I took my first study tour with Alan Mutter two years ago. We spent five days together on a bus through Silicon Valley. During those days, I learned to love the culture of Silicon Valley (free food, bars, ping pong tables), the scrappy and spirited start-up mentality (from the campus of Google to the garage of Matter), and Alan’s particular brand of amusing dad jokes. There was also wine.
The agenda for the INMA Silicon Valley Study Tour November 13-17 is nearly complete. I chatted with Alan this week about how the tour is coming together and what he was most excited about.
“Like a parent who has no favourite children, I have no favourite stops for the Silicon Valley tour,” he told me, no doubt sipping a good Cab while sitting at the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge. “Each of the companies listed below is important because it addresses one (and usually more than one) of the three things concerning every publisher: Enriching content, building audience, and generating revenues.
“The planned visits range from the biggest of the big (like Google and Facebook, which together dominate 70% of U.S. digital advertising) to spunky start-ups you may never have heard of (The Hustle, Leap Motion, and Plex.tv).”
Things are fast and fluid in Silicon Valley, so there may be changes to our itinerary. But these are the study tour stops as of today:
- Facebook: Product and partnership updates.
- Google: Product and partnership updates.
- Reddit: The fifth-most-popular site in United States.
- Yelp: The quest for visibility on the Web.
- Baidu: Artificial Intelligence and self-driving cars.
- San Francisco Chronicle: How it remade itself.
- Bleacher Report: Focusing on native advertising.
- Bloomberg: Insider insights from Silicon Valley editor.
- Urbs Media: Automated article creation from databases.
- Leap Motion: Augmented & Virtual Reality demonstration .
- Rhythm One: Big Data and programmatic ad tech.
- The Hustle: Community-based Millennial publisher.
- Matter.VC: Industry-funded incubator for media start-ups.
- Plex: Cuts the cord and consolidates all digital media.
- Sharethrough: Programmatic native-ad network.
The aim of each visit is to help publishers ask the right questions about where their businesses are today, where they want to take them in the future, and what resources they will need to be successful. The free food is an added bonus.
I asked Alan how this tour would compare to INMA’s Silicon Valley study tours of the past.
“It’s easier to tell you what is the same. And that answer is: Nothing,” he said. “Silicon Valley not only drives but thrives on disruption — with new technology, new ideas, and new business models continuously supplanting the old ones. We could do this tour three times a year and find something different every time. Here’s why:
“Facebook, Google, and many other companies operate on short development sprints that are measured in weeks, not years. They whiteboard an idea (yes, that’s an acceptable verb), build a minimal viable product (called MVP), launch a live test (often in fairly wobbly beta mode), and then decide whether to feed or kill it. The Next Big Thing in April may be a dead duck in August. One of the most amazing things about Silicon Valley is that failure is an option. If you’re not failing from time to time, people think you aren’t trying hard enough. Google pays fat bonuses to people who recommend killing an idea they have been trying to perfect for the last several months.
“Many of the companies we visited in 2015 and 2016 have pivoted to new ideas, revised their business models, bought complementary companies or were acquired by someone else. Nearly everyone we saw two years ago has changed jobs internally, moved to another company or started a new venture. There were even a few layoffs, too. But the people who move on are already working on new opportunities.”
Based on early registrations, we expect the tour will sell out — so please let us know if you want to reserve a spot. First come, first served. The tour is limited in size based on the space our hosts have. Early registration deadline is Tuesday (August 15).
Alan has unique insights on Silicon Valley and has expertly pieced together the most talked-about study tour in media business the past three years for INMA. You and your team will see why this tour is such high demand.
This year’s tour is perfect for companies wanting insights on Silicon Valley and a fast track to what the digital ecosystem is evolving into. This is a front-row seat to the most important media developments in Silicon Valley. It’s a week-long, wild ride that promises to be a fantastic learning experience … with easy access to some of our country’s best wine and urban views.
What are you waiting for? The bus, the wine, the innovation all await!