Announcements

CES 2017: Rise of the Robots

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When Karl Capek, the famed Czech playwright, wrote the play ‘R.U.R’ (Rossum’s Universal Robots) in 1920, introducing the word “robot” to the English language, the idea of a synthetic human was dystopian. And, frankly, most fictional depictions of robots since then have not been kind; C3PO and R2D2 being notable exceptions. But, robots are more likely to be mechanical or software-controlled agents today – helpers that are reliable and functional, not diabolical. Even with the threat of technological displacement or unemployment, humans still marvel at how our lives are enhanced and even saved by technology. We have lived with robots, digital assistants, and avatars for years, and the more we outsource our brains and our memories to the likes of Apple, Google, Facebook, and Amazon, we gain greater facility to personalize and even interact with our technology. This has been part of a growing shift that places greater technological emphasis on interfaces that rely on machine learning, AI (artificial, or augmented, intelligence), natural language processing, and other advances that pass the Turing test.

CES 2017 put robots at center stage in ways that we can now accept, and Chris Pfaff Tech Media was there to take it all in over an intense 6-day period. These virtual, and even mechanical, assistants are baked into experiences that can develop habits for humanity. While many pundits were touting this year’s show as “the Alexa show,” intelligent systems were predominant in ways well beyond ASR (atomatic speech recognition). Intel’s RealSense was on display again this year, with a drone camera demo that was part of the latest “hero demo” in which a single human had powered a 500-drone flight. The drone-camera demo was part of Intel’s attempt to show how RealSense can automate the process of shooting/plotting information via drone. Intel also showed off its Curie processors, and the new Quark SoC (system-on-a-chip) with high-flying dunkateers from Dunk Elite, a London-based team of acrobatic dunk artists, which captured a myriad of body measurements and sports data. Intel also showed off its latest acquisition, Voke VR, which conducted a live VR streaming demo over an AT&T 5G demo network, with Ericsson. For some, this was a bit of a thin demo: Intel and Ericsson’s booths were seprated by a mere 10 meters.

Dunk Elite shows off the Curie processor technology at the Intel booth

AMD provided some competition in the chip space, showing off its new Ryzen processor, which rivals the Intel Core i5 7600K. This is impressive, particularly in the gaming space, which should heat up this year. Some estimates show the eSports market rising to a cool $9 billion.

AMD shows off its Ryzen processor – a rival to Intel’s Core i5 7600K – at CES Unveiled, at CES 2017

Qualcomm, as always, had a huge presence at the show. They featured three booths, with the largest in the central hall touting IoT concepts, and VR/AR. Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 835 processor was featured. This new chip is all about VR; Qualcomm is touting greater depth and lower power (it boasts that the 835 is part of the first commercial 10 nanometer chip fab process). Qualcomm also had a booth in the North Hall touting its car platform; the company’s 2016 acquisition of NXP has vaulted it into the front ranks of connected car chip companies.

But, of all the chip giants, the biggest spotlight shone on Nvidia. Jen-Hsun Huang, founder/CEO of Nvidia, gave the opening keynote of CES, and it rocked the show. Nvidia showed off its Nvidia AI Car Platform, with announcements that Nvidia and Audi will build an AI car. Nvidia also introduced the Nvidia AI Car Supercomputer, named Xavier. Nvidia also announced AI car-related deals with ZF, Tom Tom, Here, and Bosch. Nvidia’s booth was tucked into a corner area of the North Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center, next to Volkswagen (which, in a face-saving move, took Delphi’s old space on the show floor). This was a huge statement: that the company that made its name with the GPU is now bidding to be the next big innovator in intelligent cars. Jen-Hsun Huang’s keynote speech is worth watching. One line alone almost made me tear up: “Let’s make sure our kids never have to drive again.”

Nvidia’s booth featured the Nvidia AI Car Platform

Other intelligent systems and products came from the likes of DISH Networks, which probably won most heroic demo on the show floor: a voice-activated Hopper that controls your EPG and records shows for you. The fact that the demo was done in a suite that was not sound-proofed, and took in lots of ambient show floor noise, made the Alexa integration all the more impressive. Samsung showed off its SmartThings hub, with voice-activated technology from its Viv acquisition.

