There is a saying… “if some is good, more is better.” Often, this saying is meant ironically because it is rarely true. But in the case of our 2015 events leading up to (and slightly overlapping) SXSW Interactive, we here at W2O Group were extremely pleased with the results. For the Readers Digest version of our events, you can check out the content capsule below (it includes a few select videos of our speakers, our PreCommerce Spotify playlist, speaker presentations and pictures from numerous events). We also led up to our events with some speaker interviews which I recommend checking out here.
We kicked things off this year with our second annual VIP Round Table — an event reserved for speakers and some of our more senior level clients. Held on the 55th floor of the prestigious Austonian building, the 40 person event was led by W2O Group President, Bob Pearson and tech mogul, David Kirkpatrick of Techonomy.
The two and a half hour, facilitated discussion touched on topics such as innovation, the future of apps, security and mobile advertising. The day rounded out with an appearance by none other than one of the hardest working men online and on camera, Al Roker (Below is the episode of Live from Stubbs Jon Harris and I filmed with Al).
One of our two signature events this year was our fifth annual PreCommerce Summit. And while each of our past four summits have gotten better than the year before, this was the year where we really stepped up our game the most significantly. Not only was the venue a cut above (thank you Austin City Music Hall) but our event production team (huge props to Erin Disney and Team Clink) took our game to a new level. And then there were the speakers. I’ve pulled out some key quotes below but I would highly recommend spending some time reading the recaps/watching the videos for each.
— Thibault HACHE (@ThibaultH1) March 12, 2015
— Janet M. Kennedy (@GetSocialHealth) March 12, 2015
— Matt Diederichs (@mattddrchs) March 12, 2015
— Paulo Simas (@psimas1) March 12, 2015
Here are the speakers (note links to their blog recaps and a link to their presentations to the right of each name):
- Al Roker, Co-Anchor/CEO, Today Show/Al Roker Media [blog recap | video]
- David Kirkpatrick, CEO, Techonomy, author of The Facebook Effect [blog recap | video]
- Vyomesh “VJ” Joshi, former EVP printing, Hewlett Packard [blog recap | video]
- Gayle Fuguitt, CEO & President, The Advertising Research Foundation (ARF) [blog recap | video]
- Damon Davis, Director, Health Data Initiative, Chief Technology Office, US Department of Health and Human Services [blog recap | video]
- Mike Marinello, Head of Global Communications, Bloomberg [blog recap | video]
- Cathy Baron Tamraz, Chairman & CEO, Businesswire [blog recap | video]
- Jim Weiss, CEO and Chairman, W2O Group [blog recap | video]
- Ray Kerins, SVP, Head of Communications, Bayer [blog recap | video]
- Sean George, Co-Founder, President and COO, Invitae [blog recap | video]
- Jon Harris, Media Personality (and former head of communications for Hillshire Brands). [blog recap | video]
- Amber Naslund, SVP Marketing, Sysomos [blog recap | video]
- Michelle Skelding, SVP, Austin Chamber of Commerce [blog recap | video]
- Kip Knight, President, H&R Block [blog recap | video]
- Bob Pearson, President, W2O Group and author, PreCommerce [blog recap | video]
- Jason Rose, SVP Marketing, Datasift [blog recap | video]
- Daina Middleton, Head of Global Business Marketing, Twitter [blog recap | video]
- Mason Nelder, Director, Social Media and Digital Strategy, Verizon [blog recap | video]
- Nithi Vivatrat, CTO, Clarabridge [blog recap | video]
- Chris Preuss, SVP Communications and Marketing, Delphi [blog recap | video]
- Mike Fay, VP Global Communications, IBM [blog recap | video]
- Josh Kampel, President Techonomy [blog recap | video]
- Jessica Williams, Global Innovation Marketing & Analytics, Visa [blog recap | video]
- Judith Williams, Global Diversity and Inclusion Programs Manager, Google [blog recap | video]
- Mike Edelhart, CEO PivotCon Conference [blog recap | video]
- Chuck Hemann, Head of analytics, Intel. [blog recap | video]
- Jessica Gioglio, Head of Design Lab, Sprinklr [blog recap | video]
- Greg Matthews, Managing Director, W2O Group [blog recap | video]
- Maureen Carlson, President, Good Scout Group [blog recap | video]
- DeDe DeStefano, Executive Director, Corporate Alliances at MD Anderson Cancer Center [blog recap | video]
- Shree Dandekar, Chief Product Officer, Dell Inc. [blog recap | video]
- Darin Wolter, Executive VP of Global Sales at Sysomos [blog recap | video]
On Friday, we held our second annual digital brunch. This is technically our third or fourth but the second in our new office with food trucks and music. This is a great time for our clients, neighbors, partners and employees to mix and mingle, enjoy some breakfast tacos, Bloody Marys, take in a demo or two, all while basking in the warm Austin sun.
