  • The venture capital world is faster, and more competitive than ever. For investors hoping to get into the hottest SaaS deal, things are even crazier. With more non-traditional money pouring into the sector, remote dealmaking now the norm, and an increasingly global market for software startups, venture capitalists are being forced to shake up their own operations, and expectations. TechCrunch sits down with three leading investors to discuss how they are fighting for allocation in hot deals, what they’ve changed in their own processes, and what today’s best founders are demanding.

Data, Data Everywhere
with Ali Ghodsi (Databricks)

  • As companies struggle to manage and share increasingly large amounts of data, it’s no wonder that Databricks, whose primary product is a data lake, was valued at a whopping $28 billion for its most recent funding round. We’re going to talk to CEO Ali Ghodsi about why his startup is so hot and what comes next.

SaaS Security, Today and Tomorrow
with Edna Conway (Microsoft), Olivia Rose (Amplitude)

  • Enterprises face a constant stream of threats, from nation states to cybercriminals and corporate insiders. After a year where billions worked from home and the cloud reigned supreme, startups and corporations alike can’t afford to stay off the security pulse. Find out what SaaS startups need to know about security now, and in the future.

Automation’s Moment Is Now
with Daniel Dines (UiPath), Laela Sturdy (CapitalG), and Dave Wright (ServiceNow)

  • One thing we learned during the pandemic is the importance of automation, and that’s only likely to be more pronounced as we move forward. We’ll be talking to UiPath CEO Daniel Dines, Laela Sturdy, an investor at CapitalG and Dave Wright from ServiceNow about why this is automation’s moment.

Was the Pandemic Cloud Productivity’s Spark
with Javier Soltero (Google)

  • One big aspect of SaaS is productivity apps like Gmail, Google Calendar and Google Drive. We’ll talk with executive Javier Soltero about the role Google Workspace plays in the Google cloud strategy.

The Future is Wide Open
with Abby Kearns (Puppet), Aghi Marietti (Kong), and Jason Warner (Redpoint)

  • Many startups today have an open source component, and it’s no wonder. It builds an audience and helps drive sales. We’ll talk with Abby Kearns from Puppet, Augusto “Aghi” Marietti from Kong and Jason Warner an investor at Redpoint about why open source is such a popular way to build a business.

How Microsoft Shifted from on Prem to the Cloud
with Jared Spataro (Microsoft)

  • Jared Spataro has been with Microsoft for over 15 years and he was a part of the shift from strictly on prem software to one that is dominated by the cloud. Today he runs one of the most successful SaaS products out there, and we’ll talk to him about how Microsoft made that shift and what it’s meant to the company.

How Startups are Turning Data into Software Gold
with Jenn Knight (Agentsync), Barr Moses (Monte Carlo), and Dan Wright (DataRobot)

  • The era of big data is behind us. Today’s leading SaaS startups are working with data, instead of merely fighting to help customers collect information. We’ve collected three leaders from three data-focused startups that are forging new markets to get their insight on how today’s SaaS companies are leveraging data to build new companies, attack new problems, and, of course, scale like mad.

What Happens After Your Startup is Acquired
with Jyoti Bansal (Harness), Nick Mehta (GainSight)

  • We’ll speak to three founders about the emotional upheaval of being acquired and what happens after the check clears and the sale closes. Our panel includes Jyoti Bansal who founded AppDynamics, Jewel Burkes Solomon, who founded Partpic and Nick Mehta from GainSight.

How Confluent Rode the Open Source Wave to IPO
with Jay Kreps (Confluent)

  • Confluent, the streaming platform built on top of Apache Kafka, was born out of a project at LinkedIn and rode that from startup to IPO. We’ll speak to co-founder and CEO Jay Kreps to learn about what that journey was like.

We’ll have more sessions and names shortly, so stay tuned. But get excited in the meantime, we certainly are.

Pro tip: Keep your finger on the pulse of TC Sessions: SaaS. Get updates when we announce new speakers, add events and offer ticket discounts.

