Launch 2012: But First, Shimon Peres Meets Silicon Valley

Written by Julie Blaustein

Our photographer chief Julie Blaustein shot video of Shimon Peres at Launch today. Watch it here.

aNewDomain — Launch Festival 2012 opened today to a huge crowd — and at least 50 police and secret service agents. Israel President Shimon Peres, who is in Silicon Valley on a whirlwind tour this week, keynoted the event.

His presence meant heightened security, police and dogs — adding to the long line of people waiting to get into the event early this morning. Launch 2012 runs March 7 and 8 in San Francisco.

Security officials wouldn’t allow me to take photos of the security teams or police K-9 units. The atmosphere was tense.

The event brings together as yet unfunded startups with venture capitalists and draws a bigger crowd every year. Just a few blocks away, at the Yerba Center for the Arts in downtown San Francisco, Apple unveiled its third generation Apple iPad — better known as the Apple iPad 3 or HD. So the City was a real zoo today.



The event was at an interesting venue — the San Francisco Design Center. Exhibits inside included these next generation vehicles. A nice back drop for an event like this.


What’s at stake for the startups who show up to demo their tech products, services and apps? Almost a million dollars.  The house was packed. The judges were ready to go.

Judges at Launch

Let the competition begin! Here’s event founder Jason Calacanis. It’s the event’s fifth year and a screaming success year after year.

Competitors nervously pitched to the audience of investors and press right away. The judges loom behind.


After a few demos, Israel president Shimon Perez took the stage and engaged in a three-way dialogue with Jason Calacanis and Silicon Valley entrepreneur and investor Yossi Vardi.

Here’s a video I captured of Israel’s President Shimon Peres on stage showing off his Facebook Page that includes his own video for Peace. LIKE his Facebook page for Peace. A Lifetime Achievement Award was awarded to him by Jason Calacanis.

The audience at Launch Festival shares breaking information about new companies with the world. They’re tweeting away and sharing on Google + …

Here’s a view from the back of the packed room at Launch 2012 this first day.

The Demo Pit includes nearly 200 tables — each highlighting an early stage tech company. Here is Isaac Squires of Ubooly. The Kickstarter company showed an interactive educational toy that employes WiFi and iPhone technology to reach kids.

Ubooly at Launch

Sound Selecta livened up the Demo Pit with its interactive music technology for the creative industries. It is targeting ad networks that have an interest in coming up with more engaging ad content.

Sound Selecta

Our Launch 2012 coverage team is led by our senior photojournalist Julie Blaustein. Also contributing to the coverage —’s exec ed Joy Ma. Tomorrow, our team will be at the event to cover the main story — the winners. Stay tuned.