The big boys, Samsung and LG, went at it again this year in stunning one-upmanship. For the record, Samsung won the product battle. Its QLED displays were introduced at a pretty spectacular event at the Keep Memory Alive Center in downtown Las Vegas. The Frank Gehry-designed building, part-temple/part ocean-going vessel design, provided the ideal backdrop for Samsung’s roll-out of its latest OLED displays, which have a wider viewing angle, greater contrast/brightness (1500-2000 nits), and a wide color gamut (WCG) that actually encompasses the full range of the human eye. It has a flush mounting system with a single fiber connection to an external input box (smart idea). It was an amazing event, and it was a total display geek-out for someone like me. My old Sharp LCD client, Joe Stinziano, was there doing God’s work, as were dozens of other Samsung technical and sales/marketing execs. Samsung’s branding of QLED (a play on its quantum dot crystal structure) extended the “Q” prefix to other products. This was a huge play for Samsung, which is rebounding from its spectacular Galaxy Note 7 disaster. The QLED products go on sale next month.

Samsung QLED intro at the Keep Memory Alive Center in downtown Las Vegas, 01.03.17

Samsung is ready for its OLED close-up, in this technical demo at the QLED intro event

LG, meanwhile, won the battle of the display content. This is not news to anyone who has been to these booths the past few years, but LG upped the ante this year, with a full, immersive content “room” that made one feel as if they were in an aquarium or a planetarium. LG Display gave us a private demo of its latest products, which included the world’s thinnest (1 millimeter) display, and introduced its Crystal OLED Sound technology (clever integration of speakers in the actual display), which has already been used by Sony in its latest TV.

LG Display’s Hanbits Oh demonstrates the LG Crystal OLED Sound technology

Hanbits Oh shows off the LG Display kiosk

LG wins the OLED display content war, against Samsung, again at CES 2017

Other impressive products and/or displays included EyeLock’s retina detection system (tucked away in a prominent corner of the palatial Voxx booth), and Bosch’s APAS system, the first assistance system certified for use with human operators. Bosch used APAS robots to serve coffee, among other tasks, in its massive booth, just in front of the Samsung booth.

Bosch shows off its APAS platform        EyeLock’s retinal detection system

The North Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center, though, was the real show this year. For the second time, a car was introduced at CES. This year, it was Faraday Future’s FF91. This impressive vehicle, the progeny of much-questioned Faraday Future, owned by Chinese conglomerate Le Eco, showed off a 1000 horsepower all-electric powertrain which can travel more than 370 miles per electric charge. The built-in LiDAR and more than 30 cameras, radars, and ultrasonic sensors are augmented by a smart app that parks the car for you and can bring it to you from parking, as well as facial recognition for unlocking the car. All of this can be had for a mere $5,0000 reservation fee. Le Eco has some new funding, apparently, so we may yet see these beauties on the road this year. Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, the real car companies showed off quite a lot. Mercedes-Benz showed off its mouthful of a corporate mantra, CASE (Connected, Autonomous, Shared, Electric), with the Mercedes Electric Intelligence platform, which was represented by a concept car, EQ, which uses solar energy stored at home, and wireless charging. The hippest car at the show, though, was the Mercedes Vision Van, a new delivery/sprinter van that has two drones on top, and is driverless. Mercedes also announced that it would launch its driverless freight truck, the Daimler Freightliner, by 2025.

The Mercedes Vision Van, an example of what the company calls the “cognitive car”

Honda was back at CES for the first time in years, showing off its ‘Cooperative Mobility Ecosystem.’ This included a motorcycle that has riding assist, self-balancing features, and autonomous operation (i.e., it can be called by the river). Honda showed off the way-cool NueV concept car – an electric vehicle for ride sharing that has an “emotion engine” and charges itself at the lowest rate times. The Honda Uni-Cub (best known for their use in the latest OKGO music video), a seated Segway-type transport vehicle, was a bit hit. it moves via body control/leaning.

Honda’s NuEV electric concept car

Honda’s Uni-Cub personal transport robots

Fiat Chrysler was one of many companies that showcased its work with Google’s Waymo spin-out, a driverless car ride sharing service, which will heavily feature the Chrysler Pacifica cars.

