Silicon Valley hot names Scott Nolan and Sam Altman heading to NZ for Kiwi summer, meeting startup citizens Dec 17 & 19

Picture from CreativeHQ website
In early October, Silicon Valley entrepreneur and investor Sam Altman tweeted that he would be coming to New Zealand with his business partner Scott Nolan and “we’d like to talk to some founders – anyone in Auckland willing to host us?”

He received a flurry of responses, ranging from Hyperfactory co-founder (who also co-founded Snakk Media) Derek Handley, crowdfunding people Snowball Effect, GridAKL, while others in Brazil, Ecuador, and Australia asked when the two could visit. Handley tweeted: “Depends how many you are and how long..I cld (sic) hook up a home or a vineyard.” Aaron Harris (@Harris) tweeted: “Did we talk about Waiheke Island?”

The flurry of activity is not surprising given the two have real star qualities in Silicon Valley, having funded some successful companies.

Altman and Nolan’s firms Y Combinator and Founders Fund, have worked with many of the highest impact and most innovative startups to come out of Silicon Valley in the past decade. They include Airbnb, Palantir, SpaceX, Dropbox, Spotify, Facebook and many others. They also work with Kiwi companies.

Organisers say what is exciting is the two see New Zealand as the top spot to create world-changing startups.

The two will arrive on Dec 17 and host a series of events, one at Wellington that day at CreativeHQ;  and then in Auckland on 19 Dec at Sparkcity. Both events have been sold out but more tickets might be made available. Event link here

While in New Zealand, they will meet up and connect with local entrepreneurs and the broader startup and tech space, to share experiences and learn from local startups. They will also offer whatever support they can to help NZ's startup ecosystem thrive.

The Auckland event will consist of speaker sessions, panels, networking, and "office hours”, where Kiwi companies can come in for one:one sessions to pitch ideas and seek advice.

Who's behind the activities?

A growing consortium of willing volunteers is rallying together to make their NZ visit a success, including AUT, CreativeHQ, Derek Handley, GridAkl, The Icehouse, KiwiConnect and Lightening Lab.

Speakers at the event

Auckland speakers: Sam & Scott, Sean Gourley (Quid - Gourley is originally from NZ), Vaughan Rowsell (Vend), Peter Beck (Rocket Labs) and Ezel Kokcu (STQRY).

Wellington speakers: Sam & Scott, Rod Drury (Xero), Brian Monahan & Matthew Monahan (Inflection, KiwiConnect)

Sam Altman shares startup stories

About Altman and Nolan

Scott Nolan (33) is a partner with Founders Fund (Peter Thiel), one of the top venture capital firms in Silicon Valley, where he focuses on investments in technology-driven companies across sectors including energy, biotechnology, aerospace, healthcare and advanced manufacturing. He was also an early employee (engineer) at Elon Musk’ SpaceX. Co-launched by Peter Thiel, Founders Fund has worked on many of the highest impact and most innovative startups to come out of Silicon Valley in the past decade: Airbnb, Palantir, SpaceX, Dropbox, Spotify, Facebook and many others.  

Picture from Scott Nolan's Twitter

Sam Altman (29) is a leading voice of authority on entrepreneurship, technology and innovation Silicon Valley. He is president of Y Combinator, a startup accelerator which provides seed funding and boot camps for startups. In the past 10 years, Y Combinator has funded over 700 startups (some of these are in NZ). More than 1,400 founders are part of the Y Combinator community and the combined valuation of Y Combinator companies is over $US30 billion (NZ$38.5b). Altman was cofounder and CEO of Loopt, which was funded by Y Combinator in 2005 and acquired by Green Dot in 2012.

"Both Sam and Scott are household names in the start up and entrepreneurial communities - which is why the events sold out in less than 24 hours," says an official working on the event.