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  • feedwordpress 22:51:28 on 2015/03/21 Permalink
    Tags: Crowd Company, Edelman, Events, , , ,   

    It’s Not The Size of SXSW, It’s How You Use It 

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    Before SXSW Interactive had even gotten a chance to take its first breath, media outlets like Mashable were already asking if it had jumped the Shark? The sentiment is understandable. After all these years, SXSW is still kind of enigma. Some call it a conference and others say its more of a festival. Some say this year's SXSW felt "somber" while others asserted that fresh break through technology such as MeerKat, reasserted its relevance as a place where new startups can get their footing and enchant early adopters in the process. Other's still question its value for marketers and agencies (tell that to senior ad execs like Tony Weisman and Bob Greenberg who mingled amongst the geeks).

    The truth is, SXSW is what you make of it. If you want to go there and party all day and all night, you can do that. If you want to spend your time going from session to session to find golden nuggets of insights, you can do that too. If you want to network and explore business opportunities—you can also do that. It's not the size of SXSW that matters, it's how you make it work for you. In that vein, here are some of the ways I made SXSW work for me this year. 

    Finding Opportunities To Collaborate
    SXSW has no shortage of tech companies, platforms or niche players that can make for interesting collaborators. This year I had great meetings with Hootsuite and Spredfast and MeerKat to plant seeds in some cases and in others explore specific opportunities. The face time you can get at SXSW is high quality and the casual setting makes relationship building easy. 

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    Hosting An Intimate Business Function
    Because SXSW can be so overwhelming—it's a great opportunity to create an intimate business environment where professionals can share thoughts and ideas in a salon like setting. This year, we teamed up with Jeremiah Owyang and Crowd Companies and hosted a combination of his council members and some of our clients for an insightful panel featuring executives from Whole Foods, Hallmark and Verizon. Business can be done at SXSW—you just have to plan for it. 

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    Connecting With Colleagues, Clients & Friends

    I'm cognizant that we have all three groups present at SXSW and I make it a point to distribute my time wisely during my few days. Several of our Edelman clients had activations this year and it was great to see how they were doing in real time, while building new client relationships in some cases and reinforcing existing ones. Likewise, many of our colleagues go, and it's a great way to bond with them outside of a formal session. And lastly, there are industry friends I get to see their once a year—a great way to catch up and compare notes. 

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    Attending Panels
    For me personally, it's difficult to squeeze in panels with everything else but I usually manage to get a couple in. This year's highlight for me was Google's offsite "Fire Starters" panel which featured several speakers from the UX, creative and planning sides of the house. I finally got to see Russell Davies speak which was a treat, and in a setting where "new ideas" are prized, his take on "no new ideas" was a good reminder that brands need to work harder at getting the basics right. 

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    Blowing Off Some Steam

    I'm not going to lie—there are some great parties and activities at SXSW. This year I found myself on a dance floor listening to NAZ and in a stadium watching the Flaming Lips do what they do. I also went Spinning with a friend (first time I've ever done that). But the reality is that SXSW is not the only show in town when it comes to parties and entertainment—it goes with the territory and can be fun if you don't overdo it. 

     
  • feedwordpress 17:42:14 on 2014/08/14 Permalink
    Tags: ACT, , Cloverpop, , Events, , innovatoin, Jawbone, Lemnos Labs, Lit Motors, , , new companies, , , Rickshaw, , , Tumml, ,   

    My 2014 NewCo SF Schedule: Hard Choices 

    The post My 2014 NewCo SF Schedule: Hard Choices appeared first on John Battelle's Search Blog.

    NewCoAward

    The NewCo award, given to host companies who join the NewCo festival this year.

    As I did last year, I picked my NewCo San Francisco schedule early, so I could prepare in advance of the festival this September 10-12. There are nearly 130 extraordinary companies to choose from, so it’s not easy to decide where to spend your time. But decide we must. Here are my choices for this year’s SF festival (there are festivals in Amsterdam, New York, Silicon Valley, LA, Detroit, Boulder, London, and Istanbul so far).

    Haven’t heard of NewCo? Learn all about it here. In short, we pick extraordinary companies that are mission-driven and changing the face of our city and our society, and they open their doors to the public for a one hour session on a topic of their choice. It’s free, but if you want to insure that you get into the companies you care about, you can pay a small fee to jump to the head of the line right now. Some companies are already full, others are almost full. When we open General Admission, which is free, they’ll all fill up quickly. So it’s worth $90 to get in where you want to go. Here are the ones I plan to visit:

    Day 1 – Thursday September 11

    M_128_black9 am – Medium. I’m fascinated by Medium’s rise as a reliable place to find thoughtful and well crafted writing. Founder Ev Williams has been improvising on the theme of publishing platforms for nearly 15 years – first with Blogger, then with Twitter. Medium is a place in between those two, as it relates to the point of view of the creator. It has yet to develop a full throated business model, but I sense one emerging. I’m going to find out more about the company and its people and community. Medium is also one of the Yahoo Media Innovation sessions – a curated track that Yahoo! and NewCo put together to highlight innovative media companies who are participating in NewCo SF.  Runners up: GitHub and Brigade. GitHub has always fascinated me – sure, it’s a code-base repository and developer community, but more importantly, it’s the center of an emerging power class in our society. And Brigade has at its core a mission that fascinates me – it asks the question: Can we leverage new technologies to change our political system?

