Why we like magicians and hackers

Welcome to this week’s LEAP:IN newsletter. Each week, we unpack leader’s powerful quotes and decipher the tech landscape. With exclusive content from some of the world’s leading experts in AI, robotics, space, edutech, climate tech and more, read on to discover this week’s insights and subscribe to receive weekly updates direct to your inbox.


This week we’re quoting…

Maëlle Gavet (CEO at Techstars)

What Gavet said:

“We think that entrepreneurs are magicians. We believe that they make the impossible possible. We believe that they tackle the biggest problems that humanity faces.” 

Do entrepreneurs really make magic?

Well, yes. Magicians, throughout history, have been very entrepreneurial people — and have developed surprising technologies to meet their own very unique needs. 

Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin is considered to be the Godfather of large-scale illusions on stage, and he developed tech solutions to take his performances to a new level. He used his background in watchmaking to build a wooden box with an electromagnetic plate on the bottom. 

By turning the electromagnetic plate on before asking audience members to try and lift the box, he made it impossible for them to do so. It was as if it were fixed to the floor. Then he’d turn the plate off, and lift the box himself with ease — demonstrating his magical prowess. 

Considering he did this in 1856, when electricity was still an experimental technology, his trick was pretty impressive. 

But also, tech entrepreneurs make a lot of real-life magic

We all know that entrepreneurs have changed our world time and time again. Bill Gates and Steve Jobs have done it. Larry Page and Sergey Brin have done it. Jeff Bezos, Nikola Tesla — there’s a huge list of tech innovators who’ve played a role in shaping the experiences we’re all having right now, every day.

What we need to consider now is how entrepreneurs will drive developments in ESG tech, in climate crisis resilience — just as entrepreneurs have driven (and will continue to drive) developments in digital life. 

They might build into multi-billion-dollar companies further down the line, but the people and businesses that will truly innovate for the future are going to start small. 


– When Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak founded Apple Computers, Inc. on April 1 1976, they were college dropouts with an idealistic vision of changing the way people see computers. They started building computers in Jobs’ garage, and initially sold them without a monitor, keyboard, or any casing.

    Fast forward to 2022, and Apple posted an all-time revenue record of $123.9 billion for its fiscal 2022 first quarter.

– Google also started in a garage in Menlo Park, California. Larry Page and Sergey Brin met as grad students in the summer of 1995, and disagreed on pretty much everything. But, drawn together by a fascination with the construction of the internet (and a desire to reverse-engineer it), they created the very first version of Google (called BackRub) and began the journey that would bring us to the search engine we know today.

    Far from its garage roots, Google posted revenue of $68 billion in Q1 2022. 

– Love it or hate it, Amazon has changed the way people shop, live, and think. It’s a major driver of the ecommerce revolution. But it too began with just an entrepreneur and an idea — Jeff Bezos quit his job at an investment bank in 1994, and moved to Seattle to open a virtual bookstore. And he worked out of his garage, too — maybe garages are the clearest marker of future tech success?

    Estimates from Insider Intelligence suggest that Amazon will make $729.76 billion in 2022.

What’s our point?

Our point is that Gavet is probably right. Investors who want to put their money into climate sustainability, to change the world and make a lot of money in return, shouldn’t keep investing in multinational corporations. They should look to the entrepreneurs with the most world-changing visions. The people with the passion, talent, drive and endurance to actually make a difference. 


Eugene Kaspersky (CEO & Co-Founder at Kaspersky)

What Kaspersky said: 

“I believe it is not possible to enter the cyber age without cyber immunity.”

What is cyber immunity?

Cyber immunity is different from cyber security. It means that systems are immune to attack from the inside out. Their security is a part of their architecture

It’s inspired by biology

At the International Conference on Bioinformatics and Biomedical Engineering, Peter Wlodarczak (Cyber Security Architect) explained how the concept of cyber immunity is rooted in bio-inspired computing — an active field of research in which scientists look for cyber solutions within biological systems. 

“Cyber immune systems try to mimic the adaptive immune system of humans and animals,” with capabilities to detect and deter new, previously unseen threats and infections. So like a biological immune system, a cyber immune system can protect against attackers that it hasn’t actually encountered before. 

And that’s really, really important if we’re going to rely heavily (or completely) on cyber solutions for critical infrastructure, like food and energy supply chains. 

A brief note on why we appreciate hackers

Back in 2014, Keren Elazari (Cybersecurity Analyst and Senior Researcher at the Tel Aviv University Interdisciplinary Cyber Research Center) gave a TED Talk in which she said hackers are the immune system of the internet. 

Hackers make the internet stronger, because they test it. They push boundaries, and they find the gaps through which they can wiggle and infiltrate and bring systems to their knees. And that forces the internet to adapt, strengthen, and improve — just as a biological body’s immune system responds and adapts to attack. 

We’re not saying we want criminal hackers to infiltrate critical systems. But we do appreciate the good hackers out there, finding the limits and creating the conditions for cyber immunity to come to life. 

Some quick stats on cyber threats

– Security attacks increased by 31% from 2020 to 2021, according to Accenture’s State of Cybersecurity Resilience 2021 report.

– The World Economic Forum’s 2021 report on global risks found that the cyber security measures currently in place are increasingly useless in the face of ever-more-sophisticated criminals.

– By 2025, the cost of cybercrime is expected to reach $10.5 trillion, according to the Cisco/Cybersecurity Ventures 2022 Cybersecurity Almanac.

– It takes an average of 287 days for security teams to identify, locate, and contain a data breach, as noted in this report by IBM and the Ponemon Institute — another clear reason why reactive security is no longer enough. 



It’s real: A positive relationship between art and tech

LEAP 2024 speaker Otto Plesner (Creative Director at RenaiXance) has a background in theatre and performing arts – and he’s using that creative foundation to imagine new ways for artists to engage with emerging technologies.  In his multi-sensory show The Art of Memory, he blends AI-powered visuals with evocative scents,

The space industry is making room for startups

Like space exploration itself, launching a project in the space sector has conventionally been something that only major players could attempt to do. But the industry is changing – and it’s making room for startups and small businesses to add new dimensions to business beyond this world.  Francesco Bongiovanni (CEO

In an ideal world: AI in education

Before he arrived in Riyadh for LEAP 2024, we caught up with Dr. Lin Zhou (SVP and Chief Information Officer at The New School).  Zhou joined The New School in 2019, following 20 years at IBM – where he was program director and innovation leader for Watson Education, leading it from