David, Meet Goliath: Infusing Major Players with Startup Culture

Moderated by:
Anil Dash (Activate)
Brad Garlinghouse (AOL, Inc.), Tony Conrad (about.me, True Ventures & Sphere), Jason Shellen (AOL)
Location: Metropolitan Ballroom Level:
Average rating: **...
(2.29, 7 ratings)

Keeping the culture of a startup alive can be challenging once it’s incorporated into a large company. Maintaining the speed, agility, integrity and risk-taking of an independent venture is crucial, while also recognizing that a newer product/company can come to life with the resources that a large company can offer. Brad Garlinghouse, Tony Conrad and Jason Shellen talk about bringing start-up culture to the benefit of both parties. The AOL executive group will discuss Brad’s vision of infusing AOL culture with the vibrancy of startup life and Tony and Jason’s experiences incorporating their companies into to AOL.

Photo of Anil Dash

Anil Dash


Anil Dash is an entrepreneur, technologist and writer acknolwedged as a “blogging pioneer” by the New Yorker for having started his site Dashes.com in 1999 as one of the earliest and most influential blogs on the Internet. Today his work focuses on applying the pioneering techniques and technologies of the startup world in order to transform major institutions in government, media and culture. To achieve these goals, Dash founding Expert Labs in 2009 to enable citizens to connect with government policy makers through social networks, and co-founded Activate in 2009 to help the world’s major media and technology companies reinvent their business strategies. In addition, Dash is an active advisor to many of the most prominent technology startups and non-profit organizations.

Dash is a member of the board of the popular question-and-answer site Stack Exchange and sits on the board of the New York Tech Meetup which serves as the hub for the New York technology community. Dash is also an advisor to the Web 2.0 conference in New York City, to the reading startup Readability, to the popular upstart hip hop label Greedhead Records and to the noted education non-profit DonorsChoose.

Dash has also been recognized for his role in popularizing web culture and advocating for social and civic responsibility within the technology industry. In addition to his frequent public speaking engagements, his digital works have been showcased in museums including the New Museum of Contemporary Art. In 2010, Dashes.com was named a Webby honoree in the Personal Blog category and Dash was named second most media-connected person in technology by Forbes, and in 2008 Dash was named one of the top ten most influential people in New York City by NowPublic.

Dash’s earlier career involved a seminal role as Chief Evangelist at Six Apart Ltd. (now SAY Media), where he joined as the first employee at the world’s leading blogging company, and that work was proceeded by roles in the newspaper and music industries.

Dash lives in New York City with his wife Alaina Browne, general manager of Serious Eats, the James Beard Award winner for Best Food Blog; They have a new son Malcolm. Dash can be found online at dashes.com and on nearly every social network as “anildash”.

Photo of Brad Garlinghouse

Brad Garlinghouse

AOL, Inc.

As President of the Applications and Commerce Group and head of AOL’s Silicon Valley operations, Brad Garlinghouse leads the charge around AOL’s renewed focus on innovation and most importantly, the consumer. This includes the company’s efforts to expand the global reach of its communications products such as AOL Mail and AIM as well as reinvigorate the company’s mobile and social strategy and its legacy client and toolbar products.

Brad also leads a newly created Commerce Group that will focus on developing new commerce opportunities and initiatives across all of AOL’s sites. In addition to Brad’s responsibilities for growing AOL’s Consumer Applications business, he is the West Coast lead for AOL Ventures, the company’s venture capital arm.

Brad believes that a truly successful company begins with its employees and the culture they build together as a team. So in addition to his daily responsibilities on the senior management team, Brad is incredibly focused on creating a winning culture at AOL by constantly challenging the way people think and approach their day-to-day roles at the company.

Prior to joining AOL in 2009, Brad was a Senior Advisor at Silver Lake Partners, serving as an in-house counselor on a variety of potential acquisitions. Before that, Brad spent nearly six years at Yahoo! most recently serving as SVP of Communications and Communities. During his tenure, he also oversaw Front Doors, which included the Yahoo! home page. Brad came to Yahoo! in 2003 as VP, Communications Products. Under his leadership, Yahoo! Mail went from No. 3 to leading all competitors by a wide margin, and the company’s messaging service rose to become the leader in that market as well. Brad also oversaw the company’s Flickr photo-sharing service and Yahoo! Groups.

Before Yahoo!, Brad was CEO of Dialpad.com Inc., responsible for the company’s operations, finance, sales and marketing. He was also General Partner at @Ventures, Category Manager of Media Development for @Home, Inc., and Manager at SBC Communications.


Photo of Tony Conrad

Tony Conrad

about.me, True Ventures & Sphere

Tony is a founder of about.me which was acquired by AOL in December 2010. In this role, he provides oversight of the development of the product and it’s integration with other AOL properties. Prior to about.me, Tony co-founded Sphere (acquired by AOL in 2008) with Toni Schneider. Tony is also a founding member & Venture Partner at True Ventures.

Early in his career, Tony spent nine years abroad, working in India, France, and Indonesia with Groupe Danone, focusing on brand extension opportunities through mergers and acquisitions in Southeast Asia. He then joined VSP as a general partner where he led consumer-tech and marketing software and services investments in Oddpost (acquired by Yahoo!), Iconoculture (acquired by Corporate Executive Board), MusicNow (acquired by Circuit City), and Centive (acquired by Xactly). Tony also played an active role managing investments in Post Communications (NASDAQ: NTVS) and Stonyfield Farms (acquired by Groupe Danone).

Photo of Jason  Shellen

Jason Shellen


As head of AOL’s AIM team, Jason oversees the growth and development of the AIM suite of products. Under his leadership, the team most recently launched a new offering, AIM AV, which enables users to instantly launch a video chat with up to four people without the need to download anything or sign-up for a service.

Jason joined AOL in September 2010 after the company acquired Thing Labs (makers of Brizzly), which he founded in 2007. Prior to Thing Labs, Jason worked with Blogger which was acquired by Google in 2003. While at Google, Shellen started the Google Reader project and became the founding product manager.

After earning his Bachelor of Arts degree from Saint Mary’s College of California, Shellen worked with a number of Silicon Valley companies in hardware sales and marketing. Jason Shellen is on the RSS Advisory Board and the advisory boards of Feedly and 8tracks.com. He lives in Lafayette, CA with his wife and two active boys.

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