    ACT10:30 am – American Conservatory Theater/The Costume Shop. Look, how often do you get a chance to actually see the backstage magic that creates first-class theatre productions? I’m a total theatre geek, though I don’t get to shows nearly as often as I’d like. I’m hoping to re-kindle my love affair with the stage by seeing behind the ACT’s curtain for the first time. Super excited. Runners Up: The Moxie Institute and Chute. I am a huge fan of filmmaker Tiffany Shlain, who is a pal. Her “Let It Ripple” films on AOL are a huge hit, and her “The Future Starts Here” series is up for an Emmy. And I’m on the Board of Chute, which is a promising startup in the visual discovery, rights management, and adtech publishing market. But for me, NewCo is about new – so I’m going with ACT.

    Rickshaw-BagworksNoon - Rickshaw Bagworks. It’s not a bad hop from mid-market, where ACT has set up shop, to Dogpatch, where Rickshaw Bags manufactures its wares. I met the CEO of Rickshaw at last year’s festival, and was inspired by his devotion to quality, community, and local manufacturing. I haven’t gotten a chance to see his digs yet, and I know the tour of his shop will be inspiring. Plus, I am a customer of Rickshaw, I love my Rickshaw backpack. It’s cool to be able to see where it was made.  Runners Up: PUBLIC Bikes and SVAngel. I’m a biker, and I want to understand the rise of the “city bike,” which PUBLIC Bikes creates right in the heart of SF. And while I know folks at SV Angel, I’ve actually never seen their space. It will have to wait till next year, alas!

    Earnest-logo1.30 pm – Earnest. When someone leaves Andreessen Horowitz to start a mission-driven company, you know he or she must be pretty, well, driven. In this session, I get a chance to meet the CEO of Earnest, which is a new lending platform with the outsized goal of changing how lending works. Classic NewCo company. Runners Up: the melt and KITE Solutions. I’ve never had a melt sandwich, but I love how the company has grown over the past two years, and wish I could be in two places at once. And KITE, run by my pal Mark Silva, is matching innovative startups to large brands, a business I love. But again, the new beats the known at NewCo for me.

    lit-motors-c13:00 pm – Lit Motors. I was so bummed to miss Lit last year, and thrilled they are back at NewCo SF this year. Lit makes new kinds of vehicles, not exactly cars, but not cycles either. I can’t wait to learn about the ideas which inspire these creations. Runners Up: AdStage and City & County of SF. AdStage is a super promising platform for managing marketing – but I’m an investor so I know a fair bit about it. And I love that the Mayor’s office is part of the NewCo platform – their session will provide insights on how the city works with entrepreneurs to tackle big civic problems and opportunities.

    Twitter_logo_blue4:30 pm – Twitter. Sure, I get inside Twitter from time to time to meet with friends and colleagues, but this session is going to be different. Twitter is focusing its NewCo session on how it is leaning into community development and philanthropy. This is a critical issue to the mid market area, as well as to all cities who are experiencing a tech-driven boom. Not to be missed. Runners Up: Yahoo!, Pinterest, and DocuSign. Yahoo! continues its reinvention, and this session is an opportunity to learn how it’s going. DocuSign has a tiger by the tail, I’m deeply impressed with what Keith Krach and his team have done there (Krach is a speaker at our VIP Plenary kickoff party, which you can attend by buying a VIP ticket here). And Pinterest is on FIRE. Tough choices here.

    Day 2 – Friday, September 12

    175686-29c2d3209bfc05aa95c9c509d5bc31b3-medium_jpg9.00 am – Tumml. I’m taking a flyer here, as I know very little about this startup, but I love their mission, which is all about addressing issues of urban environments through public/private partnerships. Also, the session is taking the form of a pitch session, where entrepreneurs in the Tumml program pitch the audience. That should be a blast. Runners Up: Bloomberg and Blossom Coffee. I went to Bloomberg last year and loved seeing behind the scenes of how TV gets made. And who doesn’t need a good cup of Joe at 9 am?!

    lemnos10:30 am – Lemnos Labs. This speciality VC firm funds hardware startups. What do I know about hardware? Almost nothing! And that’s why I’m heading to this session. Runners up: TechShop and Salesforce.com. I went to TechShop last year and learned a ton about the new culture of DIY and Big Machines. And Salesforce, which is hosting our plenary VIP event, is a great company doing well by doing good.