Why should you carve a day out of your hectic schedule to attend TC Sessions: SaaS? This may be the first year we’ve focused on SaaS, but this ain’t our first rodeo. Here’s what other attendees have to say about their TC Sessions experience.

“TC Sessions: Mobility offers several big benefits. First, networking opportunities that result in concrete partnerships. Second, the chance to learn the latest trends and how mhttps://techcrunch.com/2021/06/24/databricks-co-founder-and-ceo-ali-ghodsi-is-coming-to-tc-sessions-saas/obility will evolve. Third, the opportunity for unknown startups to connect with other mobility companies and build brand awareness.” — Karin Maake, senior director of communications at FlashParking.

“People want to be around what’s interesting and learn what trends and issues they need to pay attention to. Even large companies like GM and Ford were there, because they’re starting to see the trend move toward mobility. They want to learn from the experts, and TC Sessions: Mobility has all the experts.” — Melika Jahangiri, vice president at Wunder Mobility.

TC Sessions: SaaS 2021 takes place on October 27. Grab your team, join your community and create opportunity. Don’t wait — jump on the early bird ticket sale right now.

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UIPath CEO Daniel Dines is coming to TC Sessions: SaaS to talk RPA and automation

UIPath came seemingly out of nowhere in the last several years, going public last year in a successful IPO during which it raised over $527 million. It raised $2 billion in private money prior to that with its final private valuation coming in at an amazing $35 billion. UIPath CEO Daniel Dines will be joining us on a panel on automation at TC Sessions: Saas on October 27th.

The company has been able capture all this investor attention doing something called Robotic Process Automation, which provides a way to automate a series of highly mundane tasks. It has become quite popular, especially to help bring a level of automation to legacy systems that might not be able to handle more modern approaches to automation involving artificial intelligence and machine learning. In 2019 Gartner found that RPA was the fastest growing category in enterprise software.

In point of fact,  UIPath didn’t actually come out of nowhere. It was founded in 2005 as a consulting company and transitioned to software over the years. The company took its first VC funding, a modest $1.5 million seed round in 2015, according to Crunchbase data.

As RPA found its market, the startup began to take off, raising gobs of money including a $568 million round in April 2019 and $750 million in its final private raise in February 2021.

Dines will be appearing on a panel discussing the role of automation in the enterprise. Certainly, the pandemic drove home the need for increased automation as masses of office workers moved to work from home, a trend that is likely to continue even after the pandemic slows.

As the RPA market leader, he is uniquely positioned to discuss how this software and other similar types will evolve in the coming years and how it could combine with related trends like no-code and process mapping. Dines will be joined on the panel by investor Laela Sturdy from Capital G and ServiceNow’s Dave Wright where they will discuss the state of the automation market, why it’s so hot and where the next opportunities could be.

In addition to our discussion with Dines, the conference will also include Databricks’ Ali Ghodsi, Salesforce’s Kathy Baxter and Puppet’s Abby Kearns, as well as investors Casey Aylward and Sarah Guo, among others. We hope you’ll join us. It’s going to be a stimulating day.

Buy your pass now to save up to $100. We can’t wait to see you in October!

Is your company interested in sponsoring or exhibiting at TC Sessions: SaaS 2021? Contact our sponsorship sales team by filling out this form.

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Affordable student passes available for TC Sessions: SaaS 2021

If you’re a current student or a recent grad with a burning passion for data, software and artificial intelligence, we want you to join us on October 27 for TC Sessions: SaaS 2021. The software-as-a-service sector keeps growing rapidly — both in size and sophistication, and it’s going to require a deep bench of thinkers, makers and technologists to create and wrangle a data-driven future.

We want to foster the next generation, and we’ve set aside discounted, budget-friendly passes especially for students. Register for your $35 student pass and get ready to meet, network with and learn from the global SaaS community’s most influential founders, makers and investors.

Your student pass provides full access to all the day’s events — main stage presentations, panel discussions, breakout sessions and networking with CrunchMatch. Video-on-demand takes care of any schedule conflicts — you don’t have to miss a single presentation.

