TED 2008 – and thoughts on how TED became a worldwide media platform

This past week I attended TED 2008 in Monterey (last time in this location as TED moves to Long Beach) and – as usual – brought back tons of ideas and inspiration (good coverage here). TED is definitely one of the best conferences one can attend, full of energy, interesting people and new discoveries. This TED made it also clear to me how the conference is really developing into a fully-fledged media business. The original TED concept was to bring a small group of interesting people once a year together in Monterey to listen to even more interesting people. It was very close to a traditional conference business with the exception that TED was invitation-only (hence exclusive) and one of the more expensive conferences. When Chris Anderson bought TED a few years ago, he turned a conference and a small community into a world-wide community and media platform for “ideas worth spreading”. His best move in this process was probably the launch of TED talks – free videos of the TED talks that could be viewed by everybody in this world on TED.com. It turned a small, though exclusive platform that reached a thousand conference attendees each year into a worldwide media platform that now reaches millions of people. This extended reach does not only help to attract more interesting speakers to TED but also more companies as sponsors that want to show good corporate citizenship by getting involved in TED projects. Interestingly enough, the TED business model resembles very much that of many Web 2,0 companies – TED has built a platform on which users create content for free that TED then distributes and monetizes. Definitely something to consider for other conference organizers…

Would love to hear from other people if they share my thoughts on this development.

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