posted by Larry Weintraub
I've had a few days to digest my SXSW Interactive journey so here is a recap...
If I had to summarize this year in 3 words it would be, Don't Fear Failure
. That was a mantra I heard from mega venture capitalist, Vinod Khosla
and echoed (in his own subtle way) by SpaceX / Tesla founder, Elon Musk. Both were inspirational speakers and when merged with the question asked of Musk, "You will be disappointed if _______ doesn't happen in your lifetime?" and the chalkboards I saw around an Austin hi-rise construction site that stated, "Before I Die I Want To _______" I came away with an urgency and a confidence to take on the world.
Yes, this year was more crowded than ever. Trying to get into a panel meant missing other panels because it required a 45 minute pre-session sit-in to guarantee a seat. And parties, well, there were plenty, but again, if you wanted to go to the big ones, count on showing up well ahead of the start time. And I heard a lot of negativity. "This is my last year." or "wow, this place is ridiculous, I can't get into anything." But if you've been coming to SXSW for a few years, then you learn how to navigate Austin for these few wonderful days. Flexibility is key and you want to give yourself room to end up on an unplanned adventure that might put you on a bus or cab ride to something you will never forget. And the food, believe it or not, Austin's food gets better every year. It is already my favorite food town in America but each year I discover even more, often from a truck or at a party. Rarely from an actual sit down restaurant. (Not knocking Austin restaurants, I just rarely find myself eating at one during SXSW).
In addition to the great panels, parties, food, and inspirational speeches, I also observed a lot of trends and new technologies. I paid close attention to how brands were vying for attention and gleaned valuable insights into where we're headed as interactive human beings. Here are some of my highlights (and thanks to my friends Brad, Tom, Bryon, and Jeff at The Marketing Arm for helping to compile this list):
Bre Pettis, the founder and creator of the 3D Printer opened the conference by explaining all the ways that 3D printing is changing our lives. In addition to telling us how easy it is to replicate missing toy train tracks and create shot glasses, he debuted the new 3D scanner which literally spun a garden gnome on a plate while lasers captured all aspects of the object. While we all don't need a 3D Printer today, at a reasonable cost of $2,200 (relative to its magic-like capability), it was easy to see how these could be a home staple in the coming years.
Google Glass, Talking Shoes, and Popcorn
The new futuristic Terminator-style Google Glasses were all the rage at SXSW. There were demonstrations and a handful of friends of Google were spotted donning their glasses about town. Personally, I can't wait for these. Meanwhile at the Google Playground popcorn, candy, and mini peanut butter and jelly sandwiches kept me satiated as I did the obstacle course wearing talking shoes that told me to keep going when I really wanted to rest and have a root beer float.
3M's Virtual Concierge
If you were wondering where to go and what to do at SXSW, never fear, Jennie, 3M's hologram-ish virtual concierge was there to answer your questions and make you uncomfortable with her Disney Haunted Mansion-like eyes that followed you as you strolled the Austin Convention Center. I actually liked this display and saw it again at JFK airport welcoming me to the Big Apple. If you make your living as a greeter, you may want to start expanding your skill set.
Chevy provided the best utility once again with their Catch A Ride activation enabling people to test drive everything from an electric Volt to a sporty Corvette. Need a lift in the rain, try flagging down a Chevy. No really, try. Needless to say, I got pretty wet on Saturday.
Uber CEO Travis Kalanick spoke at the conference and told us all about the trials of bucking up against the old world of taxi driver cartels. Meanwhile Uber sports cars were seen driving people around along with Uber pedicabs which offered free rides to Samsung Galaxy phone owners.
Ford could be spotted showing off their open source programming for their vehicles with a collaboration with Glympse. If you don't know, Glympse is an app that can show your friends where you are when en route to meet up. It may sound a bit creepy, but think about how many times you've wondered what's taking your buddy so long to get to you.