A quick word about networking at TC Sessions: SaaS. Whether you’re hunting for internships, employment, mentorship, a co-founder or investors, you won’t find a better place or opportunity to meet the people who can help you launch your dreams.

Deal Sweetener: Your pass includes a free, one-month subscription to Extra Crunch, our members-only program featuring exclusive daily articles for founders and startup teams.

While we’re not quite ready to reveal the full agenda, we can share some of the speakers we have lined up. And (not-so-humble-brag) what a group it is so far.

We’re talking folks like investors Casey Aylward (Costanoa Ventures) and Sarah Guo (Greylock), Databricks’ Ali Ghodsi, Javier Soltero, Google’s head of Workspace, UiPath’s Daniel Dines, Puppet’s Abby Kearns and Monte Carlo co-founder, CEO and data junkie extraordinaire, Barr Moses.

Who would you love to hear from at TC Sessions: SaaS? The TechCrunch editorial team is accepting recommendations for speakers. Submit your recommendations here no later than 11:59 pm (PT) on September 29.

Register here for updates and keep your fingers on the pulse of this event as we announce new speakers, events and ticket discounts.

TC Sessions: SaaS 2021 takes place on October 27. Jump on this student discount, join the global SaaS community and take advantage of every opportunity.

Is your company interested in sponsoring or exhibiting at TC Sessions: SaaS 2021? Contact our sponsorship sales team by filling out this form.

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Salesforce’s Kathy Baxter is coming to TC Sessions: SaaS to talk AI

As the use of AI has grown and developed over the last several years, companies like Salesforce have tried to tap into it to improve their software and help customers operate faster and more efficiently. Kathy Baxter, principal architect for the ethical AI practice at Salesforce will be joining us at TechCrunch Sessions: SaaS on October 27th to talk about the impact of AI on SaaS.

Baxter, who has more than 20 years of experience as a software architect, joined Salesforce in 2017 after more than a decade at Google in a similar role. We’re going to tap into her expertise on a panel discussing AI’s growing role in software.

Salesforce was one of the earlier SaaS adherents to AI, announcing its artificial intelligence tooling, which the company dubbed Einstein, in 2016. While the positioning makes it sound like a product, it’s actually much more than a single entity. It’s a platform component, which the various pieces of the Salesforce platform can tap into to take advantage of various types of AI to help improve the user experience.

That could involve feeding information to customer service reps on Service Cloud to make the call move along more efficiently, helping salespeople find the customers most likely to close a deal soon in the Sales Cloud or helping marketing understand the optimal time to send an email in the Marketing Cloud.

The company began building out its AI tooling early on with the help of 175 data scientists and has been expanding on that initial idea since. Other companies, both startups and established companies like SAP, Oracle and Microsoft have continued to build AI into their platforms as Salesforce has. Today, many SaaS companies have some underlying AI built into their service.

Baxter will join us to discuss the role of AI in software today and how that helps improve the operations of the service itself, and what the implications are of using AI in your software service as it becomes a mainstream part of the SaaS development process.

In addition to our discussion with Baxter, the conference will also include Databricks’ Ali Ghodsi, UiPath’s Daniel Dines, Puppet’s Abby Kearns, and investors Casey Aylward and Sarah Guo, among others. We hope you’ll join us. It’s going to be a stimulating day.

Buy your pass now to save up to $100, and use CrunchMatch to make expanding your empire quick, easy and efficient. We can’t wait to see you in October!

Is your company interested in sponsoring or exhibiting at TC Sessions: SaaS 2021? Contact our sponsorship sales team by filling out this form.

