Kicking off Distill videos: The Keynotes


When we began planning Distill 2014, we knew content would be our core, starting with the keynotes. A keynote speaker, for all intents and purposes, can set the tone for each part of a conference. We knew we wanted to kick things off quickly and with a hard technical edge.

Distill 2014 began with a keynote from Fastly’s Steve Souders.

Steve is a veteran of the tech and internet trenches, having spent much of his career focusing on web applications and what makes them better.

Speed is always a concern. So ask the question, would you rather have an application that’s fast or that’s perceived as fast? Steve’s talk answers this question with a questions, why not both.

After a day sparked by motion, speed, and technology, we brought in a little humor and transparency in the form of Harper Reed and Dylan Richard.

Harper, former CTO of Obama for America, Founder and CEO of, and Dylan, former Director of Engineering for Obama for America, Founder and CTO of, have been working together on teams for years.

During their keynote, they shared knowledge gained through many incredible and unique experiences and encouraged attendees to promote empathy for their teams and the communities they are involved in and to make every team a better place to be. It was inspiring and uplifting, and there were a few laughs (some at Dylan’s expense) along the way.

Everyone went away with happy hearts and stimulated minds. The next day…we started all over again.

If attendees were looking for inspiration and a story of perseverance in their second morning keynote, it came in the form of Danae Ringelmann.

Danae, founder of Indiegogo, told her story from the perspective of someone who succeeded in a place where everyone told her should couldn’t.

This message roused the audience and brought home the idea that the biggest person holding you back could be yourself. Danae’s story sparked a fire and set the tone for day two!

Once all the talks had wrapped up and all the lawn games were put away, we had time for one more keynote. Ben Huh stepped up the plate to bring us home.

Ben, the CEO of Cheezburger and well known Panda Rider, told his rags to riches story to explain anything is possible with enough tenacity…and a few kittens.

With a lot of side jokes and a light heart, Ben brought home the message of Distill 2014 that all the keynoters touched on: there are no limits unless you set them.

We are proud to bring together these videos for attendees and people who were unable to make it this year. Further videos of all the sessions, lightning talks and Prompt Panel will be available shortly.

PJ Hagerty

Programmer, writer, musician, random person! Chaotic Neutral #rubykaraoke cofounder
Find me on:


Subscribe to our Blog