Getting a drink in Austin is not that hard to do. Local vodka company, Tito's made it even easier by providing the Tito's Trolley that circled downtown Austin while whetting your booze whistle in the process. A simple activation that ironically stood out in a crowded field of brand activations.
Award for Standout Brand
Meanwhile, this year's award for most visible brand was Samsung. There were numerous activations including pop-up stores, rooftop party decks, the aforementioned pedicabs, old-school phone booths, and even a giant building enabled with NFC which offered up cupcakes, drinks, and snacks when your Galaxy Tab phone was tapped against the bricks.
Crowdsourcing in Action
Merging branding with innovation, American Airlines and AT&T combined for a Hack to create the next great travel app. We didn't get to see the results, but we were told that over 50 developers participated in the event.
Apps and mCommerce Aplenty
In the App world, there were some previous year favorites hanging around such as Highlight and GroupMe both geared to encouraging people to get to know each other a little better amongst the crowds of people. While mobile payments could be felt from Square, Level Up, Intuit, and others. It was actually hard to pay with cash at times and nearly every food truck in Austin was ready to swipe your credit card across their iPhone.
Content was king at SXSW this year. TV networks were prevalent and at any moment you could find yourself posing on the Game of Thrones throne, meeting the stars of Deadliest Catch, checking out with SyFy Network and Warner Brothers had to offer, or learning the secrets of the new Netflix season of Arrested Development.
Also showcasing in the quickly growing field of digital content was the comedy troupe JASH, made up of Sarah Silverman, Michael Cera, Reggie Watts, and Tim & Eric. Underwritten by Mountain Dew's new energy drink Kickstart and built on the YouTube Channel
platform, JASH made quite the splash. If the teaser they provided at SXSW was a sign of times to come, we should see some great comedy coming our way and some incredible brand integration that feels relatively natural and not forced.
So much to see, so little time, so much fun, so much inspiration.
Labels: 3M, american airlines, ATT, austin, Brand Activations, content, crowdsourcing, Elon Musk, Ford, Glympse, Google Glass, JASH, LevelUp, MakerBot, SXSW 2013, tito's vodka, Uber, Vinod Khosla, Virtual Concierge
posted by Larry Weintraub
|Photo: Nigel Parry (from Wired)|
Every few weeks I read an article that inspires me and it becomes the thing I talk about to everyone that will listen. On a recent plane ride I got caught up on my reading and found that latest inspirational article. It's the cover story of the most recent Wired
. Wired is doing a series of regular profiles of icons that have changed the world. The first one is an interview with Marc Andreesen, the man who co-invented the first web browser, pioneered cloud technology, and invested in companies like Facebook, Groupon, Twitter, and Zynga.
Read this article if you want to get a glimpse into where technology is headed. Below are some of my favorite quotes, but I highly recommend you read the entire article here: http://bit.ly/LlqYL6
Marc Andreessen: Technology is like water; it wants to find its level. So if you hook up your computer to a billion other computers, it just makes sense that a tremendous share of the resources you want to use—not only text or media but processing power too—will be located remotely. People tend to think of the web as a way to get information or perhaps as a place to carry out ecommerce. But really, the web is about accessing applications. Think of each website as an application, and every single click, every single interaction with that site, is an opportunity to be on the very latest version of that application. Once you start thinking in terms of networks, it just doesn’t make much sense to prefer local apps, with downloadable, installable code that needs to be constantly updated.
[Wired Editor-in-Chief] Anderson: Assuming you have enough bandwidth.
Andreessen: That’s the very big if in this equation. If you have infinite network bandwidth, if you have an infinitely fast network, then this is what the technology wants. But we’re not yet in a world of infinite speed, so that’s why we have mobile apps and PC and Mac software on laptops and phones. That’s why there are still Xbox games on discs. That’s why everything isn’t in the cloud. But eventually the technology wants it all to be up there.
