November 19, 2014
Web Summit 2014 Exceeds 20,000 Attendees in the Heart of Dublin
Last year I missed Web Summit, what has become Europe's number one technology event, amusingly labeled as the Davos For Geeks. I went the first two years and this year's event is a far cry from my year one experience when they only had 500 attendees.
Now in its fourth year, 20,000 people flew into Dublin early this week for the premier 3 day event. Founder, Paddy Cosgrave opened the Summit in the morning, emphasizing the importance of the social element to the Summit where deals can – and have been – done. That said, there was still a lot of activity around the main stage, where they had a host of high level discussions and speakers on the hour all day.
The center stage had Brendan Iribe, the founder of Oculus Rift who spoke about the rise of virtual reality and its applications in everyday life. Skip Rizzo the Director for Medical Virtual Reality and early stage developer of Oculus Rift gave a demonstration of the technology's uses for post-traumatic stress disorder for returning veterans.
From being shot at to street explosions, the virtual reality exposure therapy has assisted veterans in dealing with their PSD, explained Rizzo, outlining how in one recent study, of 23 completers of the therapy, 16 showed gains and benefits resulting from it. Next stage development will be treating civilians who have experienced stressful situations in their lives. Index Ventures partner Saul Klein talked about how entrepreneurialism is becoming mainstream.
From money and venture hype to an emotional topic around healthcare. Jorge Soto described how from a personal family diagnosis of cancer, a way to decode disease and identify cancerous cells in their earliest stages may have been found.
Then, John Collins of Stripe spoke of the rise of his online payment company and how it has disrupted the existing online payments ecosystem."
Gary Marcus, scientist, best-selling author and NYU professor took on the topic of artificial intelligence, Amazon's Werner Vogels chatted with Ben Rooney, Stewart Baker, Matthew Prince and James Ball took on privacy rights, and Dropbox CEO Drew Houston chatted with Laurie Segall from CNN on the main stage. Below Paddy talking to a speaker.
Evernote's CEO Phil Libin spoke about his company being an 'anti-social network' and that 'you should be able to say less and do more.'
From a geek app to acting, actress, businesswoman and philantropist Eva Longoria spoke to Jemima Khan about the importance of women in business. "Women start businesses at three times the average yet can't get funding," she said issuing a challenge to the women in the audience. "
Later in the afternoon, former CEO of Apple John Sculley took questions after his main stage appearance with David Carr.
One thing about a conference growing to 20,000 attendees so quickly, is that rather than it feeling like a conference, it felt more like a university campus, or even a small town if you will. Within the web summit, there were micro-summits that addressed various topic sectors.
For example, they had a Builders, Enterprise, Machine, and Marketing Summit, and at each of them, there were a host of start-ups demoing their latest.
Town Square and Village Green also had their own selection of start-ups and then there were "alpha company booths" in the main exhibit hall dedicated to early start-ups, which was about a 10-15 minute walk from the main stage. Here I was able to see demos from lifestyle vendors, specifically digital health -- Kolibree, the connected electric toothbrush (disclosure, I'm an advisor), Gudpod, who hopes to revolutionize the way people take vitamins & supplements with a ‘Keurig like’ internet connected appliance & pod system and Bluetens, who is bringing medical grade mobile electro-stimulation device to the masses to help relax your muscles.
Food Summit was a great addition to the event this year. I wrote about their initial announcement back in November of 2013.
The Food Summit portion has also grown quickly and there were countless vendors touting their latest in fresh ingredients and farm-to-table practices. Gluten and GMO-free were buzz words throughout and I saw everything from a fresh apple stand surrounded by pumpkins (t'is the season) to homemade yoghurt, ice cream, jams, jellies, honey and olive oils.
I absolutely loved tasting the oh so many samples from Crossogue Preserves. Imagine these flavors on your toast in the morning: grapefruit, Irish whiskey, orange and ginger, lime and brandy, plum and port, gooseberry and elderberry, hedgerow, fig and apple and more. Yum!!
Other favorites were the Irish sea salt and Harnett's Oils, such as hemp, grapeseed, orange and rosemary and basil oils. I was in heaven. It was a great way to spend an hour or so away from the tech and the noise.
To get to the Food Summit, you had to pass by Herbert Park, which was on the grounds of the main event, which was held this year at the well known Royal Dublin Society on Merrion Road in Dublin. It was a perfect fall day with plenty of ducks on the pond and vibrant colors exploding from the trees.
Photo credits: Stage photos from the Web Summit sportsfile Flickr stream. Photo of Kolibree & Bluetens, Herbert Park and all Food Summit Photos: Renee Blodgett.
July 09, 2014
GlazedCon & Wearable World Expo Come to London This Fall
I've attended a few GlazedCon events now and find them to be incredibly useful from both a content and networking perspective. They are specifically focused on an area that is exploding and isn't going to slow down anytime soon: Wearables.
We're proud to be a media partner again and this time, GlazedCon is expanding to London on October 22, 2014, where they'll gather together Wearable and IoT executives, along with other top tech thought-leaders to debate the real business opportunities for the hottest emerging tech ecosystem.
The event is instrumental for key executives, startups, media, mobile warriers and investors. In conjunction with GlazedCon London, they will be holding the first annual Wearable World Expo where over 50 of the hottest Wearable Tech companies will showcase products so cool you'll actually want to leave with them....or at least let the world know about them!
We have a special 30% discount code for those interested in attending below:
Discount Code: 30% off tickets glazed_weblogtheworld
May 08, 2014
FutureCast & Andrew Keen Take on Wearables at AT&T Foundry
AT&T Foundry Innovation centers are the home to technology collaboration, innovative ideas and new projects. The center in Palo Alto teamed up with Ericsson and earlier this year, they kicked off a series of interactive discussions led by Cult of the Amateur and Digital Vertigo author Andrew Keen.
They host a series of salon-style discussions called FutureCasts, where they bring together the brightest minds in Silicon Valley to tackle the future of a wide array of technologies. Each event brings together more than 30 leading experts – enterprise executives, startup founders, academics, journalists and public officials – on a technology topic.
The latest FutureCast focused on the Wearable Revolution and featured Recon CEO Dan Eisenhardt Wednesday night, May 7.
The discussion centered around how wearable technology will change our lives in the areas of sports, manufacturing, health, lifestyle and beyond. Dan talked about how their heads up display technology got started and is now being frequently used by skiiers and athletes around the world.
Says Dan about simplicity and design in wearables, "you have to focus on the user and what they want. It's often about saying no rather than saying yes which is harder to do. In other words, we need to take more things away and dumb it down so it's an easier experience for the user."
