What Summer Slow-down? PandoMonthly's Insane 3 City, 3 Mogul July Line-up

By Sarah Lacy , written on July 3, 2012

From The News Desk

We may just be pushing this PandoMonthly thing a bit too far. We started out with the ambition of exploding the traditional, expensive, and exhausting three day tech conference by giving you a monthly event with pizza, beer, networking, and one big name guest.

That certainly wasn't easy or cheap -- considering we also wanted to dramatically compress the typical ticket prices and keep the audience to an intimate size. Some would say, it doesn't make any business sense at all. But those people would probably also argue a blog shouldn't have an illustrator on staff. (We don't like those people.)

And yet, somehow our events team has done the impossible. Our San Francisco lineup has been a murderer's row of investors and entrepreneurs, and the tickets have sold out rapidly no matter how much we've stretched capacity. Our June event with Ben Horowitz, sold some 500 tickets in less than a day. We're even getting in actual, large checks from upcoming sponsors. I mean "large" as in the number of zeros. They aren't actual novelty checks. Sadly. (If you'd like to write one, we'd love to cash it. Email Jeanne (at) PandoDaily (dot) com for details.)

In May, we did our first New York event, and despite a torrential rainstorm, we had a solid turnout for a conversation with WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg. It has been one of the most watched of our live streams and one of the staff's favorite conversations so far.

But more than that, what I loved about Matt's talk was how different it was from a typical San Francisco PandoMonthly. He talked about how he's inspired by New York's cultural diversity, and how he fears the Valley might even be destroying the world. And the questions -- including his favorite hip hop artists -- reflected the diversity of the crowd.

This is what PandoMonthly is all about. It's less about bites of THIS PRODUCT IS COMING OUT or WE RAISED THIS AMOUNT breaking news, and more about the people who drive innovation, the brutal decisions they faced, the mistakes they made, and the culture surrounding them. In San Francisco, it's heavily about the Valley, but in other cities we don't want to airlift the Valley's culture. It's about celebrating the unique startup cultures that are emerging elsewhere.

Every time we've talked about bringing the event to another city, people have told us we should raise the ticket prices and advised us to skip the locals and bring big names from the Valley. We disagree on both. We travel to other cities expressly to interview non-Valley people. We only bring the series to cities where we believe there are big enough names that we don't need Valley imports. Instead of dragging the Valley around, we are bringing a world of entrepreneurs to learn from new spots, via the lifestream and our coverage. That may mean we make less money or sell fewer tickets or just outright fail in other cities. But we're fine with that gamble.

So with that lengthly preamble, we're giving details on July -- our first three-city PandoMonthly month. The tickets for PandoMonthly always go on sale exactly a week before the event. And with the exception of our first New York event, they have always sold out rapidly. So if you want one, mark your calendars and follow us on Twitter.

Los Angeles July 12: We are doing our first ever PandoMonthly in LA, and our guest is basically the No. 1 guy you'd want at an LA event about entrepreneurship: Elon Musk. As Francisco Dao recently wrote, Musk is an entrepreneur that defies characterization. I mean, he was one of the main inspirations for Tony Stark in Iron Man. Need I say more?

Because he is busy running two massive, world-changing companies, we only have Elon for an hour, and that hour starts promptly at 6 pm. I know there's legendarily bad traffic in LA, but get off work early and get to the venue at 5 pm for pizza, beer, and a seat. If you approach this Dodger-fan-style, you may miss out.

We're not yet sure how often we'll do the PandoMonthly events in LA, but if this one goes well, it won't be the last. As regular readers know we're closely watching the LA scene, and mostly bullish about the companies there.

And if you are a San Francisco season pass holder, we're happy to let you attend the Elon event for free if you want to make the trek. Just email Oni to let her know you are coming.

The venue will be Cross Campus in Santa Monica, and tickets go on sale this Thursday July 5.

San Francisco July 19: Zynga founder and CEO Mark Pincus will be our guest, and it'll be epic. Pincus is a big enough name and Zynga has been in the news enough lately that I probably don't have to add much on why it'll be so epic.

We'll have Mark at the usual time and the usual place -- 7 pm at Madrone Studios. Doors open for pizza and beer at 6 pm, as usual. Tickets will go on sale July 12.

New York July 26: Rob Burnett, CEO of WorldWide Pants, will be our guest. This may seem like a curveball, given our typical lineup, but it says a lot about how we see these events unfolding in cities like New York and LA.

Frequently the most successful entrepreneurs in these ecosystems draw on the strengths in those cities. Typically that involves industries that are clashing with technology, and we want to bring those voices into the conversation as well. For both cities, old media and traditional entertainment are right up there with the technology industry's "frenemies."

Burnett has recently made a movie that's all about the level playing field technology and the Web has created when it comes to filmmaking -- and the limits of that. As we wrote about a few months ago, he's done some creative things to crowd source aspects of the film itself.

Burnett-- and WorldWide Pants-- is best know as the producer of "Late Night with David Letterman" and "The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson". (It's hard to get much more NYC than Letterman.) He has also produced hit shows like "Everybody Loves Raymond" and the cult-hit "Ed". As such, his business is simultaneously being disrupted, if kids keep cutting the TV cord and benefitting from alternative distribution methods like Netflix as well. We'll sort through these promises and fears as we talk about flimmaking and TV in the digital age.

He's easily the funniest guest we've ever had too -- as you might guess given his profession.

Our New York venue is unfortunately still TBD, but those tickets will go on sale July 19.

The thing that most excites me about this lineup -- taken together -- is how diverse it is. We have three moguls who have between them disrupted at least five industries. It'll be a crazy logistical month for our small team, but we hope you enjoy everything we have in store for you.