Micah August 2nd

Twiistup Rocked.

Before I even write a post, I usually have a snappy title done. The title often shapes my post; gives it direction.

This morning when I sat down to write this, all the silly puns kept running around in my head, but I thought the title I chose, summed up Twiistup 6 properly.

Twiistup Rocked.

Before heading out to LA, all I knew about Twiistup was that it used to be a huge party, and Francisco Dao, who was running Twiistup, was trying to turn it into LA’s signature conference.

I knew little of LA’s tech community, and frankly, assumed it would be much like any of the “communities” in LA, long on promise, and short on execution. (To be fair, I grew up in Northern California, and there is an immediate assumption that LA is all pomp with no circumstance.)

What are my thoughts now a day or two after the conference is over? Really pleased and surprised.

The conference:

For a first year conference, it was very well run and well attended. It must have been a pleasant surprise to Francisco that amount of out of town attendees, as well the caliber of the attendees themselves. There were investors, startup professionals, entertainment professionals, Brands, and other high quality folks.

The panels were informative and had interesting panelists. The Leveraging Social Media panel was probably the best (kidding! that was my panel)…actually the Music and Technology panel with Topspin‘s Ian Rogers, Chamillionaire and QDIII, was informative, with the general message being “music has moved direct to fan.” (I stole that line when in my panel I said “social media has moved marketing direct to friend.”)

The showcase companies were really interesting. I met the CEO of BakeSpace the night before at the VIP event. She had much of what makes a startup successful: passion, focus and just enough circus barker. It was great to see Andrew of JamLegend again, having watching him grow over the past year or so (personally, I thought they should have won!), and my new pleasure, Blip.fm.

JamLegend Rocks at Startup Event in Los Angeles from ReadWriteWeb on Vimeo.

ExpenseBay won (they make managing expense reports easier for enterprises) and (I think) they may have found an investor or two who were interested in helping them out.

What about the party? It was fantastic. I got to see a bunch of my friends, who I seem to only get to hang out with at conferences. According to Francisco, it was not as big as years past, but for those that know my absolute hatred of parties, I was actually ok with that. And, as always, my friend Ken took awesome photos of it all…

And the people? Amazing. I walked in and sat down next to my friend Justin Thorp of AddThis. He introduced me to Nikki Scoggins of Vans, who quickly became my favorite person (not because I got hooked up with a free pair of shoes) since we shared a love of skating, stupid humor and snark. Chamillionaire and his partner DigiJeff (who is from Denver!) were what I hope the music industry is becoming: mini-startup CEOs with a real understanding of the power of data and direct to fan. My “head-slap-thats-brilliant” moment was when Chamillionaire said that while record labels were courting him, a deal killer was giving up control of his website and the connection to his fans.

He also said he would be a trending topic on Twitter come Tuesday. I will be watching…

I also met Kim Sherrell, who was probably one of the nicest people I have ever met. She works in the entertainment business, and told me that FollowFriday helped her really enter the world of Twitter and become comfortable with it, which is so much nicer than hearing the echo chamber and wannabe social media experts talk about how horrible it has become. The truth is that the essence of FollowFriday is the same as it ever was. Recommend two people who should know each other.

Everyone who attempts to abuse followfriday to increase a shallow statistic like follower numbers is just an dick. (there you go, my 140 character response).

The community:

Which brings us to the LA tech community. I went to LA with words like fractured, spread out, small and unfocused in my head when thinking about the LA tech community.

The night before the conference I met Tony Adam, who according to LaLaWag was one of the most eligible bachelors of Twiistup. While I had to wade through all the ladies that were in line to meet Tony, the blocking and tackling was worth it. Tony does SEO work for Yahoo! and it was great to talk to someone that enjoyed the art of SEO and social media with the purity I do. Definitely, someone on my list to keep track of, and to stay friends with.

On Friday afternoon, I had the pleasure of hanging out with Mike Prasad of Girl Gamer.  I met Mike through Jolie O’Dell, as the three of us were walking over to lunch with a bunch of folks, including Francisco, Andrew Warner, Jason Calacanis, Lon Harris and Tyler Crowley. Lunch was fun, even if everyone was a bit worn down from Twiistup. It was a great insight into the LA tech community (more on that later).

