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The Heavy-Hitting Utah Tech Summit

Stewart Butterfield, Steve Young and Mitt Romney at the Silicon Slopes Summit 2018.


Avatar. Man of Steel. The Avengers.
Jarom Sidwell worked on digital visuals for each of those blockbusters and others.
But he was far – far – from the only biggie to speak at the Silicon Slopes Summit 2018, “the largest tech event in Utah history,” SS Executive Director Clint Betts said, in Salt Lake City.
There was also Stewart Butterfield, Steve Young and Mitt Romney.

Stewart Butterfield, Slack’s CEO, conducted a major advertising campaign in Utah. (Creative Commons)


Smith started his interview of Butterfield, the Flickr and Slack co-founder, by saying that Butterfield “likes to start gaming companies, but he’s not very good at it” before getting nicer, noting that Yahoo! bought Flickr from Butterfield.

Butterfield then said that in college, “(his) mind was just blown by the internet” as he enjoyed communicating with friends at different colleges. He then described Slack as a “giant flow of information,” saying that “tens of millions” of folks use Slack today. However, he doesn’t think that email will go away, though he said that Slack can achieve many goals of email, but more effectively. He also advised business owners in appropriate fields “to find engineers who are interested in user experience.”

Butterfield then cited “the 48-hour filmmaking competition” as an example as to how time constraints can result in productivity.

Butterfield also spoke to doing a major advertising campaign in Utah, saying that much of the focus was in the morning because he “didn’t want to interfere with family evening.” Mormons, who make up nearly two-thirds of Utah, practice a function called Family Home Evening on Monday nights.

“Wow, man,” Smith replied before pivoting.

Steve Young said that his NFL coach in San Francisco, Bill Walsh, created a guide for conducting the West Coast offense when Walsh filmed his coaching it in practices. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)


Young said that the BYU defense he was practicing with “thought (he) was actually the (opposing) quarterback.”

That hurt Young, so he planned on quitting the team.

“You can quit, but you can’t come home,” Young’s father, Grit, said.

Young then called Grit and his mother, Sherry, one of the “150 angels in (his) life.”

After signing a $40 million contract, the most lucrative sports contract at the time, Young cried after seeing a headline in the Deseret News, a Utah newspaper, that Young said read “Steve Young, what’s wrong with sports?”

Being asked for advice for those who think they should have a better job, Young said to avoid “zero-sum-game thinking” and admired Walsh for having videos made of Walsh’s instruction concerning his West Coast offense, a new NFL development at the time.

“Bill Walsh was the first CEO of Silicon Valley,” Young said. “He was putting together a toolkit … of everything that he had, of all the knowledge that he had gained.”

Mitt Romney said “it’s thrilling to know you could be in the setting where you could fail or fall.” (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)


Romney was asked if he had “ever been truly scared of failing along the way” to his “accomplishments.”

“You may not know this, but I actually ran for president of the United States and lost,” he replied. “I love what Walter Mondale said. It’s been reported he said he wanted for run for president in the worst way, and that’s what happened.”

After recounting his work including leading the 2002 Winter Olympics and being governor of Massachusetts, he said “it’s thrilling to know you could be in the setting where you could fail or fall.”
When asked about his wife, Ann, having multiple sclerosis, Romney said “virtually everybody you meet has some … burden.”

Romney also spoke about being a Republican governor with a legislature that was 87 percent Democrat, remarking that he would go to dinner on the north end of Boston and have dinner of spaghetti and “other Italian delicacies” with the Democratic leadership.

“Just on a social basis,” he said.

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