It felt like a scene from the HBO parody “Silicon Valley,” but the speaker on stage at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco on Tuesday morning was real, as was the dog harnessed to his chest.
It’s not entirely clear why Sebastian Thrun, a legendary tech entrepreneur and inventor, chose to appear wearing a dog. Thrun said only that the pup’s name was Charley and that it was a “company dog.”
Thrun, who started Google’s self-driving car efforts years ago, was at the conference to talk about various new projects he’s working on, from flying cars to online education. Kitty Hawk, his startup focused on flying cars, is already testing prototypes.
The pup looked to be a cross between a husky and a pure wolf, and provided an interesting contrast to Thrun’s grey suit. Charley seemed to have a bit of stage fright himself: as Thrun talked about the future of flying cars, Charley became very excited, squirming and pawing at Thrun. After a couple of minutes, it was time for Charley to say goodbye, and a handler came on stage and took the dog off of his hands.
Thrun carried on without his furry friend, sounding optimistic notes about the power of technology to transform society. Whether his dress code innovations have as much influence remains to be seen.