#abby-kearns, #ali-ghodsi, #artificial-intelligence, #casey-aylward, #cloud, #cloud-applications, #computing, #daniel-dines, #databricks, #enterprise, #google, #information-technology, #kathy-baxter, #microsoft, #oracle, #salesforce, #sap, #sarah-guo, #tc, #tc-sessions-saas-2021, #uipath

Cloud Foundry coalesces around Kubernetes

In a normal year, the Cloud Foundry project would be hosting its annual European Summit in Dublin this week. But this is 2020, so it’s a virtual event. This year, however, has been a bit of a transformative year for the open-source Platform-as-a-Service project — in more ways than one. With Cloud Foundry executive director Abby Kearns leaving earlier this year, the organizations’ former CTO Chip Childers stepped into the role. Maybe just as importantly, though, the project’s move to Kubernetes as its container orchestration tool of choice — and a renewed focus on the Cloud Foundry developer experience — is now starting to bear fruit.

“In April, I took over the job. I said: ‘Listen, our community has a new North Star. It’s to go take the Cloud Foundry developer experience and get that thing re-platformed onto Kubernetes . No more delay, no more diversity of thought here. It’s time to make the move,’ ” Childers said (with a chuckle). “And here we are. It’s October, we have our ecosystem aligned, we have major project releases that are fulfilling that vision. And we’ve got a community that’s very energized around it continuing the work of progressing this integration with a bunch of cloud-native projects.”

Developers who use Cloud Foundry, Childers argued, love it, but the project now has an opportunity to show a wider range of potential use that it can offer a smoother developer experience on top of virtually any Kubernetes cluster.

One of the projects that is working on making this happen — and which hit its 1.0 release today, is cf-for-k8s. Traditionally, getting up and running with Cloud Foundry was a heavy lift — and something that most companies left to third-party vendors to handle. This new project, which launched in April, allows developers to spin up a relatively light-weight Cloud Foundry distribution on top of a Kubernetes cluster — using projects like Istio and Fluentd, in addition to Kubernetes — and to do so within minutes.

“It comes along with the whole process of reimagining our architecture to pull in other projects a lot more aggressively and allows us to get to feature parity [with the classic VM-focused Cloud Foundry experience] using a lot more complementary open-source projects,” Childers said about the larger role of this project in the overall ecosystem. “That lets our community focus less on building the underlying plumbing and [spend] more time thinking about how to speed up innovation and the developer experience.”

This wouldn’t be open source if there wasn’t another project that does something quite similar — at least at first glance. That’s KubeCF, which hit its 2.5 launch today. This is an open-source distribution of the Cloud Foundry Application Runtime that, as Childers explained, is meant for production use and that was originally meant to provide existing users a bridge onto the Kubernetes bandwagon. Over time, these two projects will likely merge. “Everyone’s collaborating on what this shared vision looks like. They’re just, they’re just two different distributions that handle the different use cases today,” Childers explained.

After six months in his new position, Childers noted that he’s seeing a lot of energy in the community right now. The job is hard, he said, when there’s unhealthy disagreement, but right now, what he’s seeing is “a beautiful harmony of agreement.”

#abby-kearns, #chip-childers, #cloud, #cloud-computing, #cloud-foundry, #cloud-infrastructure, #cloud-native-computing-foundation, #dublin, #kubernetes, #tc

Cloud Foundry renews its focus on developer experience as it looks beyond the enterprise

The Cloud Foundry Foundation (CFF) just went through a major leadership change, with executive director Abby Kearns stepping down after five years (and becoming a CTO at Puppet) and the CFF’s CTO Chip Childers stepping into the top leadership role in the organization. For the most part, though, these changes are only accelerating some of the strategic moves the organization already made in the last few years.

If you’re unfamiliar with the open-source Cloud Foundry project, it’s a Platform-as-a-Service that’s in use by the majority of Fortune 500 enterprises. After a lot of technical changes, which essentially involved building out support for containers and adding Kubernetes as an option for container orchestration next to the container tools Cloud Foundry built long before the rise of Google’s open-source tool, the technical underpinnings of the project are now stable. And as Childers has noted before, that now allows the project to refocus its efforts on developer experience.

That, after all, was always the selling point of Cloud Foundry. Developers stick to a few rules and, in return, they can easily push their apps to Cloud Foundry with a single command (“cf push”) and know that it will run, while the enterprises that employ them get the benefits of faster development cycles.

