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Intersect 2016 is live! That’s right, Udacity’s inaugural Intersect Summit event is up and running, and thousands have already tuned in to the live stream to watch as 75 very special Udacity students enjoy the first talks.


The event kicked off with introductions from our own Kathleen Mullaney (VP Careers at Udacity), who began the proceedings by noting that everyone present was both taller and better-looking than expected! Introducing herself, Kathleen said, “MY job is to help YOU get a job,” which could really serve as a mantra for the entire event. As Kathleen noted, career advancement really is the theme of Intersect, and as Udacity’s ultimate mission is to democratize education, it was especially gratifying to see, via Kathleen’s shared map, just how many different locales our guests came in from. This truly is a global community!

Sebastian Thrun

Kathleen wrapped up her opening comments with an introduction to the next speaker, our CEO and co-founder Sebastian Thrun, who began his remarks by telling the students, “you are my heroes.” What followed was a remarkable chronicle of achievement, imagination, dreams, and fearlessness. Tracing his academic beginnings in Germany, to his arrival at Stanford, on through Google Glass and self-driving cars, Sebastian ultimately came to the subject of Udacity, which he described as his “final moonshot.” Sebastian’s faith in the boundaryless potential of the Silicon Valley spirit was—as always—on full display, and it was clear he was thrilled to be welcoming, in person, such a remarkable group of learners to the place that has meant so much to him in his own life and career. Sebastian wrapped up his talk with effusive praise for the growth mindsets of our students, and encouraged them all to never stop thinking of what’s possible, and what can be achieved.

First Keynote Speaker: Laura Gomez

Following Sebastian was our first keynote speaker of the day, Laura Gomez, Founder & CEO at Atipica. As Sebastian had, Laura shared a great deal of her own personal story, which amounted to, as she referred to it, a singular confluence of luck and hard work:

“I find that the harder I work, the more luck I have!”

This combination of luck and hard work saw her doing everything from researching street children in Brazil, to joining YouTube and Twitter in their very early start-up days! Of the latter, Laura described the opportunity like this:

“If someone offers you a seat on a rocket ship, you don’t ask which seat, you just get on the rocket ship.”

Laura’s strong convictions are palpable, and the ways in which she connects technology, education, opportunity, and social welfare (“the next generation of literacy is programming”) are so inspiring! In simplest form, her talk was a deeply personal exhortation to pursue opportunity, and when she told the assembled students, “You are manufacturing, here, an opportunity for YOU!” you could feel this powerful sentiment resonate through the room, because everyone KNEW it was true!

That said, as passionate as Laura’s talk was, the quote that may prove to generate the most excitement was this one:

“Atipica will be hiring in the next couple months, and we’d be happy to hire any one of you!”

If these first two hours are any indication, Intersect 2016 is going to be even more incredible that we expected. We couldn’t be happier, and we hope you’ll return to the live stream again to join us for more wonderful happenings!

To tune in to the live stream, and see the agenda, just click here!