Andrew organically brought people into the conversation including myself....my input focused on my hot button, the #1 reason I don't wear ANY wearable product on the market today -- Design -- or rather lack thereof. Since it's still early days, we have a whole lotta technology being built by technologists for technologists and designers are not an integral part of the development process.
To my left was one of the guys behind the Rufus Cuff from Rufus Labs which is currently on IndieGoGo. The Rufus Cuff is an advanced wearable device that has 3-inch wide screen, a radical design, and what they refer to as a reimagined form factor. While their campaign is doing well, the product is far too geeky "looking" for me to ever wear, despite how useful it may be.
Today, there's not enough conversations between creative designers who care about form factor and the technologists who care about function. Since the space is still premature, early adopters are the ones driving sales and interest. A wearable product has to solve a problem between form and function yet it also has to be stylish and attractive.
Monisha Prakash from Lumo Bodytech piped in whose product tracks your body's position and alerts you when you're slouching. They have sold 23,000 units so far with Lumo Back being their flagship product, a wearable sensor and smartphone app for lower back posture and activity, which impacts back pain, fitness, confidence, and yes...appearance.
Lumo Lift, their other product, focuses on chest, shoulder, and upper back slouching, a big problem for many office workers who sit at desks all day long.
AT&T's Chris McConnell and David Garver shared several insights along the way, including to the above, "23,000 units sold" stat. Their main point was while the numbers may be decent, whether that number will explode or not will dependo on whether that product (or any other product in the wearables space for that matter), can continuously solve a problem of contextual relevance.
In other words, if someone has a back problem then a niche wearable solution will be useful enough for them to spend the money. It solves their problem so its a worthwhile spend and in this case, a beautiful design will likely be secondary, although if its something they need to wear long term, then design will increasingly become more important.
Says Dan of Recon, "if you want to go out for a run or a ski, you may want to be able to leave your phone home especially if a watch, a necklace or a band can give you the data you need and perhaps just the text messages from only 3 people you care about."
In addition to regular communication, there's also communication when security and safety is a concern. Meet Artemis, whose tagline is smart jewelry for personal safety.
The team behind the products are seasoned travelers who have experienced adventure, street crime and worry over the safety of loved ones. I spoke to founder and CEO Jeff Axup who feels that wearable products will play an important role in making that happen. Their goal is to use Artemis wearable jewelry to help reduce the threat of personal violence.
A different approach but also one that focuses on safety comes from Zach Vorhies and his team at Zackees who have created cycling gloves with comfortable leather palms, an absorbent towel around the thumb, retro-reflective trim and breathable spandex throughout.
If you need to get around a car that’s blocking a bike lane, you can extend your left hand and active the turn signal gloves and check the lane for oncoming traffic. Signaling your intent before you pop out of that bike lane will go a long way in making your intent clear, keeping you safer from other drivers sharing the road.
The Magellan guys were also there and while they're mostly known for their GPS systems, they're out and about pumping up their Echo Smart Sports Watch.The Magellan Echo solves the biggest problem when doing sports with a smartphone -- viewing and controlling apps while the phone is tucked away. Echo streams data and controls from your smartphone to your wrist.
At a glance, you can see distance, pace, and heart rate from apps in realtime. While the colors are bright, fun and oh so sporty looking, they're still a bit clunky and masculine looking for me.
Clark Weber from their team however had a great point when he said to me, "it's designed to be worn when you go off and do a sport and don't want to bring your phone with you or a larger device, not necessarily for everyday use." It made me rethink the usefulness and functionality of it and perhaps even testing it out.
I was there with Kolibree, the world's first connected electric toothbrush. While not a traditional wearable, a lot of people have been throwing connected devices into the wearables space. As our phones become less of an attachment and more of a fixure on our clothing, purses and wrist bands, smart phones that share data on what's happening with our health, including dental health, start to fall into the wearable space.
Kolibree is currently on Kickstarter until May 25 and while their goal has already been met, you can still order toothbrushes for less than you will be able to get them when the product ships in the Fall.
The real question the AT&T guys ask - "are mainstream consumers ready for wearable clothing and products that are connected and fixtures of our "selves"? They think not, although agree with the Accenture guys who are mostly focused on larger scale B2B projects.
Enterprise makes sense and in that space, price point is less of an issue if increased productivity will save tens of thousands or millions of dollars on an expensive running conveyor belt. Fashion is also less likely to be an issue.
Brent Bloom from Accenture talked about the work they're doing in the enterprise space, helping Fortune 1000 companies save money. If someone can do their job more efficiently then we have a win win. Today, they are already successfully helping desk-less workers keep their hands free and be more productive while getting access to data.
Says Greylock's Sean White, "products need to be both utility and fashion and we need to understand the social implications of what the utility will create if the fashion isn't there." Hear hear Sean! Dutch born fashion designer and engineer Anouk Wipprect, who is currently doing a project with AutoDesk, couldn't agree more.
The holy grail asserts the AT&T guys is that as a consumer, I want to pay one price per month and connect to all of my devices. Will carriers across the globe add smaller low bandwidth devices to your existing services in the future? Inherently economic models will change -- they have to.
Simplified plans that support more devices without making a serious dent in your wallet is what needs to happen for wearables to become mainstream says Anthony Pelossi of Magellan, who asked the room who has a tablet and pays for 3 or 4G service rather than just rely on the wifi. Only a few people raised their hands and remember that this audience is a room full of early adopters and movers and shakers in Silicon Valley, so you can imagine that price is a serious consideration for mainstream users.
"Solve that problem," says Pelossi and "you've solved half the battle with wearable devices." I'd agree on this to a point, but bottom line, as a woman who does care about fashion as much as function, until the wearables also become stylish enough to WANT to wear, there will be a significant delay on adoption and social acceptability. I'd also argue that we'll expect to buy wearables at more traditional retail outlets rather than Best Buy or some geeky online site.
Keep your eye on AT&T Foundary's upcoming FutureCasts. While a list of topics and categories haven't been officially announced nor have specific dates, they promise that many more of these engaging discussions are coming. Thanks Ericsson, AT&T Foundary and Andrew Keen for a tintilizing evening!
May 07, 2014
DLD Kicks Off Their First NYC Event in Chelsea
The DLD (Digital-Life-Design) Conference has been around for awhile albeit more well known in Europe than in the states. It makes sense since it started in Munich Germany in 2005 and only expanded in recent years, first in Israel and most recently to the states with their first official U.S. conference in New York City from April 30-May 1, 2014.
Their mission is to act as a global network on innovation, digitization, science and culture which connects business, creative and social leaders, opinion-formers and influencers for crossover conversation and inspiration.