On the flip side, though, actually managing that Cloud Foundry install was never easy, and required either a heavy lift from internal infrastructure teams or the help of outside firms like Pivotal, IBM, SAP, Suse and others to run and manage the platform. That pretty much excluded smaller companies, and especially startups, from using the platform. As Childers noted, some still did use it, but that was never the project’s focus.

Now, with the Kubernetes underpinnings in place, he believes that it will become easier for non-enterprise users to also get started with the platform. And projects like KubeCF and CF for K8s now offers a full Cloud Foundry distribution for Kubernetes, which makes it relatively easy to use the platform on top of modern infrastructure.

To highlight some of these changes, the CFF today unveiled its new tutorial hub that will not just explain what Cloud Foundry is, but also feature tutorials to get started. Some of these will be hosted and written by the Foundation itself, while community members will contribute others.

“Our community has created a learning hub, curated by the Cloud Foundry Foundation, of open-source tutorials for folks to learn Cloud Foundry and related cloud native technologies,” said Childers. “The hub includes an interactive hands-on lab for first-time Cloud Foundry users to experience how easy the platform makes deploying applications to Kubernetes, and is open for the community to contribute.”

#abby-kearns, #chip-childers, #cloud, #cloud-computing, #cloud-foundry, #cloud-foundry-foundation, #cloud-infrastructure, #computing, #developer, #google, #ibm, #kubernetes, #sap, #suse, #tc, #web-hosting, #web-services

Puppet names former Cloud Foundry Foundation executive director Abbey Kearns as CTO

Puppet, the Portland-based infrastructure automation company, today announced that it has named former Cloud Foundry Foundation executive director Abby Kearns as its new CTO. She’s replacing Deepak Giridharagopal, who became CTO in 2016.

Kearns stepped down from her role at the Cloud Foundry Foundation earlier this month after holding that position since 2016. At the time, she wasn’t quite ready to reveal her next move, though, and her taking the CTO job at Puppet comes as a bit of a surprise. Despite a lot of usage and hype in its early days, Puppet isn’t often seen as an up-and-coming company anymore, after all. But Kearns argues that a lot of this is due to perception.

“Puppet had great technology and really drove the early DevOps movement, but they kind of fell off the face of the map,” she said. “Nobody thought of them as anything other than config management, and so I was like, well, you know, problem number one: fix that perception problem if that’s no longer the reality or otherwise, everyone thinks you’re dead.”

Since Kearns had already started talking to Puppet CEO Yvonne Wassenaar, who took the job in January 2019, she joined the product advisory board about a year ago and the discussion about Kearns joining the company became serious a few months later.

“We started talking earlier this year,” said Kearns. “She said: ‘You know, wouldn’t it be great if you could come help us? I’m building out a brand new executive team. We’re really trying to reshape the company.’ And I got really excited about the team that she built. She’s got a really fantastic new leadership team, all of them are there for less than a year. they have a new CRO, new CMO. She’s really assembled a fantastic team of people that are super smart, but also really thoughtful people.”

Kearns argues that Puppet’s product has really changed, but that the company didn’t really talk about it enough, despite the fact that 80% of the Global 5,000 are customers.

Given the COVID-19 pandemic, Kearns has obviously not been able to meet the Puppet team yet, but she told me that she’s starting to dig deeper into the company’s product portfolio and put together a strategy. “There’s just such an immensely talented team here. And I realize every startup tells you that, but really, there’s actually a lot of talented people here that are really nice. And I guess maybe it’s the Portland in them, but everyone’s nice,” she said.

“Abby is keenly aware of Puppet’s mission, having served on our Product Advisory Board for the last year, and is a technologist at heart,” said Wassenaar. “She brings a great balance to this position for us – she has deep experience in the enterprise and understands how to solve problems at massive scale.”

In addition to Kearns, former Cloud Foundry Foundation VP of marketing Devin Davis also joined Puppet as the company’s VP of corporate marketing and communications.

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