August 11, 2014

Top takeaways from a growth hacking conference

Rand-Fishkin
Rand Fishkin, founder of Moz, speaking at the Weapons of Mass Distribution conference in San Francisco on Thursday.

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JD LasicaToday, it seems, just about all startups — and even more mature companies — want to wield the growth hacking buzzsaw. Growth hacking was the theme that drew several hundred marketers, entrepreneurs and business strategists to the Hotel Kabuki in San Francisco on Thursday for the fancifully named Weapons of Mass Distribution conference put on by 500 Startups.

And while growth hacking may be hot hot hot right now — even marketing consultant Sean Ellis, who coined the term, was on hand — the impressive lineup of speakers made it clear that to succeed, a new enterprise can’t spin flax into gold. You’ve got to have some kick-ass idea to begin with, and you have to have a product team that knows how to execute. And then, yes, by all means, call in the growth hackers and marketers to run the numbers, size up your analytics, get feedback from customers, and create a virtuous product development loop that fast-tracks your company on to its inevitable trajectory of fame, riches and a guest spot on Jason Calacanis’s “This Week in Startups” podcast.

I captured some of the magic on stage and in the room in this Flickr photo set. (Ah, Flickr, you were on that fast track once!) Continue reading

September 12, 2013

Photos of TechCrunch Disrupt 2013

mark-zuckerberg

JD LasicaIthink this is the seventh year of TechCrunch Disrupt in all its incarnations, and I’ve been to them all. Yesterday I wrote about some new social travel startups making their debut, and today I’m sharing my photos of the event.

Here’s my Flickr set of TechCrunch Disrupt (remember Flickr? I still prefer it to Facebook for sharing photos), and I’ll be adding more later today.

While some of the mainstays of the tech scene — Marissa Mayer, John Doerr, Jeff Weiner — remain the same from year to year, the new founders and startup teams — from startups like Udacity, Lyft and Snapchat — are what give TechCrunch conferences their sizzle. See if you recognize anyone! 

October 18, 2011

Welcome to the Social Revolution

Sean Parker
Sean Parker at the Web 2.0 Summit yesterday (photo by JD Lasica)

 

Sean Parker, CEOs of Salesforce & eBay highlight day 1 of Web 2.0 Summit

JD LasicaThe one conference I try to make every year is the venerable Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco. I’ve now been to seven out of the eight annual gatherings of entrepreneurs, Silicon Valley luminaries and tech-savvy business people.

Here are some highlights from day one of the three-day conference, which you can follow live on Livestream. And here’s my photo set of the conference speakers on Flickr.

Highlights of Web 2.0 Summit 2011

Sean Parker, who was immortalized on screen by Justin Timberlake as a brilliant, rich party boy in “The Social Network,” was captivating when questioned by host John Battelle:

• On Facebook: “The problem isn’t privacy but the glut of information available to power users” who prop up the network.

• There was an interesting exchange when Mashable co-editor Ben Parr asked Parker about his Wikipedia entry, which says: “Sources are inconsistent as to whether he was a co-founder or early employee of Napster.” Parker said flatly that he was a co-founder and provided Napster with its first big infusion of cash. About 30 seconds later, someone in the audience updated his entry to reflect that — but editors reverted the entry back. Even the subject of a Wikipedia entry isn’t authoritative if it’s not in a published source somewhere. Besides, as one of my Twitter friends told me: “John Fanning was source of initial funding; he had online games company, Sean Fanning worked for him, Parker came later.”

• Would it kill Wikipedia to include photo credits for photos of living individuals? I’m willing to contribute one of my photos of Parker to the public domain but have too much on my plate to do so as an anonymous donor.

“CEOs should be thinking about what a social car looks like. Toyota should name its next car the Toyota Friend.”
— Marc Benioff, CEO, Salesforce

• Parker on Google Plus‘s threat to Facebook: The advantage of first movers is high in the social sphere. Switching costs are high for the end user, and Facebook must falter for Google Plus to take over a good chunk of Facebook’s users.

• More Parker: “One of the big mistakes we made at Napster was going completely peer to peer without even talking to the record labels.”

John Battelle likes his Wikipedia entry because he’s 3 years younger there than in real life.

Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce and a pioneer in the tech sector, says he loves the music service Spotify, which Parker is an investor in. “It’s all I use for music now.”

• Benioff: “Facebook is becoming a vision of what the next-generation consumer operating system will be.”

• Benioff sees three main forces driving the tech sector: the cloud, mobility and social. “These forces are creating a revolutoin in our industry.” At Salesforce’s recent Dreamforce conference, the overarching theme was: “It’s a Social Revolution.”

• Benioff: “We didn’t see protesters in Egypt and Tunisia carrying signs that said, ‘Thank you Microsoft’ or ‘Thank you IBM.’ These social networks represent a democratizing force and a fundamental shift in how people organize.”

• Benioff said the auto industry is missing out on an opportunity to capitalize on the social wave. “CEOs should be thinking about what a social car looks like. Toyota should name its next car the Toyota Friend.” Continue reading