The crew at Improv Everywhere was invited to participate in a talk at TED, an annual conference in Long Beach, California that focuses on “Ideas Worth Sharing.”
Charlie Todd explains the story behind the prank on Improv Everywhere's website:
For the conference this year, the TED curators approached me about staging something unexpected to surprise their audience. We had previously staged a musical prank at a conference, but I wanted to do something new and different for TED. I came up with the idea to have a fake speaker give a talk and make it seem like his big moment in the spotlight had been ruined by a computer crash. Apple users love to hate the notorious Spinning Beach Ball of Death. I started with that image and set out to heighten it to absurdity.