Mesh09: Calacanis and Kiva to keynote

The mesh 2009 team — that’s me, Rob “Hohoto” Hyndman, Stuart “Tripharbour” Macdonald, Mike “FreshBooks” McDerment and Mark “I’m a consultant now” Evans — have been working hard trying to nail down some kick-ass keynotes for the next mesh conference (April 7 and 8 at MaRS in Toronto), and we have a couple we can announce now: Jason McCabe Calacanis will be doing the business keynote, and Jessica Jackley Flannery is our society keynote. We’re pretty excited about both of them, and hope to have our media and marketing keynotes lined up soon.

Jason Calacanis is a serial Web entrepreneur and bona fide Web celebrity for a number of reasons: He started a print publication called Silicon Alley Reporter during the first bubble, then when Web 2.0 came along he started a blog network that became Weblogs Inc. and was eventually bought by AOL. Since then, Jason has started a people-powered search engine/directory called and has made waves in the blogosphere on several occasions, including when he announced he was quitting blogging. He also has some strong views about how entrepreneurs should approach economic downturns, which we are hoping he will share with us.

Jessica Jackley Flannery, meanwhile, is a co-founder of, one of the most high-profile attempts to use Web 2.0 for charitable purposes. Jessica started the “micro-lending” organization with her husband Matt after working on relief projects in rural Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. Kiva was one of the top ideas of 2006 in the New York Times Magazine and was called “revolutionary” by the BBC. It lets users lend as little as $25 to entrepreneurs in the developing world, providing affordable capital to help them start or expand a small business. It is one of the fastest-growing social benefit websites in history, with thousands of people lending millions of dollars to entrepreneurs in over 50 developing countries.

We are really pleased to have both Jessica and Jason coming to mesh 2009. Be sure to book your tickets early, because they tend to sell out quickly. You can find out a little about past mesh conferences here.

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