"A creative knowledge conference of inspirational proportions." —@KNOCKinc
The 99U Conference is a one-of-a-kind live experience that inspires creative professionals to bring their ideas to life and shape the future of the industry.
Learn from the world’s top thinkers and doers in a series of main stage talks over two days. 99U speakers offer pragmatic, real-world insights that transcend creative sectors.
Expert-hosted workshops give you a chance to pick up career skills and dive into new disciplines.
Get ready to wear out your MetroCard! We’ll explore some of NYC's most innovative companies at breakout sessions across the city.
From our pre-conference kickoff to our killer closing party, 99U provides you with endless opportunities to network with fellow attendees and get exposed to new ideas.
Flex your party muscles early with a kickoff event packed to the gills with hands-on demos, games, and networking opportunities. Come to pick up your badge, stay to meet the rest of the 99U community.
No conference parties like 99U: we’ll wind down on Friday with a closing party at the Museum of Modern Art’s newly redesigned event space.
Leave with our much-coveted swag bag, packed with cool (and useful!) stuff. Plus, incredible giveaways, art exhibitions, and other surprises await you throughout the conference. We put a ton of work into creating a beautiful experience for you.
The 99U Conference unfolds at the gorgeously designed Alice Tully Hall, one of the most beautiful (and intimate) concert halls in the world.
The official 99U Closing Party returns to MoMA, one of the world's premier art institutions.
As official hospitality partner for 99U, the Ace offers a preferred room block to registered attendees.
First thing on the agenda: head to our kickoff party to pick up your conference badge early, meet fellow attendees, and get hands-on with tech demos and games.
99U brings together 1,000 people across a variety of practices and professions. Who should attend? Anyone in a creative field working to: put an idea into action, get inspiration from creative leaders, connect with potential collaborators, manage an effective team, or understand the trends affecting the future of creativity.
An incredible group of visionary creatives, entrepreneurs, and researchers have joined us to pull back the curtain on their creative process and share road-tested insights.
Debbie Millman is a designer, author, educator and brand strategist. She is the host of the award-winning podcast ‘Design Matters’, the world’s first podcast on design; Chair of the world’s first Masters in Branding Program at the School of Visual Arts; the editorial and creative director of Print Magazine and President Emeritus of AIGA. She is the author of six books on design and branding.
Overnight success is rare, and often comes at the expense of valuable learnings. From early-career false starts to her sleeper hit podcast Design Matters, Debbie Millman isn’t afraid to be frank about the incredible patience that good work requires.
A trained ethnographer and the author of Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action, Simon Sinek has held a life-long curiosity for why people and organizations do the things they do. Studying the leaders and companies that make the greatest impact in the world and achieve a more lasting success than others, he discovered the formula that explains how they do it. Sinek's amazingly simple idea, The Golden Circle, is grounded in the biology of human decision-making and is changing how leaders and companies think and act.
Sinek's unconventional and innovative views on business and leadership have attracted international attention and have earned him invitations to meet with an array of leaders and organizations, including: Microsoft, Dell, SAP, Intel, Chanel, Members of the United States Congress, multiple government agencies and entrepreneurs. Sinek has also had the honor of presenting his philosophy to the Ambassadors of Bahrain and Iraq, and to the senior leadership of the United States Air Force.
Sinek shares his optimism with all who will listen, speaking at conventions and corporate gatherings around the globe. Additionally, he has written or commented for local and national press, including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Houston Chronicle, Fast Company, CMO Magazine, NPR and BusinessWeek. Sinek is a regular contributor to The Huffington Post, BrandWeek, and makes regular guest appearances on MSNBC's Your Business, among others.
Sinek recently became an adjunct staff member of the RAND Corporation, one of the most highly regarded think tanks in the world. He is also active in the arts and not-for-profit world, working with Education for Employment Foundation to help create opportunities for young men and women in the Middle East region. He lives in New York, where he teaches graduate level strategic communications at Columbia University.
“We’re not good at everything, we’re not good by ourselves,” says Simon Sinek. Our ability to build trust and relationships is the key to our survival as a race, and to thriving as ideamakers.
Anil Dash is co-founder and CEO of ThinkUp, a new app that offers deeper insights into our social networks. Dash is also co-founder of Activate, the consultancy which defines strategy for the most important companies in technology and media. Described as a "blogging pioneer" by the New Yorker, he has published his blog Dashes.com continuously since 1999, earning recognition as a Webby honoree. In 2013, Time named @anildash one of the best accounts on Twitter, and some of its half million followers agree.