Andreessen: The application model of the future is the web application model. The apps will live on the web. Mobile apps on platforms like iOS and Android are a temporary step along the way toward the full mobile web. Now, that temporary step may last for a very long time. Because the networks are still limited. But if you grant me the very big assumption that at some point we will have ubiquitous, high-speed wireless connectivity, then in time everything will end up back in the web model. Because the technology wants it to work that way.
Anderson: [Edited] For every million that Craigslist made, it took a billion out of the newspaper industry. If you transform these big, inefficient industries in such a way that the value all accrues to a smaller software company, what’s the broad economic impact?
Andreessen: My bet is that the positive effects will far outweigh the negatives. Think about Borders, the bookstore chain. Amazon drove Borders out of business, and the vast majority of Borders employees are not qualified to work at Amazon. That’s an actual, full-on problem. But should Amazon have been prevented from doing that? In my view, no. Because it’s so much better to live in a world where that happened, it’s so much better to live in a world where Amazon is ascendant. I told you that my childhood bookstore was something you had to drive an hour to get to. But it was a Waldenbooks, and it was, like, 800 square feet, and it sold almost nothing that you would actually want to read. It’s such a better world where we have Amazon, where everything is universally available. They’re a force for human progress and culture and economics in a way that Borders never was.
Again, read the whole article here
, and, if you get as inspired as I was, definitely check out this video
of a fireside chat Marc did with Wired's Chris Anderson at a recent Wired Business Conference.
Labels: bandwidth, Chris Anderson, cloud, innovation, inspiration, marc andreessen, social, technology, Wired, Wired Magazine
posted by Larry Weintraub
We love stories. When we were kids we insisted that our parents read us one more story every night before we went to bed. Or better yet, make one up! Look at the television shows we watch now. Shows like Game of Thrones and Mad Men are essentially mini movies that we get to watch every week. The quality. The stories. What about reality shows? American Idol, Deadliest Catch, Restaurant Impossible, The Bachelor. These are weekly stories that have villains, plots, resolutions. We're so hungry for these fantastic stories and we are lucky that they just keep coming.
And we're starting to watch these stories in new ways. Look at the KONY
video. Nearly 90 Million people have watched a 30 minute movie on YouTube. I repeat, a 30 minute movie! Not an 80 second video about a cat or talking babies, an important documentary.
Meanwhile our phones are quickly becoming both a primary tool for viewing movies, television, and Internet-based videos as well as a significant source of creation. That iOS or Android piece of technology you carry around in your pocket has the ability to take photos with the same high resolution quality that were previously only attributed to devices made by the likes of Nikon or Canon. Remember when you carried a phone, a camera, and a video camera to your kid's birthday party? Like most other parents, I only carry one now, my iPhone.
As we take these lusciously vivid new photos at a mammoth pace, inventions like Pinterest and Instagram are helping us share them with the world. Each photo tells a story of where we are, where we've been, or where we hope to go. And each time a friend comments on or re-pins our photos, the story takes on new meaning for that person. Then there is the complete personification of visual storytelling, the new Facebook timeline. Photos are now so rich and large and the timeline enables us to tell the chronological story of our brand or our lives.
Many brands are taking advantage of the new Facebook timeline, but one brand stands out head and shoulders above the rest. That brand is Red Bull. The company whose energy drink sold over four and half billion cans last year and boasts 60% market share over a thousand competitors doesn't do a ton of traditional advertising. Sure, you've seen the ads about Red Bull giving you wings, but for the most part, we don't see a ton of commercials or billboards. What we do see is that colorful logo plastered on every crazy extreme athlete with a death wish. Red Bull epitomizes a brand entrenched in visual storytelling.
When Facebook timeline went live, Red Bull
jumped in head first. From the lead graphic to the individual photos on their profile, every image tells a compelling story. Some subtle, some overt.
To get you to discover all the fascinating images and the history of Red Bull, they even put together a scavenger hunt that asked you to navigate through all the rich content on their Facebook page.
And Red Bull does so much more than just great photos. They are also highly focused on video and film. Each of their events and all of their sponsored athletes are documented by some of the best action filmmakers on the planet. Check out their YouTube channel
and you'll find nearly 2,000 videos with hundreds of thousands of subscribers and a quarter of a billion views.
