Yesterday, Percolate held Transition, our first industry conference. Held at the TimesCenter in New York City, we had over four hundred people come together for a day of conversation about how technology is reshaping marketing, the enterprise, and the world. If you were able to attend, we hope you enjoyed it, and for those who couldn’t make it, check out the #Transition2014 for some highlights.

We’ll have plenty of Transition-related material to come, but today, we wanted to kick it off with the 10 most memorable moments of yesterday’s event.

1. Noah Brier on how marketing has to focus on invention, not just scale

We started off the day with Percolate Co-Founder Noah Brier on our goals for the conference: to have a conversation about how the world is changing more rapidly than ever, and how technology is the driving force behind that change. For marketing, technology has often been seen as a force for scale and reach, but Noah argued that our industry could not afford to ignore the power of invention, the 0 to 1 moment.


2. James Gross underscoring the fact that mobile is the first screen

Continuing off of Noah’s remarks, Percolate Co-Founder James Gross went on to give a whirlwind tour of how mobile transformed social through the simplicity of the stream, the fact that software companies are now far larger than traditional media companies, and the macro trends around internet growth (3B to 6B) and middle class growth (2B to 5B). Among his many points, James showed how mobile has shed its “second screen” status:  


3. Why Ghostbusters is a startup, according to Tim Hwang

In a dizzying and TED Talk-esque presentation, Tim Hwang of ROFLCon and Infrastructure Observatory walked us through his theories of how web economics impact urban development. San Francisco, he argued, could be seen as a model organism, much like the Drosophilia (fruit fly) is used in biology, to see how a massive influx of technology changes social dynamics. A crowd pleaser though, was his description of Ghostbusters as “a movie about 3 scrappy technologists who build disruptive tech to do supernatural defense.”



4. Yuanbo Liu and China’s massive real estate market

Percolate’s resident China expert, Yuanbo Liu, took the stage to discuss how technology is enabling significant and unprecedented levels of choice in modern China. One example of this is how e-commerce spending by Chinese consumers is set to surpass Americans this year and forecasted to reach 3.3 trillion RMB ($532 billion) by 2015. Another, touched more on the sheer economic growth of China and housing choice:

5. Dinosaurs mating and other free word association with Eric Hippeau

Brian Morrissey, Editor-in-Chief of Digiday spoke with Eric Hippeau of Lerer Ventures on how media companies are becoming technology companies. They touched on whether brands could compete with technology companies for developers, why CMO’s need their own hackers, and how social+mobile has created an “always on” world for brands and publishers. They wrapped things up with Morrissey doing a lightning round of word association with Hippeau:


6. How Danny Kim’s two-wheeled car will improve your sex life

Lit Motors is a transportation company building a gyroscopically stabilized two-wheeled vehicle and is led by the ingenious Danny Kim, who we all discovered was also great at deadpan humor. After walking through the development of the car, Danny made the point that unlike the smartcar, Lit Motor’s C-1 would be a boost, not a detriment, to your sex life.


7. The best definition of media according to Michael Zimbalist

Michael Zimbalist, SVP of Ad Products and R&D at the New York Times spoke with Anil Dash, CEO of ThinkUp on how journalism is changing. A relevant topic as earlier this year we all took a look at the NYTimes’s innovation report. Zimbalist argued that longform content was alive and well. Mobile content, often thought about as mainly “snackable content”, still allows consumers to take bite-size chunks of a longer piece, especially with apps like Pocket. Zimbalist also offered this gem:

8. Greg Hochmuth on how to deal with the complexities of data

As the founder of Dada, a data startup, and 7th employee at Instagram, Greg Hochmuth knows his way around numbers. He spoke on how many companies approach their data like a novice pilot approaches the cockpit: a ton of knobs and levers that feel overwhelming, which leads to an over-reliance on gut. Hochmuth also talked about the phenomenon of the “chartest kid in the room” – where people just blindly accept ideas when presented as a statistic or quote. He offered some advice on fighting this tendency:


9. The new challenges of large organizations, as described by Aaron Dignan

Many people enjoyed Aaron Dignan’s thoughtful presentation on how organizations can become more nimble and agile. As the founder of Undercurrent, a strategy consulting firm, Dignan talked about how platforms like smartphones and networks like Facebook have compressed the time it takes to bring an idea to life and a product to scale. He advocated we study responsive systems like ant hills and the immune system as models for building agile organizations. And his point on the challenges of large organizations was very clear:

10. The DNA of a marketer, according to Beth Comstock

Finally, we capped off the day with a conversation with Beth Comstock, CMO of General Electric and Noah Brier. Comstock talked about the responsibility of marketers to bring back a true understanding of consumer needs to an engineering and/or product team that might resent hearing back news. She also discussed the differences between working in media (Comstock previously lead marketing at NBC) and technology. Many attendees found her framework of the 4-I’s of marketing insightful:


11. Bonus: Conference After-Party

Of course, the best way to wrap up a great conference is with a little celebration. We had a great time at the Gansevoort Park Avenue’s rooftop lounge and deck.