Dash is based in New York City, where he lives with his wife Alaina Browne and their son Malcolm. Dash is the only person who is quoted in both Chris Anderson's The Long Tail and in Toure's Prince biography I Would Die 4 U, and has never played a round of golf, drank a cup of coffee, or graduated from college.
Paola Antonelli’s work investigates design’s influence on everyday experience, often including overlooked objects and practices, and combining design, architecture, art, science, and technology. In addition to her role as Senior Curator of Architecture and Design at MoMA, Paola was appointed director of a new Research and Development initiative in 2012. She lectures frequently at high-level global conferences and coordinates cultural discussions at the World Economic Forum in Davos. A true interdisciplinary, energetic, and generous cultural thinker, Paola was recently rated as one of the top one hundred most powerful people in the world of art by Art Review.
Stefan Sagmeister formed the New York-based Sagmeister Inc. in 1993 and has since designed for clients as diverse as the Rolling Stones, HBO and the Guggenheim Museum. Having been nominated five times for the Grammies, he finally won one for the Talking Heads boxed set. He also earned practically every important international design award.
In 2008, a comprehensive book titled Things I Have Learned in My Life So Far was published by Abrams. Solo shows on Sagmeister Inc's work have been mounted in Zurich, Vienna, New York, Berlin, Tokyo, Osaka, Prague, Cologne, Seoul and Miami. He teaches in the graduate department of the School of Visual Art in New York and lectures extensively on all continents.
A native of Austria, he received his MFA from the University of Applied Arts in Vienna and, as a Fulbright Scholar, a master's degree from Pratt Institute in New York.
Outlining the creative process for his short films, designer Stefan Sagmeister tells us to embrace the surprises that come with executing a creative endeavor.
Natasha Jen is an award-winning designer and educator. Born in Taipei, Taiwan, she was invited to join Pentagram’s New York office as partner in 2012. In 2014 she was acclaimed by Wired magazine as one of nine 'Designers Who Matter'.
Jen’s work is recognized for its innovative use of graphic, digital, and spatial interventions that challenge conventional notions of media and cultural contexts. Her work is immediately recognizable, encompassing brand identity systems, printed matters, exhibition design, digital interfaces, signage and way-finding systems, and architecture. Her clients, past and present, include Harvard x Design, Phaidon, Kate Spade, Chanel, Nike, First Round Capital, MIT, and the Metropolitan Museum, to name just a few. Pentagram made headlines in 2016 for their bold brand work on Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign.
Jen has earned a variety of awards and appeared in a number of publications, including Wired, Fast Company, Kinfolk, Print, Creative Review, Metropolis, Flaunt, and China Art and Design. She was one of the winners of Art Directors Club Young Guns, for which she also served as a judge in 2007 and 2011. She has been a guest critic at Yale University School of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, and Maryland Institute College of Art; and currently serves on the Board of Directors for Storefront for Art & Architecture and AIGA's New York Chapter.
If Google Image search is your sole barometer, “design thinking uses just one tool: 3M Post-Its,” says Pentagram partner Natasha Jen. “Why did we end up with a single medium? Charles and Ray Eames worked in a complete lack of Post-It stickies. They learned by doing.” In her provocative 99U talk, Jen lobbies for the “Crit” over the “Post-It” when it comes to moving design forward.
Joe defines the Airbnb experience. He is dedicated to creating an inspiring and effortless user experience through sharp, intuitive design, and crafts the product roadmap to make it so. Joe values products that simplify life and have a positive impact on the environment, and ensures that the company adheres to these tenets.
Prior to Airbnb, Joe was employed by Chronicle Books, co-founded Ecolet, a green design website, and developed several consumer products, including CritBuns, a product featured in the Cooper Hewitt Design Triennial. An alumni of the Rhode Island School of Design, Joe earned dual degrees in Graphic Design and Industrial Design.
Airbnb co-founder Joe Gebbia walks us through how to shake off our reservations and take the first small step to turning our ideas into an actual experience.
Seth Godin is the author of 17 books that have been bestsellers around the world and have been translated into more than 35 languages. He writes about the post-industrial revolution, the way ideas spread, marketing, quitting, leadership and most of all, changing everything. You might be familiar with his books Linchpin, Tribes, The Dip, and Purple Cow. In addition to his writing and speaking, Seth is founder of squidoo.com, a fast growing, easy to use website. His blog (which you can find by typing "seth" into Google) is one of the most popular in the world. Before his work as a writer and blogger, Godin was Vice President of Direct Marketing at Yahoo!, a job he got after selling them his pioneering 1990s online startup, Yoyodyne. In 2013, Godin was inducted into the Direct Marketing Hall of Fame, one of three chosen for this honor.
