The NOAH Conference is a curious but enthralling beast. Milo Yiannopoulos reports from London.
It’s funny. You don’t expect a conference packed to the gills with suits, egos and unsatisfied, unimpressive semis to provide much entertainment. Yet, this one did.
Head honcho at NOAH, Marco Rodzynek, who is hot in an I’ll-leave-you-battered-and-sobbing sort of way, is a tough taskmaster. You can’t blame him: tech conference audiences are notoriously disrespectful of the talent on stage.
But he’s rounded off much of the ill-tempered hectoring that prompted me to write, around this time last year, that NOAH was a masterclass in how to screw up a technology conference.
That was a little unfair, in restrospect. After all, these are moneyed suits who shouldn’t be expected to echo the hedonism or youthful abandon of a Pirate Summit.
This year, he came across as more passionate and less prosecutorial.
The big themes at NOAH this year were, firstly, that bleating feminists should pipe the fuck down about their representation on stage and do better at their jobs if they want to be invited on.
Seriously: to hear a panel of otherwise esteemed women complaining that “We don’t want our own special ‘women in tech’ panel, we just want to be better represented throughout” was so embarrassing there aren’t words.
(One of the panellists, a personal friend, practically leapt off stage to apologise.)
Well played to the organisers for attempting to pay lip service to the blonde extension brigade, but you needn’t have bothered.
The result was more TOWIE with Russian accents than poised executional expertise. Let’s stick to promoting on merit, shall we?
Secondly, and more significantly, Israel is so hot right now. You’ll have read as much in these pages recently, and every serious conference we attend confirms the trend.
Given how sick people are of the internet and the expertise of Israeli companies in “hard tech”, how much money there is sloshing around Tel Aviv and how remarkably entrepreneurial Israel is as a country, it perhaps should not be a surprise.
Money’s another key theme of this conference – more unashamedly so than with its peers, who tend to buy into the tired Silicon Valley narrative of virtuous disruption and who deny the primary motivation of attendees.
And, you know, for those who can afford the ticket price, there’s no emerging technology conference that touches NOAH for the sheer concentration of wonga in the room.
For those who can’t, there’s always a party to crash. This year it was in Battersea Power Station. A great venue, but a bit of a mission to get to after a long day at Old Billingsgate.
(Your correspondent failed to make it, but was amused to hear of naked women painted in NOAH livery. Gotta love that enlightened eastern European approach to décor.)
In short, NOAH’s sort of unmissable, despite its various quirks.
Perhaps the best endorsement of it was the print edition of Jennifer Schenker’s Informilo, which, despite its name, has nothing to do with the present author but is instead a news service that publishes lavish print editions at all the best conferences in Europe.
Which makes me wonder what GP Bullhound thinks of all this – and whether they’re content to stick with Investor AllStars, an effectively off-the-record event (well, there was no mobile service in the basement of the Park Plaza this year).
Either way: for now, NOAH takes the credit for welding together entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and private equity bods in the only credible conference of its kind in Europe.
The Kernel served as media partner for NOAH London 2012