Business of software speakers

I’m thinking about organizing Business of Software 2008. It’s still just a twinkle in my eye. I’d like to know who you’d like to hear speak / who you’ve heard in the past who was excellent. The only criteria are:

  • Relevant to the business of software, even tenuously
  • Interesting

They don’t have to be speakers who we could ever net (see my list below …), but they don’t have to be well known either.

My personal list so far includes:

  • Seth Godin
  • Edward Tufte
  • Steve Ballmer
  • Larry Ellision
  • Steve Jobs
  • Shai Agassi
  • Vint Cerf
  • Dan Pink
  • Chip Heath
  • Donald Norman
  • Alan Cooper
  • Jakob Nielsen
  • Robert X Cringely
  • Richard Stallman

Comments on my speakers? Who would you like to hear? Post here.

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18 responses to “Business of software speakers”

  1. On my list would be:
    Reid Hoffman, CEO of LinkedIn
    Marc Beneioff, CEO of
    Michael McDerment, FreshBooks
    These are all folks that understand software, and more importantly, have built businesses.

  2. Clay Nichols says:

    My top choices, in roughly descending order of preference:
    Donald Norman
    Alan Cooper
    Seth Godin
    Jakob Nielsen
    Steve Jobs
    Vint Cerf
    Robert X Cringely

  3. Dave Greiner says:

    Big vote for Seth Godin, and also Jason Fried from 37 Signals.

  4. Karen says:

    Shel Hart at The guy really has it together with software development management. His knowledge of process is awesome.

  5. Joel Marcey says:

    How about a current real-world “case study” from a successful Micro-ISV on that posts regularly on Joel Spolsky’s Business of Software forum? Or maybe a panel of these folks — something like that.

  6. Jon Trainer says:

    How about something on the growing Mac software market. There are several successful Mac developers local to the Boston area that could probably contribute their experiences.
    Daniel Jalkut, Red Sweater Software ( — developer of Mars Edit (popular blog editor) and Black Ink.
    Paul Kafasis, Rogue Amoeba ( — developer of RadioShift, Audio Hijack Pro, and Fission.

  7. Toon Koppelaars,
    He has a very good talk about database-centric software development (the Fat-database).

  8. Ravi says:

    One person I’d suggest is John Launchbury of Galois, Inc. He gave a very impressive (and insightful) presentation about building a business on functional programming at ICFP in 2004 – and I’d expect that he’d have many new insights 4 years later.

  9. Brian says:

    I think it would be interesting to wrangle someone from the Web Hosting industry to talk about the evolving landscape when it comes to online infrastructure… Grid computing, redundancy, clustering, etc.
    I’ve heard Doug Erwin speak on behalf of The Planet, and he was very interesting to hear.

  10. Brad Stewart says:

    I went to a software CEO conference last year, where some very big names presented. By far the most informative and engaging speaker was Prof. David Yoffie from the Harvard Business School.

  11. A panel of micro-ISV owners, that you can find on the business of software discussion group. That would be very interesting.
    Big company CEOs are flashy but I feel somewhat removed from their day to day preoccupations.

  12. Warren Woolley says:

    I’d suggest Bruce Johnson of in South Africa. Great speaker and runs a fine customer oriented software company.

  13. I’d like to see you get someone from Microsoft to speak about the value of partnering with Microsoft. If you contact me (I work for Microsoft), I can work with you to find a good choice. Jeff Kratz would be a great choice if he is available.

  14. James Geschwiler, Executive Director of Common Angels. Very good speaker, leader of best angel investment group in the area, far more interesting than (most) VC’s.
    Adam Bosworth. Microsoft, Crossgain, Google, new venture. Great speaker, deep thinker, etc.
    Curt Monash. One of the sharpest industry analysts around.
    Jon Hirschtick. CAD entrepreneur, very successful.
    Peter Norvig. Head of research at Google.
    Paul English. Responsible for many interesting software businesses in this area. Deep thinker.
    Kathy Sierra. About how to create great user experiences. Fascinating and exciting speaker.
    Jim Purbrick and Mark Lentczner of Linden Labs (SecondLife).
    (Actually most of them are deep thinkers; I don’t mean to imply otherwise.)
    Ray Ozzie, chief architect (or something like that) at Microsoft, formerly Iris (Lotus) and Software Arts and Groove Networks.

  15. joseph weihs says:

    I would love to see Bijan Sabet ( ) speak – he is entertaining, smart and software business savvy.

  16. Karen M. says:

    Cary Millsap, one time Regional Vice President for Oracle Corporation and head of the Oracle System Performance Group, Cary co-founded Hotsos Enterprises to focus on products and services related to performance optimization. He gives a fantastic talk on “Why you can’t see your real performance problems” among others.

  17. Betsy says:

    Former Meta analyst, Doug Laney, now with Identify business unit of BMC Software, who can talk about a “hidden” process — something our dev. teams spend a lot of time on every day — that needlessly wastes money and slows down releases. Very dynamic speaker and the topic brings to light a real potential efficiency gain.

  18. Phil Factor says:

    Surely, the best person to speak would be the great man, Jonathan Sachs. After all, he developed STOIC, Lotus 123 and Picture Window. Even in 1978, when I first came across his code, I was in awe of his skill as a programmer.