Silicon Valley is used to traffic on both its physical -- and digital -- highways. But with so many people tweeting, blogging and posting selfies in downtown San Jose this weekend, the city's wireless network was braced for a major backup."
What else would you expect when the BlogHer Conference comes to town?
The massive gathering of digitally expressive women (and a few men) returned to its Silicon Valley roots for its 10th anniversary. The three-day conference -- which started Thursday -- filled up the San Jose McEnery Convention Center with about 4,000 attendees, booking 3,200 hotel rooms and bringing in an estimated $2.3 million in economic impact, according to Team San Jose.
"We wanted to do something special for our 10th anniversary," said Elisa Camahort Page, who cofounded BlogHer with Lisa Stone and Jory Des Jardins, so we came home to where it all started."
And BlogHer came back in a really big way.
The roster of speakers at the three-day event would make any tech conference organizer envious. It included Arianna Huffington, tech evangelist Guy Kawasaki, comedian Tig Nataro, "Scandal" star Kerry Washington, tech journalist Kara Swisher, and blogger/author Jenny Lawson, better known to her fans as The Bloggess. The Mrs., a five-woman rock band from Austin, planned to debut songs at the conference, and even Khloe Kardashian was set to make an appearance Saturday afternoon.
A decade ago, BlogHer was a one-day event at Santa Clara's TechMart that drew about 300 attendees. It moved to San Jose the following year and then to San Francisco before hitting the road for locales like Chicago (2009, 2013), New York City (2010, 2012) and San Diego (2011). Originally bringing together a relatively small group of women who were part of a tribe of bloggers, it soon spawned a company that nurtured year round not only those original bloggers, but thousands that followed.
Since 2009, BlogHer has paid $36 million to some 5,700 bloggers and other "influencers," helping many to earn money from something that may have started as a hobby but turned into a passion.
And where does BlogHer go from here in its next decade?
"We've always said -- and not tongue in cheek -- that our goal was world domination. That we thought women's media was kind of failing women and that if women had the wherewithal to create a media company, they'd want one where they could look at sports one minute, fashion the next and not be put into a pink and purple silo. Feeding all parts of you, the whole woman, was the path," Camahort Page said. "We're talking about all media, and there's a lot more media to conquer."
FRIENDS LENDING A HAND: You probably remember the terrible fire last month near Mt. Hamilton that destroyed the Clayton Road home of Kimberly Faraday, a Santa Clara County Social Services employee who lived there with her mother, Belva. The women lost everything they had and are in temporary housing thanks to the Red Cross right now, but friends have organized a fundraising pasta dinner Aug. 7 to help get them back on their feet.
The 5:30 p.m. dinner will be held at the Italian American Heritage Foundation at 425 N. Fourth St. in San Jose. A $25 donation is being requested, and there'll be a silent auction, too. Helen Owen, who has worked with Kimberly Faraday on many nonprofit events, especially for the valley's Italian American community, is heading the dinner and RSVPs can be emailed to her at email@example.com.
SUPER BOWL OF PASTA: About 600 guests oohed and aahed to see the 49ers' new Levi Stadium last Wednesday at Pasta Bowl VIII, the annual fundraiser presented by SAP and the Silicon Valley Leadership Group. The pasta dinner was held in the swanky United Club overlooking the new field, where 49ers players acted as celebrity servers and Gold Rush cheerleaders entertained the crowd.
Broadcaster Ted Robinson emceed the event, which included remarks by 49ers Coach Jim Harbaugh and team owner John York. The 49ers Foundation will donate proceeds to City Year San Jose/Silicon Valley, Fresh Lifelines for Youth and the 49ers STEM Leadership Institute.
SUDS AT SANTANA ROW: The regular wine-and-martini crowd that frequents Santana Row may be horrified to hear that the popular Beerwalk is coming to the upscale shopping center on Wednesday. But they needn't get their feathers ruffled: The 6 p.m. event, part of Silicon Valley Beer Week, features tastes of some of the top craft brews in the Bay Area and elsewhere in the state.
They'll be served at restaurants and stores throughout the Row, including Tommy Bahama, Free People, Left Bank, Madewell and Rosie McCann's. Tickets are $30 and can be purchased at www.thebeerwalk.com.
SABOR DEL VALLE RETURNS: Northern California winemakers will be pouring Aug. 1 at History Park in San Jose for the fifth annual Sabor Del Valle. The celebration includes food and desserts from nearly a dozen valley restaurants and caterers -- you've got to have something to eat with that wine -- as well as live music and a sale of contemporary Latino art. And something new this year is a face painter, which will make it a great evening to bring the kids, or just let out your inner kid.
The 6 p.m. fundraiser supports Jose Valdez Math Institute, the Alum Rock Women and Children's Center, Teatro Vision and the RotaCare Free Medical Clinic in San Jose. Tickets are $69, and you can get more information at www.sabordelvalle.org.