Jeff Pulver – 140 Conference New York

Jeff Pulver, the chairman and founder of was the main man behind the 140 characters conference in New York that brought together Twitter users from all over the world.

New york was the first of the 140 Characters conference and others are planned in both London and Los Angeles. Originally the event was to explore the effects of twitter on: Celebrity, “The Media”, Advertising and Politics”. These topics were covered, as well as many more. As ever many of the conversations happened outside the main auditoriums..

I was asked by The Open University in England to grab some interviews with the assistance of Matt (@Barnstormed) and in the corridor we caught up with Jeff and asked how the conference had come about..

This interview is also on the Open University’s You Tube Channel.


  1. says

    I have a question – it’s a straight and honest one. I hear the upper level prices for 140conf was $1200+. What happened to the cool and interesting (and famous) people who were nominated but couldn’t afford this extraodrinary price tag?

    If they weren’t there, then the demographic that attended, far from representing and defining the new social structure, represented only the monied or subsidised superstrata – which is as far away from the DIY producer-consumer roots of social media as you can get.

    As for democratization of information, that is complex and open to debate, and if you consider that most of the African subcontinent does not have the infrastructure to support the net, the needs of the people being centred around food, safety and survival, these conferences become redundant for a large part if the global population.

    I am a great supporter of self-organising, grass roots unconference style meetups, not just because they are free, but because the pattern they follow and the behaviours they encourage (self-empowerment, organisation using scant resources, true dissolution of social barriers – well, that’s the ideal) are the kinds of patterns that have been proven to work in developind countries and they encourage us to think from the inside out, not from the top down.

    I wasn’t there so it’s just a feeling, but 140conf felt like an un-unconference. Top down. Exclusive. And fake.


  2. says


    Great question. Something I wished I had asked in the few moments I did get to talk with Jeff. I was way too conscious in keeping the video to under 10 minutes and ran out of time to ask anything meaningful. Coupled with the fact there were people pulling out of talking positions, loads of behind the scene stress and one guy (Sol) appearing in court :) I figured I would leave the investigative journalism for an other day.

    Perhaps these questions can be answered here in the comments..

    Initially I think the VIP tickets to attend were $1700. I had to check again when i first saw this as i had never seen tickets to a social media event cost this much.

    That said.. The costs I had accumulated while in New York, even with a free ticket are larger than any other trip I have made since I started working in this field. New York is not a cheap place.

    I think if I had known before heading out that there was to be a London event I don’t think I would have gone to New York. I could have gone to Jordan and Iraq on separate occasions for the same price.

    I do think though that there was a certain kind of person I met in NYC I would never get to see elsewhere and am happy for these connections to have been made.

    I will be interested to see if the ticket prices in London and LA match those of NYC as there were many of the UK Twitterati who just ignored the debate around price. I am not sure that would be the same if the conference was on their doorstep.

    I’d love to know how much it costs to put on an event like the 140conf. There was sponsorship, I imagine some where paid to talk.. It would all be in the name of transparency. Something very close to the hearts of the UK population at the moment.. Something key to the caring sharing feeling I have come to love within the world of social media.

  3. says

    Interesting to hear the ‘character’ thing and I like the thinking behind the whole characterization and the segue to the 140 character, ergo 140conf clever…however, Ive never seen twitter as being joined to a concept of 140confs w/ big dollar sign up entrance fees.

    Conferences like these are of course fab and I’m sure that lots of people who attended got something out of it all, but 140 users, out of millions of other tweeters…hmmn, ‘hey JP, excellent marketing approach and kudos for the vision etc, but…’ Not wanting to sound like a bad ass or a naysayer but for me, random tweetups and events like twestival are a far better way of sharing and growing the love for it all, connections made w/ others as we zing through our busy lives, on trains, on buses, in fields, on mountains, in…

    And maybe that’s what JP is really driving at, perhaps Ive misunderstood what I just listened to…I get the whole NOW thing and have read a bit of Ekhart too, but hey,things are also different things to different people which in many ways is the beauty of this whole mode of communication. You can use it how you want to use it, engage with it in ways that suit you – In the words of Timothy Leary others can either tune in, turn off or drop out – follow, unfollow, connect randomly, meet up , tweet up or whatever.

    Whilst I don’t think its necessarily a great idea to try and brand it all into some elitist make a few quid club, I get why he’d want to try and build it that way, but when you start getting big tweeters involved and paying them cos they are celebs or semi celebs or whatever, then for me it kind of loses something. Personally, I just wouldn’t want to pay that kind of money to fund the lifestyles of a few passionate tweeters, but I get why some might!

    Anyways, nice interview – Organic chaos FTW! 😀

  4. says

    Having attended the conference, I can honestly say I enjoyed it. A number of the panels produced interesting debates and I got to meet people that I simply wouldn’t bump into in London. However, this made me wonder if the reasons I got what I did from the event was more down to the people than the topics? If this is the case then it was a huge amount of money for what could be perceived as a glorified meet up.

    In the interests of transparency, I should mention that I got my ticket for free. Had I not I probably wouldn’t have attended. As with anything, the outlay has to justify the result and to be honest, it would take something special for me to be able to justify a $1200 price tag.
    Unless you live in NYC, the chances are you would have arrived there by plane (be it internal or international) and the cost of this is no doubt prohibitive for many. This results in a very exclusive event. I wonder how many wanted to attend but were put off by nothing other than the price?

    Should an event take place in London, it will be interesting to see the pricing structure. Too low and there’s the risk of a backlash from the US, too high and there’s the likelihood that everybody will again be up in arms. The UK is a very different market when it comes to these kind of events and i’m not sure it will tolerate over-inflated prices.
    ‘Social Media’ shouldn’t become an elitist club where only the privileged get to be involved. By all means cover your costs (both time and physical) but neither money, influence or perceived popularity within the medium should play a part in whether or not people can attend.

    Saying all that, hats off to Jeff for pulling the whole thing together. It was a big event with a lot of people involved and for the most part it went smoothly. What I would say is that before you even get to whether the content justifies the price, you need to make sure you have a working technology infrastructure in place. Asking people to come to a conference about online media and then providing only flaky wifi (and no 3g) is a bit laughable.