Commonwealth Club of California on 89.5-1

Wednesdays at noon

The nation's oldest and largest public affairs forum. The Commonwealth Club presents over 400 annual events on topics ranging across politics, culture, society and the economy to its 15,000 members, and a nation-wide public radio audience.

Wednesday March 5  R&D, Innovation Labs and Channeling Your Inner Startup

Will Young, Director, Zappos Labs

Brian Luerssen, GM, OKCupid Labs

Mark Randall, Chief Strategist and VP of Creativity, Adobe

With constantly evolving technology and the challenge to think outside the box, the trend of separate innovation “labs” has spread amongst big name businesses. Companies that have shed their “startup” classification are keeping their crews nimble by designating teams to experiment – try and fail and try, try again – in an effort to go toe-to-toe with each new startup. You wouldn’t immediately connect nimble, tech-savvy creators with big standalone brands; yet these companies are able to give creative minds what they need most – the opportunity to fail without long-term damage. So how do these teams fit within the larger corporate structure? What’s the difference between an R&D team and an innovations lab? How do these teams keep a startup mentality working for established brands and products? And how do they use technology and new ideas to reach the perfect consumer for their brand? Our panelists will discuss the importance of innovation within large companies and how corporate teams are thinking like startups and projects that have both succeeded and failed in the labs.

Wednesday March 12  Tom Perkins: The War on the 1%Co-founder, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers

Tom Perkins is the co-founder of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, one of Silicon Valley’s first Venture Capital firms on the legendary Sand Hill Road. He is an alumnus of Harvard and MIT, a renowned businessman and outspoken capitalist. In January of this year Tom Perkins wrote a letter published by The Wall Street Journal to “call attention to the parallels of fascist Nazi Germany to its war on its 'one percent,' namely its Jews, to the progressive war on the American one percent, namely the 'rich.'” The letter was widely criticized (in The Atlantic, The Independent among bloggers, Twitter users, and even "his own colleagues in Silicon Valley"). Perkins later apologized for making comparisons with Nazi Germany, but otherwise stood by the message of his letter.

Wednesday March 19  Anna Quindlen Author, A Short Guide to a Happy Life and Still Life with Bread Crumbs

Best known for her award winning New York Times and Newsweek opinion columns, Quindlen offers up a highly anticipated new novel, sharing a deeply moving and funny story about unexpected love and a woman’s journey of self-discovery.

Wednesday March 26  Orville Schell: The Rise of China

Arthur Ross Director, Center on U.S.-China Relations, Asia Society; Former Dean and Professor, UC Berkeley; Co-author, Wealth and Power: China’s Long March to the Twenty-First Century 

Modern China is shaped by many figures, including political leaders, writers and activists. Orville Schell observes that the rapidly transforming country has shifted from “imperial doormat to global economic powerhouse.” Schell, drawing on his career of scholarly work, will discuss China’s future.

Wednesday April 2 Change.org: Tech for Good

Ben Rattray, Founder, Change.org
In Conversation with Matt Mullenweg, CEO, Automattic; Lead Developer, Wordpress

With constantly evolving technology and the challenge to think outside the box, the trend of separate innovation “labs” has spread amongst big name businesses. Companies that have shed their “startup” classification are keeping their crews nimble by designating teams to experiment – try and fail and try, try again – in an effort to go toe-to-toe with each new startup. You wouldn’t immediately connect nimble, tech-savvy creators with big standalone brands; yet these companies are able to give creative minds what they need most – the opportunity to fail without long-term damage. So how do these teams fit within the larger corporate structure? What’s the difference between an R&D team and an innovations lab? How do these teams keep a startup mentality working for established brands and products? And how do they use technology and new ideas to reach the perfect consumer for their brand? Our panelists will discuss the importance of innovation within large companies and how corporate teams are thinking like startups and projects that have both succeeded and failed in the labs.

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