Tag Archives: TEDx

Will Success Spoil Ted.com?

I’ve watched dozens of TED talks online and never seen a bad one.

TED stands for Technology, Education, and Design. It started in 1984. Since 1990 it was located in a conference center outside of Monterrey CA. Since 2001 it’s been curated mainly by Chris Anderson.

Most TED conferences were amazing. I’ve never been, but what I’ve seen is a collection of excellent presentations about compelling ideas and information delivered by the best and the brightest in the world. If you’ve been reading this blog you’ve seen TED talks off and on. Since I first discovered the online TED talks at TED.com I’ve been back to that well regularly. And what I’ve found has been consistent highest quality of thought, communication, and, specifically, presentations.

For more than a dozen of my favorites, from previous posts on this blog, use this link.

So far, so good. Can anybody blame TED for wanting to branch out and expand? Not me. TED is now branching out to TEDx talks that are way less exclusive. Look around for TEDx on the web and you’ll see the TEDx talks popping up everywhere. Here’s what TED says about TEDx:

Created in the spirit of TED’s mission, “ideas worth spreading,” the TEDx program is designed to give communities, organizations and individuals the opportunity to stimulate dialogue through TED-like experiences at the local level. TEDx events are fully planned and coordinated independently, on a community-by-community basis.

In theory that’s great, but what if the end result is that TED talk no longer means guarantee of high quality? I hope the TED tradition continues. But here’s the concern I have:  Does that mean dilution of quality? A lower bar? More people presenting to more people on more subjects in many more locations?

TED says that 231 TEDx conferences were held last month.

And meanwhile, just to make that a bit more real, this morning I clicked a TEDx link in my email to end up with this disappointing result:

On Building a Business Because the World Needs It

I’ve posted about Arcimoto on Up and Running almost two years ago. It’s a local (Eugene OR) business based on building cool, fun, and economically accessible electric cars, like the one shown here.


It was a startup then, one with a believable team and a vision to build on. Two years later, it’s still a startup, still got a strong team, and sticking to its vision. So time hasn’t been wasted. They’ve been engineering for fun and manufacturing at scale, and they’ve been talking it up too. Search YouTube for Nathon Fillion, the hollywood star, and Arcimoto, and you’ll see what I mean.

Meanwhile, founder Mark Frohnmayer explained the vision behind the startup, a new vision of clean and green transportation, at a recent TEDx conference in Portland. I’m embedding it here because I think he’s got some really important points that go beyond his specific electric car. He titled it “Dude — Where’s My Car.”

If you don’t see that video here, you can click here for the original on YouTube.

This is not an easy startup to build. Founder Mark Frohnmayer has been at it for several years now, has recruited and held onto a team of leaders experienced from the nearby recreational vehicle industry, has raised several million dollars, and has spent a million or more of his own, money he had from a successful exit of a computer games company. I’m still watching with interest, and hoping they make it.

No, by the way, I have no investment in Arcimoto, no financial relationship whatsoever. I just like the company, its founder, and its ideals. And I do want them to get to market. I can’t promise I’m going to spend $20K to own one of these next year, but I do like the idea.

(Image: a screen shot from a business plan … hoping Mark won’t mind that I posted it up here)