Recapping Collision Conference 2018


By Kelly Ferguson

Collision Conference bills itself as “North America’s fastest-growing tech conference,” and rightfully so, having grown from 5,000 attendees to 25,000 in just five years.

My favorite part of the event (aside from having an excuse to explore New Orleans)? It’s not just about technology itself, but also the role technology plays within cultural issues and trends in our world today – including the economy, journalism and sustainability.

Here are my top five takeaways from this year’s Collision:

1. Collision moves to Canada. The biggest news this year was Collision’s new home in 2019: Toronto. “A new wave of Canadian founders are building companies, not just out of Canada, but all over the world,” said Collision CEO Paddy Cosgrave. Canada is hot, as Offleash clients like Vena Solutions, founded and based in Toronto, continue to make their mark on the high tech landscape.

2. Startups will find fertile ground beyond Silicon Valley.
More than one session discussed how while Silicon Valley may be where investors are, it’s not necessarily the best place to get a startup off the ground, given the high competition for talent and the cost of living. According to Algolia CEO Nicolas Dessaigne, the market for venture capital and engineering talent is no longer confined to the Bay Area; both are becoming more accessible all over the world (including Paris, where Algolia has an office). And according to Christine Tsai of 500 Startups, other regions are increasingly as likely to have unicorns enter the market as Silicon Valley.

3. The fight to defend journalism. Fake news is not only used to spread disinformation; it’s also used to discredit legitimate journalists. According to ABC News President James Goldston, every time there’s a big story, bad actors reach out to their reporters to try and lure them into reporting something false, so that they can say ABC produces fake news.

The silver lining of this phenomenon is that it’s holding journalists to a higher standard of excellence. But they can’t do it on their own – as a society, we are responsible for treating facts with respect. And as consumers of news, we need to take it upon ourselves to make sure our sources are credible.

4. “The will to change is itself a renewable resource.” These were Al Gore’s closing remarks in his keynote on investing in technology through a lens of sustainability. His speech was truly inspiring. With climate change, at times it may like the sky is falling, but the reality is we’re experiencing a sustainability revolution, which has the magnitude and potential impact of the industrial revolution, and the speed of the digital revolution. Tech and investment communities have an enormous role to play in leading it.

5. Building a fast-growth company is all about the people. Whether it’s investors, employees, customers or partners, a founder’s ability to connect with people and have them buy into their vision is crucial for fast growth. According to Rami Essaid, co-founder of Distil Networks, the growth of a startup is much like a set of Russian dolls – having a small customer allows you to work towards gaining a bigger one, and then an even bigger one, and a bigger one beyond that. Eventually you’re on your way to continued growth as a company.

Though it will be impossible to replicate the atmosphere of New Orleans, I’m sure Toronto will make for an incredible experience that is all its own. Hope to see you next year, Collision!

Kelly leads media relations and editorial programs, driving strong results for clients by developing creative, compelling campaigns and story angles that resonate with a variety of media. Contact Kelly at