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My Most Memorable Moments from SXSW 2018 Interactive

14 March 2018   |   Gen Petrova

Inspiring and leading pioneers in business gathered to celebrate innovation and progress at South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, TX. All of them play a key role in influencing progress in society, business, and the human race. I am thrilled to share my most memorable moments at this year’s conference and grateful to have experienced learning from the brightest minds in the world thanks to AbelsonTaylor.

Sandy Carter: VP of Amazon Web Services and voted one of Forbes 10 Most Powerful Women in Tech, together with Bridget Frey (Redfin) and Tamara McCleary (Thulium), shared the three innovation superpowers that every company has but is underutilizing. Sandy shared that the most innovative companies are found in Silicon Valley because 90% of Silicon Valley companies create an innovation strategy and link it to their business strategy, while for the rest of the world, only 20% of companies do that. Three innovation superpowers can help meet the challenges of competing in today’s marketplace: Super Intelligence, Super Speed, and Super Synergy.

  • The first super power is Super Intelligence—obsessing over your customers. Excellent products and services come from deeply understanding your customers.
  • The second super power is Super Speed—getting to a goal at an accelerated pace. This is the speed of change, which pales in comparison to the speed of technology innovation. For a company to maintain that speed, they need to be equipped with cognitively diverse and agile teams that will keep the company moving forward.
  • The last super power is Super Synergy—building a raw and uncut ecosystem of partners that is strategic and provides the human connection leveraged with technology.

Steve Huffman: Reddit co-founder and CEO Steve Huffman shared the story of the company’s dramatic comeback in the last few years since he came in 2005 in his session Reddit: Life After (Near) Death. Caught in controversies between the company commitments to the First Amendment and hosting “inauthentic” communities and dealing with fake news, Huffman had the hard job of realigning Reddit’s values, shifting the organizational culture, banning certain communities, and updating the company policies. Huffman also discussed the upcoming Reddit redesign. He wants Reddit to be accessible to everyone on the planet and provide the best experience to everyone through a new design while maintaining the company’s core principles and continuing to provide users of the 200K active communities a home.

Elon Musk: One of the biggest attractions this year at SXSW featured Elon Musk’s surprise Q&A Session (announced the night before) led by Westworld co-creator Jonathan Nolan. The session was informative, futuristic, and silly and provided a fresh insight into Musk’s plan for the future. Here are some of the key takeaways:

  • AI: “AI scares the hell out of me. Mark my words, AI is far more dangerous than nukes. I am very close to the cutting edge in AI and it scares the hell out of me. It’s capable of vastly more than almost anyone knows and the rate of improvement is exponential,” said Musk. He believes advancement in AI needs to be symbiotic with humanity and that could be achieved by regulation and making it a public body.
  • Mars: Elon Musk revealed that SpaceX hopes to launch the first rocket to Mars in early 2019. He believes that by establishing multi-planetary life, he can preserve humanity in space when the next dark age descends. “There’s likely to be another dark age. Particularly if there’s another world war in Earth’s future and we need to make sure there’s enough of a seed of human civilization to bring human civilization back.”
  • Musk on who inspires him: “Well, Kanye West, obviously.”

AbelsonTaylor is looking forward to embracing the innovative advancements in digital trends and tapping into the optimal solutions for our clients. The innovative superpowers Sandy shared will be a guiding bridge for our clients and help them reach their potential. The Reddit communities play a significant role in patient journeys and we are looking forward to seeing how the 4th most popular website will continue developing the communities and bringing more authentic experiences to Redditors.

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About the Author

Genoveva is a Director Engagement Strategy & Analytics – Associate at AbelsonTaylor with professional background in digital marketing, social media and data analytics. Having graduated from Northwestern University with M.S in Integrated Marketing Communications, she has spent the last ten years delivering a superior brand experience in ever changing digital world.