DLD is organized by DLD Media, which is part of Burda Digital and originally founded by Steffi Czerny and Marcel Reichart. DLD has also hosted events in Beijing, San Francisco, London, Moscow, New Delhi, Rio, Hong Kong and Tel Aviv, where there is a growing community because of the efforts of Israeli-based Yossi Vardi who acts as Chairman of the conference together with Hubert Burda.
Who attends? The conference is invite only, but the categories and interests of those who make up the audience are aligned with the content. Think creative communities, international leaders, disruptors and thinkers from digital and consumer markets, as well as media, technologists, scientists, designers, politicians, artists and social scientists from around the globe.
The format is a combination of keynote style talks and panels.
I last attended the original DLD in 2010 and still remember the magic of Munich in January. Snow fell on me as I walked from my hotel to the venue every morning and back every night, the majority of my commute on pedestrian only streets. As cold as it was, I took plenty of shots of remarkable people and activites over the course of a few days.
I lived on salty pretzels, sausage, beer and coffee and recall having a fight with my new Google Nexus phone, brutal enough that I tossed it in a snowbank because it wouldn't work after umpteen attempts. DLD felt like early days of TED except without the celebrities and Monterey Beach nearby.
One of the things that make DLD so unique is the eclectic and rich curation of tantilizing voices and minds from around the globe by Steffi, Marcel, Hubert and Yossi. Like TED, Davos and Renaissance Weekend, the attendees could equally be speakers because they all have inspiring, compelling content to share.
When the audience is as engaging as the people on stage, but are also compassionate and eager to help make the world a better place, then you have a "creative global community with heart" in a business setting. It's a bit how I see and would describe DLD!
Imagine hearing and engaging in discussions on the future of investment, net neutrality, youth marketing, the future of art and design, urban planning, violence, social physics, failure and neuro science all within a 48 hour period.
Imagine in that same 48 hour period, having a chat with Deepak Chopra on spirituality in the workplace and then hearing about future plans for the Arctic Passage from Iceland's President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson. I originally met Grimsson at the Startup Iceland Conference in Reykjavik last summer (refer to my write up on the event including his talk). Below is a shot I took of him in the networking area at DLD during a tea break.
By now, you're pretty energized, which is great preparation for your visit to a nearby German biergarten for massive plates of sausage, pretzels, sauerkraut and pickled vegetables while listening to an authentic Bavarian band.
Imagine that sometime during your day, you discovered an interesting project or two by Victor Chan, the Founding Director of the Dalai Lama Center, who has also co-authored books with the Dali Lama. Below, he reflects in the courtyard while we took a session break after the rain finally cleared.
Then, later, you dive deep into a discussion about where beauty is missing in the world from architecture to schools and churches.This small group of really smart people you met over German beer care enough to think of solutions about where the world can start.
I chatted with right brain and left brain thinkers from Sweden, China, France, England, South Africa, Australia, Germany, Israel, Finland, Austria, India, Iran, Pakistan, Estonia, Russia, Singapore, Ireland, Denmark, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Korea and Canada.
This is a sample of some of my warmest memories over the course of two days. Welcome to DLD! Their first New York event did not disappoint and held to the same top notch standards they're so known for at their main event in Munich every winter.
One of the other fabulous things about a European run event, is that they care about food. And, of course, presentation matters!
While the conversations in the lounge areas and the after parties could keep you engaged for hours, they also have an hourly agenda for conversations happening on the main stage. I'll start with one of my favorite talks by an Austrian designer I originally met at TED more than a decade ago.
Stefan Sagmeister kicked off his thoughtful and quietly provactive session on Beauty with stunning images of a medieval castle in Lisbon. He said, "Every aspect of this castle was informed by form."
He asks, "how did we manage to get from the darkest side of the middle ages into the 20th century and somehow along the way, lost our desire to make things beautiful?"
He points out that the end of the 19th century was obsessed with beauty and weaving in culture and history into architecture, art and design: the Parliament which is Greek, the Opera which is of Renaissance architecture and the Gothic-ness of Vienna's City Hall.
Yet today, Sagmeister asserts, "theres not a single high end designer who talks about beauty, which IS about being human."
Below is an image taken from his design website.
I had an interesting chat with Dutch-Brazilian visual artist Rafaël Rozendaal who uses the Internet as his canvas. His artistic practice consists of websites, installations, lenticulars, writings and lectures. Spread out over a vast network of domain names, he attracts a large online audience of over 30 million visits per year.
His work researches the screen as a pictorial space, reverse engineering reality into condensed bits, in a space somewhere between animated cartoons and paintings. Rafaël's installations involve moving light and reflections, taking online works and transforming them into spatial experiences.
The below digital image is a website called Room Warp. Note that the below screen capture is a still of a moving digital image that will make you a tad dizzy if you stare at it for too long. You need to go to roomwarp.com to see the live image in action.
He creates digital art that all have their own website name. Others fun examples include FutureIsUncertain.com and IfYesNo.com.
While we're on the topic of art, let's move to Kollabora founder Nora Abousteit who was on a panel entitled Creative Cities which Peter Hirshberg moderated. Says Nora on art as it relates to cities and technology, "Art helps us reframe things in the technology world." What's happening in Las Vegas with the Downtown Project is certainly an example of this.
Also in the discussion was Burning Man's Jenn Sander, Gidi Schmerling from the Tel Aviv Municipiality and CEA's Gary Shapiro.
This engaging discussion was about all the elements that make cities thrive. How do you turn a city/metro area into a creative technological hub like Silicon Valley?
If similar factors come together argues Shapiro then a similar ecosystem can evolve. He pointed out that Tel Aviv and Silicon Valley share a culture that allows failure and supports entrepreneurs taking risks which is necessary for a startup culture to succeed.
While I missed the Cracking the Code of the Art Business panel, Arty's Carter Cleveland, Artnet's Ben Genocchio, Christopher Vroom from ArtSpace, Aditya Julka from Paddle 8 and Michaela de Pury explored this topic in depth.
Digital Music was also part of the agenda, another game changing industry. Says Shazam's CEO Rich Riley, "the way people consume music is changing dramatically and it's important that the industry responds to how people want to listen to and share music." In other words, don't force a square hole into a circle!
Below, Blaise Belville and Torsten Schmidt discuss digital trends in music.
I'm a sucker for meeting a new musician regardless of what instrument they play or style they're passionate about. As a storyteller, I often find that musicians have the most interesting stories at conferences, particularly technology ones.
Given how many Israeli attendees there are, it was no surprise to see Israeli violinist Miri Ben-Ari perform on the main stage. She had me at hello; her energy is electric, her style vibrant and her music foot tapping.