Recently, Godin once again set the book publishing world on its ear by launching a series of four books via Kickstarter. The campaign reached its goal after three hours and ended up becoming the most successful book project ever done this way. His latest, The Icarus Deception, argues that we've been brainwashed by industrial propaganda, and pushes us to stand out, not to fit in.
Bestselling author Seth Godin argues that we must quiet our fearful “lizard brains” to avoid sabotaging projects just before we finally finish them.
John Maeda is Design Partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers, where he works KPCB's entrepreneurs and portfolio companies to build design into their company cultures. He served as the 16th president of Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) from 2008 through 2013, during which time RISD saw increased applications, fundraising, and career placements. Prior to RISD, Maeda spent 13 years at the MIT Media Lab as a professor and head of research. His career bridging the intersections of graphic design, computer science, art, education, and leadership earned him the distinction of being named one of the 75 most influential people of the 21st century by Esquire.
Maeda chairs the eBay Design Advisory Council, serves on the boards of the wireless hi-fi company Sonos and the advertising agency Wieden+Kennedy, and is a member of the World Economic Forum's Global Agenda Council on New Models of Leadership. His books include The Laws of Simplicity; Creative Code; and Redesigning Leadership, which expands on his Twitter feed at @johnmaeda, one of TIME Magazine's 140 Best Twitter Feeds. He has received a variety of international awards for his creative work, including induction to the Art Director's Club Hall of Fame and the White House's National Design Award.
How do you lead a creative enterprise through crisis while trying to stay true to your core as an artist and a designer?
Kimberly Bryant is the Founder and Executive Director of Black Girls CODE, a non-profit organization dedicated to “changing the face of technology” by introducing girls of color (ages 7-17) to the field of technology and computer science with a concentration on entrepreneurial concepts.
Kimberly has enjoyed a successful 25+ year professional career in the pharmaceutical and biotech industries as an Engineering Manager in a series of technical leadership roles for various Fortune 100 companies such as Genentech, Merck, and Pfizer.
Since 2011 Kimberly has helped Black Girls CODE grow from a local organization serving only the Bay Area, to an international organization with seven chapters across the U.S. and in Johannesburg, South Africa. Black Girls CODE has currently reached over 3,000 students and continues to grow and thrive.
Ian Spalter is Head of Design at Instagram, where he leads the team responsible for all things design ranging from cross-platform app experiences to brand & identity. Ian was previously a Senior UX Manager at YouTube, and prior to that, Director of UX and Design at Foursquare. Ian also spent four years at R/GA where he oversaw design development projects such as the Nike+ Fuelband and Nike Running, Basketball, and Training products. Spalter was born and raised in New Rochelle, New York and graduated from Hampshire College.
Big data has never been bigger, but Instagram’s Ian Spalter warns that while data “can inspire” it “will not save you”. Spalter has found unlikely inspiration from the process of professional comedians: the ability to take raw data and contextualize, iterate, and most importantly, understand the difference between “good laughs” and “bad laughs”.
Seventeen years ago, a little-known potter named Jonathan Adler was thrilled to receive his first order from Barneys New York. He couldn't have dreamed that today, in 2011, he would lead an international design company offering decorative accessories, tabletop collections, bedding, furniture, rugs, pillows, lighting, and fabrics, all featuring Jonathan's signature Modernist forms, bold colors and groovy graphics. Jonathan is obsessed with creating beautiful design mixed with impeccable craftsmanship. His motto is "If your heirs won't fight over it, we won't make it."
Jonathan Adler has fourteen stores nationwide and just opened the doors to his first international boutique located in London. Beyond a thriving website and a wholesale business boasting more than 1,000 locations around the world, Jonathan is also a highly sought-after interior designer working on luxury residential projects and commercial projects including the celebrity hot spot Parker Palm Springs Hotel.
Jonathan has partnered with many companies to design products including Lacoste, Starbucks, 7 For All Mankind, Lifeguard Stationery, Steuben, Larson Juhl, Robert Abbey Lighting, and HSN. In 2009, Jonathan was tapped to design the retro-glam interior for the "real" Malibu Dream House for Barbie's 50th Anniversary and Jonathan was the lead judge on the Bravo TV series Top Design.
In 2005, Jonathan published his first book, My Prescription for Anti-Depressive Living. In 2010 Jonathan launched a new book series with two books: Jonathan Adler on Happy Chic Colors and Jonathan Adler on Happy Chic Accessorizing.
Jonathan Adler is a design company dedicated to bringing style, craft, joy to your home.