And finally, look at Red Bull's website
The site is dedicated to sports, culture, events, music, film, games, and if you look really hard, you might find a link to their product.
Red Bull breaks the rules. It is lifestyle, story, visuals, and culture first... product last. And it works.
Red Bull has taken a serious stance on visual storytelling. And yes, it can work for everyone. We're visual people. We love great images and great stories, and we're more apt to buy from those who can show us what they are about. Visual Storytelling is a trend and it will only get bigger and better as technology makes it easier and easier to tell our stories.
Labels: facebook, Instagram, pinterest, red bull, social media, visual storytelling, youtube
posted by Larry Weintraub
As social media matures, so too do its related expectations. We're in the midst right now of a transition from social media to social business. Sure, we've all been searching for the ROI associated with our Facebook and Twitter endeavors for a few years now, but what we're really starting to see is a fundamental shift in the way social media fits within a company.
Back in my music business days, the Internet guys (or should I say - guy) were the last ones consulted on what to do with a new artist. Today they lead the conversation. As do the respective leaders in film, television, and publishing. Businesses outside of entertainment are quickly gaining traction in that area too as digital becomes core to the launch of any new product from all aspects including market research and product development.
Digital and social media find themselves at the center of a business' strategy and not the add-on. Thus the transition from social media to social business. These days, when we get called in to talk about social media with a brand, for the most part they already have a significant presence on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, LinkedIn, and even Pinterest. The conversations have become far less about how can we help you get to a million fans on Facebook and more about how can we turn those virtual fans into even bigger fans of the brand. And let's cut to the chase - we want those fans to buy more and tell others to buy more.
A social business strategy is more complex than a social media strategy. It involves multiple divisions of a company and it involves buy-in from the senior level. All you have to do is look at what Walmart
and American Express
are doing to understand that social is quickly becoming a core part of some of the biggest companies in the world.
A social business strategy is essentially a collection of strategies that work together to ultimately drive loyalty and sales. This includes:
- Analytical Strategy - Analysis of action to date - a deep understanding of what is working and what hasn't. You've most likely spent at least a year trying things in the social space, what are the results? What are the needs identified such as personnel, better reporting, data analysis, training, etc.?
- Establish a Value Proposition - Have you identified what your customer wants in exchange for being part of your social presence? What's in it for them?
- Growth Strategy - You probably have a semi-arbitrary goal for the amount of fans you want following you on your various social properties. Do you have a legitimate reason for this number or does 1 million or 2 million Facebook fans just sound like a good number to report to the bosses? Have you studied the direct competition? Have you studied the quality of fan that you currently have and identified where they came from and how often they participate? We've all heard the quality vs. quantity argument, but have we really spent time determining if every new fan is as valuable as the ones that came before? Have you used every asset you have at your fingertips such as email, in-store signage, better presence on your website, or integration with your advertising efforts? Before you start buying those fans with Facebook ads, have you tried to convert your actual customers?
- Activation Strategy - What do you do with people when they become a fan? This is also known as community management. You've got them there, now what do you do with them? Do you actually engage with them or do you just recite quotes from famous people and send out 25% discounts on things they don't necessarily want? Do you have the proper resources to manage your community?
- Content Strategy - One of the most important strategies in showcasing your company and your products. We're a visual society and the smartphone revolution is making it easier to take photos and capture video at a quality previously owned by Nikon and Canon. You need a definitive approach to not only capturing content but how you disseminate it. Is your content compelling? Is it real? Is it sharable?
- Mobile Strategy - Everything we do on our desktops and laptops is headed into the palms of our hands. Every point made above should have mobile factored in as well. View this presentation to really get the point.
I could go on, but any more and you'll start getting dizzy and ask yourself how on earth you could ever get all of that done. The point is that everything I stated above is meant to drive more business your way. It asks you to take a good look at what you are doing and whether you have the right process in place to make this work. Again, this is for your business, not for bragging rights.
posted by Larry Weintraub
I did a quick interview with The Marketing Arm's ShareBlog
, check it out...