    FCCNoon – Founders Circle Capital & Shasta Ventures. I’m an advisor to FCC, so I’ve been to their South Park offices. But it’s always good to hang at a homebase during NewCo, and I love FCC’s model of founder-driven secondary financing. A much needed innovation for fast growing companies, plus I get to meet the folks at Shasta. Runners Up: Automattic (just a wonderful company well worth the visit) and Yerdle.

    airbnb1.30 pm – Airbnb. OK, so I’ve been wanting to see the new offices ever since they opened last year. I can’t wait to get inside and see how one of the most valuable startups in the world gets its business on. Runners Up: Backplane and Hightail. Backplane has built a platform based on the insights from creating Lady Gaga’s Little Monsters community, and Hightail is competing in the world of Box and Dropbox. Both are run by fascinating entrepreuners.

    cloverpop3:00 pm – Cloverpop. Another flyer, but this one seems super cool. The company is attempting to “upgrade how we make decisions” using social data and storytelling. There’s a special invite for their private beta for those who come to the session. Now that’s pretty awesome. Runners Up: SEAGLASS, Delectable, and Scoot. In fact, this is the most difficult hour of the whole festival – so many amazing companies. Please head to SEAGLASS, last year they had pure honey dripping from actual honeycomb. It’s an incredible restaurant. And Delectable is all about wine, and my guess is there’s wine to be had there. And Scoot is just a super cool idea – electric scooter sharing.

    jawbone-logo-display4:30 pm – Jawbone. I’m eager to know what’s next from this innovative company – now that Apple has purchase Beats in particular. If not for NewCo, I doubt I’d ever get a chance to visit Jawbone – and that’s kind of the point! Runners Up: Comcast Ventures and Trulia. Comcast Ventures is making a move to be a player in SF VC, and I find any move by Comcast significant these days. And Trulia, recently merged with Zillow, is just a fascinating business.

    Wow. That’s a dozen deep dives into companies in just two days. I really love the NewCo concept – I know, I know, I’m Chair of it, after all. But really, where else do you get a chance to get inside so many extraordinary organizations and really experience how they are changing our society? Please, join me and dive in. I’ll see you there!

     

    The post My 2014 NewCo SF Schedule: Hard Choices appeared first on John Battelle's Search Blog.

     
  • feedwordpress 01:52:51 on 2014/03/17 Permalink
    Tags: Events, , ,   

    SXSW Interactive Is Big Business And That’s A Good Thing 

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    It's been exactly a week since I returned from SXSW. I would have written something sooner, but this delayed post is a great representation of where things stand in life for me these days. Writing for "personal" purpose takes a second seat to direct business building and running which is ironic because that was kind of the vibe at SXSW Interactive and that's not a bad thing. 

    Don't get me wrong, there are still plenty of parties at SXSW and a lot of late nights and some blowing off steam. As always, the panels are hit and miss, but even the misses can still be good for business. I attended a session that was essentially an ad for the mobile start-up whose CEO was giving a talk. However, his start-up was solid in premise and I'd heard about it before. And it's on my radar and now I'll be looking for strategic partnership opportunities around it. 

    It's been my sixth year going to SXSW. Here's how I spent my time:

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    Client Meetings & Events
    Regardless of your business (platform, brand or agency side) SXSW is a great way to connect and engage with clients. In addition to dinners and One-on-ones, this year I co-hosted an intimate salon with Jeremiah Owyang in Edelman's Austin office where brands such as Samsung, PayPal, Kellogg's and others traded case studies and engaged in meaningful dialogue around the work they were doing and the challenges/opportunities they were engaging with. And we weren't the only ones hosting private client events—a quick chat with an Adweek reporter verified that it was kind of a "thing" this year. 

    One On Ones
    In order to make SXSW productive in any sense, you shouldn't go there without scheduling one-on-ones in advance. I had some great conversations with industry peers, some who were running really cool activations at SXSW, to emerging start-ups and the occasional conversation that turned into a more in depth meeting. SXSW is noisy, so finding some quiet places to talk shop is a great use of time. 

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    Brand Activations
    There's a lot of brand activity going on at SXSW and it's impossible to catch it all but worth seeing what the brands are doing. Oreo's 3-D printed cookies were hard to miss and Mastercard's partnership with the Mashable house was an interesting tactic compared to American Express who paid for a more traditional sponsorship. Meanwhile PayPal (client) hosted web celebrities and celebrities alike at their blogger lounge. 

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    Parties
    Yes, these still happen too. But like I said, this is my sixth year at SXSW—so parties are now part fun and a whole lot of networking, meeting and greeting and re-connecting with industry friends and colleagues. Parties are great for informal recruiting and in more simple terms—putting faces to names. 

    For what it's worth—this year SXSW seemed a little smaller (confirmed)—but I noticed that the trend of more senior people attending is still on the rise. During one lunch with an editor of a large publication, I looked over and saw a table full of top executives from a leading digital agency—right up to the CEO. And this wasn't an isolated case. SXSW = big business now, so if you haven't yet gone you might want to adjust your expectations and book on time because it's not getting any easier to attend. 

     
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