Toyota, again, showed off the coolest concept car at the show, which featured an excellent emotion detection platform.

Toyota’s ‘Tron’-like concept car

While 5G was a big technology looming over the show, not much was shown. AT&T, which holds its annual developers forum just prior to the start of CES, claimed that 2017 would be the year of video on its network. It has already planned major 5G trials this year, with video a major feature, and preliminary speeds of 1 Gb/s in initial trials.

International delegations were quite prominent this year, but mostly for the massive Chinese presence, with ZTE, Huawei, DJI, TCL, Hi-Sense and Honor as major sponsors and exhibitors. The French delegation outdid itself, again, and Eureka Park was practically a French tech zone.

The Normandy delegation – with marinier shirts – at the La French Tech pitch event, at the Paris Hotel’s French village, 01.06.17

The Swedish delegation was stronger than ever, and several Swedish start-ups, notably Manomotion, made their presence felt.

Tobias Berneth, of Stockholm-based Things to Be, with the Honor phone that he helped design, at the Sweden@CES breakfast at CES 2017

I caught up with members of the “Estonian Mafia” at the show, including the only Estonian company exhibiting at the show, Starship Technologies, which has some pretty cool delivery robots (I got a demo when I was in Tallinn last September). Starship just announced, post-CES, a major funding round of $17.2million, with Daimler AG as the lead investor.

Estonian Mafia at CES (l to r): Andrus Viirg, Enterprise Estonia; two members of the Starship Technologies team; Andres Mellik, Cognuse, and Rain Rannu, Fortumo

Eureka Park was bigger than ever this year – 600 exhibitors, up from 500 at CES 2016. Kino-mo had another way-cool display, with Pokemon Go figures, and there were more funded companies, it seemed, than in previous years.

Kino-Mo’s display was mobbed at Eureka Park

The robots could have helped the ride-sharing queues that created Lyft and Uber traffic jams outside the convention center. This was unfortunate, but will require more than robots to solve the crisis: political leadership (Las Vegas not known for its progressive thinking where non-gamblers are concerned).

Until next year, go out and buy an Amazon Echo, or the many equivalents, and find new ways to integrate AI into your life. In other words, help a robot brutha out.

Me at CES 2017, outside the Sands/Venetian halls

 

 

Ad:Tech New York Panel, ‘Ad-Tech and Content Collide: Producing in the Programmatic Era,’ Packs the House

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The revivified Ad:Tech New York 2016 show featured a rollicking panel that the Producers Guild of America (PGA) produced on Thursday, November 3rd, Day 2 of the show, in which leading New York agency producers (all but one PGA members) discussed the trends that are shifting behaviors among brands and consumers alike.

Produced and moderated by Chris Pfaff, one of the founders of the PGA New Media Council, and head of consultancy Chris Pfaff Tech Media LLC, the panel, ‘Ad-Tech and Content Collide: Producing in the Programmatic Era,’ featured Jason Jercinovic, global head of marketing innovation and global brand director for Havas; Cindy Pound, executive direct, R/GA; Tom Goodwin, executive vice president, head of innovation, ZenithOptimedia, and Raoul Didisheim, consultant with Mariana Media.

A packed house filled the “Titan Hall” in the Javits Center, listening to a discussion that focused on various topics, including:

