eMerge Americas announces conference dates, names CEO

Michael T. Rodriguez is the new CEO of eMerge Americas.
Michael T. Rodriguez is the new CEO of eMerge Americas.

eMerge Americas on Tuesday named a CEO and announced earlier-in-the-year dates for its 2016 conference.

Michael T. Rodriguez, the former vice president and general manager of WLTV and WAMI, Univision’s flagship stations in South Florida, has been named chief executive officer.

Also announced: The 2016 dates of the Miami technology conference will be April 18 and 19 — three weeks earlier than the May dates of the first two years, said Xavier Gonzalez, executive director. The dates were moved up to better accommodate university schedules and to complement but not conflict with other global technology events, he said.

More than 10,000 attendees from more than 50 countries participated in eMerge Americas 2015 at the Miami Beach Convention Center May 4 and 5, which included NBCUniversal’s live broadcasts and online streaming as part of a three-year media partnership. The second annual conference attracted more than 500 participating companies, including 125 startups and more than 200 speakers, including author Deepak Chopra, U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro, technology executive Martine Rothblatt and Pitbull. eMerge Americas will post videos of the 2015 speakers on

Including a hackathon, startup boot camp and parties in the days leading up to the main expo, the 2015 edition of eMerge Americas generated more than 7,500 hotel room nights, Gonzalez said.

As in past years, the 2016 conference will include events on the days leading up to the main expo.

“eMerge Americas 2015 exceeded our most optimistic expectations in its second year and has once again set a high standard for years to come,” said Manuel D. Medina, founder and chairman of eMerge Americas, in a statement. “I have the utmost confidence in Mike’s ability to lead and propel eMerge into a new, exciting chapter of success. He is an accomplished leader with a proven track record for driving growth through sales, organizational and financial management.”

Rodriguez, a 20-year veteran of the media industry, has served in a variety of leadership roles at CBS, NBCUniversal and, most recently, Univision Communications, where he helped drive revenue, ratings and bottom-line growth for WLTV and WAMI. Rodriguez said he sees similarities with the surge he saw in Spanish language TV, which blossomed in Miami, and what is going on now in technology.

“As a South Florida native, I am very proud of what we are doing with eMerge in helping to grow the South Florida economy and making this a hot bed of technology in the southeastern United States and in Latin America,” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez has spent the past two months helping with eMerge Americas 2015 and getting to know the organization and the community. “Frankly, I fell in love with the business. So when Manny and I began talking about this opportunity, of course I jumped at it, not only because I think it is a great thing for the community and what Manny is doing, but also because it is a great team here led by Xavier.”

He said the leadership team is already working to enhance various elements for the 2016 event. “I thought 2015 was a huge success, but like anything else, next year our attendees are going to want more and bigger and better things,” he said.

He wouldn’t release details but said WIT (Women, Innovation and Technology), a new summit track this year, would continue. “Never in our wildest dreams did we expect WIT to be as successful as it was. The buzz coming out of the conference concerning WIT has been phenomenal.”

“At the end of the day ... the one measure that speaks to success in my book is the quality of the content, and that just easily translates into eMerge — the speakers, the sponsors, the experiences,” said Rodriguez. “It’s very exciting to me to be able to keep a leg in the showbiz world but at the same time jump into this tech world.”

Follow Nancy Dahlberg on Twitter @ndahlberg.

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