Updated Jan 19, 2022 - Business

"Godmother of the Metaverse" to headline Synapse Summit

The floor of the Florida Synapse in 2020.

Photo courtesy of Florida Synapse

Synapse Summit is back, live and in-person.

State of play: After last year's hybrid virtual event, Synapse Florida leaders are looking forward to the tech summit's return to Amalie Arena on Feb. 17.

Why it matters: Synapse believed in the area's tech potential with its first conference five years ago, before Tampa got hyped by Forbes.

What's new: This year's big keynote speaker is metaverse expert and author Cathy Hackl.

  • Dubbed the "Godmother of the Metaverse," Hackl is the CEO and Chief Metaverse Officer of the Futures Intelligence Group, a consultancy that works with big brands on extending into virtual worlds.
  • Hackl has worked with companies like Amazon Web Services, Vive and Magic Leap.

Also at the summit: Felicia Hatcher, the Miami-based CEO of Pharrell William's Black Ambition Opportunity Fund, will speak on diverse tech access.

  • Manny Medina, a tech-focused investor and founder of the eMerge Americas summit in Miami, is speaking on bridging tech opportunities in Latin America and Florida.
  • Augmented Reality dodgeball from Hado will be offered to attendees.

What he's saying: Brian Kornfeld, CEO and co-founder of the Tampa-based nonprofit that runs the summit, said an in-person event was vital this year despite the focus on the metaverse.

  • "The purpose of the summit is not to just host an event. It's to help get everybody under one roof for a short period of time and create this big bang of energy and connectivity and community to help people really thrive through the year."
  • "You can't replicate the person to person energy virtually. "
  • But you can also attend virtually, for a reduced price.

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