The People’s Ted?

MIchael Magee | BCBusiness

How the City of Vancouver plans to share an exclusive, sold-out event with the rest of us

Since October, Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson has been talking up the opportunity for TED to shift the perceived skills shortage conversation from natural resources to tech and renewable resources. “In the rush to talk about hard hats, we can’t forget to talk about hard drives,” he said at an October Vancouver Board of Trade event.

He also wants Vancouver to seize its opportunity “for our businesses to access the incredible leadership that shows up.” He hinted at sharing the long-sold-out, US$3,750-per-head event in real time with citizens, Olympic-public-square-style. As of last month, details remained vague from the mayor’s office, but chief of staff Michael Magee did provide some early peeks.

What are the planned spin-off events?
We haven’t been able to connect with the TED people formally on anything yet. We will know more in mid-February. There is a consortium of the City of Vancouver, local tourism leaders and [provincial Crown corp.] PavCo that is organizing events for business delegates and the business community.

There will be a lot of informal networking stuff put on by local companies to connect with the heavy-hitters who will be attending TED Vancouver. There’s tons of venture capital that comes to town. A lot of the international visitors who attend already have investments in Vancouver and will be meeting and networking with those company leaders during the shoulder season before and after TED week.

What big names should people look out for around TED?
So many. For example, [Google co-founder] Sergey Brin will have a bunch of Google execs up here. He’s also speaking at TED.

How is the City of Vancouver sharing TED exclusivity with the public?
We plan on having some public programming and are thinking of opening up the Queen Elizabeth Theatre to streaming TED talks. It’s logistically difficult due to the fact that people pay to watch the event live, but we’re trying to share the excitement with the public to celebrate TED in our city. We’re also assisting TED organizers with celebratory street stuff—street closures, signage and banners.