Connect with us
HP logo featured on Wrexham AFC team shirts

Sports Tech

Amplify 2024: HP scores big with Wrexham

Actor Rob McElhenney, co-owner of the Wrexham football club, was the star of the HP Amplify Partner Conference in Las Vegas last week, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.

It’s hard to say who was the biggest guest star of last week’s Amplify Partner Conference hosted in Las Vegas by computer and printer giant HP Inc.

The lineup of tech leaders addressing the event was astonishing: Jensen Huang, CEO of Nvidia, the chip designer powering the artificial intelligence revolution; Sundar Pichar, CEO of Google holding company Alphabet; Pat Gelsinger, CEO of chip pioneer Intel; Satya Nadella, CEO of the world’s most valuable company, Microsoft; and Lisa Su, CEO of a formidable competitor to both Intel and Nvidia, Advanced Micro Devices. Their presence encapsulated the concept of a partner conference, and a united front in embracing an AI-driven future.

The real star power, however, was the appearance on stage of Rob McElhenney, the Hollywood actor who teamed up with fellow actor Ryan Reynolds to buy Welsh football team Wrexham AFC. The audience was treated to a tear-jerking excerpt from the documentary movie “Welcome to Wrexham”, along with a parody movie showing the disastrous consequences when football coaches tried to run the team’s front office as a soccer team. Among other, the coaches rearranged office staff into a 3-5-2 soccer team formation to “optimise performance”.

But behind the self-deprecating movie was a serious case study: of HP as official technology partner of Wrexham. Reynolds said in a video message he was “impossibly grateful” for the  partnership and impressed with both their capabilities and their commitment.

“When Rob and I arrived as owners we saw a club and a stadium and really an entire town that we believed would benefit greatly from the kinds of improvements only technology can shepherd, and HP has been that shepherd,” said Reynolds.

Zoe Westwood, HP end-user sales director for the United Kingdom and Ireland, said it was a partnership that “consists of technology services, and giving to the local community, and we wouldn’t be able to do this without our partners here today”. She then startled the audience by welcoming McElhenney on stage to give his own perspective on partnership.

McElhenney presented his relationship with Reynolds as the ideal case study for the conference “It wasn’t just an economic transactional, but it was an investment in a relationship, which will become an investment in a town club. And I knew that I was the kind of person that would be entrepreneurial enough to want to do something like that.

“We instantly bonded … as friends and business partners, because we have the same values, we have the same ultimate goals. But we’re not willing to sacrifice certain things to achieve those goals. He challenges me and I challenge him, which is always a good indicator of great partnership.”

Westwood pointed out that Wrexham faced similar challenges as small and medium businesses around the world, while having its own unique issues, such as having to grow and scale up at a rapid rate.

McElhenney skillfully took his cue: “As everybody in this room knows, scaling is really difficult, running any business is really difficult. At the rate that we knew we had to move, we knew a technology partner was going to be integral to that. The technology that we were using to run the club, and I’m not exaggerating, was from the late ‘80s, early ‘90s. We knew that we had to do a massive overhaul of the infrastructure of the club itself.

But that’s just operational. When we talked about how to utilise technology within the community, we knew we wanted to make partnerships and we thought this is a great opportunity to partner with HP to build a community centre.

“What I keep hearing about over and over again (at the Amplify conference) is the connection between the technology and the people who use it, because ultimately it’s irrelevant if people can’t connect with the technology itself. So the idea of creating a technology literacy program with hardware from HP, and then have HP run that literacy program for children in the area, felt like such a natural partnership there.

“You’ll notice I haven’t really been talking about football that much. If anybody’s seen the documentary, it’s really not about football, in the same way that this isn’t about computers, or even AI. It’s about human beings connecting with each other. So football is a conduit to connection. Technology is a conduit to connection between human beings.”

* Arthur Goldstuck is founder of World Wide Worx, editor-in-chief of Follow him on Twitter and Instagram on @art2gee.

Subscribe to our free newsletter
To Top