An update from last weeks South by Southwest (SXSW 2013) interactive, or spring break for geeks, as Dennis Crowley, Co-founder of Foursquare described it in his Keynote:
SXSW is were you experience the future for a couple days, then you go home and live in the present.
For the Interative part of SXSW 2013, more than 25.000 marketers, entrepreneurs, engineers and content creators participate. And because startup darlings such as Twitter and Foursquare had their first mover traction because of the tech savvy audience, SXSW is for many startups the place of which tech startups push hard to get the attention of the crowd.
Within the area of startups, the trend this year has moved away from chasing the next big social media service, to a new breed of companies that strive to combine the digital world with the physical world.
One of my must-see sessions this year, were the demonstration of the eagerly awaited headset device Google Glass, presented by Googles Sr. Developer Timothy Jordan. The usecases for this ‘cyborg-like-device’, are endless. When wearing your glass, you will be able to watch breaking news, read and dictate responses to Gmail messages, interact with apps and web services etc. At SXSW Google Glass demo created for developers showed how programmers now have the opportunity to build products directly to the glass framework.
The presentation was though clearly limited by Google secrets about Google Glass project. Timothy emphasized Google’s vision with Glass:
It feels like tech is often getting in the way more than it needs to, Google Glass and apps are designed to complement life, not overtake it
Google Glass is expected to be released later this year, at Splitter we are focusing on developing products to optimize the bridging to Glass.
The startup environment is an essential part of SXSW. There is Hackathons and meet-ups for entrepreneurs, and many of the experienced entrepreneurs share their perspectives. Eric Reis facilitated a session about the Lean Start up principles, where Scott Chacon from Github shared practical learnings of how his ‘little side project’, became worth $750 million. Uber founder Travis Kalanick also told stories how they as a lean startup challenged the established taxi industry. The founder of Airbnb, Brian Chesky, gave a session about the challenges of scaling a truly disruptive business model. Airbnb today has a net value of $ 250 million, byt just 5 years ago, the company offered a 10 percent stake in Airbnb for $ 100.000 to 20 top VC’s – where everyone passed the offer. Chesky stated the importance of him as a CEO knew everything about the product – he has himself sold his apartment, and now only lives in Airbnb homes.
One of the main focuses at the marketing related sessions was the ‘Context war zone’. Many sessions were given by content providers and advertisers, discussing how to navigate and optimize conversion rates and user experiences, in a media landscape that is becoming increasingly fragmented. Everyone agrees that smartphones is revolutionizing how people consume content, shop and pay, and that this is becoming the digital nexus of consumers. One of the interesting perspectives and questions raised, is how it is becoming increasingly possible to build seamingless user experiences, when technologies in today’s mobile devices extract insights from the evercrowing data sets– making it possible to create tailor-made content for end-users.
SXSW is further about networking and the possibilities to interact with some of the well know tech stars. I had my meet- up moment with Gary Vaynerchuk, Founder of winelibrary.com and Vaynerchuck Media. He offered people to speak with him in 5 minute sessions, where he for 5 hours straight did one-one Q&A. The topic was how we were entering the contextual era, and with him I further discussed the perspectives on how our startup Splitter could scale our business.
I would like to thank everyone I met at SXSW 2013, and I’m already looking forward to another week in Austin, and the seductive inspirational SXSW spirit again next year.
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Originally posted 2013-03-19 13:53:53.