SXSW Day 3 – VCs are a-holes and lets change society

My first session of the day was a conversation on global trends between Malcolm Gladwell and some guy named Bill Gurley. Gladwell was engaging, funny, provocative and overall brilliant and HUMAN while Gurley reminded me of an overgrown frat boy, with his University of Texas sweatshirt and cowboy boots and “I’m so awesome, you should worship the ground I’m standing on” attitude.

My disdain of this “dude” grew even more when I found out that he was one of the key venture capital investors in Uber and mentioned the words “disruption”, “sucks” and “inefficient” for the 10th time. He spoke as if he were the god of the universe and pretty much diverted most of Gladwell’s challenging questions (ex: what is the net effect of Uber taking private cars off the roads? won’t it cause for massive job reductions in the auto industry ? or: don’t you think that automation in medical industry can be harmful (and already is) to the relationship building between doctors and patients?). While I was hating on Bill, hundreds of people in the audience were taking down every single word he said and idolizing him just like he wanted it to be.

Bill Gurley
Bill Gurley
Malcolm Gladwell
Malcolm Gladwell

After Bill’s not so exciting start-ups and insights I ran into the Japanese area at the start up Trade Fair, where I encountered some real innovation from Fove, which uses eye tracking technology for controlling images on screen. Aside from various virtual reality applications, they intend to commercialize this also as a medical device for patients with disease such as ALS. I got to play with the device and found it truly extraordinary to be able to kill my enemies with my eyes.

eye tracking device, ALS, FOVE
Trying out FOVE technologies

Finally, at a random panel on film and social influence at the Brazilian pavilion I learned about 2 extremely cool initiatives that I hope we could all learn from:

Videocamp – “an online sharing platform that gathers films to provoke, inspire, engage and entertain. These films tell stories that deserve to be told and will excite and captivate all film lovers: yes, films have the power to change the world. And that change starts with you.” The main benefit of this platform that it allows people and organizations to deploy high quality films as a tool to win people’s hearts and minds and drive societal changes in a very simple way. They tackle issues such as child obesity, violence against women, child prostitution, refugees, etc. 

UCLA Global Media Center for Social Impact  (Let by the charismatic Sandra de Castro Buffington)– that works with Hollywood and overall entertainment industry writers by providing technical expertise in order to insert specific themes through compelling stories on topics such as “health, immigration, racial justice, America’s prison crisis, the environment, LGBT/gender equality and more. ”  Some example of their work was incorporating discussion of backlog of rape kits (ie rape cases not getting processed fast enough) into CSI (which later led to Congress acting on this issue), breast cancer early detection into Beverly Hills and HIV testing into the Bold and the Beautiful story lines. They also collect data about how these messages drive viewers behaviors (ex: 10% of people who watched ended up calling their doctor to schedule a checkup).

To read about my inspirations from day 2 and learn about some powerful leaders, click here.

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