  • AI and automation are dominating discussions among producers. How do we harness machine learning and real-time technologies for greater storytelling?
  • “Conversational content” is now part of the lexicon. How are these devices and platforms – from Amazon Alexa to Cortana to Siri and Google Talk – part of the “targeted consumer?”
  • Chatbots are the rage now; everyone’s mother seems to have a chatbot. Every VC is talking about chatbots. Is this another fad, like Pokemon Go, or are chatbots going to be a sustained part of the producer’s world?
  • The luxury sector of the economy is still robust.  The whole premise of the luxury relationship is to have a bespoke experience. How do you deliver that in an era of commoditized personalization?
  • The “cognitive” era may be upon us, but can we deliver truly “real-time” experiences that swing with societal trends, fast-moving news, or even more granular data on consumers? How does human creativity catch up to the massive technological capabilities comingout of our research labs?
  • “Targeted advertising” has reared its head again, largely from AT&T. How do you see this playing into the mix of platforms you leverage for reaching consumers?
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(From l to r): Cindy Pound, R/GA; Tom Goodwin, ZenithOptimedia; Jason Jercinovic, Havas; Chris Pfaff, Chris Pfaff Tech Media LLC; Raoul Didisheim, Mariana Media
Tom Goodwin talked about how AI has created a new set of expectations, for brands and agencies, and that the industry has to manage these expectations carefully.
img_7618Tom Goodwin discusses agency expectations for AI
Jason Jercinovic iscussed the “humans behind AI” and how cognitive computing – namely, IBM Watson – has helped generate better decision-making for clients such as TD Ameritrade, where customers were more likely to honestly interact with machines than with their human counterparts.
20161103_144241Jason Jercinovic discusses the cognitive era of producing
Cindy Pound mentioned the Pumpkin Spice Latte chatbot that Starbucks set up in October, 2016, where more than 500,000 interactions yielded impressive engagement for the coffee company.
20161103_152320Cindy Pound discuses the chatbot phenomenon
Raoul Didisheim outlined the challenge that luxury brands still have with new technology, and said that the integration of human high-touch retail experiences must be delicate and seamless in order not to offend luxury customers. He said that “any email list of a luxury brand would show that a large percentage of their consumers still have AOL addresses.”
20161103_144612Raoul Didisheim discusses the luxury sector 
The audience discussed opportunities that have been seized upon – such as the smart integration of brands in NetFlix’s ‘Luke Cage’ – and possibly missed – such as Game 7 of the World Series, where no “Dunk in the Dark” moments emerged on social media (despite, as an audience member indicated, the success of Twitter’s Hashtag World Series).
Ad:Tech New York 2016 was a milestone for the digital media industry: the 20th anniversary of a show that used to be mostly about platforms and technologies, but has now recognized that th content creators are still behind what is sold to consumers. Kudos to Lori Schwartz, Kendall Allen, and the team that produced the show. It brought in many firt-time visitors to Ad:Tech, and that in itself will help shape the future of this vital industry sector.
img_4885 A view from the audience.

Chris Pfaff nominated for Amchampion of the Year by AmCham Finland

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Chris Pfaff has been nominated for Amchampion of the Year by Amcham Finland. The announcement of the 2016 Amchampion Awards nominees was made yesterday, June 21st, by Amcham Finland. The 2016 Amchampion Award winners will be announced at Amcham Finland’s Labor Day White Party, on Thursday, September 1st, in Helsinki.

Amcham Finland is an international business-to-business network whose mission is to challenge and equip individuals, businesses and the market to stay ahead of the curve. Based in Helsinki, Finland, Amcham Finland opened its first US office, in New York City, in September, 2014. Headed by Erika Sauer, the Amcham Finland New York office has helped grow the organization’s membership and broaden its global focus through the Launchpad USA brand, which helps Nordic-Baltic and Northern European companies enter the US market.

Chris Pfaff Tech Media joined Amcham Finland in September, 2014, and has helped promote and produce events that Amcham Finland has developed over the past two years, including Slush New York 2015 and the initial Launchpad USA event, at Slush 2015 in Helsinki, where Chris Pfaff interviewed “Estopreneur” Urmas Peiker, co-founder of Funderbeam.

The full list of 2016 Amchampion Awards nominees can be viewed at http://amcham.fi/the-2016-amchampion-awards-nominees/

Chris Pfaff Tech Media LLC and CleverTap present, ‘The Full Stack: Creating an App from Beginning to End,’ at General Assembly (902 Broadway, 4th Floor, NYC), Wednesday, May 18th, from 7-9 pm

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General Assembly Logo

 

Chris Pfaff Tech Media LLC and CleverTap will present an all-star panel discussion, ‘The Full Stack: Creating An App From Beginning to End,’ on Wednesday, May 18th, from 7-9 pm at General Assembly, 902 Broadway, 4th Floor, NYC.

