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Overview of TMC Connect 2015

Discussion in 'TMC Connect' started by Cattledog, Jul 14, 2015.

  1. Cattledog

    Cattledog Active Member

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    Since many who did not attend TMC Connect have been wondering what went on, here's a single viewpoint (mine) on the events of the weekend. TMC and Tesla asked us to keep information confidential to the group that attended, so I will try to honor that while sharing the big highlights. And 'spoiler alert' - there was no earth-shattering information shared in any one snippet. But an astute observer might be able to put together disparate pieces of information to come up with a larger whole - I'm not sure I qualify to be that observer. This is the 'Extra' review of the conference, so while you'll get some thoughts about the technical info presented, you'll also get some lifestyle stuff - food, drinks, One Direction sightings, etc.

    (mods - if you think any of this violates the spirit of what you and Tesla asked of us, feel free to edit/delete)

    The Conference Organizers
    It's really awesome that the Dougs and others work so hard to make this event for us. It takes a huge amount of work to make a conference like this feel like it didn't take huge amounts of work. And for us (my wife and I) the conference flowed smoothly and felt very organized. That's not easy to do when you have 300+ precise (engineers, technology folks, others) people coming together for a couple days. So thank you to Doug and all involved - job really well done.

    The Hotel
    We all stayed at the Santa Clara Hyatt, right across from Levi's Stadium. The interesting cultural intersection of the weekend was the 300 Tesla geeks sharing the hotel with what felt like twice that many teenage girls in town for the One Direction concert Saturday night. And their parents. It was not difficult to tell the difference between the two crowds. At all. The hotel rooms were nice and the lobby and meeting rooms as well. And it was conveniently equidistant from the Fremont factory and Palo Alto HQ, which was great.

    The Food
    Best food so far from the three conferences. All parts - breakfast, lunch, hors d'oeuvres, desserts, drinks. Thoughtful choices for vegetarians and perhaps vegans too (not really smart on that). Like.

    Friday Night Reception at Hotel
    Friday night there was a nice reception in the Expo Hall. Good opportunity to mix and mingle, see familiar faces (perhaps not all familiar names), nice exhibits and exhibitors, decent room with outdoor patio. It felt like there were more attendees without Forum names than in the past. And there were definitely more foreign delegates than in the past, which made the whole thing more interesting. Since my wife is usually asleep at 9 Central, we didn't join in on any late night festivities - other can fill in here on hot tub goings-on.

    Saturday Presentations
    There was a nice mix of official Tesla and TMC presenters. Ricardo Reyes kicked things off and discussed Tesla communications. Nice guy, thoughtful, gave us some Elon insight through his stories. He got peppered with some tougher questions than I'd imagined, not that he shouldn't have to field those, just that some seemed very specific to a personal situation. No vegan interior questions though. Perhaps him with a moderator might have worked better - so it didn't jump around so much in Q&A.

    The panel of Tesla Engineers was great - we heard each one for about 15 minutes talk about Tesla Energy, the Fremont Factory production and Autonomous Driving. My takeaway - Tesla energy is off to the races; the Fremont factory is poised to be able to handle a quantum leap in production both in the next two months (Model X) and the next two years (Model 3); and autonomous driving is really hard - but most importantly, this is a company hell-bent on changing the world. I think there's a lot going on we don't know about - there will always be a few cards taped under the table...

    Obviously since there were dual tracks of TMC members speaking at the same time in the afternoon, I couldn't see all of them. Plus, I gave a talk as well so that sort of wiped me out a bit from looking in on the other. I think Tom's presentation on battery characteristics/degradation was helpful, if only to make us all feel better that the packs are delivering more than what Tesla had originally represented.

    The final keynote had Chelsea Sexton asking and fielding questions for Ashlee Vance. I loved this section, Ashlee got a view into the world of Elon Musk that is really unique and his statement that Elon was the most intense person he had ever met - accepting there's both good and bad that goes with that - was really powerful to hear in person.

