clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Barra, Benioff, McMillon, Bhusri, Partovi, Klawe and Beats Guys Added to Code Conference Stage

And there are still more big names to come.

The hit speakers keep on coming — literally — with the addition of more big tech and media player to the list of those who will appear onstage at the first Code Conference.

The event, which is sold out, takes place on May 27 to 29, just south of Los Angeles. The speakers already announced are: Google co-founder Sergey Brin; Comcast Chairman and CEO Brian Roberts; BlackBerry CEO John Chen; Intel CEO Brian Krzanich; Dropbox co-founder and CEO Drew Houston; Kleiner Perkins’ Mary Meeker; incoming Qualcomm CEO Steve Mollenkopf; Uber co-founder and CEO Travis Kalanick; and Nest co-founder and CEO Tony Fadell.

Today’s names to join the roster there: New Walmart Stores CEO Doug McMillon; new General Motors CEO Mary Barra; Harvey Mudd College and Microsoft board member Maria Klawe, who will be appearing with’s Hadi Partovi; CEO Mark Benioff, who will be joined by Workday CEO Aneel Bhusri; and Beats boys: Jimmy Iovine and Ian Rogers.

There are still several very big names to add to the roster over the coming weeks, but this new group will be part of our goal to once again rethink where the digital industry is headed.

McMillon just became top exec at Walmart, after serving as president and CEO of Walmart International since 2009 — where he was in charge of more than 6,400 stores and nearly 800,000 associates in 26 countries outside the United States. Before that, he ran the Bentonville, Arkansas-based Sam’s Club unit. McMillon started out as an hourly summer associate in a Walmart distribution center in 1984. We have long wanted to bring a major retailer to the stage of our event to talk about the fast-changing commerce landscape and how these powerful companies cope with the new technologies. Walmart has made a number of different efforts to jump into digital, some of which have worked and some not. How McMillon thinks about what’s next will be critical, as shoppers move to mobile and other ways of purchasing.

Mary Barra is a veteran of GM, having been at the car giant since 1980. Before ascending to the top spot — while also making history by becoming the first woman to head a major automaker — she was EVP of global product development, purchasing and supply chain. In that job, she was “responsible for the design, engineering, program management and quality of GM vehicles around the world.” Barra has an MBA from Stanford Graduate School of Business and an undergraduate degree in electrical engineering. Obviously, cars — the original mobile devices — are a key arena for the next phase of the Internet and the area is becoming a hotbed of innovation, including self-driving cars and more.

Maria Klawe is the president of Harvey Mudd College, one of the more renowned engineering, science and mathematics educational institutions in the U.S. A well-regarded mathematician and computer scientist, she is also a board member of Microsoft. Klawe is Harvey Mudd’s fifth president and the first woman to lead the college since its founding in 1955. Prior to joining HMC, she was dean of engineering and professor of computer science at Princeton University. Klawe has also been a dedicated advocate of educational efforts to improve math and science education in the U.S., especially for girls. It’s a hot-button issue in Silicon Valley and elsewhere these days, as are declines in U.S. technology expertise.

Klawe will be joined onstage by Hadi Partovi, the well-known entrepreneur and investor and also co-founder of education nonprofit He was a co-founder of a number of startups, such as Tellme and iLike, and has invested in companies including Facebook, Dropbox and Zappos. A Harvard University graduate, he started his career at Microsoft. But his most recent effort has been to try to improve STEM education via, including using well-known tech figures to get young people more inspired to code. This notion will lead to an interesting debate about how much focus should be put on the arena and what it will mean for our society.

Marc Benioff founded Salesforce, which has been one of the early pioneers of cloud computing in the enterprise, in 1999. A longtime tech industry veteran, he worked 13 years at Oracle and, before that, at Apple. But Benioff started his tech career by founding an entertainment software company called Liberty Software as a 15-year-old. He got his undergraduate degree in business administration from the University of Southern California. With Salesforce being one of the biggest employers in San Francisco, Benioff has also been vocal on the issue of tensions that have recently erupted between techies and critics of their increased presence in the city.

Benioff will be taking the stage with Aneel Bhusri, chairman, co-founder and co-CEO at Workday, the company that sells cloud-based software for enterprise tech applications. Before co-founding Workday in 2005, Aneel worked at PeopleSoft and has also been an investing partner at Greylock Partners. Bhusri, who got his MBA at Stanford University and undergraduate degrees in electrical engineering and economics at Brown University, also serves on the boards of Cloudera, Okta, Tidemark and Pure Storage. More importantly, Workday is one of the many companies that have upset the old world order in enterprise.

Speaking of marrying old and new world, Jimmy Iovine certainly fits the bill. The high-profile music producer was co-founder of Interscope Records, having started off as a recording engineer, working with legends such as Bruce Springsteen. He moved to being a producer of such acts as Patti Smith, U2 and Dire Straits. More recently, Iovine has moved squarely into the online space with a digital music subscription service, Beats Music, which is part of Beats By Dre, the slick headphones company he co-founded with Dr. Dre in 2006. In addition, Iovine has recently become a mentor on “American Idol.”

Iovine’s partner in the effort is former Topspin exec Ian Rogers, who is CEO of Beats Music. Rogers started off his tech career by creating a fan site for the Beastie Boys as a “personal project.” That morphed into a job as Webmaster for and then as president of new media for the band’s label, Grand Royale. Rogers also served as Webmaster at Nullsoft, rVision CTO and president and CTO of Mediacode, before becoming VP & GM of Yahoo! Music. He then went to Topspin, an artist services platform, before joining Beats Music in early 2013. The insights that he and Iovine can provide about the future of music, as it continues its digital evolution, are manifold.

This article originally appeared on

Sign up for the newsletter Today, Explained

Understand the world with a daily explainer plus the most compelling stories of the day.