Looking for the next disrupters

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I attended a unique function this afternoon hosted by Business 2.0 magazine called “The Next Disrupters” that evolved from a cover story the magazine did back in October.

The premise is simple: Gather a bunch of entrepreneurs in a room and talk about how they are changing Business 2.0the industries in which they operate. Moderate the group with some editors from the magazine — editor at large Erick Schonfeld and editor Josh Quittner — and in a couple of hours you get some great discussion — and some great story ideas.

Business 2.0 is going to hold similar sessions in the next month in Los Angeles and in Boston with entrepreneurs from those areas. Talking to Schonfeld afterward, I came away with the impression that the event was just as useful for the business journalists as it was the business people.

For example, Schonfeld noted one start-up company in attendance that was “stealth” about what it was doing. In Silicon Valley, near the magazine’s main offices in San Francisco, a company like that would not have attended.

Schonfeld said it was also obvious from the discussion what company CEOs were media savvy and could convey their message to journalists and what CEOs still needed help in communicating what they were trying to accomplish.

My impression of the event was that the people invited to talk enjoyed the conversation and the banter. And for a magazine like eight-year-old Business 2.0, which has had to transform itself from an Internet-focused magazine to one that looks more at entrepreneurs, the event probably opened some doors for them in a region of the country — the Research Triangle Park — that is full of great stories.

Here’s an interesting article about the event. My only regret is that I couldn’t convince more business journalism students to attend so they could see how high-level magazine journalism works. (They had an open bar reception on the floor of the Dean Smith Center where the Tar Heels play hoops so biz journalists could mingle with biz executives.) If I’m a business journalist, I’d want to hold an event like this because it means contacts and story ideas.