    Saturday Night Party at HQ
    Since we had never been there, it was fun to have a party at Tesla's HQ. OK, the music was a little loud. And it took awhile for the taco/burrito truck to get humming. But the ice cream was great! Oh, we didn't see anything. Really, no sneak peek at the Model X, no Elon in gym clothes, nothing. So I think we can now say that we've done the HQ party and move on next year (well, thanks to Tesla for letting us do it). BTW, as an architect, their buildings? Definitely the Pontiak Aztek of corporate HQs. Seriously, Tesla, give us a call and we can design you an upgrade.

    Sunday Factory Tour
    Hard for the factory tour to not be the highlight - I mean, I think it might have been the highlight 2 years ago too, and that's when Elon spoke! Well, it's all grown up now, much larger and better coordinated, close to ready to start cranking out Model X. We saw several Model Xs, either wrapped where they were 90%+ invisible or if visible, 60%+ in sections/pieces. But again, piecing things all together mentally, I think it will be better than any recent mule photos let on.

    Why go to TMC Connect?
    Everyone will answer this differently, but here are some of my reasons:
    1. It's fun to be part of an international community, that hangs together 363/365 online and 2/365 at the conference. Welcome to the 21st century.
    2. It still feels very much like we're in on the beginning (not TMC, but Tesla), and every little morsel of info you glean that's not out for general consumption fuels that.
    3. I am constantly checking the logic of our TSLA investment. This conference/tour reaffirms my fundamental beliefs.
    4. It's 100 in Texas in July, so anything under 80 is welcome!

    Hope this helps demystify this year's TMC Connect for people who didn't attend. Others please add in. I know there was hot-tubbing, a Sunday PM party, tours other days, etc. As I shared in the Model X thread, my wife and I came home to a voice-mail from Tesla asking if we wanted to bump up to a Signature Model X! What a fun way to end a fun weekend (we said yes).

    Cheers,

    cattledog
     
  2. raynewman

    raynewman Member

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    I felt that Ricardo Reyes didn't say anything at all. As a headline presenter, he just didn't cut it.
    Wolfgang (hope the spelling is OK) was a little more useful but not greatly so.
    The "party" on Saturday night was a total waste of time. Why not just drink up at the hotel.

    Tesla's input to TMC Connect was extremely poor. I came a very long way and came away with very little from Tesla.
     
  3. ModelX

    ModelX Member

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    I felt there was more Tesla input this year than last; and was pleased by it! I enjoyed the conference and plan to go back next year!
     
  4. Khatsalano

    Khatsalano Member

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    I thought it was pretty awesome. As far as Tesla "revelations" from their keynote speakers-- that was just never going to happen no matter what. Overall, a very fun weekend to exchange ideas and meet people who believe in a sustainable future. And fast cars. :)
     
  5. Nevek

    Nevek Overt Member

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    Nice overview, Cattledog.

    A couple of minor notes from a first time attendee:

    -Printing a persons TMC handle in large letters would help when trying to say hello to board members never met in person-I squinted at the tags trying to find people I was hoping to meet;

    -A resort type hotel as opposed to a business hotel location would allow for more mingling and a better social aspect particularly for those significant others attending with a TMC member. I'd be interested in comments from those who were at Monterey last year, for example. I do understand that access to Tesla was the point of this years location.

    -While I'm glad I attended this year and appreciate the effort that went into making this event happen, I'm not sure I would attend in person again unless it was local or at a place I would otherwise consider for a weekend get-away. How about a future "Video Attendee" option for selected session topics?
     

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  6. Cattledog

    Cattledog Active Member

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    I am also in favor of the resort hotel approach, UNLESS something can be done at the factory. More energy there than at the HQ. I really liked Monterey. Maybe next year is north, Napa/Sonoma area - you can still do factory tours Friday/Sunday on the way to/from conference.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Ray - Hopefully you went on the factory tour, that certainly adds to the weekend. Also, if you are in the US still, you might try to go to the store at Santana Row - it's big and bustling and gives you a sense of Tesla's momentum. I am on the outside of the conference planning, but Tesla has always kept some arm's length distance from the conference - it's an enthusiasts conference, not a developers conference like MacWorld. It's put on by volunteers who have to work really hard to get everything to come together, especially Tesla's participation. Maybe next year we'll have a refreshed Model S P105D, and new Model X and a first peek at Model 3 to keep us all distracted more. Perhaps sending specific recommendations to the moderators on what improvements you suggest would help shape next year's conference.
     