 

Held during the middle of Internet Week New York, ‘The Full Stack’ features Rumble Fox’s Julie L. Andrews; Al Jazeera Media Network’s Soud Hyder; Cachette Group’s Ellie Cachette, and CleverTap’s Arkady Fridman. Chris Pfaff will moderate this session.
Come enjoy a drink (or two), and have the chance to win the Rowkin Mini BlueTooth Headset, the smallest stereo headset in the world (www.rowkin.com).
For the full invite, see below, or go to:
To RSVP for this free event, please go to:

THE FULL STACK: CREATING AN APP FROM BEGINNING TO END

Product Evangelist, CleverTap

 
Platform Lead, Al Jazeera Media Network

 
Co-Founder, Rumble Fox

 
CEO, Chris Pfaff Tech Media LLC

 
Founder & CEO , Cachette Group

About This Event

The app economy now demands more attention on the part of developers to the overall media flow, experience, and appeal of the app to mobile users. Developers need to be more than agile when considering how to engage and monitor the performance of their app; they need to look at the creative application of new technologies for a more playful audience. With the rapid pace of change in the mobile landscape, the app developer community has more tools and know-how to overcome feature obsolescence, and app-a-thetic response from users who now want more than just information, but something exciting.

Join General Assembly, CleverTap & Chris Pfaff Tech Media for a night of presentations & discussions from leading developers and app experts, including:

  • Arkady Fridman – Chief Evangelist, CleverTap
  • Soud Hyder – Platform Lead, Al Jazeera Media Network
  • Julie L. Andrews – Co-Founder, Rumble Fox
  • Chris Pfaff – CEO, Chris Pfaff Tech Media LLC
  • Ellie Cachette – Founder & CEO, Cachette Group

Come along for a drink (on us!) and have a chance to win a Rowkin Mini BlueTooth Headset — the smallest stereo headset in the world www.rowkin.com.

About the Presenters

Product Evangelist,
CleverTap

Arkady is the Product Evangelist and Business Developer at CleverTap based in New York City. He performs a wide number of growth hacking activities including media buying, lead generation, educational panel discussions, customer development, content development, and travels the US spreading the word about CleverTap. He developed and launched the TappedIn:NY video series featuring East Coast disruptive app entrepreneurs and app development companies. Arkady leverages his entrepreneurial and Adtech experience to guide startups and large enterprise companies globally by helping them leverage CleverTap technology to increase ROI and user engagement.

Platform Lead,
Al Jazeera Media Network

Soud Hyder is the Platform Lead for the Al Jazeera Media Network. He is responsible for stacking up mobile and video, as well as product and developer management, and dev ops management. He has helped lead Al Jazeera’s mobile presence, including the award-winning AJ+ product. He was previously with Questek and Ubitmo.

Co-Founder,
Rumble Fox

Julie is Co-Founder of Rumble Fox, a group of thinkers and builders who help companies harness digital to accelerate and grow their businesses. A mix of consultancy, design studio, and development shop, Rumble Fox improves operational excellence, employee effectiveness, and customer experience. Our clients include Hershey, Kaplan, Gilead, several start-ups, and mid-size firms embarking on digital growth plans.

Julie has an impressive track record of eliminating roadblocks and creating award-winning, best-in-class products. She is able to construct environments that foster collaboration among clients, creatives, and developers by combining the strengths of both production and account management.

CEO,
Chris Pfaff Tech Media LLC

A former board delegate of the Producers Guild of America (PGA) New Media Council from 2006-2013; former PGA New Media Council vice chair, and former PGA Board of Directors delegate, Chris was one of the founders of the PGA New Media Council member in 2003-2004. He leads a consultancy – Chris Pfaff Tech/Media LLC – that represents some of the leading service providers, audio/video technology firms, networking vendors, and media companies in the world. A veteran of the start-up world, Chris helped launch more than 20 ventures from the Lucent New Ventures Group, including iBiquity Digital; Flarion; Lucent Digital Video, and GeoVideo Networks, among others. In addition, he has helped launch AT&T’s Internet strategy; the Viacom New Media division of Viacom, Inc.; Sony Electronics’ Digital Betacam format, and Sharp Electronics’ LCD product division, among others.

Founder & CEO ,
Cachette Group

Ellie Cachette is the Founder & CEO of Cachette Group, where she develops mobile applications. She was previously the vice president of product marketing for Koombea, where she developed channels for companies developing mobile products. Prior to this, she was the founder/CEO of ConsumerBell, an e-commerce SaaS start-up. She is the author of ‘Software Agreements for Dummies.

