arrive in Orlando got checked in
early and started connecting with
industry friends in the lobby or
over dinner Friday evening.
Some early birds who got together
for dinner Friday night (October 13)
at the Orlando World Center
Marriott on the eve of the Merge!
2017 debut Saturday morning.
Left to right are Howard Neu,
Merge Co-Founder Ray Dillman Neu,
Alex, Ron Jackson, Larry
Fischer, Barbara Neu and Diana
Saturday morning came with a good
omen, a gorgeous rainbow in
front of the Orlando World Center
Marriott shortly before the
debut edition of the Merge!
conference got underway.
Merge! Co-Founders Jothan Frakes
(left) and Ray Dillman Neu
just before opening their new show
in Orlando Saturday morning
Barbara Dillman Neu (left) and Melissa
Frakes ready to start
registering attendees for Merge!
Attendees begin arriving for the
start of the Merge! conference
Saturday morning. By Monday morning
organizers expect to see more
than 300 guests that registered
for the event.
The opening day schedule was
designed to emphasize informal networking
opportunities and deep dives
into specific topics. To facilitate
that "topic tables"
were set up in multiple meeting
rooms so attendees could pick those
of special interest to them. Here Merge!
Co-Founder Jothan Frakes
welcomes a group at one table.
Cate Colgan conducting a
topic table session on cryptocurrency
A two-hour lunch break is built
into each day at Merge!,
allowing attendees time to enjoy the
fabulous Orlando World Center
Marriott which, with 2,004
rooms, is the biggest Marriott in
the world. Forbes Magazine
also names this Marriott's pool
complex among the 20 Coolest
Hotel Pools in the world. Having
spent a couple of hours there
Saturday we would have to agree!
One of the things that make te OWC
Marriott's pool complex so cool
are the many activities they have
going on for guests. A wildlife
ranger came by with snakes, a
tarantula and a baby alligator
for those curious and brave enough
to get an up close and personal look
at them. Diana Jackson passed
on the spiders and snakes but
enjoyed come bonding time with this
After lunch the topic table
sessions continued but some
presentations were also added to the
mixing including a very interesting
one from LatinTLD
President and Co-Founder Alfredo
Pinochet (right) and Co-Founder
Natalia Viera about Latin
American domain market
opportunities. LatinTLD is based in Santiago,
Chile. The most popular Latin
ccTLDs are currently Brazil's .br
(3.9 million domains), Colombia's .co
(2.3 million). All together nearly 9
million domains are registered
in Latin American countries with
most enjoying very rapid growth.
In another of the afternoon
presentations that covered various
Robbie Adair (standing)
provided an Introduction to Augmented
Reality with Aurasma.
After the business day most
attendees went off to dinner in
various locations before
re-connecting later Saturday night
in Merge's 15th floor Hospitality
Suite at the Orlando World
Center Marriott. This group took
advantage of the beautiful fall
night to gather on the balcony for a
birds eye view of the surrounding
area including nearby Disney World.
They also enjoyed the free coffee
provided by Coffee.Club.
Seated are Dr. Gregg McNair
and Jay Westerdal and
standing (also left to right) are Marco
Rinaudo, Diana Jackson,
Rob Grant, Pat Grant, Stevan Lieberman,
Larry Fischer and Dave
I write this Sunday's day two of Merge!
is now underway. I will have all of
the day's photos and highlights for
you in my next post from Orlando.