  7. ggies07

    ggies07 Active Member

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    Thanks for the review since I wasn't able to go. :)
     
  8. Doug_G

    Doug_G Lead Moderator

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    Good food and drink at the party, plus Tesla fans from all over. That's what a good party is all about.

    The part I thought was hilarious was Tesla requiring us all to sign NDA forms before they would let us into was was essentially an empty room.
     
  9. Zextraterrestrial

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    there were a few areas they were 'afraid' of people going. My wife was pushed away from an area on the bottom floor near the bathrooms. and of course you weren't allowed to go to the top of the stairs to look over the wall at the 'desks' ...hmm 'desks' they don't want anyone to see? makes me a little curious.
    where exactly are they working on Roadster 3.0 items and are the test X's are coming and going out of that building (I think, the one I saw was headed that way in the evening) very exciting time..again
     
  10. Doug_G

    Doug_G Lead Moderator

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    I've been in the office area before, on a previous trip. It's just an open concept office with lots of Ikea furniture and PCs. I walked through the place (accompanied of course) and although I certainly wouldn't reveal anything confidential that I saw... I didn't actually see anything that anyone would be interested in.

    I suspect it's simply easier to be completely paranoid.
     
  11. JPP

    JPP Active Member

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    SOP for TM--if you are warm and have a pulse and show up at HQ, you sign an NDA. Consistency & simplicity.
     
  12. joefee

    joefee Over 2 Million TMC page views

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    I didn't feel this years agenda justified the expense. Your review confirmed that for me. Thanks!
     
  13. CatB

    CatB Member

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    Great overview Cattledog, and thanks for presenting too! I am already looking forward to next year :)

    other highlights: exhibitors were great :), everybody there was knowledgeable and helpful - I got good insights and tips on detailing, for example.
    Sunday party was absolutely lovely. thanks so much to Zextraterrestrial , Jouler and hostess for taking us all in.
    Computer History Museum (not an official event, but might as sell have been)
    and the lunch topic tables were also useful.
    Just meeting everyone in person (many the second year in a row) was also really nice. I am biased, but I do think the Tesla enthusiasts tend to be a good bit more curious, articulate, open-minded, warm and diverse. Really great to put faces to names!
     
  14. RichardL

    RichardL Member

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    The agenda makes this conference far better than most every other car related get together I have ever been on - yes its hard to get Tesla to come over and give us a 'sneak peek' of anything, but there were some very thoughtful and interesting talks.

    Obviously the big part is to meet other forum members and hang out, and it works well from that aspect. Other forums tend to organize drives etc. which are fun - maybe something like that next year (?) would be nice.

    Since I am local, I didn't stay at the hotel (although waiting in the parking structure with 3000 close Jehovah's Witness friends made me feel like I might be there forever!) - but I agree a more resort style hotel would work better.

    For me the worst part was the SolarCity guy advertising, but it seemed he was lost without his slides/presentation perhaps?

    All in all, I feel it is expensive, but well worth it. Thanks to all.
     
  15. Auzie

    Auzie Tree Hugger Member

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    We are all entitled to our opinions on other people's performance. Expressing some negative opinions publicly might be a bit of a slap in the face to the receiver, it could be unfair as posting here is uneven playing field.

    I have no view on the merits of your opinion as I was not there, however I think the recipients deserve a bit more feedback if they are publicly criticised with no way of response and/or discussion.

    One liner feedback, like 'did not cut it' is not very constructive. Feedback might become far more helpful and less damaging if you outline some specific expectations, like what exactly would cut it for you.
     