PGA event at Newseum, ‘Virtual Reality, Storytelling, and News’ Assembles an All-Star Panel of VR Producers in Journalism

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On a rainy Thursday in late-April, history was made in an institution that is dedicated to history, namely, the Five Freedoms of the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment. The first Producers Guild of America (PGA) New Media Council East event at Newseum, entitled ‘Virtual Reality, Storytelling, and News,’ brought together the who’s who of virtual reality (VR) in the journalism industry, and sparked conversations that detailed the need for standards in virtual reality production.

Hosted at the Knight Conference Center at Newseum, with demos from the Knight Foundation; Washington Post; Associated Press, and Gannett Digital, the panel demonstrated the exceptional leadership in VR that journalists have exhibited. Knight Foundation’s Mitch Gelman; Washington Post’s Cam Blake; USA Today Networks’ Robert Padavick; Gannett Digital’s Ray Soto, and Associated Press’ Paul Cheung discussed a variety of topics, including the need to understand deadlines for VR (which, obviously, takes longer to produce); the need to understand how audiences perceive storytelling in VR, and the need to work on local levels for VR.

Watch the full video at https://youtu.be/iVOrFpJwfj8.

Moderated by Chris Pfaff, one of the founders of the PGA New Media Council, and a former vice-chairman of the PGA New Media Council, the discussion ranged from lessons learned in technology, including how to stitch images so that objects and crew members do not appear – or do appear – in the frame; what camera rigs are doing to help shape storytelling; how apps are enabling a more democratic approach to VR, and how this exploratory period of VR journalism will open up new opportunities for documentarians and reporters.

The audience of more than 80 people asked astute questions, including why Web 1.0 VR companies, and their technologies, took so long to re-enter the scene, and how the “new digital divide” might be addressed by the panel.

The event was produced by the Newseum team, including Jeffrey Herbst, Cathy Trost, John Maynard, Scott Wiliams, and Jonathan Thompson, along with the PGA’s Renee Rosenfeld and Chris Pfaff.

This will likely be the first in a series of PGA-Newseum events addressing the VR arena. Stay tuned.

 

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Chris Pfaff, (left), moderates the panel at Newseum

 

Jeffrey Herbst, CEO of Newseum, welcomes the crowd at the PGA-Newseum event.

Jeffrey Herbst, CEO of Newseum, welcomes the audience

 

Paul Cheung, director of interactive for Associated Press, and Jeffrey Herbst

Paul Cheung, director of interactive for Associated Press, and Jeffrey Herbst

 

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Ray Soto, Gannett, demonstrates the Gannett AR/VR program

 

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Jeffrey Herbst and Paul Jastrzebski, developer relations manager with Oculus

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Brian Savoie, director of technology education and outreach, and David Layer, senior director, advanced engineering, NAB

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The Knight Foundation’s VR demo area at the event

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Jon Harmon, filmmaker, experiences VR at the event

Producers Guild of America New Media Council East panel: ‘Gaming the System: Branded Entertainment for Producers’ – Wednesday, September 30th, 7:00-9:00 pm at The New School’s Lang Auditorium

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Join me and six branded entertainment luminaries at my PGA New Media Council East mega-panel during Advertising Week New York, ‘Gaming the System: Branded Entertainment for Producers’ on Wednesday, September 30th, from 7:00-9:00 pm, at The New School’s Lang Auditorium, 55 West 13th Street (between 5th and 6th Avenues), 2nd floor.

In addition to great networking, food & drink, and a gathering of the new media tribes, the following presenters will appear:

  • Ian Schafer, chairman, US CEO and founder, Deep Focus
  • Warren Weideman, founder, First Look Productions LLC
  • Luis de la Parra, senior vice president, partner solutions, Univision
  • Colas Overkott, CEO, Sync
  • Will Misselbrook, head of branded entertainment, Condé Nast Entertainment
  • Andy Oakes, managing director, The Drum

You can RSVP at:

http://www.producersguild.org/events/Sessions.aspx?id=688263

 

I hope to see you on Wednesday, September 30th during Advertising Week New York for this event.