Top Tech Events Hosted in the History of Los Angeles

Joshua Martin

The tech boom of the last decade has driven Los Angeles to be coloquially dubbed "Silicon Beach" after its San Francisco Bay Area predeccesor. Millennials have flocked to the city not for beaches or sunny weather, but for a thriving startup culture run almost entirely by young people. The evolution of technology can be traced over years of tech expos and conferences held in LA, a history which begins long before giants like Snapchat and Dollar Shave Club made the startup hub a well-known techie destination.

Electronic Entertainment Expo

E3 is a tech expo that has taken place every year since 1995 in Los Angeles (with the exception of the 1997-98 expos, which were held in Georgia.) Journalists, retailers and gamers can attend E3 or watch it streamed live worldwide to preview software and hardware before it is released in the upcoming year.

The first E3, held in Los Angeles in 1995, marks the first time that video games warranted an expo for themselves. Previously, video games were lumped into the Consumer Electronics Show. Video games shared the Las Vegas show floor with gadgets, LaserDiscs and media players.

E3 1995 is not just historic for being the first, though. After SEGA announced that their Saturn console had already been shipped to major retailers and would be priced at $399, PlayStation's Steve Race took the stage and said one word: "$299." The audience bursted with applause. "The price heard around the world" set the stage for affordable tech competition in many E3 expos to come.

Some other highlights from E3 1995:

• Nintendo held down almost a quarter of the expo hall with Super Nintendo, Super GameBoy and Virtual Boy stations. Supermodels dubbed "Nintendettes" patrolled the area.

• Seal, singer-songwriter known for "Kiss from a Rose," performed at Nintendo's presentation.

• Nintendo wasn't the only company to resort to branding themselves with "booth babes." 3DO hired the San Diego Chargers cheerleader team to bring attention to their booth.

• Michael Jackson attended Sony's party — not to perform, but to play games.

TechFair Los Angeles

TechFair LA is the largest technology job fair held in the city's history. On January 26th, 2017, more than 12,000 tech professionals and hopeful college graduates converged on The Reef building to network. Recruiters from Snap, Tinder, Tesla, YouTube and Uber were in attendance. The event was an excellent opportunity for young people aspiring to enter the Silicon Beach tech industry and hand off their resumes to LA startup leaders; job-seeking millennials also had the opportunity to attend panels to learn about creating a domain, branding, and self-marketing.

Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti, who spearheaded the event with the City's Entrepreneur in Residence Jason Nazar, said in a keynote speech at TechFair LA:

"This is the town that launched the space age and is reimagining it. This is the town that hit 'send on the first email and sent it to Northern California. This is the town — the only town in the country — with three top 25 universities. And this is a metropolitan region of 18 million people. The most diverse collection of human beings in the world, not just today, but in human history ... LA is, literally, the world compressed into a single city."

Various booths at the event specifically targeted women and people of color, to encourage diversity in an industry still predominately run by white males. Garcetti commented, "I wanted technology to look a little bit more like the demographic of this country and of this city."

LA Tech Summit

The first LA Tech Summit was held on November 14, 2013 at the Fairmont Miramar Hotel in Santa Monica. The event was intended to celebrate the growth and diversity of the Silicon Beach tech industry. Panelists such as Tinder CEO Sean Rad drew an audience of 900 attendees to the event.

Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti, now a frequenter of LA tech events, informed attendees that even though a large number of engineering students graduate in Los Angeles, half of them relocate to other cities.

However, most of the discussion points at the summit were full of positivity and enthusiasm. Speakers emphasised the advantages that the SoCal area has over its competitors. For example, Silicon Beach does not suffer from inflated software developer costs that rise out of excessive competition in the Silicon Valley market.

Other notable Los Angeles tech events:

Upfront Summit

Microsoft Envision

Future Festival Los Angeles

Before Silicon Beach: Important startups in LA's History

• Edmunds is an automotive pricing guide established in 1969, before branding with domain names was even a concept. The LA-based company took a modern turn in 1995 by launching one of the world's first websites for automotive information.

• LA Entrepreneur Brian Lee created the domain name LegalZoom as an online marketplace for lawyers and other legal professionals in 2001. The company now employs over 1,000 people.

• Automated LA marketing platform MatchCraft's domain was established in 1998.

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