12 Things to Watch at the World Economic Forum

January 25, 2013

11:00 am

While many Americans remain hungover from inauguration hype, international focus shifts to Davos, Switzerland, where the World Economic Forum is holding its 43rd annual meeting this week. The WEF’s annual meeting brings together over 2,500 participants (political and business leaders, academics, and journalists) from over 100 countries to discuss the most pressing issues facing the global community.

There are several reasons why the WEF annual meeting should matter to you. Firstly, there is a huge emphasis on leadership, particularly within the context of our current global economic crises. What does this mean? Entrepreneurs hoping to make it in our weakened global economy can benefit from the ideas that are discussed. Discussion points will include things like entrance to emerging markets and employment strategies.

Secondly, you can acquire a sense of what investors would consider profitable in the near future. Despite last year’s passing of the JOBS Act, which improved startup access to public capital markets (i.e., crowdfunding), recent reports also show a 10 percent decrease in VC funding in 2012. Crowdfunding limits may not work for all startups, and a business model aligned with emerging opportunities would support a startup’s case for other funding.

Lastly, the annual meeting features speakers from celebrities in the tech community, including Bill Gates (former CEO, Microsoft), Gary Kovacs (CEO, Mozilla), and Marissa Mayer (CEO, Yahoo!). It will also feature wunderkind of the tech startup community, such as Drew Houston (CEO, Dropbox) and DC’s own Peter Corbett (CEO, iStrategyLabs).

To save you some time, here’s a list of the sessions most relevant to the tech startup community:


  • The Human Capital Context: What can we do to improve human capital and thereby decrease unemployment?
  • The Evolving Role of Business: How can we balance shareholder/stakeholder demands to respond to a changing society?
  • Open Forum: Unemployed or Unemployable?: What strategic shifts and transformational issues are shaping the digital infrastructure context?


  • Fostering Entrepreneurial Innovation: How are corporations fostering entrepreneurial innovation in a low-growth environment?
  • Shaping Digital Norms: How should digital norms and rights evolve in hyperconnected societies?
  • Unlocking Long-Term Capital: How can the supply-demand gap for long-term capital be overcome to fund corporate growth, innovation, and infrastructure?


  • An Insight, An Idea with Tim Berners-Lee: Inventor of the World Wide Web discusses what is wrong with social networking.
  • An Insight, An Idea with Marissa Mayer: The Yahoo! CEO discusses ideas on the future of tech.
  • No Growth, Easy Money: The New Normal?: How do investors and policymakers navigate a world of loose monetary policy and low economic growth?
  • An Insight, An Idea with Joichi Ito: Director of the MIT Media Lab discusses the idea of a world with decentralized innovation.


  • Citizen Power: Leading Connected Societies: What innovative forms of collaboration and leadership are emerging in hyperconnected societies?
  • An Insight, An Idea with Jeannette Wing: Computer scientist discusses how to spread computational thinking.

You can watch all of the sessions live (or later, at your convenience) from the World Economic Forum’s website. You can follow the conversation on Twitter with the hashtag #WEF or follow the WEF at @davos and @wef.

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Ronald Barba was the previous managing editor of Tech.Co. His primary story interests include industry trends, consumer-facing apps/products, the startup lifestyle, business ethics, diversity in tech, and what-is-this-bullsh*t things. Aside from writing about startups and entrepreneurship, Ronald is interested in 'Doctor Who', Murakami, 'The Mindy Project', and fried chicken. He is currently based in New York because he mistakenly studied philosophy in college and is now a "writer". Tweet @RonaldPBarba.

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