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The Shift is Here. Business Must Lead.

San Francisco / St. Regis / February 26th–28th, 2018


Thank you to all of our participants for an amazing event! At Shift Forum, we brought together innovators, Fortune 1000 leaders, VCs, policy experts, academics and regulatory thinkers to drive change, fuel new ideas, understand the impact of disruptive technologies and resulting new market opportunities, and that’s just a small slice of what happened! Join our mailing list to keep up to date on NewCo events. To learn more about the topics covered at Shift Forum, follow us at NewCo Shift and get access to select articles and videos from the conference like Susan Sobbott Speaks Her Truth. Why the most senior woman at American Express decided to leave, and what her decision can teach us all.

About Your Host

Shift Forum is hosted and produced by John Battelle and the team at NewCo. John is a serial entrepreneur and a founder of the Signal, Foursquare, CM Summit, and the Web 2.0 Summit forums. Read more about John and NewCo.

John Battelle (right) Interviews Michael Dubin, CEO of Dollar Shave Club

NewCo partners with you to access our movement of leaders and changemakers

Shift Forum - 60-Sec Video

John Battelle Discusses What to Expect at Shift Forum

NewCo Shift Forum 2018

In one place at one time, we're going to have the leaders responsible for the most important shift in our economy and our society since the industrial revolution.

Why Attend?

Shift Forum is not another tech or “innovation” conference. Learn more about what makes Shift Forum
the one business event you don’t want to miss in 2018.

Be Among Your Peers

It’s like being a guest at the best two-day dinner party. Smart, opinionated people. Unafraid to speak candidly--or shift their thinking. You'll have the opportunity for cross industry exchange and to build new networks.

You Need to Be There

The conference is run under Chatham House Rule. Although some speakers may choose to waive the rule on stage, many will not. That means the most rewarding and candid conversations are accessible to only those in the room. Be one of them.

Not Vertical

You’ll step out of your industry bubble and learn from a cross-section of leaders from government, business and academia with a few surprises mixed in. We need a cross pollination of ideas to reach inclusive and sustainable solutions.

50/50 Gender Parity

Our goal: 50/50 gender parity across our speakers and audience. Wish this wasn’t a bullet point? So do we. But it’s an inherent part of any executive conference. Let’s change that together.

Unique Speakers

Learn and exchange ideas with a diverse set of speakers many who don’t often speak in public. They will inspire you and present takeaways to apply to business and life.

Business Must Lead

Some of the largest actors in geo political conversation are corporations. Participate as a leader in these conversations representing your company and your industry.

The Right Questions

John Battelle thinks in webs. He sees trends across culture, tech and business before the rest of us. A consummate host and convener, he asks the questions everyone wants asked. And he gets answers.

Positive Change

Through our events and editorial - NewCo connect the engines of positive change in society. We bring together the companies, academics and community leaders driving the transition to more positive-impact business ecosystem. Join the Movement.

Rational Discourse

Rational discourse is the missing element in our political discourse. The role of business in society has never been more crucial and more in flux, and it’s never been more important to engage - it's critical to the prosperity of business and society.

Agenda at a Glance

Visit the detailed Program Agenda for a full listing of events


Pillar Topics at Shift Forum

Founders, innovators, and key Fortune 1000 leaders together with policy and regulatory thinkers are gathering to find ways to navigate today’s shifting landscape. Cross-sector challenges require interdisciplinary solutions. Shift Forum gathers business drivers, technology creators, policy makers, investors and academics to discuss these challenges and debate their solutions.

Politics & Policy

The policymaking process almost always lags society, and for good reason. But over the past few decades, the tremendous pace of technology-driven change has dramatically outpaced government’s ability to adapt.

Politics & Policy Pillar Partner: Microsoft

Business Transformation

Regardless of the massive shifts in technology, policy, demographics and business models, each and every business must press forward, delivering quality experiences to its stakeholders and managing its workforce, its processes, and its relationships to partners and communities.

Business Transformation Partner: Adobe

Future of Work

Automation and artificial intelligence (AI) are top of mind, but there’s a bigger agenda for CEOs with millions of workers (drivers, cashiers, warehouse workers and white collar knowledge employees and more) threatened by a never-ending quest for efficiency and profit maximization.

Future of Work Partner: Dell Technologies

The Business of Food

Can a combination of education, technology and a de-politicizing of food production and distribution solve our growing concerns over food? We’ll cover this and more at the 2018 Shift Forum.

