Mar 22, 2019
Product professionals Diana Kim and Sarah Wilson give me the scoop on SXSW 2019. DK sat on a panel with Maria Menounos and the Female Quotient to talk personalization. Sarah saw every female-fronted band she could get her eyeballs on. Listen in to hear about the great food, scooter saturation, and meeting celebrities.
PJ Bruno: Hello there again. This is PJ Bruno. Welcome back to Braze for Impact, your weekly tech industry discuss digest, and I'm thrilled to be with two very good friends today. We have Diana Kim; hello, Diana.
Dianna Kim: Hello.
PJ Bruno: And also, we have Sara Wilson. Both product girls. DK, a product manager, and Sara, a product designer. Hi, Sara.
Sara Wilson: Hey!
PJ Bruno: How you guys doing? So, I have them with me because they're fresh off of South by Southwest. They're here; we missed you guys, first of all.
Sara Wilson: Aw.
PJ Bruno: The whole office just felt empty without your energy. But I gotta ask. South by Southwest: I want to hear it all. Firstly though, it's Austin. It's South by Southwest. It's 2019. Was it just CBD everything, down there? Was it just-
Sara Wilson: [crosstalk] There was a good amount of it.
PJ Bruno: Yeah?
Dianna Kim: Yes.
PJ Bruno: CBD toilet paper. CBD fidget spinners.
Sara Wilson: They just handed it to you when you walked off the plane.
PJ Bruno: Right, exactly. "Welcome! Get weird. Here."
Sara Wilson: Yeah, "Open your mouth, take a drop." Yep.
Dianna Kim: I did go to a Viceland party. It was called Skateland, and a bunch of people were roller skating, and there was a bus there. And I was by myself, and I went into the bus, and people were just rolling up joints and doing a lot of CBD oil, and I was like, "What did I just get myself into?"
PJ Bruno: You were like-
Dianna Kim: Just immediately walked out. I was-
PJ Bruno: Hello?
Dianna Kim: Hello? Hello?
Sara Wilson: What are you guys doing in here?
Dianna Kim: I felt like the lost child, like I just didn't belong.
Sara Wilson: But for real, when I got off the plane and was waiting for a cab, I thought it was going to be Fyre Festival-
PJ Bruno: Oh no!
Sara Wilson: Because it was a line, of like one hundred people, and it took forty-five minutes to wait for a cab, and I was like, "If I get to my Airbnb, and it's a wet mattress, I'm going to be really mad."
PJ Bruno: Right.
Sara Wilson: But like-
PJ Bruno: Where's my luxury?
Sara Wilson: Yeah, but, thankfully, it was a really nice Airbnb. And a really nice week.
PJ Bruno: Lovely! Well, let's jump right into it! What do we got here? First off, I do need to hear about Nancy from Stranger Things, because that's been driving me crazy.
Sara Wilson: Oh boy! What a night. We were out-
PJ Bruno: Oh, what a night.
Sara Wilson: We were out Saturday night, and ran into some celebrities, and-
PJ Bruno: Pretty standard.
Sara Wilson: Yeah, so we saw Nancy, from Stranger Things-
PJ Bruno: Who I like.
Sara Wilson: And then I guess one of the girls from 13 Reasons Why was also out, but I haven't seen it, so I didn't recognize her.
PJ Bruno: Were they at South by Southwest for events? Or they just, were down there, hanging?
Dianna Kim: So, looking back, I think that they were having events, but I did not hear about them.
Sara Wilson: Yeah, it was pretty much a drive by, take a picture, and then keep moving.
Dianna Kim: Yeah.
PJ Bruno: Okay.
Sara Wilson: They weren't interested in being friends, sadly.
PJ Bruno: Aw.
Sara Wilson: But I still have a picture.
PJ Bruno: The picture tells a different story.
Sara Wilson: It proves that-
Dianna Kim: Best friends for life; BFFs.
PJ Bruno: Firstly, it proves that.
Sara Wilson: Did it really happen if there's not a picture on my Instagram? I don't know.
PJ Bruno: I'm always asking myself that question. The humidity? Was that a gross thing?
Sara Wilson: Oh, first impression: my hair grew like three inches when I stepped off the plane.
PJ Bruno: Oh!
Sara Wilson: Yeah. It was a constant battle to get my hair to con-
Dianna Kim: I just gave up.
