About our Guest Blogger: Therkel Sand is Co-founder at Splitter, an easy-to-use automated targeting service. He had, for his third time, a spring-break for geeks in this year South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive. In his description of SXSW, he quotes Dennis Crowley, Co-founder of Foursquare, “SXSW is were you experience the future for a couple days, then you go home and live in the present.”
For the Interactive part of SXSW, 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 strives to combine the digital world with the physical world.
3D printing was this year a hot topic, and this was underlined by this year’s opening keynote by Makerbot Co-founder Bree Petiss: how the future of 3D printing could be the next industrial revolution. At SXSW, they unveiled the Makerbot Digitizer prototype, which scans small three-dimensional objects so they can be replicated with the Makerbot 3D printer. It enables everyone to make a High-quality 3D copy in no time at a low cost.
One of my must-see sessions this year, was 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 glasses, 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. Google Glass is expected to be released later this year.
Googles Sr. Developer Timothy Jordan – Demo Google Glass
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, but 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.
The most hyped talk this year was given by Elon Musk who founded and sold Paypal, and who founded both Tesla Motors and Space X – where he is currently CEO in both companies. Interviewed by former Wired editor Chris Anderson, the visionary Elon Musk elaborated on the future of Space travel, and the possible commercial launch facility in Texas. Elon Musk received the big applause when premiered a video from recent Space X test showing take-off a reusable ‘Grasshopper rocket’, designed to send capsules into space, and then successful safely land itself. One quote from his talk became talk of town in Austin: “I would like to die on Mars -, just not of the impact”.
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.
SXSW is a lot 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-minutes 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.
Gary Vaynerchuck and I
I’m already now looking forward to another week in Austin, and the seductive inspirational SXSW spirit again next year.