I also attended the Wearables Panel because it's a hot topic right now and one I have a personal interest in because the design is crying for innovation. What was most refreshing is that of the four panelists, three were women.
The problem with wearables today for me as a woman, is that none of them are desirable enough to want to wear. Despite how functional and cool they are, the design behind the wearable is still being made by technologists for technologists.
Intel's Sandra Lopez, MIT's Amanda Parkes and Nike's Stefan Olander discussed the future of wearables and where it's heading. The session was moderated by the Financial Times' Vanessa Friedman.
Sandra and Amanda noted that while today, we might think of buying a wearable device or object of clothing on a technology site or online store, in the future, if it is a fashionable item we want to wear because of how it looks and makes us feel, then we'll expect to buy them at more traditional retail outlets.
I certainly don't need another technology infused bulky plastic black watch or geeky looking Fitbit-like arm band to clash with my outfits.
Another fabulous panel of all women was the Freedom of the Internet in the U.S. and Europe. Bloomberg's Diane Brady moderated a discussion between Miriam Meckel from the University of St. Gallen (solo shot below) and the European Commission's Viviane Reding.
As if suggesting that it rarely happens, Viviane says "a government should have power to do precisely what they want and need to do to make Internet safe and open." She was fabulous btw.
The "Building a Vertical Business for the Consumer Internet" Panel
Adding some humor and controversy to the DLD stage was Douglas Rushkoff, author of Present Shock. "A photo with $4.6 billion dollars printed under Evan William's face in the Wall Street Journal is NOT disruption," he asserts as he talks about humanism and how current economic and investment models are not necessarily supporting the best entrepreneurs and ideas.
If there's not a significant return on investment, then the idea and entrepreneur doesn't get funded, when in fact, it could return a small return on investment and perhaps offer something of great value to the world. The money guys around me seemed to have smoke coming out of their ears while he was talking. It would have been fun (and spicy) to have a debate after his talk!
On a media panel moderated by Jessica Lessin, John Markoff and Steven Levy discussed the state of technology journalism and how it has evolved over the past twenty years.
"The art of real investigative reporting has been lost to fast twitch journalism," says Levy who went on to share his opinion on the pitfalls of curation. He suggests that after content gets recycled umpteen times, no one knows who the original author is anymore since the primary source gets lost when it is replicated so frequently.
Below, the 20 Years of Funding panel included Landmark Ventures' Zeev Klein, Acton Capital Partners Christoph Braun, Time Warner Investments Scott Levine, Israel Growth Partners Moshe Lichtman and Greycroft's Alan Patricof.
The closing interview was originally slated to be a fireside chat between Richard Saul Wurman and Iceland's president Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson but there was a change of plans. The final act was instead, a touching interview between Yossi Vardi and his former "boss" Steve Case.
Steve talked about his old days at AOL where he said he was less of a CEO and more of a mayor. In those days, he said the focus was on the 3 C's: context, content and community.
Other pressing issues he raised was the fact that we'll fall far behind the innovation ladder if we don't make it a priority. "Immigration reform necessary to make sure we attract the best people to Startup America," he said. Vardi agreed which led to the role of startups today and how people will succeed. "People are not interested in facts, they're interested in good stories," says Yossi.
Now, please join me on a visual journey to DLD NYC, starting with the DLD NYC Band Michael Aranella and his Dreamland Orchestra.
Ryan Rzepecki of Social Bicycles, David Rose with his new book Angel Investing, Brad Templeton and Dr. Amol Sarva.
Steve Case watching one of the presentations from the front row.
I went back in time when I ran into this trio -- a former dynamic team together so many years later minus Jerry Michalski of course. Below, Daphne Kis, Kevin Werbach and Esther Dyson.
Gino Yu, Renee Blodgett
Yossi on stage
Lakshmi Pratury, Steve Case, Renee Blodgett
Sunny Bates and Nate Mook
Dan Dubno and Gary Bolles
Don Dodge, Petra Vorsteher, Renee Blodgett, Shara Nechmad
Lakshmi Pratury, Asha and crew
Lara Stein and Yossi Vardi
Renee Blodgett, Burda's Olga Kammerer and ELLE Magazine U.S. Correspondent Nadine Sieger
The sax player gave me a closer look at his marvelous instrument.
Holly Harper Dodge & Don Dodge
Did I mention that they had live entertainment at the closing night after party?
Kudos and hats off to Steffi, Yossi and team for pulling off yet another perfectly crafted and curated event!
All photo credits: Renee Blodgett, except for the group shot of Creative Cities which was pulled from the DLD blog.
April 01, 2014
Denting The Future With Passionate Geeks in Sun Valley Idaho
When you hear the word DENT, you might have a visual of a dental brand or maybe an auto repair company, but your mind might not automatically jump to a conference in the middle of the Idaho mountains whose goal is to shake things up across industries with technology.
Now in its second year, Steve Broback and Jason Preston are the visionaries behind this event, which aims to explore the magic and science of visionary leadership and groundbreaking success.
While so many events and conferences focus on one main track or trending idea, i.e, mobile apps, enterprise software, wearables or connected devices, DENT the Future has focused on creating an "experience" for its attendees, all centered around entrepreneurship, leadership and having "fun."
Sessions and discussions ranged from mobile development, gaming, delegation and goal setting to the art of design, crowdfunding, wearable tech, data visualization and decoding the language of glamour.
We delved into education and IPs and then onto the importance of creating support networks when building a startup, before embarking on a dialogue with Richard Douglas "Dick" Fosbury, who is one of the most influential athletes in the history of track and field.
We also heard from Chris Anderson of the CSI Centennial Observatory and the Falukner Planitarium, who shared how the current best understanding of gravity -- based on Einstein's relativity -- suggests that everything creates its own dent in the universe, however small, how this connects everyone to everything, and how the relativity of simultaneity means that we all inhabit our own unique universes.
With crowdfunding on the rise as an alternate to traditional angel and seed investment, it was no surprise to see IndieGoGo Founder & Chief Development Officer Danae Ringelmann on the stage in an inspiring fireside chat with Jeremiah Owyang.
We explored the benefits of crowdfunding and debated if the crowd is actually wiser than vetted professionals from established companies.
Says Danae Ringelmann of the value add for VCs, "we derisk the investment process, allowing them to step away from the vetting process so they can focus more on the amplification. We’re creating pre-markets from the community up and because we’re open, we don’t infiltrate the results."
She asserts that by being open, IndieGoGo can inherently be a true market testing platform. "If you’re unsuccessful at raising money, you don’t have an audience that cares. If the market doesn’t care, you can either hone your product or go back to the table and focus on features or projects that truly matter to people."
