Business of Software – where entrepreneurship is catching apparently…

Anyone who has been to Business of Software will have bumped into our amazing camera guy, Lerone Wilson at some point in the course of the event. There was us thinking we were paying him to make those awesome Business of Software videos that you can view at your convenience post event but NO! In one of the most blatant and audacious rip-offs of our intellectual property you could imagine, Lerone has actually been listening to the talks and learning stuff. Not only has he watched them all at least three times, he has now got off his butt and taken action.

This is a guest blog from Lerone Wilson, BoS ‘camera guy’ and now founder, ‘The Blackline Magazine‘.

Lerone D Wilson, Business of software camera guy and co-founder Blackline

Notes from the Video Guy – Lerone D. Wilson

Hey, it’s me- the video guy.  I’m the one who gets between you and your perfect view of the stage each year.  The guy who makes you wish you had taken the extra minute to comb your hair in the morning as you realize that the audience is occasionally recorded as well as the speakers.  The one who ruthlessly unplugged your laptop from one of those electrical outlets in the back of the room in favor of some piece of equipment that doesn’t look important (it is).  Yep, that’s me.

I’ve worked at every Business of Software conference since 2008.  Because of the nature of my work, this means that I’ve listened to each speaker’s entire presentation once while shooting it, and another once or twice (sometimes more) while editing them.  Oddly enough, this has never bored me.

You must understand that in my line of work you get used to being bored quite regularly.  Whether it’s doing an hour long interview with a guy because his brother is famous and maybe he’ll connect you, or waiting for that gaggle of geese to move past the frame in just the right way (Pro-tip: Never actually do this. It turns out that geese are really mean), you get used to being mindlessly bored as a matter of course.

That said, what has surprised me each year about the Business of Software, is that the organizers consistently book some of the most interesting and entertaining speakers I have ever encountered.  They are brilliant, yes.  They give amazingly accurate and much needed advice, of course.  But most importantly, they inspire.  So much so that after last year’s conference I was compelled to call a few old friends and colleagues and put together a startup of my own.

Earlier this month, after nearly a year’s preparation, we launched ‘The Blackline Magazine‘,” an HTML 5 based news magazine optimized for iPad, which covers the stories and issues that really matter.  From Bo Obama defending his initial term as First Dog, to Netflix CEO Reed Hastings admitting their instant selection is crap, to a three page write up on how Tetris pieces collectively despise the long straight piece for routinely showing up late, if ever, Blackline covers the issues that the “lamestream” media routinely overlook.

So far Mashable, TUAW, and a few other tech blogs have had some very nice things to say about us.  In fact, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton even ran an ad in our inaugural issue to make it plain why she’s absolutely not running for president (Hint: “Because F**k you, that’s why”), so for now we’re calling our launch a success.

Magazine aside, however I can say with some authority that this startup is something that I wouldn’t have ever attempted if not for my past with the Business of Software.  Particularly important, is the sense of inspiration and encouragement you get from being around so many successful and active tech founders at one time (the audience at these events are routinely just as qualified as the speakers, they just don’t have PowerPoint slides).

I recall with great clarity Alexis Ohanian’s speech last year about the amazing ability tech founders have to make the world suck less.  The entire room was gripped by the collective realization of the incredible sense of agency that founders have over the world and how it functions.  Put simply, it was more inspiring than that scene in “Independence Day” where Bill Pullman convinces what remains of the U.S. Air Force to go on a suicide mission to defeat the aliens.

Likewise, it was a bit eerie even how the interpersonal issues Joel Spolsky discussed in his 2010 speech about founding Stack Overflow, matched almost exactly those that we had founding Blackline.  So much so, that I have long considered penning a literary response to “Joel on Software,” titled “Lerone on Joel on Software.”

Interestingly enough, back in 2005 I interviewed both Joel (then running a 6 person software company out of a tiny New York office) and Alexis (then working on a yet to be released project called Reddit) for a documentary I was working on.  What made them both remarkable then in my opinion was that they both were incredibly motivated and passionate, and incredibly well informed.

This is the type of conference that will do just that for you and your startup; inspire and inform (The videos are really, really awesome too).  After all, this is the conference that makes startup founders from even the video crew.  Just please be careful not to use the power outlets in the back by the A/V equipment.  I’m totally cool, but the rest of the A/V team is quite vengeful…

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