Why Tech Leaders Still Do Business Face-to-Face

Face-to-face meetings are as common in Silicon Valley as they are on Wall Street.

While it’s easy to assume that those who create virtual communications also rely on them to close business deals and build client relationships, the truth is that tech leaders leverage face-to-face meetings, too. Like their counterparts in other industry sectors, they use meetings to solve business challenges, train employees and cultivate new ideas.

Photo Credit: USA Today

Karolyn Kirchgesler, CEO of Team San Jose, sees it firsthand every day. “As someone who’s involved in the meetings industry in Silicon Valley, I can tell you that even with all the innovation and technology that our business leaders and innovators and CEOs have, they still rely on those personal, face-to-face meetings to do their business.” Kirchgesler and Team San Jose work with organizations across the city to host international business travelers, market technology conferences in the region and stimulate local economic development. In her experience – and in ours – tech leaders are among the strongest advocates for face-to-face. Here are four quotes to prove it:

Elaine Meyers, Managing Director, J.P. Morgan

Meyers is a longtime financial adviser to Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, and according to Forbes, she has one “non-negotiable demand” of her clients: a quarterly face-to-face meeting. Although it’s limited the number of clients she can retain during a single period of time, the personal relationships she’s built over years have allowed her to sustain a steady book of business, which in 2016 was estimated at $2.6 billion in assets!

Dara Khosrowshahi, President and CEO, Expedia

In a video for MMB, Khosrowshahi championed the value of face-to-face, arguing that in a world full of distractions and ways to communicate, meetings create the breeding ground for new ideas and collaboration, especially among millennial employees. He said, “They connect through text, they connect through social media, through snapchat, etcetera. And what we found is that that… desire to connect, is actually translated into a desire to get together…in person.”

Jeff Bezos, CEO, Amazon


Bezos, known throughout the tech community for his unconventional style, has been an unlikely champion of face-to-face. According to Inc., his meetings are often small, but almost always involve sharing new ideas and perspectives. “The only people there are the people who absolutely need to be,” the outlet reported. “Every meeting, regardless of the primary topic, remains on task and purposeful.”

Marissa Mayer, former CEO, Yahoo!

In 2013, Mayer shocked Yahoo! employees and the broader business community by announcing that remote employees would be required to work in-person, at Yahoo! offices. Mayer also commented that in order for employees to communicate and collaborative effectively, they needed to be “working side-by-side” (and presumably, face-to-face).

For more quotes about the corporate value of face-to-face, check out MMB’s Business Leader Video Series.