Sara Wilson: Yeah.
PJ Bruno: You're like, "No."
Sara Wilson: Yeah, I turned it into, just, frizzy pigtails. I just gave into it.
Dianna Kim: [inaudible]
PJ Bruno: I like that look, though.
Sara Wilson: Yeah, it worked.
PJ Bruno: It works down there, I think.
Sara Wilson: And, I can say that I am still bloated from all the food.
Dianna Kim: Barbecue. So great.
Sara Wilson: Barbecue, donuts, tacos.
PJ Bruno: And it was just, stands are trucks? They're big into trucks there, or no?
Sara Wilson: Trucks, restaurants-
Dianna Kim: Yes.
PJ Bruno: Food trucks?
Sara Wilson: Everything.
Dianna Kim: Yup. We didn't make it to the Salt Lick, which is about forty minutes outside of the city, and that's the place you go to for barbecue, but we heard that- Just, given, we didn't have a car, we had to get an Uber, that would have been like a hundred dollars, one way! And the line would've been ridiculous, so we decided not to.
Sara Wilson: Yeah, we passed. And there's enough good food inside Austin-
Dianna Kim: Yeah.
Sara Wilson: That, we ate plenty good, all day, every day.
PJ Bruno: Right. And they had, you know. South by Sex- Southwest. Ugh. "South by Southsex" actually has a lot of great food, and humidity, but it has other things, too, right?
Sara Wilson: Yeah! Like what?
PJ Bruno: That's what I'm asking you guys! Tell me what's up!
Sara Wilson: There was a lot of good music. I'm-
PJ Bruno: You were stocking out all of it.
Sara Wilson: I'm a music-
Dianna Kim: She was there for two weeks!
Sara Wilson: Well, like nine days. Yeah, I'm kind of a music snob, and so I had my big list, and I still feel like I could've gone and seen like fifty more bands, and I'm still kicking myself for it, but I just want to say, there were so many awesome female artists up there. That was the majority of what I saw, were really strong female frontwomen, and that was so dope. King Princess, she's amazing. Ratboys is one of my favorites; I've seen them like four times in the past year. Emily Blue is from my hometown; she was super dope. There were just, band after band, that were just so dope, and that's kind of the heart of South by Southwest.
PJ Bruno: You introduced me to a lot of new music, because, just watching your story, I was like, "Oh, gotta check that out, gotta check that out too!"
Sara Wilson: I'm currently building a playlist of all the things I saw and heard about but didn't make it to at South by, so stay tuned. I can share out that playlist.
PJ Bruno: Everyone stay tuned for that South by Southwest playlist.
Sara Wilson: I'm pretty big on making my playlists.
PJ Bruno: What about the work stuff? We did work stuff, too, right? Or was it all dancing, and-
Dianna Kim: Work hard, play hard.
PJ Bruno: And CBD.
Sara Wilson: Well, Dianna's not going to toot her own horn, so I will. She was on this really dope panel at the Female Quotient, and-
PJ Bruno: Dope, dope.
Sara Wilson: It was just super dope. It was just this amazing moment, to see her sitting up-
Dianna Kim: Thank you.
Sara Wilson: Among these powerful women-
Dianna Kim: And a celebrity.
Sara Wilson: And a celebrity!
Dianna Kim: Not me. Of course.
PJ Bruno: And, I'm a celebrity!
Sara Wilson: Tell everybody how you made buddies!
Dianna Kim: Oh yeah, no, so the Female Quotient, awesome organization, and, Shelley, the CEO of the Female Quotient, is really good friends with Maria Menounos, who is a reporter, on E!, and, so, I see this beautiful woman, just walking by with her glam squad, and I'm like, "What is she doing here?" And, next thing you know, they're pulling up another chair next to me; I'm like, "Oh. She is-"
Sara Wilson: Gonna be in it.
Dianna Kim: She is right here with us, in it.
PJ Bruno: Oh, she's here to talk shop. Okay.
Dianna Kim: Yeah! And I didn't realize all the things that she did. She has an organization called Rally, which seems awesome. She's also building a platform for the ESPN of after-show buzzworthy stuff. But it was very intimidating, being on a panel with her. She's so well-spoken, very polished. And also, I didn't realize that she survived brain cancer, so, after we're doing our introductions-
Sara Wilson: And her mom, too.
