Rebooting SVForum: one of Silicon Valley's oldest startup organizations

SVForum has a new name and a new leader.

Adiba Barney

I recently met with Adiba Barney, the new head of Silicon Valley Forum (SVForum), a 30 year old non-profit association that is best known for its annual Visionary Awards, and by its former name, SDForum (Software Developer Forum).

The present organization is the result of a merger with the Silicon Valley Academy of Startup Entrepreneurs (SVASE) in January 2012. It holds more than 200 events every year focused on entrepreneurs and developers.

Read more: Techno-Optimists Celebrated In Silicon Valley Visionary Awards

Adiba Barney, a Swedish national and a branding expert on innovation centers, was appointed CEO early this year. Here are some notes from our conversation:

  • Barney arrived in early 2011 as part of a Swedish initiative showcasing Swedish innovation. She helped establish innovation centers in Sweden and promote them globally. She decided to stay in Silicon Valley and ran "Silicon Valley Vikings" a networking organization.

  • SVForum has many new initiatives. One of these is a "World Cup" startup competition May 20. [Launch: Silicon Valley 2014 — The World Cup Tech Challenge | SVForum] It pits 30 startups against each other in five tech categories: enterprise, next generation technologies, digital media, educational technology, and health.

  • The Visionary Awards are coming up in early June and this time it is an evening event, a type of "Oscars" for Silicon Valley. Usually it is a garden party at someone's mansion in Woodside. 

  • This year's Visionary Award winners: Tim Draper, founding partner at Draper Fisher Jurvetson; Jessica Jackley a co-founder of Kiva; Tim O'Reilly, founder of tech press publisher O'Reilly Media; and educator Tina Seelig, a professor at Stanford university.

  • SVForum is also building a large online community to try and make available the lessons of Silicon Valley to a global audience. It's more than a "bridge" to Silicon Valley.
  • There are also plans for a series of smaller events, salons for entrepreneurs and investors.

  • We spoke about how the culture of Silicon Valley is so much more welcoming than European culture. There is often much suspicion from Europeans towards entrepreneurs.

  • SVForum has a lot of plans but Barney is one of just five full time people  — she and her team will be very busy.