“I wanted to follow my heart and not be strategic and throw all preconceived ideas away,” says Jonathan Adler in this talk about ignoring other people’s opinions and charting your own path to creative fulfillment.
Neil Blumenthal loves helping people see. Determined to radically transform the eyewear industry, Neil and three friends launched Warby Parker in February of 2010. Warby Parker designs and sells vintage-inspired frames and prescription lenses for $95 whereas comparable quality glasses cost $500. For every pair sold, a pair is given to someone in need. To date, Warby Parker has distributed over 100,000 pairs to those in need around the world.
Neil had been the Director of VisionSpring, a non-profit social enterprise that trains low-income women to start their own business selling affordable eyeglasses to individuals living on less than $4 per day in South Asia, Africa and Latin America. He was responsible for developing VisionSpring's award-winning strategy (Fast Company Social Capitalist Award '08, '07 and '05) and expanding VisionSpring's global presence from one to 10 countries. In 2005, Neil was named a Fellow for Emerging Leaders in Public Service at NYU Robert F. Wagner School for Public Service.
Prior to joining VisionSpring, he worked with the International Crisis Group and attended the Institute for International Mediation and Conflict Resolution in The Hague, Netherlands. Neil received his BA from Tufts University and his MBA from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania where he was both a Social Enterprise Fellow and a Leadership Fellow. Neil and his wife, jewelry designer Rachel Leigh, live in NYC.
Everybody makes mistakes, even great businesses. Warby Parker and Rent the Runway on the unexpected benefits of transparency and vulnerability in customer service.
Brené Brown, Ph.D., LMSW is a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work. She has spent the past decade studying vulnerability, courage, worthiness, and shame.
Brené is a nationally renowned speaker and has won numerous teaching awards, including the College's Outstanding Faculty Award. Her groundbreaking work has been featured on PBS, NPR, CNN, and has appeared in The Washington Post, Psychology Today, and many other national media outlets.
Her 2010 TEDx Houston talk on the power of vulnerability is one of the most watched talks on TED.com, with over 6 million views. She gave the closing talk, Listening to Shame, at the 2012 TED Conference in Long Beach.
Brené is the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead (2012). She is also the author of The Gifts of Imperfection (2010), and I Thought It Was Just Me (2007).
In 2007, Brené developed Connections, a psychoeducational shame resilience curriculum that is being facilitated across the nation by mental health and addiction professionals. The Connections Certification process was launched in 2012.
Brené lives in Houston with her husband, Steve, and their two children.
One of the most underrated parts of the creative process is remaining vulnerable says New York Times bestselling author Brenè Brown in this moving 99U talk.
Tina Roth Eisenberg, a Swiss born and raised graphic designer, runs four "side-projects gone businesses" out of DUMBO, Brooklyn; a collaborative co-working space called Studiomates, a global, monthly lecture series called CreativeMornings, TeuxDeux the simple to-do app and Tattly, a design-y temporary tattoo shop. Tina is often referred to as Swissmiss after her popular design blog which is also the name of her Twitter handle.
Jad Abumrad is the host and creator of Radiolab, which reaches roughly 2 million people per month. He's been called a "master of the radio craft" for his unique ability to combine cutting edge sound-design, cinematic storytelling and a personal approach to explaining complex topics, from the stochasticity of tumor cells to the mathematics of morality. Jad studied creative writing and music composition at Oberlin College in Ohio. He composes much of the music for Radiolab, and in the past has composed music for film, theater and dance. He's currently co-producing a second child.
In 2011, Radiolab received a Peabody Award, the highest honor in broadcasting, and Jad received the prestigious MacArthur "Genius" Fellowship.
When every instinct is telling us to stop, how do we keep pushing our creativity to unknown heights?
Stewart Butterfield is the co-founder and CEO of Slack, the platform for team communication. Prior to Slack, Stewart co-founded and lead Flickr from its inception in late 2003 through its 2005 acquisition by Yahoo! and until 2008 by which point it was one of the largest web services in the world with over 50 million users and billions of photos.
In nearly two decades working on the web, Stewart has had a distinguished career as a designer, entrepreneur, and technologist. He has been named one of the "100 Most Influential People in the World" by Time Magazine, BusinessWeek's "Top 50 Leaders," and been featured in interviews and articles by hundreds of publications and broadcasters, including the Wall Street Journal, the BBC, The New York Times, CNN, the Financial Times and has appeared on the cover of Newsweek magazine.
Butterfield graduated from the Universities of Victoria and Cambridge, with degrees in philosophy and retains academic interests in cognitive science, the history and philosophy of science, and economics.