30 Seconds With: Larry Weintraub, CEO and Co-founder of Fanscape
In the wake of Facebook’s very expensive acquisition of Instagram, the numbers are just a small part of the story.
Q: What’s behind Facebook’s billion-dollar Instagram buy?
A: What you often see with big technology companies is that they’re actually purchasing the people almost as much as the technology. Yes, they’re buying this photo sharing technology that makes their service more robust and knocking out a competitor, but they’re also buying the minds of the team and ultimately the creator of Instagram [Kevin Systrom].
For example, Facebook bought Gowalla not too long too ago. Meanwhile, you don’t hear about Gowalla anymore. So what did Facebook really buy? Some of the technology and some of the people, which just makes their offering better. A billion dollars may be a high price to pay for the Instagram team and that technology, but it’ll tell a better story when Facebook goes public.
Q: Speaking of storytelling, what role does that play in mobile photography?
A: Photo sharing is exploding and Instagram is a leader in that service. We’re all getting caught up in Pinterest and Instagram, but the reason is because the quality of the photos that we take on our phones now are as good as a Nikon camera was two years ago – we’re talking 6 or 8 megapixels.
Then on the display side, if you look at the new iPad3 campaign, its focus is on the retina display. The iPad doesn’t seem to be that much different, but they’re hanging their hat on the quality of the photos because it’s the convergence of what I call “visual storytelling.” People are using these photo-sharing apps to tell stories. This is reflected in the rollout of Facebook’s new Timeline for brand pages where there’s a big emphasis on the cover image.
So is $1 billion crazy? Not for a great mobile-photo sharing experience, no.
Read more at: http://share.themarketingarm.com
Labels: facebook, Fanscape, gowalla, Instagram, Shareblog, the marketing arm
posted by Larry Weintraub
If you ask me how SXSW Interactive (SXSWi) was this year, I'll tell you it was fantastic and that I was personally inspired on multiple levels. Yes it was crowded, I'm not sure the exact number but I heard tale of 20,000 plus attendees, and yes it rained for part of the time. But SXSWi is all about what you make of it; I went with an open mind, a light agenda, and the desire to learn, and I had a blast.
To summarize SXSWi 2012 in just a few words, it was a place to get motivated for what's next. The sessions I attended and the people I met were all looking forward and not back. This year wasn't so much about what the next big technology was, it was more about what the next big concepts are. Concepts like The Future of Content, The Start Up Revolution, Storytelling, and Distinguishing Your Product.
Here is a (relatively) short recap of my trip to Austin (Sessions link to the audio when I could find them)...
About Austin / SXSWi
|Inside ACC Day 1|
- Long Lines - It started a little rough, the line to get my badge stretched through the entire building. Estimates were 2 - 3 hour wait time. #humblebrag, I was able to sneak in with some friends who were sponsors, but I felt a little guilty about it. This signaled that this year would be much more crowded than in year's past and made me realize that if I wanted to see specific sessions or attend parties, I'd have to plan on getting there early.
- Beyond ACC - A few years back the only place you would need to be during the day was the Austin Convention Center. But now sessions are scattered amongst multiple hotels, bars, restaurants, and private homes. You learn quickly that you just can't go to everything and you have to plan your day around travel. The upside is that Chevy provided free rides if you could "Catch a Chevy" or test drive one of their new cars.
- Rain - For the first two days it rained hard. It put a damper on the companies that had outdoor installations and it also made it challenging to get from place to place. The upside was that crowds weren't too bad and Bing was offering up free food and drinks to lure you in to their soaked city.
