Tim Ferriss, Kara Swisher, Jeff Koons and Meredith Whittaker are OMR24 bound! The OMR24 First Four drops today

Scott Peterson11/14/2023

Podcast and entrepreneur royalty, tech thought leaders, famed visual artist and an influential exec and AI critic

It’s that time of the year again—the first speaker announcement for OMR Festival 2024 drops today. Next May 7 and 8, OMR Festival 2024 returns with two days of insights and input, inspiration and entertainment at the Hamburg Exhibition Center—and tickets go on sale today. And we’re starting strong with the OMR24 First Four: Tim Ferriss, Kara Swisher, Jeff Koons and Meredith Whittaker.

Best-selling author and podcast trailblazer

You’d be hard-pressed to find another individual who’s had a greater impact on the digital marketing space than Tim Ferriss. In his 2007 book "The 4-Hour Workweek" ("Escape 9 to 5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich"), Ferriss draws on his wealth of personal experience to illustrate how the Internet can be used to build a largely automated business model. The work reached the top of the New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller lists and became a bible of sorts for many digital fortune seekers. Mind you, it’s not the only time Ferriss has topped the bestseller lists as his subsequent works "The 4-Hour Body," "The 4-Hour Chef," "Tools of Titans" and "Tribe of Mentors" have also each shared that honor.

Beyond putting proverbial pen to paper, Ferriss, now 46, puts his money where his intuition is as an angel investor. He bought shares in Facebook and Twitter—pre-IPO—and has invested in Shopify, Duolingo and Uber, among others. Plus, there is of course The Tim Ferriss Show, where Ferriss sits down with, well, just about whoever he wants. His past guests include absolute A-listers from the realms of business, science and entertainment, including LeBron James, Mark Zuckerberg, Yuval Noah Harari, among many, many others. On a personal note, it has largely influenced the OMR Podcast over the years.

A titan of tech influence

Speaking of influence, Kara Swisher has impacted the tech industry like hardly any other journalist. Whether it’s as co-host of the number 1 business pod on the planet “Pivot,” alongside tenured guest of OMR Prof. Scott Galloway, as a media outlet and event co-founder or through her 30-plus years reporting on the tech space, when Swisher speaks, people listen. She was already a seasoned vet back when Amazon was setting up shop in Seattle, when Google was fending off challenges from Yahoo and Ask Jeeves from its garage HQ and when Netflix still sent DVDs to film freaks by mail. She’s no slouch as an entrepreneur either, having co-founded seminal tech outlet Recode and the tech and media event "Code." From 2018 to 2022, she was a contributing editor at the New York Times. Currently, she is editor-at-large for New York Magazine and hosts "On with Kara Swisher."

The world’s most-expensive living artist

Jeff Koons is one of the world’s most-famous contemporary artists and after his sculpture “Rabbit” fetched a cool USD 91m at auction at Christie’s in NYC, he’s also the most-expensive. It’s not the first work by Koons to go for such a lofty sum; “Balloon Dog” sold for USD 60m in 2013. The work has frequently appeared in a wide variety of pop-culture mediums, including AAA video game title GTA Online and in the latest Spiderman film. Additional notable works of his include “Puppy,” on display outside the Guggenheim in Bilbao, Spain, and the Banality series (including Michael Jackson and Bubbles), now on display at the San Francisco Museum of Art.

Koons recognized early on that by collaborating with select brands would help amplify the reach and impact of his works. He has worked with pop artist Lady Gaga, created the label for the 2010 vintage of Chateau Morton Rothchild, took part in the “Masters Collection” series for Louis Vuitton, designing the eponymous Da Vinci bag, created a limited-series BMW and has worked with exclusive Japanese fashion brands.

Artificial intelligence nothing more than marketing?

Our final member of the OMR24 First Four is Meredith Whittaker, President of Signal and outspoken critic of artificial intelligence–and big tech. In a recent interview with German daily “Die Zeit” she said that they (big tech) have built up a surveillance business model over the years, providing us with their services free of charge, all the while in the background creating user profiles from the reams of data at their disposal, which they then store and sell to the advertising industry. This is the engine that drives the entire technology industry.

Nothing we haven’t heard before per sé. What is different about Whittaker’s critical assessment is that Whittaker herself was part of the “problem” for a very long time. For over a decade, in fact, she led various product and development teams at Google and founded Google's Open Research Group. She later worked as a research professor at NYU, where she founded the AI Now Institute, which she still advises today. advised the White House, the FCC, the City of New York, the European Parliament, and many other governments and civil society organizations on privacy, security, artificial intelligence, internet policy, and measurement. And she recently completed a term as Senior Advisor on AI to the Chair at the US Federal Trade Commission. In September, she was named President of the Signal Foundation behind the messenger app of the same name.

The best of the rest

While we are confident that these four alone would be more than enough to fill a stage with engaging content for an entire day, we love going further OMR. As per usual, we will have a unique content mix across our stages. And in addition to the numerous international speakers, many experts from our home market of Germany will be there, as well as major players from the political, pop-culture and sport spaces. In 2024, these include singer Vanessa Mai, politician Gregor Gysi and his podcasting cohort Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, co-founder of FC Viktoria Berlin and President of the German Startups Association Verena Pausder, tech expert Philipp Klöckner, entrepreneur Lea-Sophie Cramer, Ada founders Miriam Meckel and Léa, 1Komma5° founder Philipp Schröder and Aileen Puhlmann as well as Lemonaid & ChariTea board member Aileen Puhlmann.

Click here for a complete overview of speakers—and here to get your tickets. If we've learned one thing in the past few years, it's that the Festival is wont to sell out shortly before it kicks off and accommodation is in very short supply. So if you want to be sure to be there on May 7 and 8, it's best to get your tickets and book a hotel now.

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