Why I’m in Davos – and why you should join me

January 18, 2016 Christian Lanng

Christian Lanng in Davos

Two years ago someone said, “Christian, you should go to Davos”. I was skeptical and quoted the old Marx Brothers line that I don’t want to be part of any club that would have me as a member. This wasn’t just to be a smart-ass (though that was part of it); to be honest, I thought Davos was nothing more than a talking club. And after 6 years working in the Danish and European governments and with the UN, I was tired of talking.

Tradeshift’s mission has always been to embody the opposite of corporate mentality: a hack, a way to change business using the raw mechanisms of trade itself. While our mission to democratize business and give everyone access to the global supply chain is actively aligned with the bigger vision of Davos and the World Economic Forum (to improve the state of the world), our methods are scrappy. We’re not cookie-cutter. We’re not KPMG. We’re not SAP. In fact, we’re not even Salesforce. When you look at most of the attendees here, we couldn’t be more different.

So why am I here?

A year after my Marx Brothers comment, I attended a meeting in Southeast Asia and had an epiphany that a good deal of the people there were REAL, and really wanted to use the World Economic Forum’s network to create positive world change.

I was also invited to join one of the WEF’s agenda-setting councils, the Global Agenda Council on the Future of Software and Society. This is a topic that deeply concerns me – I believe that the current utopianism of Silicon Valley is on a collision course with the rest of the world.

In our Global Agenda Council we agreed that one of our most important jobs was to make decision-makers aware of the disruption coming from what at Davos this year is called “the Fourth Industrial Revolution” – really this is the escalating impact of Moore’s Law on the world as accelerated exponential growth takes hold.

The GAC work resulted in our report being released this fall, and I’m humbled and proud that a lot of the report themes have made it into the theme of this year’s WEF around the Fourth Industrial Revolution. http://www.weforum.org/reports/deep-shift-technology-tipping-points-and-societal-impact

As William Gibson so precisely said, “The future is here, just not evenly distributed yet.” and I’m deeply worried about what it will mean if we don’t handle the distribution of the future in a way that creates more equality, not less. While it’s great to facilitate discussion within the WEF, the truth is that most business owners, policy makers and startups are outside this process.

Most of the real innovation is happening in small companies where even the idea of going to Davos would be seen as preposterous, but we need you – the visionaries, the misfits and the innovators, the ones that are breaking down the barriers of what’s possible to participate in the discussion and show why the future is a great (not scary) place.

In return we are partnering with TechCrunch and CNBC, bringing some of the world’s leading business leaders, policy makers and influencers to the table to create a meeting place unlike anºy other. We’ve called it Tradeshift Sanctuary, because we want it to be a place for real discussion, not canned corporate think pieces or tech hype, but a place to meet or just find some peace when the hustle of Davos becomes too much.

So if you’re a startup, founder, visionary or innovator, come join us at the Tradeshift Sanctuary in Davos. We need your voice.

About the Author

Christian Lanng

Christian is the CEO and Co-founder of Tradeshift. Christian started his first technology company at age 19 and was the youngest Head of Division in the Danish Government, National IT and Telecom Agency. Christian is a recognized thought leader and Fortune 500 advisor, as well as a member of the Global Agenda Council on the Future of IT Software and Services, World Economic Forum. He frequently keynotes conferences on topics such as digital disruption and business agility, and supply chain sustainability.

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