Here are a few pics of the festivities:
This year, in addition to our PreCommerce Summit, we decided to take a page out of our earlier SXSW days where we had a smaller, more intimate room. At our first ever Geekfest moderated by Bob Pearson and our CTO, John Cunningham, we featured 16 speakers covering topics that ranged from the Apache Project to resonant charging to the importance of diversity in tech. It was a lot of good food for thought in a power packed four hour span. We will have the videos for these talks up soon but in the meantime, you can thumb through the blog recaps below.
- Open Source Software [blog recap]
- Digital Marketing/Design [blog recap]
- Security/Cloud Panel [blog recap]
- New Technology Innovation [blog recap – coming soon]
- Future of Tech/Marketing [blog recap]
Last but not least in our string of events this year was the Geekacue. It’s hard to believe bu this was our sixth annual Geekacue and also the first year we didn’t host our event at an actual BBQ joint. For the last three years, we had the good fortune of taking over Franklin’s BBQ (owner and chef, Aaron Franklin, was recently named as a finalist for the prestigious James Beard Award). This year, we made the tough call due to space constraints and took our party over to the elegant confines of the Charles Johnson House. This of course meant that we needed to find some great BBQ and likely that we would need some entertainment as well. Mission accomplished on both fronts as we were fortunate enough to land new-but-not-so-new, Terry Blacks BBQ, as our bearers of brisket. The short version of the story is that twin brothers, Mike and Mark Black opened Terry Black’s in Austin in late 2014. However, the namesake of their new establishment is their father, Terry Black, whose father, Edgar, opened now legendary “Black’s” in the BBQ capitol of Texas (Lockhart) over 83 years ago.
In addition to some amazing BBQ, we also had the luxury of not one… not two… but three bands. Some of you may have only seen Monte Montgomery who opened or Black Joe Lewis who was the feature act. But for those lucky enough to stick around, we also had the red hot blue grass band, Whiskey Shivers, upstairs at the after party. All three were amazing and left us wanting more.
During the Geekacue, we also kept our clients, partners and friends-of-W2O entertained with a dance party booth (video below).
We also brought back one of the staples of our Geekacue, the photo booth. We’ll have all the photos available soon on our Facebook page but in the meantime, here are some gems to give you a flavor.
Key stats across all our events:
- We had over 5,200 tweets tagged with our hashtag #sxw2o (I encourage you to scroll through the content there — it will make you smarter… and hungrier, I promise).
- W2O Group held eight different events this year — our most ever. Look for that number to be closer to ten next year.
- There were over 3,300 registrations for our events. Somewhere between 40-50% of those folks showed up plus walk ups. Subtracting out overlap, we had roughly 1,000 unique folks not including our employees attending our events.
- There were over 60 briskets consumed at our Geekacue. Okay, I’m making that number up but it was somewhere in that neighborhood.
Last but not least, none of this would be possible without our wonderful partners/sponsors. They not only help fund (or in the case of alcohol, provide in kind donations) but they are also integral parts of our events as speakers, attendees, photographers and avid Tweeters. We appreciate you all and thank you for your support Sysomos, Clarabridge, Bayer, Datasift, Sprinklr, Business Wire, Synthesio, Sullivan Wine, Deep Eddy Vodka and Thirsty Planet.