The notion is that as a true market testing platform, they democratize results, rather than corrupt them. This crowd-based approach is opposite to the corporation approach says Jeremiah, so "what can big corporations learn from a crowdfunding model like IndieGoGo?"
She says that large companies and brands are now using IndieGoGo as a market testing platform. For example, Phillips sponsored an effort where various projects went up to get feedback from the market so they could learn about what to incorporate into their products. Companies like Honda and Whole Foods are also using crowdfunding as a customer engagement and cause marketing platform. In essence, the crowd gets what they need from each other.
My favorite learned "stat"? Apparently, 47% of all successful ventures on IndieGoGo are run by women.
While Jeremiah may have shone in his bright red sneakers, Robert Scoble also did his interview with Fosbury in bright red. They weren't the only ones walking around shining like Rudolph's nose since Scott Jordan of ScotteVest gave away newer models of his fabulous jackets and most people chose "red." In other words, there was a whole lotta red happening at DENT 2014.
Virginia Postrel took us in the opposite direction, showing us how to decode glamour and where it shows up in places you'd least expect it, like the Marines. She asserts that people have a narrow idea of fashion and glamour and their images are largely made up of make up and old fashioned holiday movies.
"Glamour draws people to technology," she says. There are clearly a lot of glamorous images and ideas which shape what technology gets built and also how we use it. It's never been easier to work at the beach with your laptop and mobile phone. Even language we use in technology has a quality of glamour to it.
A few observations: rather than think about what glamour is, think about what is glamorous. I loved this distinction: glamor allows you to build your own Reality-Distortion Field.
She nailed it here: Glamour is a nonverbal persuasion, a projection of longing. There’s an audience and an object and in the interaction between that interaction, a distinctive emotion is evoked.
A lot of what glamour does is make us buy things; it focuses us on careers we choose, it makes us show up at certain places and wear certain things because of what the association means and buy things to look like celebrities we aspire to be.
From technology to Hollywood, we then dove into politics, focusing on Obama who exuded glamour by creating mystery. He was relatively unknown and people projected their hopes and dreams for the world. We saw what happens when a brand becomes a movement through all the people who supported him.
It's so true: glamour is in the audience. Whether it's funny or not, it's not how hard you’re trying; the success is whether the audience laughs or bites. We learned that glamour is an illusion that tells the truth about desire -- it is known to be false but is felt to be true. Glamour is a spell that makes us feel more magical than things really are. It contains the illusion of magic. Of escape. The illusion is the grace. Ahhh yes...Spot on Virginia!!
This is the quirkiness and magic of DENT. Just when you think you're going to get another speaker from the world of all things tech, an astronomer, an author of glamour or a designer and illustrator comes onto the stage.
Chief Freak and founder of Freak'n Genius Kyle Kesterson is another great example of the speaker mashup so well curated by Jason and Steve.
I loved Kyle's human-ness. Rather than focus on his successes, he shared his life "story", which dragged him through homelessness, numerous drop outs and years of suffering from severe depression. The discovery of artistic expression and creativity changed everything leading him through a series of wins at Giant Thinkwell, as Seattle 2.0's "Best Startup Designer", a Geekwire "Entrepreneur of the Year" nominee, a toy developer, photographer and beatboxer.
He talked about consumption, a word I love because of the complexity of the word and all that it represents. People either associate it with negative actions or positive ones depending on your orientation of the world.
Kyle asserts that there are two things that can come from consumption: Inspiration and Education. I think there are probably more, but inspiration and education are great places to start.
He reminded people that along your journey, it won't always be easy and that critics will suck the wind out of you so fast you won't know what hit you. Ask yourself: are you sucking the air out of other people’s dreams or are you contributing to making them happen? Great question!
Which person are you most of the time? How do you enable others to create, explore and let others shine?
Along your journey, you will have a story to tell and velocity will come through that communication. But, do you have a compelling story? Having a compelling story that is genuinely authentic is where you will get empathy from time and time again. You need to create more value for your listeners so that you accelerate their story not just your own. Are you inspiring and educating them, taking from them or merely a megahorn? It doesn't get more human than that...
Then, Noah Illinsky took us on a data visualization journey. Noah suggests that successful visualizations need to have the right:
- Purpose – why we are creating this?
- Content – what we are showing?
- Structure – how we position it?
- Formatting – formats, labels, fonts, etc.
The problem Noah asserts is that most people go through the process in the wrong order. It must be in this order because they stem from each other. You need to know what kinds of questions you need to answer and what actions you want to enable before you create a visualization.
Once you identify the answers, you need to think about what data you want to show and what graph (ic) you want to use to share that data. Lots of engineers start at the end rather than trying to identify what the goals are first. Engineers haven’t been trained how to go back upstream to figure out what problem they’re trying to solve. He suggests that as a team, you need to define the upstream sooner before the coding and creation begins.
Bottom line: nobody cares about your brand, they only care about whether you make them feel good. People don’t have time. The take away here was: serve your customers – purpose is everything and it dictates the deliverable. It always comes back to purpose!!
Google Comparison CEO Dan Shapiro lives and breathes the comparison shopping space.
Rather than focus on his "stuff," he discussed what does it mean to be a CEO and what they do, which is basically Hire, Inspire and Fire. The job of the CEO is to hire effectively so you can delegate effectively and the team is the single most important part of the CEO’s role.
Vision can come from a bunch of different places but it's the CEO’s connection to that vision that drives the company. The CEO must be the keeper of the strategy, which is something that he asserts, can never be delegated. Dan suggests that in fact, there are six things you can’t delegate as a CEO:
- Strategy - the CEO needs to drive that from the ground up.
- The Team - getting the right team in place is one of the most important things a CEO does.
- The Vision - it's critical that the vision comes from the leader.
- Financing - investors want to see you in action. How you negotiate your deal with them is how you will work other deals and they want to see that. Investors also want to build a relationship and a friendship with the CEO.
- Investor Relations – investors want to hear from the CEO.
- Company Culture – sometimes it's like a fungus, sometimes it's like a ferry ring. No one knows what a company culture is about or how it evolves, but whatever the culture is comes from the leader.
From astronomy, data visualization, illustration, glamour and leadership, we moved to violence with Dr. Gary Slutkin. Slutkin is a physician and epidemiologist, an innovator in violence reduction, and the founder of CureViolence, a scientifically proven, public health approach to violence reduction which uses disease control and behavior change methods.
Through their work, they've statistically demonstrated reducing shootings and killings by 41% to 73% by three extensive independently funded and independently performed studies.