  16. stevezzzz

    stevezzzz R;SigS;P85D;SigX

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    Cattledog wrote: "...BTW, as an architect, their buildings? Definitely the Pontiak Aztek of corporate HQs."

    Oh, ha! :biggrin:

    Thanks for the rundown. I couldn't make it this year (spent the weekend in England at a couple of airshows) and it was helpful to get some idea of what went on.
     
  17. Khatsalano

    Khatsalano Member

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    I agree with a "destination" hotel and location. Perhaps we can do Tahoe once the Gigafactory opens since that will be really on the way and allow for a Tesla convoy as part of the agenda. For some, cost will always be an issue, no matter where in the world the event is. It's a fact of event planning in any industry.

    I disagree with a video option ... part of the reason this is cool is to be there in person. A video feed really takes way from that and makes it into a webinar.

    - K
     
  18. Gizmotoy

    Gizmotoy Active Member

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    I understand that a lot of people wanted to hear new and juicy info from Tesla at the conference, but there's a reason that couldn't happen. TMC Connect is an enthusiast's conference. By US regulations, forward-looking statements can carry a lot of legal liability, particularly if not made public and presented to a select few. That quick rundown of the Safe Harbor provision at the beginning of the talk was part of that risk mitigation. To make any big announcements they essentially have to invite a bunch of reporters knowing that they'd take over the Q&A sessions. I think they did pretty well within the limitations set for them.

    I thought John Ensign's talk was the most interesting of the day by far, followed by Ted Merendino's talk on Tesla Energy. The talk on driver assistance features was not what I was expecting (I really wanted to hear what they're up to), but it was really interesting to learn about the development options an alway-connected fleet enables. The Tech Panel was also excellent.

    I found I really missed the integration with ReFuel. I couldn't make both weekends work and picked TMC Connect. Last year's event in Monterey with the track the following day was a ridiculous amount of fun.

    The one part of this year's conference that disappointed me were that a couple of the discussion panels turned into what felt like long commercials. I think at least one ended without any actual discussion (no Q&A or discussion between presenters). I'd hoped for more discussion of the topic at hand or questions from the audience instead of solely covering the background of the speakers.

    Other than that I had a great time.
     
  19. raynewman

    raynewman Member

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    They were supposed to be technical discussions and that's what I was expecting not waffle. As I said before, the rest of the conference was good; Tesla just didn't carry their bit. They are, after all, the greatest benefactor here.
     
  20. dsmith2189

    dsmith2189 Active Member

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    as an attendee I had a great experience at TMC connect.
    I think that it was well organized and a great opportunity to put a face to everyone on this site.
    if you haven't gone before you should start planning now to go next year. if you have been this year or in the past you can decide cost/benefit for yourself.
    I did think the cost was a bit on the high side, but not too much for an event of this quality.

    My criticisms are in line with previous posters about the variation of quality in speakers from poor to excellent. in any case I appreciate ALL the speakers for their efforts.
    I was puzzled by the reception at the Tesla HQ. drive there, drink, get a taco and some ice cream off the truck, drive back to the hotel (into the wrong direction chaos)

    By far the best thing was the Factory Tour. even though I had already done one, two years ago, everything was different.
    the vendors that attended were ok, but I would have liked more of them to fill up the room and move the food to a separate room.

    the table talks at lunch seemed a but rushed and it would have been nice make it longer in order to jump between tables/topics. the people at the end of the food line may not have been able to get to their desired topic.

    In the future I hope they change to a destination location. it is convenient to have the conference in the SF Bay area since Tesla is located there, but the only thing that would be missed moving it to a different area is the factory tour, nice but not a necessity, since you can arrange a tour on your own at any time of year.
    one benefit of holding it in a destination area is that there could be planned drives/scavenger hunts/competitions during the conference. after all we are celebrating the car why not get out there on the road and enjoy it and have fun with other owners. Why be trapped in a hotel for the weekend if you don't have to. if you want to be trapped in a hotel without your car you can always schedule the next TMC Connect in Hawaii.:biggrin:
     

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