Mike was involved early with the community working on finding ways to get it to grow and become more cohesive. I often forget how much easier it is to create community in small places such as Boulder, where people interact with each other daily in similar locations. You see each other at the coffee shops and supermarkets. You pass each other on the bike paths.

In LA, you have dozens of cities, communities and neighborhoods that are all spread out and separated by traffic. So, much of the community building activity in LA is focused on events, and wow. There are a lot of events. A L-O-T.

Because there are so many events, its hard to build a core startup community (we all work really hard). I was glad to hear that Mark Suster is building a program similar to Techstars (and I am excited to help him in any way I can).

The feeling I got by the time I left, is that there is a LA tech community, its growing but still is trying to find that “thing” to rally around, to gravitate towards, to share. I think the work of folks like Mike, Mark and Sean Percival, among others, we will see LA Tech Community have a uniqueness and a gravitas that will make it a great place for startups and entrepreneurs.

As I look back on the past few days in LA, I am sure of a few things: 1) Twiistup is a good conference on its way to being great. Definitely added to my annual conference calendar; 2) The LA Tech Community is vibrant and interesting, and I look forward to spending more time in LA getting to know people I wish I had the time to meet; 3) I forgot how much I love Southern California. (Just dont tell my family and friends in NorCal.)

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Micah July 26th

Mom, I’ve Made It.

When I started this blog in the middle of 2007 I had no idea where it would take me.

Initially, I thought it would be a great experiment in weight loss. I spent some time searching the web, and thought, “Man, I should ‘fatblog‘!”

Quickly, I found this blog, written by this guy named Jason Calacanis who had started just such a trend. I heard how blogging was an interactive exercise, and hoped to interact with other ‘fatbloggers’, as I began my online quest to lose weight.

Well, it didnt happen. Neither did the weight loss.

So I decided to focus on the things I knew well. Failure. Startups. Marketing.

I started reading a dude named Chris Brogan‘s blog. I read it every day. I was amazed at the amount–and quality–of the content he produced.

Then in December of 2007, I joined the startup Lijit Networks as their VP of Business Development. Basically, the team had spent a year building a really cool search tool, and my job was to bring it to the marketplace.

One of the early adopters of Lijit was Chris Brogan. I was pretty stoked to meet him after reading his blog. Over the course of the next year, Chris and I spoke and met at various conferences. He was never anything but nice (even when singing Metallica), and we became friends.

Now, this week at Twiistup, Chris and I are on the same panel. (There is also this dude that has a blog about cats.) Jason is also part of the speaker lineup. [Register here for Twiistup.]

I am so pleased to be speaking with both of these guys. (and that cat guy).

[The Twiistup lineup is amazing. My friend Brad Feld is also speaking, as is Brooke Burke and Chamillionaire. Yeah, its going to be that rad.]

Last August, I flew out to Seattle to attend Gnomedex. Its run by this dude Chris Pirillo.

In 2000, I worked at a startup in Emeryville (right outside Oakland). A couple of the developers used to read this email that was sent by a dude in Iowa. His name was Chris Pirillo.

I followed Chris’ career to TechTV and when he ran it online. I was introduced to him by Andy Stanberry (when Andy was at Lijit), and Chris and I quickly became friends.

Gnomedex last year was a mind-blower. Sessions by that cat blog guy (I think he is stalking me) followed by the dude who drove the Mars rover. Yeah, its that cool. [Register for Gnomedex here.]

Chris has expanded it this year to allow for more networking and interaction from the attendees, and more importantly, I am speaking on the main stage.

Yeah, mom. I’ve made it.

Micah July 3rd

My WordCamp Denver Talk

This was the first time I did my presentation on Influence. It was kinda rough, probably because I had thrown my back out that morning, and some handed me a Vicodin about 20min before I went on. Its the first 20min, without the Q&A, but you’ll get the idea.

Lemme know what you think: