MetaCenter Global Week a great start – now what?

Well, that was fun.

It has been less than 24 hours since Orlando’s tech industry shut down Church Street Station, dancing along with the popular DJ Lost Frequencies into the night, unwinding to cap off three days of the inaugural MetaCenter Global Week conference.

But I have to say I am already looking forward to seeing what MCGW has in store for next year.

I know, I know.

It’s too early to start thinking about that too deeply.

Or is it?

Sure, let’s give the organizing team some time to breathe. They pulled off what I consider a productive and potentially formative week for Orlando’s tech community.

However, speaking to its leaders and learning of the vision for this event, there is a lot to be excited about.

Before we go too far into next year, however, we should take a moment and acknowledge the efforts of the teams that put this together.

The people behind Innovate Orlando, Synapse Florida and Immerse Global Summit put together a solid conference. The event brought some hard-hitting industry folks into the community alongside the talent we already have.

Just by casual observation, probably around half, if not more, of the speakers had their base here in Orlando or Central Florida.

That’s a not-so-subtle way of showing those from outside of this community that we do have subject matter experts in some of the more exciting emerging technologies around.

That will help build Orlando’s reputation in tech.

Meanwhile, kudos, as well, to Orlando’s Waterfall Ventures. That group planned and organized two nights of fun music events, starting with an open mic live band on Wednesday and into the DJ set on Thursday.

Let’s not forget how much of a connection there is between music and tech.

Of course, the obvious example has some parallels with what’s going on here.

In 1987, South by Southwest debuted in Austin, Texas, as a conference meant to showcase the city’s dynamic music scene.

For the initial event, attendance sat at about 700.

But that number was enough to convince the leaders to bring it back another year.

You know where that led.

In 1994, tech was added in the form of the SXSW Interactive Festival.

In 2022, Year 35, the event drew about 350,000 to the central Texas city situated less than 200 miles from Houston, Dallas and San Antonio.

I am not sure of the official numbers when it comes to attendees for MetaCenter Global Week, which is held within 230 miles of Miami, Tampa, Daytona, Jacksonville and the Space Coast.

But I do know that Wednesday felt like it attracted more traffic than Tuesday, which seemed busier than Thursday … until the block party, that is.

What a cap to the week that was.

Hundreds of exhausted conference attendees, exhibitors and supporters brought some energy to a party that likely had enough just with the performers.

Before Lost Frequencies, the rapper MIMS – yes, the “This is Why I’m Hot” guy – started things out.

At the block party, it was refreshing to see the tech community, from executives to developers to artists and government tech leads, nodding along, let their collective hair down and celebrate Orlando tech.

Already, I’m told that the city and county were thrilled with Year 1 results. In addition, other community leaders and giants like Meta and Google have reached out to send their kudos.

That’s a good sign for the potential sustainability of the event.

A sustainable event of this kind run by Orlando’s tech leaders is one thing that has been missing from this region since I arrived in 2014.

It’s exciting that this could be the one that sticks.