Tech Crunch Disrupt Conference Lands in Dogpatch

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SAN FRANCISCO — The economic wave from San Francisco’s current technology boom has finally reached the city’s Dogpatch section.

It’s too early to say whether it will be enough to scrub clean and rejuvenate this former industrial area, marked for decades by derelict warehouses, abandoned train tracks and potholes big enough to swallow a Tesla.

Yet if so-called techies can make it to Dogpatch, there will be few places they can’t.

The tech industry arrived in force here this week via 5,000 engineers, executives, investors and tech sales and support workers who came for a conference and start-up competition hosted by the online news site TechCrunch.

In the parking lot outside, as well as the surrounding streets, a parade of Uber and Lyft cars ferried riders with faces and fingers buried in their smartphones.

As the Muni bus driver who dropped me two blocks from the event on Monday said, after traffic didn’t budge for 10 minutes: “What’s going on?”

Indeed.

Inside an ancient port warehouse whose rusty roof irons towered high above, software coders competed in a hack-a-thon, industry leaders spoke from the stage and more than 100 start-ups competed for visibility, funding and coverage.

In the registration area of the TechCrunch Disrupt SF show that served as an entrance to Pier 70, excited attendees waited in long lines now typical of tech confabs everywhere.

On Monday, one of the most successful Internet investors of the past decade was asked whether he thought Uber was worth the reported $50 billion valuation of its last private funding round.

The rich valuation “is absolutely justified,” said Yuri Milner, who made billions through his Russia-based investment vehicle, DST (formerly Digital Sky Technologies).

From the same stage on Monday, software engineers spoke of why Bitcoin faces a serious near-term crisis and why a lens flare inside a virtual reality headset can give someone a migraine at digital speed.

On Tuesday, Facebook’s ad chief hinted at the company’s plans to make money from its Messenger App, while Softbank’s president told the crowd why he’s not hot on U.S. companies now.

 

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