25. January 2012–
When the DLD conference was founded in 2005, its main purpose was to connect business, creative and social leaders with opinion formers and investors en route to the World Economic Forum in Davos. Today, it is a stop entirely of its own and plenty worth making.
Sunday kicked off with a motivating welcome from host and DLD chairman Hubert Burda and ended with a passionate, somewhat disorienting interview with multimedia artist Yoko Ono. Monday brought us to themes of textbook disruption (Osman Rashid of Kno), digital policies (Hillary Clinton's innovation advisor Alec Ross, Twitter's Katie Stanton) and fan engagement (with a talk by Troy Carter, investor and Lady Gaga's manager.)
On the last day (Tuesday), Arianna Huffington, founder and chief-executive editor of the internet-newspaper The Huffington Post was honored with the Aenne Burda Award for her disruptive editorial model. Last year the award went to Natlie Massenet, and in 2008 to Martha Stewart. Now that the three-day conference in Munich is over, we're back in Berlin and eager to share some of our favorite talks, trends, and tech with you. Here they are, in no particular order:
1. Jack Dorsey reveals that Twitter is coming to Germany
In a talk Sunday, Dorsey revealed that Twitter is looking to build a team in Germany. Without giving detail as to the number he's trying to hire, he confirmed that the company is actively looking to expand beyond its current European offices in the Ireland and the UK. This felt particularly close to home for Berlin as Twitter's first programmer Florian Weber now works at Amen.
Dorsey also talked some about Twitter's usefulness during the SOPA debate, whereby congresspeople could actively engage with their constituents during the legislation from their phones in real time. “We definitely see social as just one part of what people do on Twitter,” Dorsey said. “We think of it as an information utility and a communications network.”
He emphasised that real-time events are key for Twitter users, even if they only have 20 followers (citing the Tweeted emergency plane landing in the Hudson River, which sparked global interest). He also discussed sponsored tweets as a monetization model and why Google Plus is not a competitor.
2. The iPad DLD magazine
To help us navigate, the Berlin-based company Adaptive Press created a dynamic, interactive, real-time content source generated automatically from the Twitter timelines of DLD speakers. "It literally converts Tweets into an iPad magazine," said Adaptive Press founder Marley Fabis in an interview with VentureVillage. "In addition, the DLD editorial team pushes new stories, interviews, videos so there's fresh content all the time."
Very helpful to sleep-deprived DLDers. In the "Infinite Issue" we could find a interactive program with detailed profiles and related content for each speaker, as well as interesting articles, videos from past DLD talks, Twitter posts, and a continuously updated view of the global trends, debates and discussions.
3. The parties
While the conference does the nominal job of combining art, technology and music, it's by and large a promotional platform for everyone present. Whether it's internet investor Acton Capital Partners inviting its partners, investors and selected DLD guests to a networking dinner or Yandex discussing the European search market in the guise of a networking lunch, it all feels a bit too professional for the more creative contenders. That's why the parties were particularly refreshing components to the daytime gravity.
On the top of our list were the CEO Friends & Family dinner on Saturday and afterparty at P1, the SoundCloud/Team Europe loft party on Sunday, the F.ounders/EarlyBird dinner and of course the official, red carpeted send-off party Haus der Kunst. Good vibes, cool people, and also a consequential bit of bedside synergy in the morning after crashing together.
4. Sharing economy with Brian Chesky
In yet another engaging talk, Brian Chesky, CEO of Airbnb describes how humans have led a social life where sharing plays a predominant role in all activity. He discussed how post-WWII consumerism emerged and everything had to be new and only for personal use.
As an example of waste, he talks about the 80 million power drills in the US, each of which are only used for 13 minutes on average. He reveals that people made up to $ 100,000 renting out their rooms, on average $21,000 in New York annually.
5. Andrew Mason, moderated by David Kirkpatrick
DLD Rocket Internet rep Mark Samwer introduced Mason by discussing Groupon's growth from one deal a day to 500% growth in the last year leading up to the third quarter. He also provided some funny stats on the most popular coupons (like Bowel Cleansing, for instance).
Mason takes over by talking about the cash back card Groupon rewards as well as the non-stop activity and accountability Groupon has to provide its userbase (unlike Facebook's staff, who he says can go to the beach for a couple days, and come back to find it still running). He also faces Kirkpatrick's questions on how he handled the critique of groupon post-IPO.
6. The Future of Stuff by Peter Weijmarshausen
An interesting short speech on the competive advantages of mass-produced goods and customization of them. Weijmarshausen introduces his site Shapeways where you can create your custom unique designs, which are then listed on the company's website and can become commercial goods sold to a large, previously unreachable audience.
An advantage of this system is that you have high quality innovation of standard products and you receive fast feedback from existing users to adapt the products. Without Shapeways, the company's 100,000 users would have to wait for a sale before a new update is made. It has already produced 750,000 unique products.
7. Three new rules for innovation from The Economist's Vijay Vaitheeswaran
A) move nimbly B) be agile C) fail gracefully
8. Meeting the Badoo Team
We all know that Badoo is the largest, fastest growing social network for meeting new people in the world, but we hadn't yet met with the people behind it. The platform began with 40,000 users in Spain, then moved to Mexico, then to Latin America.
Founded in 2008, the Russian-based dating service and phenomenom Badoo was presented at DLD by Russian founder Andrey Andreev. Now the platform serves over 135 million registered users. There's a freemium model (using micro-payments and subscriptions) and an incredible degree of monetisation without advertising. If you want to be visible beyond the app's suggested radius, you pay.
Jessica Powell also took to the stage (and several of our dinners) to explain how you can use Badoo to search for people 320 meters away from you, start to chat, check out photos. 50% of conversations that start on Badoo end in real-life conversation. The most popular topics on Badoo?
9. Simplifying life with Drew Houston of DropBox
How will DropBox keep its advantage when people feel that storage is a commodity? At DropBox, 96% of users don't pay and the remaining 4% keep the place afloat. In a conversation with Wires UK’s David Rowan, Drew Houston (Dropbox) discusses the technical challenges of making a cloud experience savorable and sustainable, as well as Houston's meeting with Steve Jobs in 2009 where they discussed MobileMe and Houston insisted on building an independent company (despite Jobs's proposal to collaborate). Houston responds modestly to the question, "How has life changed since you've become a guy with a big stake in a $4bn company?"
10. Meeting with founders and VCs from around the globe
"If you look at where growth is going to be in the next few years, it's not going to be in the US or Europe. It's going to be in emerging markets." – Nikolas Zennstrom
The DLD program was jam-packed with interesting people and perspectives. Whether we were partying with New York's Tumblr team or sharing an umbrella with an investor from Abu Dhabi, the three days brought diverse opinions and cultures.
Make sure to check out the livestream to watch the full show. Here you'll find:
• vGoogle's Nikesh Arora (Senior Vice President and Chief Business Officer) addressed "The Future of Business" and new success factors in the digitization age in his keynote.
• Matt Mills from AUTONOMY (owned by HP) demonstrates a new augmented reality technology in a software demo.
• Barbara Kux, chief sustainability officer at global DLD partner Siemens holds a keynote speech on the topic "The New Real."
• Pedro Miranda, representing Siemens One, speaks about cities and data.
• René Schuster, CEO of Telefonica Germany, explains the results of the joint study "Connected Europe - How Smartphones and Tablets are Shifting Media Consumption" together with Linda Abraham, CMO of ComScore.
• A study by Buddy Media and comScore investigates the influence of social networks on consumer behaviour.)
Now for Davos! Cheers,
Image credit: Photos of speakers at DLD Conference courtesy of Flickr user Hubert Burda Media