Dianna Kim: Yeah, and her mom! So, after we're doing introductions, they're like, "Okay, tell us something that you wouldn't say on LinkedIn." And so she said that, and I'm sitting here, like, "What am I going to follow this up with?" And the first thing that came out of my mouth was, "I'm a cat mom."
PJ Bruno: Wait, the prompt was, "What would you not post on LinkedIn?"
Dianna Kim: Yeah, like, "Tell my about yourself."
PJ Bruno: Well, that's accurate.
Dianna Kim: Yeah. I guess, maybe I would say that on LinkedIn. Would that, [inaudible] third job-
PJ Bruno: I feel like the scope of things I wouldn't say on LinkedIn is vast! [crosstalk] You really could've picked a lot of things out of the dark and hit bullseye.
Dianna Kim: Right?
Sara Wilson: That's pretty harmless.
Dianna Kim: And I had to keep it pretty PG, for the audience.
PJ Bruno: Right, exactly, so it narrowed the scope a bit.
Dianna Kim: But great conversation, with her. She had, actually, a lot of input on personalization and how it impacts with technology, and we bonded over dominoes. Apparently, she loves dominoes, and I do, too, so that worked out.
PJ Bruno: So, best friends!
Dianna Kim: Best friends.
PJ Bruno: Yeah, I've never seen her outside of a taxicab television, trying to sell me some sort of television program. But, she seems fantastic. I'm glad she was there for the Female Quotient. That's rad.
Dianna Kim: Yeah, it was really cool.
PJ Bruno: Cool! Also, what else? Bumble?
Sara Wilson: Yeah, we went, and saw a number of pop-up shops, or takeovers, and, I think that there was a strong theme of human experiences, not only in the talk tracks, but also just in what brands were doing at South by. Like Bumble took over this coffee shop, and they were handing out free coffee. Because they're not just giving you a free pen, or a bag. It wasn't just handing out free stuff that you don't need. It was about giving you an experience and bringing people together.
PJ Bruno: Right, right. But at the coffee shop pop-up, somehow the women needed to start the conversation, or something, or?
Sara Wilson: Surprisingly, no.
PJ Bruno: No?
Dianna Kim: So, I actually texted my boyfriend before this, because you needed to download the app, in order to get in, and I was like, "Just to let you know, I'm downloading Bumble, I'm not here to date," but, when you download it, you can actually go for networking, which I didn't know.
PJ Bruno: Yeah, big time!
Dianna Kim: And for friends!
PJ Bruno: Exactly. Roxy Rosales did that, that one night.
Dianna Kim: I thought it was a cool experience. I think the question I have for brands, as a performance marketer, in my previous role: I'm like, "How much do these things cost, and does it actually have an output?" And it seems really, really cool, to be there for the interactive experience, but, I'm always curious to what the ROI is [crosstalk]-
PJ Bruno: Exactly. So, did you get your questions answered, somewhat, by that?
Dianna Kim: No.
PJ Bruno: You just continue to-
Dianna Kim: I mean, we saw the Bumble thing, which is really cool. No puppies, though.
Sara Wilson: There were supposed to be puppies. We missed the puppies. We did see puppies-
PJ Bruno: Oh, they advertised puppies.
Dianna Kim: Yeah, they advertised puppies. And free coffee.
Sara Wilson: But there were puppies at Madewell. Which, doesn't make much sense, but there's a good picture of Diana with a cute little puppy.
Dianna Kim: Yes, yes.
PJ Bruno: Aw. Which you can see, right here, if you guys can see at home. There it is. Good. Sorry.
Dianna Kim: We also got free food, from Uber Eats. They had a pop-up shop. They flagged us; we were walking by, and they were like, "If you show us you have the app downloaded, we'll give you free-" What was it.
Sara Wilson: Popeye's, or something? Fried chicken?
Dianna Kim: Oh, yes. And it was right after we had lunch, too. So, I love Popeye's chicken.
PJ Bruno: There's no way to say no.
Dianna Kim: Oh, there's no way to say no to a biscuit and some chicken tenders.
Sara Wilson: I said no, but Diana was like, "We can do it." And we did.
Dianna Kim: There's always room for more.
Sara Wilson: There's always room.
PJ Bruno: Exactly. Don't say that "don't" or "I can't" around me. You can. I know you can.