- Lots of Sessions about "Me" - The first panel I attended was the CEO and founder of Thrillist talking about... well, Thrillist. I also saw sessions where leaders from Google Plus, SCVNGR, Funny or Die, and Living Social talked about themselves. There were quite a few of these, and some were better than others. The best ones were where the speakers spoke about mistakes they made and gave insight into what was coming.
|Kawasaki + Gundotra|
- Great session about "Me" - I watched the Fireside Chat between social media celebrity Guy Kawasaki and Google+ Plus mastermind Vic Gundotra. Kawasaki literally grilled Gundotra about Google+ with questions like, "Why don't you open your API already like your competition?," "What are you doing about the SPAM issue?" and "Will we see advertising around everything we do in Google+?" I give Gundotra credit, he answered every question with articulate professionalism and he didn't shy away from anything. He took full responsibility for the API issue saying that his mission was to open it up by year's end but that because of the Google ecosystem that includes search, Gmail, and Android, he needed it to be of the highest quality and he wasn't willing to allow things to break all the time like they do on a certain other social network. He claimed that they were hyper focused on the SPAM issue and pointed out that because of Gmail, they were the best at figuring this out. And he stressed that while you will see advertising, because of the laser targeting capabilities that Google has, you should be seeing incredibly relevant advertising. He also stressed that not everything will have advertising, he said that you should not expect to see ads when you open content like photos. The main takeaway, and the most important point for marketers like myself was that Gundotra wanted everyone to stop thinking of Google+ as a social network and instead think of it as Google 2.0. He said that for the first time, all Google products were working together including search, documents, email, social, and mobile. This is just the start of a major renovation for Google, he said, and you will see a continuity like you've never seen before.
|Click on graphic to enlarge|
- Great session about storytelling - I went to the session titled, "Does Your Product Have a Plot?" by R/GA's David Womack. A full house watched as Womack described the structure of a good story and how some brands have mastered the art of storytelling and how others have not. I am a huge fan of storytelling and as Womack was talking I found myself scribbling thoughts on how to improve many of the projects I'm working on right now.
|Tim O'Shaughnessy and Steve Case|
- Another great session about "me" (Part 1 - Steve Case) - My favorite session of all was the Fireside Chat between AOL founder Steve Case and LivingSocial CEO Tim O'Shaughnessy in a session called, "Tapping Into America's Secret Sauce: Entrepreneurs." Both were there to promote their own initiatives but the insight that O'Shaughnessy gave about building his business and where it was going was truly enlightening. Case promoted his political initiatives surrounding the Small Business / Start Up act which is culminating right now in the Senate. He explained that 40 Million jobs in the US are attributed to small businesses and that we should be promoting growth in this sector vs. large businesses which ultimately don't net a lot of new jobs, they just rise and fall and essentially stay even. Case also spoke about the Sharing Economy and some of the investments he's made in transportation (zipcar) and hospitality (Exclusive Resorts). He also referenced his appearance on the Colbert Report and how Colbert asked him about sharing toasters. Additionally he discussed the idea of Crowdfunding concepts like Kickstarter and how the Start Up bill would allow this to happen on a grander scale and relieve some of the restrictions that currently prohibit companies from having more than 500 investors.
- Another great session about "me" (Part 2 - Tim O'Shaughnessy) - Case admitted in full transparency that he was an investor in LivingSocial but then proceeded to ask some incredibly challenging questions of O'Shaughnessy like, "When will you go public?" and "Why did you partner with Amazon?" O'Shaughnessy handled the tough questions well and consistently referred to Groupon without calling out their name. He explained that the climate was not right to go public (Groupon!) but that it was a necessary step to compensate both investors and employees. In reference to Amazon, he said that LivingSocial is a local company and Amazon is a massive national/global company and together they were ideal partners. This is where it got interesting. He explained that LivingSocial's mission is to be the local company that powers businesses that have things to sell. Meaning that LivingSocial was looking beyond just "deals" and finding ways to help small businesses grow through their platforms. One example he had was that LivingSocial was helping restaurants create new businesses such as cooking schools in their less busy hours. He said that the "deal" business was just one step in their plans. When Case asked "What mistake did you make that you could advise others to avoid?" O'Shaughnessy replied, "Move faster." He explained that LivingSocial started as a Facebook-based advertising-based business that was earning $1 Million a month and then scrapped that business for the "deal" business. He said that was a hard thing to do both for his employees and investors but that in hindsight he wished he'd done it faster. He said that 3 months could have made all the difference (alluding to the fact that Groupon got the jump on them). The final point that resonated with me was when O'Shaughnessy explained that they realized the impact of Facebook ads before anyone else. While other web-based companies were using mostly Google search, they realized that their audience was responding tremendously to Facebook ads. He told the audience to pay attention to new forms of advertising and marketing that others haven't figured out yet.