Future of Democracy

World leaders from the World Leadership Alliance-Club de Madrid, the largest forum in the world of former democratic Presidents and Prime Ministers will join for a discussion on the fate--and future--of democracy in North America.

Shift Forum Reads

NewCo is committed to identifying and exploring the most pressing issues in business and society through a new book review program. Explore the books we’re reading at NewCo as we prepare for the conversation at the Shift Forum this February.

Politics & Policy

The policymaking process almost always lags society, and for good reason. But over the past few decades, the tremendous pace of technology-driven change has dramatically outpaced government’s ability to adapt. And when all of business adopts the leveling, foundational platforms of technology, a grand re-negotiation of the contract between society and business is at hand. At the dawn of the fourth industrial revolution led by our shift to cloud-based infrastructure, leaders in business, civil society, and government must come together to create a new framework for our shared social compact. The Shift Forum’s Policy Pillar will explore issues of inclusion, privacy, human rights, and governance in an age of global connectivity. It will also explore the state of political discourse on the United States and beyond, and how that dialog affects business today.

The current political climate & divisiveness isn’t just a US phenomenon – the same issues faced at home are happening abroad (Brexit was the precursor but it’s all over Europe obviously). Globalization and the resulting impact on the labor markets, driving a desire for isolationism and acting as the basis for immigration scapegoating, is happening everywhere.

Key Issues & Questions

  • What is the government’s role in regulating the impact of technology on labor, climate and capital?
  • Should companies of a certain size or influence be regulated as utilities?
  • Cyber-security  – what should be done to protect digital infrastructures domestically and globally?
  • The future of the UN, global policy making, shifting global alliances – if our current global policy making  models are broken, what will fix them?
  • How do we rethink regulation in an age of platform-mediated commerce and communication?
  • As income inequality grows, how do we address the billions who lack basic access to the digital tools that offer a path forward?
  • As terror and cyber warfare threats grow, how do we balance the need for both individual privacy and national security?
  • Now that the world’s most powerful companies are technology platform players, how do we resolve their great power with the responsibility to govern malicious actors, including information warfare from rogue states?
  • How will we reconcile the vastly different policy frameworks of Europe, the US, Asia and beyond? Is it time for a “Digital Geneva Convention”?

Business Transformation

Regardless of the massive shifts in technology, policy, demographics and business models, each and every business must press forward, delivering quality experiences to its stakeholders and managing its workforce, its processes, and its relationships to partners and communities. In the Business Transformation Pillar, we’ll focus on the “how” of the Shift – the best practices, the lessons learned, and the insights that translate across economic sector or industry.

Now that all businesses are mediated by technology, what kind of experiences must business create for customers, employees, and partners? We’re particularly fascinated by how our largest companies manage the transformation of their  business models, their networks, and their relationship to technology . Is it time to ask what a post technology company looks like? We’ll highlight leaders in the midst of the transformation from an old-economy approach to business to a digital-first, NewCo approach – leaders like, Susan Sobbott of American Express, and Marc Pritchard from P&G. This is where a key theme of Shift – a new compact between business and society – comes to life.

Key Issues & Questions

  • What is the role of business in society?
  • Do successful, highly profitable business have a responsibility to manage their balance sheets by metrics beyond profit and revenue?
  • How does a traditional firm implant purpose and mission inside its four walls? If “business must lead,” how do firms choose the issues and values they claim as their own?
  • Can the flat, “agile” approaches of technology firms translate to larger, centuries old companies? And can those large firms teach younger, innovative upstarts about regulatory framework, managing a huge workforce, and longevity through political crises and social upheaval
  • What is the role of business in ensuring a thriving populace – labor practices, sustainable practices, local/domestic responsibilities?
  • Mission-driven startups are becoming more the norm, but how do monolithic legacy corps manage change change, and can they do so swiftly enough
  • What is the role of business & politics? Do modern organizations need to have a position on major issues when historically they have been a-political by design?

Future of Work

2017 is the year nearly everyone – from policy makers to academics, business leaders to the working class – woke up to the inescapable impact of automation and artificial intelligence on our most fundamental economic assumptions. But while debate rages on whether and how jobs will be lost, we must not lose sight of a wider aperture for “the Future of Work.” Yes, tens of millions of drivers, cashiers, warehouse workers, and even white collar knowledge workers’ jobs are on a collision course with capitalism’s never-ending quest for efficiency and profit maximization. But within that statement are any number of important policy and even ethical questions: Do we want to leave the transition to a post-AI world to the free market? Our last major transition – to an Industrial workforce – left millions destitute. Do we want to run the same play again?

