The past 3 days I spent in New York City for the TechCrunch Disrupt conference and to do lots of meetings. Despite the 12 hour time difference with Shanghai and the busy schedule, I had a great time in Manhattan. I arrived late on Sunday night after a trip of almost 24 hours from Shanghai (I flew through San Francisco with a several hour stop-over there) and was so tired that I decided to go to bed straight away. But once I arrived in my hotel room around 9:30 PM on Sunday night I was suddenly fully awake again… So I went down to the bar of the Paramount hotel and had a beer and some light food. My colleague Floris-Jan Cuypers had also just arrived (from Amsterdam) and he joined for a beer as well. We didn’t make it late though and once I was back in my hotel room I fell asleep quite quickly.
Of course I woke up only a few hours later, that’s the good and bad thing about huge time differences: I need less sleep with a jet lag (the first days normally only 4 hours per night) so you can be much more productive, but it’s not enough to feel well rested. I felt tired after getting up but once I started working on my mails I quickly got over it. After a few hours it got light outside, so around 6 AM I decided to go for a run. On my infrequent trips to the Big Apple I always try to run in Central Park, one of my favorite places in the world for a morning run. I was too tired for a long run, but I managed to do about 6 kilometers at a very slow pace (40 min…). Lots of people were running already despite the early hour and I felt truly happy running there, enjoying the nice weather and the beautiful scenery.
At 8 AM Floris and I caught a cab to Pier 94 for TechCrunch Disrupt. We had breakfast there and then managed to get good seats in the conference hall. Many of the talks were interesting, esp. the fireside chats with Fred Wilson (www.avc.com) and Foursquare founder Dennis Crowley, and the Charlie Rose interview with Y Combinator’s Paul Graham. But I found the emphasis on AOL (TechCrunch new mother company) a bit annoying, Arrianna Huffington’s panel was typical old media (“If I would tweet I would tweet this” etc.).
Compared to TC Disrupt in San Francisco this version was not as good. The event has gotten too big and the location was not optimal (too cold and too noisy). Also I felt that the audience was not as interesting as the one on the West coast, I hardly knew anybody and also I didn’t meet a lot of interesting new people. In SF that was very different, so likely I won’t go to the New York conference again next year.
In the afternoons we mainly had meetings. I can’t blog about them here, but I was very pleased with the people we met. Although we set up the meetings only last week they turned out to be much more important than the TC conference! We had only planned to have a few meetings, but in the end we had talks and presentations every day for the past 3 days and therefore missed about half of the TC conference. No big deal, we saw the most important people speak and we (of course) also joined the after parties.
On Tuesday I went for a run again early in the morning and this time I managed to run all around Central Park (about 13.3 km incl. the part from the hotel back and forth to the park). Most people don’t run the full round, so the Northern part is much more quiet than the Southern end. A good preparation for the New York Marathon that I will run in November this year with my dad and sister (we all managed to get tickets!). Wednesday I was too tired so I skipped the run and had a big breakfast with lots of black coffee at Times Square instead.
All in all a very worthwhile trip, even taking into account the long travel time and the big time difference. No real time for sightseeing during this visit (but at least we managed to do a bit of clubbing on Tue night), and I am now on my way to San Francisco for a few more days of meetings and then heading back to Shanghai for a few days in China with my family.