Phoenix Business Journal: PayPal’s SkySong Conference Produced by Factory 360

San Jose-based PayPal is in the midst of driving technology innovation and wants to connect an Arizona network of researchers, technologists and entrepreneurs to focus on further growing innovation.
PayPal, the international company that provides the ability for payments and money transfers to be made through the Internet, has organized and sponsored the inaugural SkySong Connect Conference April 17 to do just that.

“This fits perfectly with our strategy to bring together thought leaders and contribute to be part of the emerging tech community,” said PayPal Chief Technology Officer James Barrese Wednesday.

The company opened a technology center and one of two command centers in Scottsdale in 2006, handling product development, production support and making sure PayPal is always up and running 24/7. There also is a customer service center in Chandler that opened in 2011 and a data center in Phoenix. PayPal has more than 2,300 employees in Arizona.

“We need great technology for our next generation of products,” Barrese said. “We’re hiring disruptive thought leaders and embracing current employees to pursue new strategies. Part of our strategy is to participate more in the tech community.”

PayPal has 143 million active users and works in 193 regions with 26 different currencies. The company is working on a “richer new experience” for mobile devices, launched 58 new products in the past 12 months and has redone how it operates with small collaborating teams, he said.

Barrese, who will give opening remarks at next week’s free conference, will share some of his views on where technology is going with cloud computing and talk more broadly about how companies need to transform themselves to adapt to innovation.

“Essentially, with the rapid pace of mobile adoption and new technology innovations, it’s just a really huge opportunity, and also a threat, for innovation and for companies to connect with consumers,” Barrese said. “I will talk about how PayPal is tackling that internally.”

Since the Scottsdale office is part of the “heartbeat of the whole company,” PayPal executives said they are “excited” about the local student entrepreneurs and startup community, and have developed partnerships with Arizona State University and the Arizona Technology Council, said Brad McWilliams, a PayPal principal architect. Last month, PayPal moved into eight desks at SkySong where a rotating group of employees will work and collaborate out of, he added.

“We believe in the exchange of ideas,” McWilliams said. “Our goal is to build a network of innovators and we plan to expand on and build on the talent pool.”

The company is always hiring for both customer service and technologist positions in the Valley, executives said.

“The conference isn’t just for PayPal or startups,” it’s for anyone interested in business and technology, McWilliams said.

If you go:
What: SkySong Connect Conference is connecting a multi-disciplinary network of researchers, technologists and entrepreneurs focused on growing innovation.
When: 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. April 17
Where: SkySong, 1475 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale
Cost: Free, but limited to 200 attendees.
Speakers: Keynote speaker, technology writer and book author Steven Johnson
James Barrese, CTO of PayPal
Craig Weiss, president and CEO of NJOY Inc.
Brett Larson, CNN technology analyst
Cesar Kuriyama, founder of the 1 Second Everyday project
Hessam Sarjoughian, associate professor and director of the Arizona Center for Integrative Modeling and Simulation at Arizona State University
Hadley Wickham, adjunct professor at Rice University and chief scientist at Rstudio Inc.
Joel Dudley, assistant professor at Mount Sinai School of Medicine
Jonathan Aaron Cain, artistic director for the Musical Heritage Exchange Project
Natalia Duong, Project Agent Orange
Michael Stay, Biosimilarity Inc.
Hayley Ringle covers technology and startups for the Phoenix Business Journal.

Article appeared in Phoenix Business Journal