To truly explore the future of work, we’ll need to explore the future of the corporation as well. Companies are already deep in transition, with new approaches to workforce and product management taking root. Employees, customers and partners are demanding more from the firm, from a values and purpose-driven approach to business to a more flexible and technology-mediated approach to getting work done. And the younger the workforce, the more employees will job hop, with the average millennial shifting jobs every two and one half years.

Once dismissed as a utopian (or worse, socialist) concept, universal basic income has made a comeback as the Valley’s preferred answer – Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, and scores of tech leaders have embraced the idea. Others, like Nick Hannauer (speaker), have embraced a $15 minimum wage. Aetna, the massive health insurance provider, has already implemented such a wage (the company’s President, Karen Lynch, will speak as well).

Key Issues & Questions

  • There are big changes percolating – relationship of individual to corporation, the relationship of corporation to community, and the “way” we will work (remote, flexible, purpose-driven, less hierarchical, with the understanding that the people will have several jobs or careers in their lifetime).
  • Automation & Globalization are driving the disappearance of a middle class – it’s not just unskilled hourly labor. The resulting poverty, malaise from lack of purpose, disenchantment with “The American Dream” are a key driver in today’s political climate, as globalization is often misunderstood (or willfully misconstrued for political gain) – tied to immigration, climate change regulation and healthcare.
  • If corporations remain purely margin driven does that mean that all jobs that can be automated will, that wages will shrink or stagnate, and that this is the natural course of progress?
  • With income inequality higher than the Gilded Age and massive tax breaks on the horizon for holders of capital, can our society afford “business as usual”?
  • Will new jobs emerge to replace those that seem certain to evaporate, and if so, how can we shift our education system to anticipate the new skills a post industrial society demands?
  • Might jobs that highlight unique, human-centric connections (teaching, food preparation, nursing) start to accrue more social and economic value?

The Business of Food

Last year at Shift Forum we focused on health care in the United States, a timely topic given the new administration’s promise to repeal Obamacare. This year we shift focus to the business of food, a core driver of not only health, but overall economic growth. Food is a trillion dollar industry in the US alone, and the companies at its center are in significant transition. Many of the sector’s leading voices are calling for new approaches to sourcing, production, and regulation. Consumers are demanding healthier and more sustainable choices, but the shift to meet those consumers’ needs often draws Wall Street activists. How the industry responds will be a fascinating case study applicable to just about every sector in our economy.

We’ve got a great early lineup for Shift Forum’s Food Pillar: Pat Brown, founder of Impossible Foods, will give us an overview (and a taste) of his company’s mission to create a sustainable alternative to meat. Kevin Johnson, CEO of Starbucks, runs one of the largest retail food outlets in the world, and will be on hand, as will John Chambers, who among his many accomplishments is now focused on alternatives approaches to humanity’s protein needs (hint: Think crickets). We’ll also hear from several health executives, including the president of Aetna and the CEO of a major health provider, as well as a leading executive from Cargill, the original “platform for farmers.” And we’re just getting started with the conversation, expect more speakers to be added in the coming months. Join us at Shift Forum as we explore an industry that directly effects us all: The business of food.

Key Issues & Questions

  • There is enough food to feed the global population –no one should starve.
  • Ensuring a healthy population is easily politicized but can also run precariously close to paternalism (e.g. soda laws, no fast food in poor neighborhood, food-stamps and what they can buy). What are the solutions?
  • What does a healthy diet look like and why has this been historically tricky to define and understand? It’s not just changing research – food lobbies have a significant impact.
  • How can we close the gap between healthy and affordable food? Who are the players, what are the solutions?
  • What role does has food play in calming (or exacerbating) global unrest?
  • In order to drive change, we need to examine the social mores around food, health, and obesity. Food plays a central role in every culture – how do we better understand this so we don’t end up with a one-size fits all approach?

Future of Democracy

Partnering with World Leadership Alliance-Club de Madrid the largest forum in the world of former democratic Presidents and Prime Ministers, we’ll hear from a select group of former world leaders discussing the fate–and future–of democracy in North America. A pre-conference roundtable featuring 30 leaders in business and politics will report key discussion take-aways to Shift Forum general session. Speakers to be announced.

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