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Evan Williams Keynote Interview

2010 SXSWi Keynote with Evan Williams and Umair Hague

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How @anywhere became @everywhere

  • Mar 21, 2010
Know how you're really excited to hook up with the smoking hot girl in the corner only to realize that she kisses like a wet fish? That's exactly how Evan Williams' interview by Umair Hague went. The session started off with much tension hanging in the air as whispers of Twitter announcing a new product swept through the Austin Convention Center halls. The main keynote room quickly became packed and rooms all over the convention center were being turned into overflow rooms. I happened to get ushered in to the main room and find a seat pretty close up front.

And so the talk begins. Ev starts out by announcing @anywhere, which is Twitter profile rollovers enabled outside of Twitter on the rest of the internet. Exciting! At least it was to most of the attendees there. Our minds started reeling - what are the implications of this? what does the implementation for businesses look like? what are the analytics? can i customize it? what else can it do? Unfortunately none of those questions were answered and neither did they delve into @anywhere any deeper than just announcing it. From there they went to talking about Twitter ad nauseum.

I like Twitter as much as the next person but let's be honest - your average person who has never heard of how Twitter was used in Haiti or other newsworthy situations will not be attending SXSW. SXSW is for tech-savvy people who want to learn about things on a deeper level. I knew early on that their conversation was not heading back to @anywhere, hence it went @everywhere. Some others knew this too as they started filing out of the main keynote room. At this point this was not the mass exodus everyone experienced. I'm not exactly sure what tipped other people off but I experienced it firsthand. I happened to sit down right opposite of the exit because my friend Lane was charging his phone by the Pepsi Podcast lounge. All of a sudden about 10 minutes later mass amounts of people started filing out of the auditorium. No, the talk wasn't over - there was still 10 minutes left. 

I'm not sure exactly what triggered the mass exodus but my guess is that it's the old adage 'nothing attracts a crowd like a crowd'. Here's the bottom line: when you have a group of savvy internet people in one large room don't tell them about your service that they've been using for a while already. Go into details about the new announcement. Doing so makes them feel special as they are witnessing history. Rehashing history live makes them feel like they're wasting their time and ultimately they did. That's why many people walked out. People vote with their feet and if your presentation isn't up to their standards they will decide very quickly.

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March 21, 2010
I read so many tweets and several news articles about this, but had yet to read a first hand account and break down like this.  You bring up some really good points and suggestions.  Hopefully, the people in charge of SXSWi will reflect on this, as well as the Sarah Lacy/Mark Zuckerberg fiasco, and find ways to prevent situations like this in the future.  I heard they might go lecture style with the keynotes.  Thanks for sharing this, Damien!
March 21, 2010
++DB. Fair and objective.
March 21, 2010
Thanks. It's just how I felt about why I walked out earlier than everyone else. Both the interviewer and interviewee could have steered the conversation back to @anywhere at any point in time, yet they didn't unfortunately.
March 21, 2010
What a bummer -- especially with a crowd like Sx, since it's a buncha geeks ready to Tweet. From a nerd perspective, I am not surprised. Most geeks / nerds / techies aren't well versed vocally. Twitter HQ's respective departments should've prepped him. From a PR / marketing perspective, they had such a huge opp., it's a shame they didn't utilize it. This is the exact reason as much as I love Twitter, I love it for the community and convenience, not for the product. But hey, shoulda coulda woulda right?
More Evan Williams Keynote Intervie... reviews
Quick Tip by . March 23, 2010
posted in SXSW on Lunch
When the interview is more about the interviewer than the interviewee, you have a serious problem.
Quick Tip by . March 18, 2010
posted in SXSW on Lunch
Seriously dude? Seriously? (Head Shake left to right)
Quick Tip by . March 18, 2010
posted in SXSW on Lunch
Yikes. This one was not so great. Considering it was on the news less than 8 hours after it happened. + mass exodus.
Quick Tip by . March 17, 2010
posted in SXSW on Lunch
bummer it was so lame b/c you just know there's good stuff @Ev has to share. blame format and interviewer. too bad.
Quick Tip by . March 17, 2010
posted in SXSW on Lunch
Disaster of a keynote. Not a good interviewer, not a good interviewee, very little good content.
Quick Tip by . March 17, 2010
posted in SXSW on Lunch
Caught this on video. Poor guy. So much more awkward than the Mark Zuckerberg fiasco of 08.
Quick Tip by . March 17, 2010
posted in SXSW on Lunch
This was painful to watch. Was definitely sensing Ev's uneasiness w the questions & then the mass exodus ensued...
Quick Tip by . March 15, 2010
posted in SXSW on Lunch
Not as bad as two years ago, but I did leave (early) disappointed. @anywhere looks cool though.
Quick Tip by . March 15, 2010
posted in SXSW on Lunch
Was excited to hear more about @anywhere but they just talked about @everywhere. Twinterview #fail
Quick Tip by . March 15, 2010
posted in SXSW on Lunch
that was horrible. #evanwilliams so many people seemed disappointed as they walked out
About the reviewer

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Member Since: Mar 31, 2009
Last Login: Oct 26, 2010 03:10 PM UTC
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Event Description:
Evan Williams ( has co-founded several Internet companies, including Pyra Labs (creator of weblog-authoring software Blogger) and Twitter, the now ubiquitous social media platform that hit its tipping-point at SXSW in 2007. In addition to his role as Director of the Havas Media Lab, Umair Haque ( founded Bubblegeneration, an agenda-setting advisory boutique that shaped strategies across media and consumer industries.

ACC L1, Exhibit Hall 1
Monday, March 15 at 02:00 PM
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Events, Sxswi 2010, Monday March 15, Keynote, Umair Hague, Evan Williams


Type: Keynote
Location: ACC L1, Exhibit Hall 1
Date(s): Monday March 15

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