Our morning started out a little rough as we’ve decided to remove the blood in our bodies with a cocktail of ibuprofen and Red Bull. Don’t get old kids. Stay young forever.
The first panel was to start at 9:30 over at the Driskell hotel. The WWE folks were doing a panel on second screen and we headed over there to see what they had to say. Honestly, we were a little bit suspicious of what we might see because its hard to take seriously people who wear masks or jorts (jean shorts). John Cena and the head of WWE, Stephanie McMahon were going to be on the panel.
The panel room was again standing room only and we got some great seats up front. We were sitting around a ton of media company execs (FX, Nat Geo) and mega app developers (BottleRocket, Mutual Mobile) as each panelist entered the room to their own entrance music. All that was missing was the flames shooting out of the turnbuckles. After an over the top video intro of their new internet network, the panel settled into a discussion of the business of providing content and mobile companion apps to a die hard legion of fans. Honestly, this was the best most informative session that we’ve seen at SXSW so far. Stephanie McMahon impressed us deeply as a competent executive who knows that the old way of doing things isn’t how you can grow for the future. She definitely isn’t afraid of change and her business acumen came through nice and clear. Secondly, John Cena really shocked us. Charming, eloquent, and for a stretch of 3 minutes, spoke only Chinese as he talked about looking forward to the WWE expansion into China. No, seriously. He spoke only Chinese. Crazy.
We then took a walk through the throngs of people (attendance has to be at an all time high), to the big session with Jurgen Klinsmann. Klinsmann is the coach of the Team USA soccer team and this year is a big year for him as Team USA heads to Brazil for the World Cup. 95 days and counting. The audience was filled with die hard soccer fans just waiting for futbol to finally join the pantheon of sports the majority of American’s really get into. Klinsmann’s optimism and realism was contagious. I was mostly impressed with the moderator, Roger Bennet, who runs a podcast on the Grantland sports network. Witty and deeply knowledgeable of the rich history of soccer. He earned himself some additional fans in us.
I was lucky enough to sit in the middle of the ESPN execs and had an opportunity to introduce myself to Connor Schell. He runs the ESPN Films division and has done an great job with the 30 for 30 series. We had a nice chat and our fingers are crossed that we can be a resource to them as they think about second screen companions to their films.
Later in the day we headed to the iBeacons session where executives from ShopSavvy, inMarket, AllRecipes and Keyring, all took the stage to discuss how location and proximity based alerts will be more common place in the months ahead. We’ve been doing quite a bit of work with beacons and all of the various vendors (Estimote, Tod, Gimbal, and more), but most of the implementations we’ve seen are science fair projects. (Apple might be the best use case so far) We have yet to see or hear about financially successful case studies. We were hoping to really delve into the issue with this session. The bad news is that it was typical non-specific product sheet fluff. The level of discussion was “this is what iBeacons are” instead of “this is how we made $1,000,000 last month using iBeacons”. It was a full room and we are convinced that most of the audience was hungering for more data. Maybe we’ll do the informative panel next year and really delve into the metrics of conversion.
After that, we headed over to the Perk offices to hang out with them and hear more about their Perk loyalty products and (hopefully) drink some beer with smart folks. The Perk guys have been really focused on extending their suite of loyalty apps and it was nice to hear them talk about the process and traction they’ve been making in the market. It is always nice when local guys do good and we hope to follow in their model of steadily growing and being successful. Business success and keg stands. Nuff said.
Here are a few more photos of our adventures througout the day.