PCMA Convening Leaders and San Francisco — Where Innovation Meets

Author: Curt Wagner       

San Francisco innovation

The cable car is an early result of San Francisco’s innovative spirit, which hasn’t slowed down in the 146 years since the first was tested in 1873. (Photos courtesy San Francisco Travel)

San Francisco attracts visitors for many reasons. Among them are iconic sights (think Golden Gate Bridge), a thriving culinary scene (the Bay Area is home to 68 percent of the 90 Michelin-starred restaurants in the publisher’s 2019 first-ever statewide guide), not to mention a long history of cultural movements and innovations that have shaped the world. And, from Jan. 5-8, attendees will flock to the Moscone Center for PCMA Convening Leaders 2020. It’s the perfect fit: an innovative event, an innovative venue, and an innovative destination.

The city’s innovative spirit blossomed early, when miners from all over the world rushed to California after gold was discovered in the state in 1848. San Francisco’s population swelled to 20,000 by 1850. That stunning growth led to the invention of such world-changing ideas as denim jeans and cable cars — still running and forever a part of San Francisco’s identity.

San Francisco innovation

The city’s diverse residents helped advance LGBTQ equality before Pride parades became annual celebrations around the world.

The City by the Bay also has been a cultural innovator. It was in San Francisco where the famous “Nutcracker” ballet was first performed in an American theater. The Summer of Love in San Francisco’s Haight Ashbury neighborhood in 1967 ignited the peace movement (not to mention the music of the 60s). Bold advances in LGBTQ equality came from San Francisco’s tradition of open-mindedness and commitment to diversity.

Long before cell phones and social media, San Francisco and the Bay Area had been synonymous with great leaps forward in technology. That legacy continues to attract innovators to the city. The Bay Area is home to such familiar companies as Facebook, Google (Alphabet), Uber, Lyft, Netflix, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Reddit, as well as tech firms Apple, NetApp, Qualcomm, and Interdigital. Other disruptor companies based in the area include Airbnb, Intuit, eBay, Tesla Motors, Cisco Systems, and Salesforce.

According to Business Insider, Bay Area businesses filed more patents per person than any other city (as ranked by AT Kearney in its 2019 Global Cities Index). And The Economist reports that the region has more “unicorns” — startups valued at more the $1 billion — than any other region in the world.

One of those unicorns, Impossible Foods, is shaking up the food industry — and piquing the interest of event organizers looking to offer meat-free F&B — with its plant-based meat-alternative products sold in stores and at restaurants. The beef-free option tastes a lot like the real thing but its production methods are far more Earth-friendly.

That’s just a taste of the innovative past and present of San Francisco and the surrounding area. Want more? Before heading out to Convening Leaders, visit San Francisco Travel to map out game-changing places to experience during your stay.

Curt Wagner is an associate editor at Convene.

San Francisco innovation

The 1967 Summer of Love in San Francisco’s Haight Ashbury neighborhood helped start the national peace movement.

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