Gary has a fascinating story and history -- he was recruited by the World Health Organization where he worked in over 20 countries, including leading the efforts – using behavior change methods - to reverse the AIDS epidemic in Uganda. The analogy here is that Slutkin sees violence as an infectious process, and credits his WHO training and experiences in multiple countries to informing his understanding and approach to violence and behavior change.
I was inspired by other on and off-stage discussions including Andy Grignon, Mark Anderson, Kathleen Warner, and The North Face founder Hap Klopp.
Speaking of inspiration, a great conference isn't complete without art and music and this year's musicians blew me away.
Roem Baur whose roots are in opera, has played thousands of shows in a career that spans 4 continents. He nailed it on guitar and with vocals alongside Tae Phoenix, whose 3 octave range voice made me cry on two occasions.
The other inspiration came from the humor and intellectual wit from the team at Buick. Yes, Buick. I left DENT with a much more hip view of the brand than when I arrived, so much so that I'm now dying to try out a few Buick vehicles as well as experience a much more cooly polished culture than I ever imagined. And, truth be told, their marketing and social team is smart, genuine and fun, a rare combination. Thanks for the insights Nick Richards and Phil Colley.
Of course we all know that most of the learning and engagement at an event comes from the hallway chats, the after parties, the breaks, and the other activities that 'surround' an event. What makes DENT such a standout is not just the unique and eclectic curation by Steve and Jason, but the interesting things to do in between.
Want some examples? How's this for off-the-charts?
On the two days leading up the conference, activites included an at-dawn trek where you learned about the world of wolves led by Oliver Starr, a photography walk led by the ever so endearing Kris Krug, a scavenger hunt led by Buick, a private gathering at ScotteVest CEO Scott Jordan's house where great wine was poured, a rustic mountain lodge visit where we drank more great wine by a blazing fire, skiing at Sun Valley Resort and an evening of hosted dinners where we were thrown together with interesting personalities from all walks of life.
I personally attended the SouthWest Airlines dinner, which was a perfect match given that I run an online luxury travel magazine, only to be led afterwards by local and not so local entrepreneurs to three more stops in downtown Sun Valley where we experienced more fabulous food and tons of warm Idaho hospitality. SouthWest Airlines also sponsored a nerd bird flight from Oakland to Boise where their social media guru Adam Rucker not only applauded the geeks from the front of the plane but gave away surprise $100 off coupons to everyone on the plane, not just DENT attendees. All I can say is "classy move!"
It all came together graciously through a combination of efforts and hard work -- a huge thanks to:
- Steve Broback who is personally responsible for dragging me to Idaho
- Buzz Bruggeman and Doug Rowan for pestering me to attend for the last year and a half
- Maryam Scoble for making the logistics seamless and easy and for making me smile
- Greg Randolph of Sun Valley Tourism for making sure I knew where to go, what to do and why
- Therese Magner of Sun Valley Resorts who went well above and beyond the call of duty to make sure I left the area with one thing on my mind....returning
- Shannon Allen of Knob Hill Inn for her gracious generosity
- Beryl Barnes of Zenergy for providing a place to relax and reground myself
- Wendy Muir at Globus for amazing sake and an exquisite culinary treat
And, hats off to Jack Sibbach and Therese Magner for getting me on the mountain more than once and to Therese, Ellen, Cecile and Alex for supplying me with jackets, socks, hats, gloves, glasses and gear to make sure I didn't freeze my ass off on the top.
Be sure to check out my upcoming blog posts on Sun Valley over on We Blog the World where I'll be covering two properties, a spa, two restaurants, the mountain and the culture.
While we're getting personal, it's time to meet some fellow DENTERS...
Did I mention how much fun we had?
We even hung upside down somewhere along the way. Well, a few of us did anyway!
And as always, Robert Scoble and Shel Israel signed books.
Of course, Robert reinforced that geeky and ever so adorable brand of his....oooops, that's his finger. Or is it actually the brand, or is it his....you get the idea.
Below are chief DENTERS Jason Preston and Steve Broback who deserve an applause for bringing passionate inventors and thinkers to the American wild west for a whole lotta reflection, learning and fun!
March 03, 2014
Next Generation Power Summit Kicks off on March 5
I recently agreed to participate in an online video series on social media in business called Next Generation Power Summit, produced and organized by Australian entrepreneur Rosemary Burnett.
The series will kick off March 5, 2014 and run through March 18 and the schedule of social media gurus and expert interviews are listed below.
The video interview series aims to help businesses with their online and digital strategy through advice and insights from a host of folks living it and breathing it every day. Objectives of the series are to:
- Get clear about your core message and brand
- Build a following on social media
- Attract and connect with your ideal client in the places they are hanging out.
- Turn those connections into relationships and sales
- Learn the strategies the experts have adopted themselves, to achieve ‘big business’ success.
I'm up on March 17 however there's a host of great other consultants and specialists in the line-up starting on March 5 beginning with Rosemary's kick off. Note that it is free to participate but you have to register on the main Next Generation Power Summit home page.
I'm told that this Tele-summit series is similar in approach to a Global Mentor Mastermind event. There will be the opportunity to watch the video interview replays for a limited time if you can’t make it on the launch date however you will need to register regardless to get access to the content.
January 06, 2014
Kolibree Unveils World's First Connected Electric Toothbrush
Kolibree, a company dedicated to innovative solutions to keep you healthy and smart, launched the world’s first connected electric toothbrush last night at the large renowned Unveiled Media Event in Las Vegas on the eve of the 2014 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES). Unlike anything else that exists today, Kolibree’s smart toothbrush has a unique technology to analyze your brushing habits and display them on a mobile dashboard you can readily access from your phone.
Kolibree’s connected toothbrush is paired with a mobile app. You simply download the free mobile app, connect via Bluetooth and every brushing is recorded. Then, the data about how you brushed automatically synchronizes to your smartphone telling you whether you brushed long enough and reached the hard-to-reach but important parts of your teeth and gums.
With the Kolibree connected toothbrush and mobile app, you can take control of your health and teeth with easy-to-understand monitoring and scoring. You can easily share your stats with your dentist and family or choose to keep it private. Designed for families, the app works with several toothbrushes so the entire family can participate. Kolibree rewards your progress and cheers you on when you are improving, allocating points to kids to encourage them to improve their brushing habits.
The Problem Kolibree Solves: Your dentist may have told you that plaque and tartar build up can lead to losing your teeth if not monitored and acted upon fast enough. Many people don’t realize that poor dental care can also impact the overall care of your health.
