Cross Creative San Francisco Field Trip
Stuart, our Head of Digital Delivery, is exploring sunny San Francisco this week, meeting some of the biggest names in digital!
If you've been following our recent news articles you'll know that Stuart was selected for the 2016/17 Cross Creative programme, so we're all green with envy that he's spending this week exploring Silicon Valley, and meeting some of the World's top names in tech and digital!
With a packed schedule he will be visiting companies such as Dropbox, IDEO, Pixar, Facebook and Google (what do they do?) to name a few.
Of course, Stuart has taken control of our Instagram account for this week, so follow us to stay up to date with what he is getting up to and also bookmark this page as he will be updating it each day - he will be a busy guy so will be keeping it short!
Day 1 - Sightseeing
Our first full day turned out to be what people were calling 'the hottest day of the year' - given it is only March I am not sure how much of an achievement that is but the skies were clear and it was a comfortable 20 degrees so no complaints.
To make the most of the day we had a bike tour organised by the friendly people at Streets of San Fran Bike Tours who showed us all different districts which included some amazing street art.
Later in the afternoon we all split off to do our own thing so I finished ticking off the usual SF sights. Clocking up 30km is not bad going for a days walking but it was an early night all round as tomorrow we have an early start for our meeting with IDEO then off to SMULE followed by Facebook in the afternoon.
Day 2 - IDEO, Smule & Facebook
It was an early start as we were heading over to Palo Alto for a morning meeting with Peter Macdonald from IDEO. Peter gave us a tour of their office highlighting key projects they have worked on. Due to the sensitive nature of their work and client confidentiality we were limited with the amount of filming/photos we could take but we got a great insight into and their creative approach that focuses on 'Human Centered Design'.
After a quick bus ride back to San Francisco we met up with Jane Hu, Head of Monetisation at Smule. With a global user base Smule has grown considerably and consistently year on year and Jane talked us through their subscription model and the tech culture in the area.
We were back over to Palo Alto in the afternoon for a meeting with Joel Pobar who is Director of Engineering at Facebook. In the 5 years that Joel has been with them they have seen huge growth going from 1,000 employees when he first joined to now being around 19,000. The scale of their campus is unbelievable and they continue to grow and expand. Joel showed us around the campus then talked us through how he manages his team to ensure he gets the best out of them.
We have another great day lined up tomorrow as we are meeting Lyft and PIXAR.
Day 3 - Lyft & Pixarhttps://youtu.be/x3fNix9OeYI
Our morning meeting was with Val Polouchkine who is Developer Relations with Lyft. Many of us will not have heard of them before as they are not yet in the UK but they are a serious competitor to Uber with their ride-hailing service now in 300 US cities and currently seeking to raise at least $500 million in a new funding round. Val talked to us about how Lyft engages with the developer community and how the customer experience is a key aspect of their business.
After Lyft we headed over to Meryville to meet animation superstars Pixar with Gordon Cameron, Technical Supervisor hosting us. It was a privilege to have access to their facilities and to hear from someone who worked on films I grew up watching. Gordon shared Pixar's approach to creativity and storytelling as well as an insight into some of the challenges they faced on previous projects and how they were overcome.
Our San Francisco field trip continues tomorrow with meetings with Turo and Dropbox.
Day 4 - Turo, Plug and Play Centre & Dropboxhttps://youtu.be/eP5APdL_l40
My plan of publishing an update each evening went out the window when I found a bar that combined two amazing things - beer and table-tennis. A day later here is the update from the penultimate day of my San Francisco trip.
The morning kicked off with a meeting with Turo, the best way to explain their model is the Airbnb for cars. Michelle Fang, VP of Government Relations talked us through the company values, their approach to the 'sharing economy' and how they work with government relations. We were also joined with Adam Miller from their marketing team who discussed how focussed the company is on design and photography.
We could have spent all morning with Turo but our next stop was Dropbox. Having recently moved into their new office you really get a feel for their culture as soon as you enter the front door. Michael Shaffer, Director of Business Development showed us round their office and what seems to be a no expense spared approach to enabling innovation. Their head chef embodies this approach as well and is famous for never repeating the same menu - turns out the 'tuck shop' also has a Michelin star! We were talked through how Dropbox have an end user culture and encourage innovation through their 'hack' weeks which they use as a reference point for product enhancements throughout the rest of the year.
Our final meeting for the day was with startup accelerator, Plug and Play Tech Center. We got the tour of the building and a run through of the support and networking opportunities that are available to startups that are based there.
Our final day is a short one as some of the group are flying back in the afternoon but we still manage to fit in GV, Youtube and Unity.
Day 5 - GV, Google and Unity
Our morning started with a short meeting with Jake Knapp. Jake is Design Partner with GV (formerly Google Ventures) and the creator of the sprint process and the book 'Sprint'. Having worked with clients such as Slack, Nest and conducted sprints for Gmail and Google X we were keen to learn if anything has changed to the sprint process since his book was published and pressed him on design prototyping given the short timeframe in the process - the short of it is to not build too complex a prototype.
We were a short walk to one of the many Google offices scattered throughout San Francisco to meet with Derek Scobie, Head of Global Content Programs for Youtube. Derek works with brands and content creators and talked us through the support that is avaialble, some common mistakes brands make when developing content for Youtube and some current and future trends for content and technologies.
We were very fortunate to have a last minute meeting confirmed with Unity Technologies and thank Marilyn Hommes for hosting us. Marilyn is Senior Technical Recruiter at Unity and alongside one of their Engineers, Erika Dains we got a tour of their offices and a VR demo. Marilyn and Erika talked us through the companies growth, culture and recruitment process to attract top talent.
Throughout the trip we visited lots of amazing companies and met some very talented and motivated individuals. It is clear to see that it is these type of people and their values that are the foundation to why companies in this area are so progressive and innovative.
I was very privileged to be able to take part in TRCmedia's Cross Creative programme and thank them for giving me the opportunity to learn and get an insight into some of the top tech companies. The programme has made me challenge my initial beliefs and left me more motivated to be innovative and strive to succeed.