Sara Wilson: We just have to work hard enough.
Dianna Kim: Get rid of that negativity. You can always do it.
PJ Bruno: Exactly.
Dianna Kim: But, I think that was a great way to get downloads, or, if you haven't used the app, to actually use it for free stuff. The actual output of that; I loved it. And they actually had ice cream, the next day!
Sara Wilson: They did. They had different food-
Dianna Kim: Each day!
Sara Wilson: Yeah, to bring you in.
PJ Bruno: Jeez.
Sara Wilson: Yeah, it was pretty cool.
PJ Bruno: They know how to get us going.
Sara Wilson: One of them that didn't require an app download was Facebook. We missed this event; I really wanted to go. Like, every couple hours, they had a screen printing workshop, and it was off in this warehouse, kind of a little bit away from Downtown, and the first fifteen people to come, you could screen print your own bag.
PJ Bruno: Oh, cool!
Sara Wilson: And it was a whole workshop where you would learn how to screen print.
PJ Bruno: That's really fricking cool. I've never heard anything like that, actually.
Sara Wilson: It's an experience, you get to make something, you get to be proud of it, you get to keep it. And then, that brand, you're going to remember them, every time you use that bag.
PJ Bruno: Everyone's just going to think fondly of Facebook now, I'm sure.
Sara Wilson: So fondly.
Dianna Kim: Hopefully.
PJ Bruno: I mean, that was the goal, was it not? AI? Personalization?
Sara Wilson: Yeah, everything was- I looked and there were at least seventy events or talks that had the word AI in the title. We kept going, "What's the difference from this one, from that one?" Because they all had the same title, pretty much. And it's all about, "How do we use AI? How do we personalize everything? How do we make it human?" Which is very on topic. We definitely support that. But it kind of hit a point where we were like, "Is there even anything to take away from this?"
Dianna Kim: It was saturation of the message. Everyone was talking about the same thing, or, I'm not going to blatantly say which companies were on this panel, but it was just so high level, because they only had [inaudible] or executives on it, that they weren't getting into the actual, "How do you implement AI? How do you [crosstalk] it."
PJ Bruno: Right. It was just the philosophy behind it. It got very zoomed out.
Dianna Kim: Yeah, it got kind of tough, in some of the talks. It's definitely a very hot topic right now, but I think that, execution-wise, it could be helpful from a Keynote perspective, or, what I would like to see in the future, more of a Keynote perspective, with someone actually doing this in a meaningful way.
PJ Bruno: Yeah. Same.
Sara Wilson: And that's what I can say about the Female Quotient panel that Diana was on. There were a lot of real-life examples, and it was tangible. It was just something that, I walked away, and I felt like, "Oh, I could take that idea, and I could implement that," and it wasn't just a really broad concept of feelgood ideas.
PJ Bruno: Exactly. You could actually take it and do something with it, right?
Sara Wilson: Yeah.
Dianna Kim: The other thing to touch on is the human element, because I feel like, if I saw that in any sort of conference, like ten years ago, I'd be like, "This is weird. Why are we talking about this?" I feel like it's over-exaggeration of how robots are going to take over, but I don't necessarily think that's the case.
PJ Bruno: Yeah, do you think it's that course-correcting of, "Don't be scared that robots are doing all these things. There's still this human element." It's like a way to alleviate that panic, around, "Oh my god, Skynet knows where I am."
Dianna Kim: Yeah.
Sara Wilson: Yeah, I think that was a big part of it, is, they were asking, "How do you teach robots to be human?" And it's like, "Well, behind every bot, or everything that is artificial, is a human!" So, it inherently gets some of that, but there is some amount of correcting that you can do, to make sure that it doesn't just take over.
PJ Bruno: What's the wildest comment you heard, during one of the- Did you hear anyone being like, "Yes, but how can you assure me that a robot won't take my life at some point?"
Dianna Kim: Gosh.
Sara Wilson: I don't think that we heard that at any one talk track.
PJ Bruno: Because, "There are no stupid comments."
Sara Wilson: Right. "Everybody's feelings are valid."
PJ Bruno: But what was the most idiotic thing that you-
Sara Wilson: People on scooters.
PJ Bruno: Oh. Okay.
Sara Wilson: That was the worst thing that we saw, were people on scooters.
PJ Bruno: Because they're a big scooter-
Dianna Kim: And we were one of them.
Sara Wilson: We were-
Dianna Kim: On a-
Sara Wilson: Exactly once.
PJ Bruno: Self-loathing.
Sara Wilson: And, I have to say, they got me. They were like, "Load twenty dollars into the app." And I was like, "Yeah, dope!" And then I spent, like a dollar fifty, and was too afraid to use some ever again-
PJ Bruno: Why were you afraid?
Sara Wilson: Because they're not stable. They go, quickly. You have to ride on the roads. There's a lot of traffic in downtown Austin-
PJ Bruno: And they're like a scooter town, anyway, so this must have been like-
Sara Wilson: Like thousands of scooters. They hire people to go and wrangle the scooters, put them in the back of their truck, and take them back.
PJ Bruno: God. It's like Vietnam.
Dianna Kim: Yup. It was a lot of scooters and electric bikes.
Sara Wilson: Yes, the bikes.
Dianna Kim: I think that, just to get people around the city quicker, I think it makes sense. But, at the same time, not having proper bikes lanes freaked me out. We caused traffic on a pretty busy road, going down a hill.
Sara Wilson: We just took over the entire lane and turned around and there were like thirty cars backed up behind us, because it's illegal to ride on the sidewalk.
PJ Bruno: Oh, wow. But, totally legal to ride in the street.
Sara Wilson: You're supposed to. When you-
PJ Bruno: You're expected to.
Sara Wilson: When you download the app, you have to consent to, "These are the rules, I have to ride in the road, these are the certain things I can do."
PJ Bruno: What about riding on the median? Is there a rule there?
Dianna Kim: You go for it.
Sara Wilson: You want to do some tricks? Catch some air?
PJ Bruno: Exactly. I just want to put my life at risk, for once.
Sara Wilson: Oh no, I felt like just going straight and flat was enough of putting my life at risk.
PJ Bruno: I haven't been on one of these. So, these are Birds?
Sara Wilson: Yeah.
Dianna Kim: There are a few others.
Sara Wilson: Lyft has it now, and you can locate them, in the app. It'll say, "Show scooters nearby," and you can go pick one up. One was a Lime brand; there were five or six different brands. They all kind of looked the same.
Dianna Kim: Jump was another one; I think that was an electric bike service.
Sara Wilson: Yeah. And then they also had these people on bicycles with the little carts behind them, the pedicabs. Those are dope.
PJ Bruno: Oh, it's like a rickshaw, right?
Sara Wilson: Yes!
PJ Bruno: That's the one. They had those in New York.
Sara Wilson: Yeah, great service.
PJ Bruno: Really good?
Dianna Kim: Oh, so great. So cheap. It was like five dollars.
PJ Bruno: Because in New York, they cost an arm and a leg, I think.
Dianna Kim: Do they?
PJ Bruno: Yeah, because I think they romanticize, like, "Ah, take in the city, don't [crosstalk] of a car!"
Dianna Kim: Well, in Central Park, yeah. No, this was five bucks, we got a nice breeze in our hair. It was just wonderful.
Sara Wilson: And the music was so good.
Dianna Kim: He had a speaker. Yeah. It was great.
PJ Bruno: Excellent. So, outside of DK throwing it down for the Female Quotient, what was your favorite, or most inspirational, thing that you saw? Or took in? On the weekend? I know it was a lot.
Sara Wilson: I don't know. My answer has to be that panel with Diana. That was-
Dianna Kim: Aw. Thank you.
Sara Wilson: That's like, kind of cheesy, but it was just a good moment for Braze. It was a good moment for women. It was a good moment for my good friend. There were just so many great things about it. I was like a proud mama.
PJ Bruno: I'm getting a little-
Sara Wilson: I know.
Dianna Kim: You guys, I'm going to cry.
Sara Wilson: Aw.
Dianna Kim: I think that the Female Quotient did a- I'm just going to give them a huge shout-out, because, even the panels before, the one I spoke on and the panel after; they did such a great job with the content. Whether it's the personalization equation, which is what we talked about on my panel, or just looking at diversity, or how men view women in the workplace, which was an all-male panel, afterwards. I think they did such a great job with content generation. And also just diversity, in general, was a big, big theme, at South by Southwest, this year.