Baratunde is a politically-active, technology-loving comedian from the future. He co-founded the black political blog, Jack & Jill Politics, serves as Director of Digital for The Onion and is a regular guest on Leo Laporte's TWiT. His book, How To Be Black, was published in February 2012 and is a New York Times best seller. Basically, he's a smart, funny, and extremely handsome dude.
The bestselling author of How To Be Black talks about making things happen with a team, despite his natural inclination to fly solo.
Christoph Niemann is an illustrator, artist, and author. His work has appeared on the covers of The New Yorker, Time, Wired, The New York Times Magazine and American Illustration, and has won awards from AIGA, the Art Directors Club, and The Lead Awards. His corporate clients include Google, Amtrak, Herman Miller, and The Museum of Modern Art. He is a member of the Alliance Graphique Internationale.
Since July 2008, Niemann has been writing and illustrating the whimsical Abstract City, a New York Times blog, renamed Abstract Sunday in 2011, when the blog’s home became The New York Times Magazine. For his column he draws and writes essays about politics, the economy, art, and modern life. He has drawn live from the Venice Art Biennale, the Olympic Games in London, the 2012 Republican Convention, and he has drawn the New York City Marathon — while actually running it.
Niemann is the author of many books, most recently Abstract City. His latest project is an interactive, animated app called Petting Zoo. In 2010, he was inducted into the Art Directors Club Hall Of Fame. His artworks have been subject to numerous exhibitions, most recently at Gallery Max Hetzler in Berlin.
Los Angeles-based producer Effie Brown received a degree in Film Production and Theater from Loyola Marymount University before going on to participate in Film Independent's Project Involve, an intensive fellowship for people seeking a career in the film industry. She started her career at Tim Burton Productions as Director of Development. After producing several feature films at various production levels, Brown founded the production company Duly Noted, Inc. It is the force behind such critically-acclaimed HBO films as Stranger Inside, Real Women Have Curves, and Everyday People. Real Women Have Curves won the 2001 Sundance Film Festival Dramatic Audience Award and the Special Jury Prize for Ensemble. Working in association with Sony Screen Gems and Pathe International, Brown also executive produced In The Cut directed by Jane Campion. Brown's film Rocket Science, won the Sundance 2007 Grand Jury Prize for Directing and was also nominated for Best Feature, Best Screenplay, and Best Actress by the Independent Spirit Awards.
With a love of multiple platforms, she focused on digital episodic content and produced over 130 episodes of WIGS, an award-winning, original content channel funded by Google/YouTube. Currently, the number one scripted channel on YouTube, WIGS has recently been picked up for wider distribution via Hulu.
Her latest film Dear White People won the Special Jury Prize for Breakthrough Talent at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival and was released theatrically in the fall of the same year. Most recently, Brown joined the Matt Damon and Ben Affleck reboot of Project Greenlight, which aired on HBO in the fall of 2015.
For the past two decades, Keith Yamashita has worked alongside CEOs and their leadership teams to define — and then attain — greatness for their institutions. He has worked with leaders at Apple, IBM, General Electric, Johnson & Johnson, eBay, Nike, and Gap, among others.
Keith founded, and currently serves as chairman of, SYPartners — a firm steeped in the belief that transformation of individuals, teams, and institutions requires equal parts empathy, aspiration, and a bravery to act. The firm fuses systems thinking and creativity to help organizations in times of seismic change: the formulation of a new business strategy, a merger or acquisition, the rise of a new CEO, the evolution of a brand, the return-to-greatness journeys after an industry shock.
In 2011, SYPartners launched a sister company called Unstuck — dedicated to taking the 20 years of knowledge the firm has gained about transformation and bringing it to everyday people. The first offering is an iPad-based app that helps people find a way forward, when they don't know how to go forward. Slated for release in 2012, SYPartners' next offering will be a suite of collaborative tools focused on helping managers and teams perform at their best.
From 2009 to 2011, Keith served as The Charles and Ray Eames Brand Fellow at IBM — a post dedicated to driving IBM's growth and greatness as an institution and enabling IBMers to perform at their best. He is an author and essayist on leadership and design, having published in the Harvard Business Review and several journals. He has lectured at the Yale School of Management, Stanford Business School, and the Jack F. Welch Leadership Center. He holds an MA in organizational behavior and a BA in quantitative economics from Stanford University.
Great teams don’t happen by accident, they require a diligent and mindful effort to cultivate the specific habits that lead to success.
Get a taste of the 99U experience with a few selected talks from our main stage.