Aside from the great sessions I attended, I received tremendous inspiration from the countless conversations I had primarily with people I was meeting for the first time or hadn't seen in quite a while. The topics that motivated me the most revolved around:
- Content - It was clear from all the major media companies and countless start ups that content geared for online and mobile viewing is being produced at a rapid rate. I have a personal point of view that within the next two years, once the connection between our mobile devices and our televisions becomes seamless, there will be an explosion of content. We will go from 1,000 channels on our television to hundreds of thousands; that we'll see far fewer shows that reach 5 million people and more that reach 10,000. But those shows will be targeted. We'll see shows about home improvement, gardening, tax preparation, education... you name it. There will be seemingly endless niche-based programming that will not have major ratings, but it will be appealing to advertisers and sponsors because of it's hyper targeting.
- Innovation - Riffing off of something that Tim O'Shaughnessy said in his panel, true innovation is not about improving another company's product by 10%, it is about complete reinvention. There was a lot of bouncing of ideas with people and improving each others' concepts.
Lots of them. It is really hard to stand out at SXSW because there is a ton of competitive noise and very little space to properly brand yourself. That said, there were a few standouts:
- Chevy - You could not miss Chevy at SXSW. Their cars were everywhere as was their signage. As previously mentioned, they provided tremendous utility with their "Catch a Chevy" program which helped people get from place to place - a significant help with the bad weather, the spread out sessions/parties, and a huge lack of hotel rooms.
- Bing - Great setup with food, drinks, and games. Bummer on the rain and the technology breakdown of trying to register on non-working laptops was comical given the Microsoft sponsorship.
- Nike - Amazing installation for people that owned the Nike Fuel band. Block long exercise court lined with massive digital walls.
- The Sponsored Cafes - CNN and Fast Company took over restaurants and offered free food, drinks, entertainment, and co-sponsored interactions from the likes of 3M, Samsung, and Kind.
Also lots of them. The best thing I experienced this year was seeing music at some of these parties. I've spent the last couple of years trying to avoid music to just focus on tech, but sometimes you just can't get away from your true love. And this year I ran smack into a couple of amazing bands that ended up being highlights of my SXSWi experience.
- Friday night I was introduced to Ghostland Observatory at the Start Up America Partnership (Steve Case's cause) party and was literally blown away. I haven't been this excited after seeing a band since the first time I saw Nine Inch Nails play. Turns out I've been living under a rock and these guys are already huge, but thanks to @Brad Alesi at The Marketing Arm for introducing me to these guys.
- Speaking of Brad Alesi, he also introduced me to Green River Ordinance at the AT&T w/ Jason Falls party. Again, I didn't go expecting to see a band, just to hang with some AT&T folks and to have great hot dogs @Frank, but turns out I got treated to a great band, who like Ghostland has been around for quite a while and has a huge following. I must be living under a rock. But glad I climbed out to see these bands.
In conclusion, I had a great trip, saw some amazing sessions, ate like a fool, rocked out, and came back invigorated!
Here are some other reports back from SXSW that will give you some additional perspectives:
Labels: austin, content, google plus, google+, guy kawasaki, innovation, livingsocial, steve case, sxsw, sxsw 2012, sxsw interactive, sxsw interactive 2012, sxswi, sxswi 2012, technology, tim o'shaughnessy, vic gundotra