Tim O'Reilly rushed through a throng of what he calls the "alpha geeks," 900 of the tech world's elite gathered for his summit on emerging technology.
He stopped suddenly for a brief chat with a disheveled MIT professor whose work is revolutionizing the world of neuroscience.
Then he was off again, bursting out with a new thought from eBay's billionaire founder, one of dozens of Internet pioneers he taps for insight on high-tech's future.
This is the life of O'Reilly: Founder of Sebastopol-based O'Reilly Media and a visionary who connects people and ideas in order to turn technological possibilities into realities.
His ability to spot revolutions in science before they happen is legendary in the tech world, and is often referred to as the "O'Reilly Radar."
He knew the founders of Google and Amazon before those companies became household names, and he's got their cell phone numbers on his iPhone to prove it.
He also knows the next generation of tech innovators, people who could become as widely known as Bill Gates or Steve Jobs in 10 years.
"Tim is sort of central to this whole tech universe," said Peter Biddle, whose company Trampoline Systems developed software that visualizes how people are connected. "He is a huge node in the network."
O'Reilly, 53, made his fortune and built up O'Reilly Media by using his foresight to publish computer books that became must-read texts for developers.
He published "The Whole Internet User's Guide and Catalog" less than two years after the World Wide Web was launched in December 1990 -- long before the Web's impact was clear.
It sold more than a million copies as people clamored to understand the Web. The New York Public Library named the catalog one of the most significant books of the 20th century.
His company created the world's first commercial Web site, Global Network Navigator, in 1993. The site was a forerunner of Internet directories such as Yahoo, with clickable ads and links to other Web sites. Two years later, O'Reilly sold the site for $11 million to America Online.
Today O'Reilly Media employs about 120 people at its three-story complex, built seven years ago in a former apple orchard on the north side of town.
O'Reilly hardly looks like the chief executive of a company with annual revenues in excess of $70 million.
Rather, he is the man with the graying beard, jeans and a corduroy sports coat over a T-shirt who roamed the hallways of Marriott Hotel in San Diego, where his trademark technology conference was held earlier this month.
"A lot of what I try to do is connect the right people," O'Reilly says.
His life has been a journey from a curious, 9-year-old boy growing up in San Francisco, buried in the futuristic stories of science fiction books, to the study of classics at Harvard University and a decision in 1989 to move his company from Massachusetts to Sebastopol.
O'Reilly's style of leadership is more akin to the holistic lifestyle of west Sonoma County than Wall Street's bottom-line mentality.
"Profit is not the most important company goal. Profitability is desirable like good health is desirable in your personal life: without it, nothing else goes well," O'Reilly wrote in an employee handbook in the late 1980s. "If I were to boil my company vision down to one sentence it would be this: To make money doing interesting and worthwhile things."