Sunday, 12 July 2015

Seattle Day 4 (Thursday): Intellectual Ventures

Yesterday was my designated 'visit Intellectual Ventures ' day, as set out in Karen's detailed itinerary. I was told it would be an intense day, but it was actually pretty short and manageable. Anyway, what am I doing summarising? Back to chronological, Elle. 

NOTE:The crappy iPad blogger app just deleted everything I had written on this post. This annoys me, so the replacement post will be short. 

Leaving the hotel yesterday morning, the town car driver (suited and very fancy) stared at us and vice versa for about fifteen minutes at a standstill because he was looking for businesspeople and was sure we weren't them. I eventually had to ask if he was going to Intellectual Ventures. He was nice otherwise but bam, prejudice. 

Once in IV we had a chat with Ozgur and Ben about their nuclear power spin out and biosensing, among other things. We then went and toured the labs, seeing lots of things that I'm not going to detail because (at) it's late so I don't want to (b) checking what's okay by the non-disclosure agreement would be a ton of effort. We saw the optics lab, mosquito zapper, culinary lab and machines room. I'd seen quite a lot of the equipment already through my research but the mosquito zapper was cool and I liked the concept of the femtosecond laser. Our guides explained things really well so that an absolute beginner could understand them, which had its ups and downs. At one point Ben was explaining the concept of a biomarker to me, and I was trying to keep a straight face because my project heavily involves them. He wouldn't have known that unless he'd read through my project, so I guess he has an excuse. Again though, they were cool. 

Another cool thing was Global Good, a collaborative effort between Bill Gates and Intellectual Ventures to aid the developing world.  And the vaccine storage devices. 

We were then driven in a town car to IV's corporate campus. We had lunch, bought by Kristin our friendly guide, and chatted about general stuff like college and family. Everyone asks me where I plan to go to college. 

After that, we went to see Mona, head of Corporate Communications and previous First Lady of Washington State and wife of the American ambassador to China. She was great and very beautiful. It was really interesting to hear about her life and to chat in general. I had been told to ask her for advice on my blog but she didn't know this so she just looked at it then and there. She made some suggestions, including that I should split up into scientific and personal blogs. I'm afraid I can't do this, as I already have two blogs (one for book reviews) and it's a hassle and dilutes the brand. I do appreciate the input though. She told me to think about who the audience or market of my blog is, and do I want investors to look at it and think I'm the one to invest in - but at least at this point in my life, that's not the aim. I just like sharing my story. She had a confusing quote in her office intended to bring cocky employees down a peg. Very dignified woman.

I then went for a tour of the founder of the company's office, led by his assistant, who I thought was awesome. He has a cool office, with a real periodic table, dinosaur bones, something that resembles a nuclear reactor core acting as a coffee table, and the exact same keyboard as my friend CiarĂ¡n. He also has a big personal library that I'd love to take home. Also, this. 

Finally, we went for a chat with the company president, Adriane. She was really friendly and we got on. I admired how she surpassed obstacles with dignity, and hey - now she's President of a billion-dollar company. She gave me a lovely little present and we got photos. 

Kristin said she had presents for me too and gave me some IV merch, including a handy mini-rucksack which I'll probably use for CTYI. Then we were walked out to our waiting town car. 

After that we just chilled by going to the pool. It was beautifully sunny but almost stiflingly hot. My friends were super jealous. 

I ate in Polaris that night, and got a pretty condescending look when I asked if they sold chips. Now that I think of it, though, maybe they needed to hear fries. I just got apple crumble which was so hot it badly burned my finger.

So IV was definitely the main part of our day. Thanks to everyone for taking time out of your day to meet us and show us around!  

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