While Kolibree does not proclaim to solve periodontal disease or suggest that it can keep cavities or gingivitis at bay, the better you take care of your teeth, the more likely it is that you can and will avoid serious problems.
Before Kolibree, the issue is that there has been no easy and quick way to monitor whether you’re doing an A+ job or a C- one when you brush, so how can you improve on a habit you don’t have any data about? Kolibree solves that problem, making it easier than ever.
The Kolibree connected toothbrush will be available starting in Q3 2014 but ready for pre-order starting this summer. The price of Kolibree will range from $99 to $199 depending on the model and will include a free mobile app.
Full Disclosure: I am providing consulting to Kolibree.
January 02, 2014
CES 2014: The Year of Wearables & Devices To Track Your Life?
The International Consumer Electronics Show (International CES) 2014 is around the corner once again and I'll be there in spades as always like I have over the past two decades.
The event officially runs from January 7-10 in Las Vegas Nevada however pre-events, sessions and more start as early as January 5, including the fascinating UNVEILED Event which touts a number of new innovative products and services not yet on the market. I plan to be there in spades, so watch for tweets on my observations which will include photos as much as I can. (reliable wifi willing)
Major technology innovators will be talking about their latest and greatest in a keynote series called The Tech Titans.The keynotes will be held at The Venetian, on Level 5 in the Palazzo Ballroom. From Brian Krzanich of Intel, Audi's Rupert Stadler and Sony's Kazuo Hirai to Yahoo's Marissa Mayer and Cisco's John Chambers, the crowds will inevitably pour into these massive ballrooms to learn about what they're doing and why. The Mobile Innovation keynotes at the LVCC (Las Vegas Convention Center) in N255 include John Donovan from AT&T, Qualcomm's Paul E. Jacobs, TechCrunch TV's Andrew Keen and Ericsson Group's Hans Vestberg. Twitter's CEO Dick Costolo, Salesforce's Scott Dorsey, and Ford's James D. Farley also take the stage.
I'll be there scouting out new products, services and innovations for the mobile warrior for an entire week. I will be looking for things like efficient designs, lightweight products easy for travelers to carry, useful products that help travelers connect or use services remotely (to access movies, music, photos and more), cameras, tablets, external drives, batteries (a godsend and critical for any traveler), battery chargers and alternatives, and wearables. This appears to be the year of the wearables so let's see what comes out of the show. I'll also be keen to see the explosion of where mobile meets quantified self in the areas of fitness and health -- the more we can know about what's happening with our bodies in real time, the more we can proactively take care of our health without having to solely rely on a doctor's advice, often someone who barely knows us or what's happening in our personal lives.
These devices will change the way we eat, think, sleep, exercise and yes, travel. New areas and events at CES this year which will be dedicated to the startup community include the Indiegogo Zone and UP Global LIVE Stage. The all-new Indiegogo Zone, housed within the Eureka Park TechZone, will feature hardware campaigners from around the world. The Indiegogo Zone provides an opportunity for anyone interested in learning more about crowdfunding for hardware. The UP Global LIVE Stage, sponsored by GE, will showcase the startup community, facilitate connections and provide programming in Eureka Park. The stage will feature panels with iconic entrepreneurs, leading investors, corporate executives and media. In addition to programming, UP Global will host mentor sessions and pitch competitions and provide resources and networking opportunities for exhibitors and attendees.
The second annual ShowStoppers Launch.it power session is a curated pitch event built exclusively for the young, transformative and entrepreneurial startups that exhibit in Eureka Park. Sixteen exhibitors will pitch to a panel of high profile angel/VC investors along with media, analysts and industry experts in the audience. An anchor for the startup community at CES, the 2014 Eureka Park TechZone will feature more than 200 exhibitors, 30 percent more than the 2013 CES. In partnership with UP Global, the National Science Foundation (NSF), General Electric (GE) and AT&T, Eureka Park provides a stage for new companies with technologies to market their innovation to venture capitalists, media and buyers. Eureka Park will have a French pavilion for the first time with UbiFrance bringing 11 French startups to the area. Viva La France!
Building off the success of Eureka Park, the new Eureka Park: NEXT hosts the progressing stage of Eureka Park startups. This TechZone is designed for mid-stage startups that have launched a product in the past year. In Eureka Park: NEXT, retailers, venture capitalists, manufacturers and more will discover established startups looking to expand their growth.
Floored within Eureka Park, Academia Tech focuses on the technologies coming from colleges and universities. CES also offers special networking events curated for startups and entrepreneurs like the invitation-only Entrepreneurs Reception and Tech Cocktail’s Startup Night.
This year, there will be over 3,200 exhibitors across 15 product categories.
November 23, 2013
Wearable Wonderland Charity Gala At San Francisco's Old Mint on Dec 11
Wearable Wonderland is coming to The Old Mint in San Francisco on December 11, 2013. To celebrate the act of living this holiday season, 10% of all proceeds from the Wearable Wonderland event will be donated to a local charity.
The event will be the official Stained Glass Labs Holiday Gala celebrating the emerging Wearable Technology & IOT ecosystem. This exclusive event is poised to bring together over 500 top-tier technology executives and innovators.
Wearable Wonderland will also feature over 20+ models fashioning the coolest wearable tech devices of 2013. Stained Glass Labs will award companies and devices for their notable innovations within the following categories:
- Smart Glasses
- Smart Clothing
- Smart Watches
- Smart Home
- Smart Application
- Stained Glass Labs Device of the Year
Wearable Wonderland Holiday Charity Gala
The Old Mint
88 5th Street, San Francisco, CA 94103
Tuesday December 10, 2013 from 8:00 pm-12:00 am.
November 07, 2013
GigaOm Roadmap 2013: The Intersection of Design and Experience
Before I learned that Tony Fadell was former SVP of Apple’s iPod division and had reported directly to Steve Jobs, there was a sense that he abided by the "Real Men Ship" rules and I hadn't yet read his GigaOm Roadmap profile, where he presented on stage this week in San Francisco.
GigaOm events have always been more B2B and enterprise at their core regardless of the theme and this case was no different despite the fact that the conference was atypical in many ways, almost TED-like. Taglined "The Intersection of Design and Experience", you were almost waiting for earth shattering insights from some of the best geeks, inventors, designers and visionaries in the industry.
In this case, I probably should have started with Tesla's Chief Designer Franz von Holzhausen, except I sadly missed that session, or Adobe on design or even the very cool discussion around using data to program creative spaces, which included Jennifer Magnolfi's design examples and experiences with Herman Miller and most recently, the Downtown Project in Las Vegas.