PJ Bruno: It sounds like they nailed it. It sounds like they nailed all the right spots.
Dianna Kim: Yeah. The one thing I didn't see, though, but I wish I did, but the lines were so long: the Instagram founders were speaking at a Keynote, or like a fireside chat. Just talking about their experience at Facebook and why they left. I think it's a very cool moment to see, because, right now we have a lot of executives leaving Facebook. The Facebook Execudus.
PJ Bruno: Mm-hmm. Oh, that's not yours? Or that's-
Dianna Kim: I don't know. Can I take that?
PJ Bruno: I think so. I'd never heard it.
Dianna Kim: I'm just going to take it.
PJ Bruno: Patent pending.
Sara Wilson: You heard it here, first.
PJ Bruno: Execudus.
Dianna Kim: But, it kind of shows, especially with that big of a company, what Mark Zuckerberg's trying to do with the privacy pivot, and how they're really trying to focus on privacy, but is it really more of a PR play? We'll see about that. But I wish I was there to see it, in person.
PJ Bruno: So, did you get any hot takes? Do we know at all, what they were gawking about? Did they talk a little bit about the-
Dianna Kim: They lost a lot of autonomy. I feel like-
PJ Bruno: Right. I read the article that was something like, that was the victory, in a way. Taking that responsibility off, and now they're moving on. It's kind of like, the finality of them now, "Okay. Fully acquired now."
Sara Wilson: They've done their job.
Dianna Kim: Goodbye.
PJ Bruno: We did it.
Dianna Kim: I read an article about the WhatsApp CEO, thinking, "No, still delete Facebook, we are our own company." I wonder how long that's gonna last, until Facebook really has their arms fully into the WhatsApp platform. TBD, but we'll see.
PJ Bruno: The Facebook Execudus. It is so much better as one word.
Dianna Kim: I'm going to take that.
PJ Bruno: It's yours! It's yours.
Dianna Kim: Cool.
PJ Bruno: Cool. I mean, any predictions for next year's? Do we have anything that we think we'll see? Hopefully, you guys will be back there, next year.
Dianna Kim: Hopefully.
Sara Wilson: Yeah, maybe.
PJ Bruno: Was this your first time going, Sara?
Sara Wilson: Yes, this was my first time in Austin, first time at South by. All, a lot of firsts. It was great.
Dianna Kim: I'm trying to think of any shows that are- So Game of Thrones had a huge thing, there. It was like, they had a blood drive. A lot of the content producers put a bunch of stuff on. I'm wondering what show is coming up next year, because I feel like a lot of content producers are going to have huge buyouts of bars, and cool interactive things.
PJ Bruno: Yeah, it sounds like they're setting the bar, for these cool interactive experiences.
Sara Wilson: Yeah, bringing celebrities in, and giving you something to take home that you made. Some really cool, innovative things that brands are doing.
PJ Bruno: Well, South by Southwest, sounds like you're setting the bar. Other conferences, you better get up on that. MAU, we're looking at you.
Sara Wilson: Check in with Diana after that one.
Dianna Kim: I'll be there. I'll be there in Vegas.
PJ Bruno: We will. We'll be there. I'll be there as well! Looking forward to it!
Sara Wilson: You guys have fun.
Dianna Kim: I'll be at the crabs table.
PJ Bruno: Yo, wait, is that the highest odds? The crabs table? It is, right?
Dianna Kim: I don't know, I just think it's the most fun.
PJ Bruno: I think it's also best odds in the house, according to Spencer Burke.
Dianna Kim: Oh, and he knows everything, so.
PJ Bruno: Well, he knows how to gamble.
Dianna Kim: I gamble with Spencer.
PJ Bruno: I'm telling you, you're in good company. I told him I'm not super lucky, but he was like, "You come with me."
Dianna Kim: Beginner's luck. You'll totally make it.
PJ Bruno: So excited. Well, I guess we'll see you guys at MAU. MAU, you got something to top, right now. Thanks again for joining us this week, you guys.
Sara Wilson: Of course, thanks for having us.
Dianna Kim: Thank you.
PJ Bruno: This is PJ Bruno, and I'm accompanied by Diana Kim, and also the lovely Sara Wilson. Thank you guys again for being here. Good afternoon, good evening, and good night.
Sara Wilson: Bye.
Dianna Kim: Bye.