Once again, I’ve rounded up a list of observations, news and gossip from the day at SXSW. And since I missed yesterday’s recap, this one is a monster two day recap. I’ll explain why I missed it in a later post, but rest assured knowing the explanation includes a hotel eviction, rogue Highlight shopping cart, and the world’s largest doughnut. SXSW may have gotten the best of me. I’m happy to report I head back to New York first thing tomorrow.
- Music news! Today is the intersection of the music and interactive parts of the SXSW conference. That means most of the companies that play in that intersection had news to announce. To make things easy on us reporters, they all announced at the exact same time (thanks a lot, guys). Since I couldn’t be in three places at once, I picked Rdio. Read more about that here. Meanwhile, across town, Turntable announced its anticipated music licensing news, and Spotify announced it will now sell family plans. If I don’t end up switching over to Rdio entirely, I will be buying a Spotify family plan. As it stands, my significant other and I are constantly fighting for use of our shared paid account.
- Presumably you saw: CNN + Mashable. (Sidenote, I love how Reuters has to rewrite a scoop from one of it’s own bloggers). Moving on.
- Cerealize won the StartupBus competition. The company allows users to make custom cereals and have them sent to their homes. It doesn’t feel like the most ambitious of startups, but it’s a fun idea.
- Anthony Bourdain discussed in a panel the way his show kills the things he loves. The things he loves are dirty hole-in-the-wall restaurants and bars. Bourdain recognizes that a mention on his show means those hidden gems will be forever tainted with swarms of tourists. He’s okay with that. Bourdain also mentioned that, to avoid being mobbed he asks restauranteurs not to announce his arrival on social media. The only person who ever sold him out was a little 80-year-old lady selling street food in Mexico, he said. “She’s apparently very active on Twitter.”
- As I mentioned yesterday, this weekend is cluttered and noisy. Breaking through is increasingly difficult. Some VCs tell their portfolio companies not to launch here for that reason. Some that have managed to snag a little buzz include:
- Pixable, which looks a little bit like a cross between Pinterest and Instagram. And I know that sounds like the worst cliche ever. What it does is help you browse, search, and keep track of friends’ photos.
- Grandstand is a Web platform that makes social media into a game with real rewards.
- TaskRabbit helps you find personal assistants for your tasks.
- Zaarly is an awesome localized marketplace that connects people who want to buy things with people who happen be selling them.
- MC Hammer served as the, ahem, emcee of the entertainment category of the startup competition yesterday. MC Hammer loves buzzwords. LOVES them. After each presenter he chimed in with a few barely coherent ramblings that sounded (and I am not exaggerating) a little bit like “build a cloud pipe to the SEO brand engagement user bases for next generation.”
- The homeless wifi thing happened.
- Guerilla marketing is everywhere, and you would think it’d be annoying, but it’s actually 90% delightful. Highlight has its shopping carts filled with branded water bottles and other survival-type gear. Skype has a town crier reading Tweets. I ran into a mariachi band that made me feel like I was back on the subway in New York. Perhaps the best thing I saw, though, was done by Gliph. I don’t have a photo, sadly, but every other person who attended Foursquare’s party does. Somehow the startup, which does personal privacy control, snuck in a person wearing an eight-foot tall costume that was kindof like a cross between the cookie monster and SpongeBob SquarePants. It was giant, and carrying a tiny flag with the Gliph logo. Naturally, it didn’t take long for it to become the centerpiece of the dance floor. Well played, Gliph.
- Speaking of marketing, marketing is everywhere. Ad agencies and brands are now just as big of a part of SXSW as the tech companies are, like it or not. The conference is so focused on consumer Internet companies, many of which are supported by ads, so it makes sense. One of the biggest and best parties for two years running has been thrown by Crowdtap, which is a company created from inside an ad agency, Mr. Youth. Meanwhile, lots of large corporations are doing really cool tech things in their labs sections that aren’t as well publicized as the startups are. (Seriously! I’ll prove this in time!)
- Speaking of agencies, Ogilvy and Buzzfeed made some cool visualizations of a few of the week’s panels.
- SXSW-ers are nothing but a bunch of Android haters. While my decision to get an Android phone was a neutral one, all the hating is making me into a reluctant defender. For example, when charging my phone at a party, I mentioned I needed to be careful it wouldn’t be stolen. The three people I was talking to replied simultaneously that “no one wants to steal an Android phone.” Ouch, guys!
- Cheezburger and Bing got lucky with some party arbitrage. They booked the band Fun for their party four months ago, when no one had heard of them. Since then the band’s single shot to #1 and was featured on Glee and in a Superbowl ad. Lucky Cheezburger.
- Path gave away Nike Fuel bands to the first 100 entrants of its party, which did not, unfortunately, include me.
- That double decker “Can We Network” bus is still driving around blaring music and annoying the crap out of anyone within 10 blocks of it. I heard an unsubstantiated rumor that it received three tickets for its noise disturbances in one night. Call me a curmudgeon, but I officially hate that thing.
- Best overheard at SXSW: “You just dont understand. My business model is NOT about making money.”
- Band Page has had one of the best late night party spots.
Top photo via Merrick Ales