But, Tony intrigued me largely because he had a "say it like it is" personality which was refreshing and ever so beautifully arrogant at the same time. He acknowledged how easy it was to raise money now because he was a known and trusted entity because of his so many successes while reminding young 20-something year olds how much faster they could work alongside mentors and get their projects to "go" because of easy access to people compared to two decades ago. It made me want to have lunch with him, maybe even dinner.
You can't be in your forties or beyond and not disclose at some juncture that you stand by profitability and having real metrics in place to build not just a perception for a "perception sale" but a sustainable company with an inherent value-add for customers that solve real problems again and again.
Post Apple, he built an energy-efficient home near Lake Tahoe and in the process, was so frustrated with the limitations of the traditional "thermostat," he redesigned it with former Apple colleague Matt Rogers. The end result became Nest Labs, his current entity and where he spends his energy and time.
While the man has authored more than 300 patents, has a history of successes and seems to get "design" and the design process, it was his going back to basics message (rarer in Silicon Valley) that had me at "go." He spoke of magical moments, a phrase that made me think of Tony Robbins who talks about creating magical moments in life as a daily practice.
He thinks its just not just our duty to create daily magical moments for ourselves, but in that creation, the trickle effect has a significant impact on everyone and everything around you.
You create them, you don't wait for them to happen. Once in motion, they have a spiral bowling ball effect. You give (e.g, provide magic in some way shape or form) and the universe gives back in profound ways you never imagined.
Says Tony, "rethink experiences from ground up to create magical moments." Obviously in this reference, he's directly referring to product design, yet it's a way of thinking, a way of life, not a principle in a board room or behind a computer. Enuf said!
Other messages included how data and connectivity shape our world. There's a ton of Einsteins here she thinks but not a whole lot of Picassos. (Refer to the Steve Martin play Picasso at the Agile which transformed my interaction with an engineering team earlier in my career) Perhaps design is and has always been as important as the technology itself and as it becomes more prolific in our lives as time marches on, more people realize it.
In the play, both men are on the verge of an amazing idea (Einstein will publish his special theory of relativity and Picasso will paint Les Demoiselles d'Avignon) and they embark on a debate about the value of genius and talent. Who provides more value, the artist or the inventor? You can probably guess my take away on this one.
Instagram's Kevin Systrom was on their A-list of speakers, someone I've heard speak at large business conferences, technology geek fests and in a more intimate setting with Sarah Lacy and Pando Daily. I'm a passionate photographer but still haven't drunk the Instagram coolaid despite how many times I've tried.
I have an account yet never use it and when I compare Instagram to so many other "blow it out the park" examples of design genius, I'm dismayed.
Don't get me wrong - it's not as if I don't get that filtering basic photos on a smart phone isn't a good idea or sticky, but worth what Facebook paid for it? Worth the frenzy that market gave it? Worth the badge of honor that the industry labeled as a game changer? Cool is cool, but we have an industry which has crowned thy jewel as such when it really shouldn't be a jewel at all but in the cool is cool category only.
Says Tony of the service, "the filters thing created an initial wow factor so it created hope." Hope inherently comes from creating a solution that provides a new way to do something, solves a problem people have had for a long time or in this case, something that makes people feel more creative with very little effort.
Renowned designer John Maeda, who is now President of Rhode Island School of Design talked about how Moore's Law is influencing design. Connected devices and the web have fundamentally changed the world's relationship with design, but compared to other aspects of information technology, design can be much harder to quantify.
I first met and hung out with John in the early TED Conference days where he spoke about design concepts on the main stage some 12 or so years ago. I was a fan then and remain a fan today. Says John, "you don't 'do' technology, you 'do' people and the people thing and then you add technology back in." I couldn't help but want a bunch of Johns to replicate themselves in Silicon Valley.
It's basic enough but not being implemented on a grand scale today. Developers more often than not, still build for technology's sake and the human piece is an after thought, so much so that the UI is often confusing enough that mass scale adoption doesn't happen.
John spoke of empathy, one of my favorite words. "Take the empathy route," he encouraged the audience. He asserts that empathy is the grounding force of the intersection of technology, art and design. If the root of technology is in fact art then figuring out where technology, art and design collide is fundamental to understanding art.
"Design is in the details - it is all about empathy," says John. Great design is as much about taking away as it is about adding to a structure, a product, an idea or a concept. More is great when it is measured against enjoyment (we always want more of a good thing), but the concept of "more" is flipped on its head when it equates to more work or more effort.
Design balances the two and yet as we are learning, computers despite their ability to fabricate real situations and design, don't do a great job at creating that balance. Today, we want more and more technology and yet "more and more of it" doesn't necessarily serve us in the most productive way regardless of how much state-of-the-art technology we integrate into our lives.
Ten years ago, technology made things better and more useful, but when "more of it" stops being a continuous and consistent positive return, then we begin to look elsewhere, like design. Design is on the rise again because we are yearning for balance. Great design can help balance the two and re-teach (and remind) us that less is more.
Focusing less about product design (although that was part of his message) and more on creating compelling customer experiences, Square and Twitter's Jack Dorsey took the stage with GigaOm's Om Malik.
Jack spoke about simplicity (critical to great design and his work on Twitter is a great example of it) and how so many companies focus on what they do rather than the value they provide. With regard to Square, he asserts over and over again that they're not in the payments business but the e-commerce business and it's the entire e-commerce customer experience, not just a piece of it.
Offline merchants never had access to analytics before but by using Square, they can get simple data on customer behavior in real time which can dramatically change the focus and priorities of their business. "End-to-end is what its about," says Jack. "We want to make sure they focus on the human experience of their business, not the transactional piece of it."
Jack says Square's mission is to focus on the most meaningful pieces of small business, such as the daily human interaction and communications. Square essentially brings commerce to people wherever they happen to be and in this way, transactions, communications and relationships are all conducted in parts of the world that never would have been possible before.
Internally, Square is extending that attitude by showing transparency and trust with their employees, demonstrating an open and caring 'voice' inside the company's walls. Jack's philosophy is that when you keep things open, you empower employees and build trust.
Truth be told, some of the best ideas can come from employees in other departments or through random ideas they come up with at the water cooler over lunch. With trust comes new innovative ideas and it often happens randomly when you least expect it. "
"You can't schedule innovative ideas," says Jack. It's serendipity: ideas come, get formed and executed quickly and seamlessly when you gather great minds together in one place and say "go." The same applies to instilling that behavior and culture across an organization so free flowing ideas can not just see the light of day, but thrive.
Hear hear! I think entrepreneurs with like-thinking like Richard Branson and Tony Hsieh would agree.
Photo credits: Two images from Tony Fadell interview snipped from the GigaOm Roadmap video and all other photos Renee Blodgett.